New York chooses management for state’s marijuana social equity fund

The state of New York has chosen “premier minority-led investment team” Social Equity Impact Ventures to manage its $200 million marijuana industry social equity investment fund.

Social Equity Impact Ventures is described as a joint venture between a group run by former NBA star Chris Webber and entrepreneur Lavetta Willis and “a firm affiliated with” financial services company Siebert Williams Shank (SWS). SWS is led by CEO Suzanne Shank and Chief Administrative Officer William Thompson, a former New York City comptroller.

The Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund is “a public-private limited partnership that will be formed to position social equity entrepreneurs to succeed in New York’s newly-created adult-use cannabis industry,” according to a Wednesday news release from the office of Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The fund will help as many as 150 conditional adult-use retail dispensary licensees “who have been impacted by the inequitable enforcement of marijuana laws” lease and equip their retail locations.

“A second award for design and construction services to renovate existing spaces for adult-use retail cannabis dispensary facilities is expected to be announced in July,” the governor’s release noted.

Up to $50 million of the fund’s $200 million in funding will come from adult-use licensing fees and revenue, with “up to $150 million from the private sector that will be raised by the fund manager.”

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“Our hope is that New York’s holistic approach can be replicated in other markets and help accelerate the growth of underrepresented businesses across the country,” Webber said in a statement.

New York also appointed new members to its Cannabis Advisory Board, which will manage the disbursement of funds from the New York State Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, described as “a separate fund that will support communities disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition.”