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New York Eyes Pot Store Lease In Push For Social Equity

(Bloomberg) — New York state is looking to help marijuana businesses secure leases for stores, part of its push to diversify the legal cannabis market.

The Dormitory Authority of New York State, an agency that handles public finance and construction, is working with real estate brokerage CBRE Group Inc. to identify 150 sites for marijuana stores, including dozens in New York City. People familiar with the matter.

It is part of a proposal to ensure that diversified business owners can engage in the nascent marijuana business. Lawmakers in Albany are considering a budget that includes $200 million to fund social equity in the cannabis industry. If that money is approved, the state could use some of it to help open marijuana businesses, including securing retail leases and furnishing stores.

Representatives for CBRE and the state’s Office of Cannabis Management declined to comment.

State help with real estate can help applicants try to overcome the notoriously difficult challenge of setting up a marijuana dispensary—where it’s hard to get a license without real estate, and it’s harder for a small business to obtain real estate. Selling something that is still federally illegal.

The law that made weed legal in New York includes provisions aimed at helping communities of color, which for decades were disproportionately targeted by law enforcement.

The Office of Cannabis Management recently said it would grant the first licenses for retail marijuana stores to applicants who have been convicted of a marijuana-related offense or whose relatives have been convicted of a pot-related offense.

With recreational marijuana sales potentially starting later this year, there is expected to be stiff competition for the retail space where stores can be set up. This is especially true in Manhattan and Brooklyn, with the industry bound to limit how close dispensaries can be to schools and churches.

New York is joining more than a dozen other states in allowing adults to buy utensils. Critics of the rollout in some of those states have argued that communities most affected by drug laws have been denied opportunities to benefit from legalization.

— Natalie Wong, with assistance from Joe Constantz and Tiffany Carey.

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

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