New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced during her Jan. 5 State of the State address that officials will create a $200 million fund to support social equity cannabis businesses, according to a Syracuse.com report.
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the state’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) into law last year, and the statute mandates that 50% of the state’s adult-use cannabis licenses go to social equity applicants, Syracuse.com reported. Those eligible for social equity status include applicants disproportionately harmed by the war on drugs, minority- and women-owned businesses, distressed farmers, and service-disabled veterans, according to the news outlet.
Until the new fund was announced, it was unclear how state officials planned to fulfill these social equity requirements.
“This type of funding is groundbreaking and demonstrates the governor’s commitment to provide social equity applicants an equal opportunity to participate in this innovative new industry,” Denise Lyons and Cindy Gillespie, who are pursuing an adult-use cultivation license for their business, LG Growers, in Liverpool, told Syracuse.com. “This type of innovation is essential for New York State to meet its equity participation goal of 50 percent of approved licenses.”
Hochul’s office has proposed a funding mechanism based on licensing fees and taxes, a model that has faced pushback from some industry stakeholders, according to the news outlet.
“I love the spirit; $200 million sounds good, but if it comes after the market has already opened, then it has come too late,” Amber Littlejohn, executive director for the Minority Cannabis Business Association, told Syracuse.com.