ALBANY, N.Y. — At age 23, William Durham was arrested for possessing marijuana, and he chalks up his only conviction to being young and in the “wrong place at the wrong time.”
Durham, whose family moved to New York’s Southern Tier from Brooklyn when he was a child, said the case affected his ability to find work, with him losing out on jobs for not being “squeaky clean.”
Nearly two decades later, at the age of 42, Durham is about to become one the first New Yorkers to be allowed to sell cannabis legally in the state. And he’s not the only one with a criminal record to get the chance: New York’s first-in-the-nation legalization model reserves the state’s initial 175 dispensary licenses for those most affected by marijuana prohibition.
The regulations look to get right what other states that legalized marijuana may have failed: making sure underserved communities and minority businesses benefit from the industry.
“It feels surreal,” Durham said of landing one