New York is creating a $200 million fund for social equity applicants seeking adult-use cannabis licenses, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) announced Wednesday during her State of the State address. The plan is part of her Equity Agenda which also includes gender equity, racial equity, anti-hate, social justice, LGBTQIA+ community, immigrants and new arrivals, and veterans.
In a press release, the Governor’s Office estimates that New York’s cannabis industry will be worth $4.2 billion and that the industry “must create opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly those from historically marginalized communities.” The public-private fund will be used to support social equity cannabis industry applicants “as they plan for and build out their businesses,” the Governor’s Office said.
The program will be funded by industry licensing fees and tax revenues along with “significant private investment.”
Amber Littlejohn, executive director of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, told Syracuse.com that she loves “the spirit” of the proposal but warned that “if it comes after the market has already opened, then it has come too late.”
The state’s legalization law sets a 50% target for adult-use social equity licenses. Under the law, individuals disproportionately targeted by the war on drugs, minority- or women-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veterans can apply for social equity status.
Denise Lyons and Cindy Gillespie, who are seeking an adult-use cultivation license for their business LG Growers, called the plan “groundbreaking and demonstrates the Governor’s commitment to providing social equity applicants an equal opportunity to participate in this innovative new industry.”
“This type of innovation is essential for New York State to meet its equity participation goal of 50% of approved licenses,” they said in an interview with Syracuse.com
Hochul said the Equity Agenda “will both protect the fundamental rights of all New Yorkers and widen the opportunity for people of all backgrounds, beliefs, and identities to pursue the New York Dream.”
New York’s cannabis legalization law was passed last year; however, Tremaine Wright, the head of New York’s Cannabis Control Board, has indicated that licenses likely won’t be available in the state until 2023.
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