ALBANY — Amin Cowan, a 45-year-old father of five living in Arbor Hill, has spent five years in prison, 23 days in a county jail and been fined more than $10,000 for marijuana possession and other offenses.
Doing time behind bars separated him from his children, straining his family. But it may now be his ticket to owning a turnkey marijuana shop in the state’s legal market.
New York officials recently closed the application window for licenses to run the first 150 retail marijuana stores, up to seven of which will be in the Capital Region. The retail spaces, which will be selected by the state’s Dormitory Authority, are set aside for people with past marijuana convictions and their relatives, with a separate category for non-profits. More than 900 individuals and groups have applied since Aug. 25; Cowan was one of them.
“I was kind of reluctant at first. Being a man of color, just believing in the system (is a challenge). It’s like the 40 acres and a mule that we was promised all of our lives,” Cowan said, referring to a broken Civil War-era commitment to formerly enslaved