The possibilities of being one of New York’s first adult-use cannabis retail operators attracted the likes of 903 applicants seeking to enter the forthcoming market, the state’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) announced Sept. 28.

The conditional adult-use retail dispensary (CAURD) licenses will “create countless opportunities for our communities and future,” OCM posted on social media Wednesday.

The 903 applications were submitted during a one-time, one-month window that closed Sept. 26, with OCM officials planning to approve up to 150 CAURD licenses they plan to distribute to 14 regions throughout the state. The number of licenses in each region is based on population.

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The CAURD licenses are reserved for businesses owned by justice-involved individuals “at the bedrock of New York’s adult-use cannabis market,” according to OCM. Specifically, applications were limited to those criminalized under prohibition or those who have a direct family member convicted of a cannabis-related offense prior to March 31, 2021 (the date former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act into law).

OCM officials are also limiting CAURD licenses to those who have experience owning and operating a successful business in the state.

While overviewing the CAURD application last month, OCM Chief Equity Officer Damian Fagon said, “New York is the first state in the country to set building a truly equitable and inclusive cannabis industry as its North Star. Every day, we are fighting for the goals and priorities of our cannabis law to deliver opportunity to those most impacted by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition.”

The CAURD licensing program is part of New York’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative, which is financed through a $200-million Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund.

CAURD licensees are positioned to make New York’s first legal cannabis sales before the end of 2022, “speeding the delivery of investments into communities across New York that were impacted by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition,” according to OCM.

OCM will provide CAURD applicants 30 days from the Sept. 26 closing date to amend their submissions before state officials begin scoring the applications.

While the goalposts are positioned for a commercial adult-use sales launch by the end of this year, OCM has not established a firm date for when that launch will happen