Photo: Adobe Stock

The first application for licenses to sell recreational marijuana opened yesterday. Only 20 licenses will be distributed on Long Island, according to the state Office of Cannabis Management.  

The Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary license is available to businesses majority owned and run by “justice involved” individuals, or people convicted of marijuana-related offenses in New York State, and their close relatives. 

Nonprofit organizations or businesses owned by a nonprofit can also apply for a license if it is a 501(c)(3) entity, has “a history of creating vocational opportunities for current or formerly incarcerated individuals, including justice involved individuals,” has a justice involved individual in its governing staff, and other criteria.

Applications will be reviewed and rated with a scoring system that is weighted more heavily based on specific factors. For for-profit applicants, those factors include the circumstance and location of arrest of the justice involved individual and the applicant’s business experience, according to a fact sheet on the application and selection process.  

Loans to lease an eligible business location and make other business purchases for licensees will be provided through the $200 million New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund. Nonprofits are not eligible to be supported through the fund.

More specific information about who qualifies for the license can be found on the OCM’s website.

[See prior coverage: People convicted of marijuana-related offenses or their relatives to get first shot at retail licenses, under proposed regulations]

Based on population, the Long Island region will be granted 20 of the 150 licenses to for-profit businesses being distributed throughout the state, the most out of any region designated by the state besides Manhattan. The office will also distribute up to 25 licenses to nonprofits in addition to the 150 being distributed to for-profit businesses.

The East End is primed to be a premier location for many of the dispensaries on Long Island. The towns of Riverhead, Southampton and Brookhaven are three of the four towns on Long Island — which has 13 towns and two cities — that declined to opt out of adult-use marijuana businesses, according to a tally compiled by the Long Island Press.   

Riverhead has been gearing up for the drop of adult-use retail dispensary licenses, after a vote to opt-out of retail dispensaries failed last year 2-3, with Supervisor Yvette Aguiar and Councilman Ken Rothwell supporting opting out, and Councilman Frank Beyrodt, Councilman Tim Hubbard and former-Councilwoman Catherine Kent in dissent, citing the tax revenue the businesses could bring to the town. Aguiar assigned Rothwell to establish an ad-hoc committee to establish recommendations to the Town Board for “time, place and manner” regulations for adult-use retail dispensaries and on-site consumption lounges. 

Rothwell has held three forums with the ad-hoc committee since December to involve residents and interested parties. During the last forum in March, the committee solidified its recommendations to the board, deciding that marijuana businesses be classified as retail businesses and kept away from certain land uses, including schools, libraries, places of worship, parks and beaches, with 500-foot to 1,000-foot setbacks.

[See prior coverage: Marijuana advisory group finalizes recommendations for locations of marijuana businesses in Riverhead]

A discussion on the recommendations was held during the Town Board’s work session on June 30. Town officials praised the public process that led to the recommendation, but said the code still needed to go through the town’s code revision committee and a few questions still needed to be answered. Town officials did not supply a draft of a code revision during that discussion

Rothwell said in a call today that the revised code to implement adult-use marijuana businesses is complete and he has requested the supervisor’s office put it up for discussion during a work session. He said a draft of the code went through the code revision committee and remains unchanged from the committee’s recommendations. He could not immediately supply a draft of the code to a reporter when asked.

The Town Board in June amended the town code to ban marijuana use at town parks and buildings, and to extend all smoking bans to include town-approved special events. The amendment also raised fines for violations of the law.

No regulations have been released by the OCM regarding adult-use cafes or lounges, which were legalized along with recreational dispensaries in the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act, the 2021 law that legalized recreational marijuana in New York State.

The survival of local journalism depends on your support.
We are a small family-owned operation. You rely on us to stay informed, and we depend on you to make our work possible. Just a few dollars can help us continue to bring this important service to our community.
Support RiverheadLOCAL today.

Avatar photo
Alek Lewis is a lifelong Riverhead resident and a 2021 graduate of Stony Brook University’s School of Communication and Journalism. Previously, he served as news editor of Stony Brook’s student newspaper, The Statesman, and was a member of the campus’s chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Email: