Wilmington, DELAWARE — PRESS RELEASE — Recognized as a cannabis juggernaut before legalization, New York City’s emerging regulated adult-use industry is poised to be historic. Its new head is a respected industry pioneer with regulating experience and a demonstrated commitment to centering equity and inclusion in the space. On Wednesday, NYC Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Kevin D. Kim announced the appointment of Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition (CRCC) Chair Dasheeda Dawson as the founding director of its new Cannabis NYC initiative to lead the agency’s support of the burgeoning cannabis industry.

Dawson will helm SBS’s strategy to support New York’s emerging cannabis market through public education, direct services to cannabis entrepreneurs and professionals, legislative advocacy, and policy development at all levels of government.

She’ll serve as the primary liaison between SBS, other city agencies, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (NYSOCM), as well as community stakeholders, including elected officials, community boards, and industry associations. She will also work to establish and collaborate with the New York City Cannabis Advisory Council, an advisory board of industry and community stakeholders that aims to ensure innovation and equity are central to the success of this emerging industry.

“As a Brooklyn, New York native, I witnessed the many harms of cannabis prohibition—the unequal enforcement that shattered the lives of so many of my peers, the awful impact of revolving residents shuttering in and out of the criminal justice, the void left by the unfulfilled promise and traps into poverty and marginalization,” says Dawson. “Now, I have an opportunity to support our state’s nascent industry so that it can be a force for positive change. I am honored by the chance to lead cannabis efforts in the Big Apple and look forward to working with Mayor Adams, SBS, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management, as well as community stakeholders to ensure that every New Yorker can benefit from the growing industry, particularly those most harmed by prohibition, which targeted Blacks and other people of color.”

“Dasheeda is a regulator with a thoughtful and inclusive approach that seeks to restore communities and individuals harmed by cannabis prohibition. She works hard to ensure that everyone benefits from the fast-growing industry, not simply those with money and power,” says Shaleen Title, CRCC co-founder and former Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commissioner. “I’m confident that she will bring the same spirit of fairness and cooperation to what will likely be the biggest cannabis market in the world. New York City is lucky to have a leader with her vision and determination.”

Dawson is a global cannabis advocate, award-winning Fortune 100 business strategist, and bestselling author on the cannabis industry. Her advocacy and thought leadership have also been featured across multiple outlets.

She has nearly 20 years of business development, strategic management, and brand marketing excellence while leading transformative organizations in both the public and private sectors, nearly a decade of which has focused on the growing cannabis industry.

As an advocate and policy advisor, Dawson was pivotal to the 2021 landmark passage of New York’s Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act. While fighting for legalization in her home state, Dawson was tapped to lead cannabis regulation in Portland, Ore. As cannabis program manager for the City of Portland, Dawson oversaw all regulatory licensing, compliance, education, and equity initiatives for the city’s cannabis industry. Supported by ongoing cannabis tax revenue allocation, her office managed the Social Equity & Educational Development (SEED) Initiatives, which includes the nationally-modeled SEED Grant Fund, the country’s first community reinvestment fund tied to local cannabis tax revenue. Under her leadership, Portland approved a multimillion-dollar Cannabis Emergency Relief Fund, becoming the first government jurisdiction in the country to allocate cannabis tax revenue to provide aid and emergency relief to the industry.

RELATED: Building on Portland’s Vision of Equity: Q&A with Cannabis Program Supervisor Dasheeda Dawson

Dawson serves as Board chair of the Cannabis Regulators of Color Coalition, a national organization of industry policymakers and regulators often referred to as the leading architects of cannabis equity and reform in the United States. She is also a weekly correspondent on the Lurie Daniel Favors show and co-host on “She Blaze,” an award-winning weekly cannabis news and culture podcast.

Dawson received her MBA from Rutgers Business School and completed her undergraduate degree in molecular biology at Princeton University.

The New York Times profile on her vision for the role can be accessed here.

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