Axel Bernabe, the chief of staff and senior policy director at the Office of Cannabis Management, discussed the state’s pivot from decades of criminalizing marijuana to the start of a sanctioned industry.

New York’s the first to offer initial dispensary licenses to those with weed convictions.

Bernabe explained how the Office of Cannabis Management is focusing on individuals impacted by the prohibition of cannabis and the nonprofits whose services include support for the formerly incarcerated.

The state set up applicants with retail locations and financing for the storefronts.

Bernabe explained how the legalization of recreational marijuana is also projected to help the city recover from the pandemic.

New York’s cannabis industry is expected to generate $4 billion over the next five years. Bernabe addressed concerns that the legalization of recreational marijuana could lead to more crime or car accidents across the city.

The Cannabis Control Board has issued nearly 40 retail licenses, with dozens more dispensaries expected to open in the coming months. Bernabe talked about what people can expect the future of recreational marijuana to look like here in the city.