New York appoints chief equity officer to oversee marijuana diversity efforts

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New York regulators installed a chief equity officer, a key step to the state’s plan to develop a diverse, multibillion-dollar recreational marijuana industry.

The Cannabis Control Board’s appointment of Damian Fagon, a third-generation farmer, coincided with another major equity step last week.

That’s when Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed a 20-member advisory board to assist in creating a social and economic equity plan as well as a minority-led investment team to manage a $200 million social equity fund.

The state Cannabis Control Board also opened processor applications until Aug. 31, the Staten Island Advance reported.

Many industry officials characterized a chief equity officer as the linchpin to achieving the state’s goal of issuing 50% of adult-use licenses to equity applicants, including individuals from communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

“Damian’s background as a leader in New York’s Black farmer community, his knowledge of the industry, and his efforts to support farming communities around the world uniquely position him to develop our equity program,” Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said, according to the Advance.

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Fagon has worked with castor-oil producers in Jamaica, rice farmers in Sierra Leone and coffee exporters in Guatemala and also advised hemp operations in New York and South Carolina, the Advance reported.

New York’s adult-use marijuana law calls for the chief equity officer to assist in the development and implementation of the social and economic equity plan as well as to ensure that it is complied with.