Broome County's district attorney is opposed to New York state's plan to give priority in awarding retail marijuana sale licenses to people with prior weed-related convictions.

Michael Korchak said it seems "we are rewarding individuals who chose to break the law and excluding individuals who chose not to."

Speaking on WNBF Radio's Binghamton Now program Wednesday, Korchak said "it seems a little backwards or upside-down" to him.

Although the legislature has approved the sale of marijuana, the district attorney said "we really don't know the long-term effects" legalization will have on the community.

Governor Kathy Hochul says New York state's licensing approach for the cannabis industry "takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past."

Statistics show Blacks and Hispanics in the past were far more likely to be charged with marijuana-related offenses in the state.

Hochul has proposed a $200 million fund to help those awarded the first marijuana retail licenses to set up businesses.

Korchak wondered whether the state would be "setting individuals up for failure by setting them up in these small businesses that they're not qualified or not experienced enough to run."

The district attorney said he expects lawsuits will be filed by people who haven't been convicted who will ask why they aren't receiving preferential treatment in the licensing process.

Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak in downtown Binghamton on January 23, 2019. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
Broome County District Attorney Michael Korchak in downtown Binghamton on January 23, 2019. (Photo: Bob Joseph/WNBF News)
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Contact WNBF News reporter Bob Joseph: bob@wnbf.com.

For breaking news and updates on developing stories, follow @BinghamtonNow on Twitter.

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