As the deadline has passed for requesting licenses to legally sell recreational marijuana in New York State, regulators say more than 900 would-be pot shop operators have applied.

New York plans to issue about 150 licenses in this first round, which was open only to people with past marijuana-related convictions or their relatives.

Getty Images/ Stephen Brashear
Getty Images/ Stephen Brashear
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According to a tweet from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, Some 903 applications came in before the deadline passed Monday, September 26. That is six times the number of licenses that were initially being made available.

There's no exact date yet for sales to begin in New York, which is expected to become one of the country's biggest legal cannabis markets.

Officials say they are looking to make sure there are business opportunities for people who were most affected by past marijuana law policing, which was said to have resulted in a disproportionate number of Latino and Black people being arrested for mainly minor offenses compared to whites.

Regulators tweeted on September 28: “We look forward to building the nation’s most equitable and diverse cannabis market "

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In addition to the provision that first consideration being given to applicants who were convicted of a marijuana offense or a close relative, other requirements for would-be licensees include experience running a business that was profitable for at least two years.

Other people will be able to apply later. The state regulators say New York wants to award half its recreational pot licenses to applicants who are people of color, women, struggling farmers, disabled veterans or residents of communities that endured heavy pot policing.

The state also has promised to set up a 200-million dollar fund to support for startup grants, loans and other assistance for those licensees.

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