New York plans $200 million fund to bolster marijuana social equity goals

New York’s new governor plans to create a $200 million public-private fund to support the state’s ambitious social equity goals for its projected multibillion-dollar recreational marijuana industry.

The adult-use legislation enacted last year sets a goal of awarding 50% of all licenses to social equity applicants in efforts to build a diverse industry and include communities and individuals impacted by the war on drugs.

But advocates have expressed concerns about how the goals would play out in reality and whether the program would be the game changer it has been professed to be.

Gov. Kathy Hochul attempts to address those concerns in a plan articulated in her 237-page State of the State book released this week.

The $200 million fund, according to page 207 of the document, will support social equity applicants as they “plan for and build out their businesses.”

“Licensing fees and tax revenue will seed the fund and leverage significant private investment,” the document states.

“While New York has committed to making its cannabis industry more equitable, this action will put that commitment into practice.”

In addition, New York will create a state-run business incubator to further support equity applicants, according to the document.

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The state’s social equity program is geared toward individuals from impacted communities, minority- and women-owned businesses, distressed farmers and disabled military veterans.

MJBizDaily projects that the recreational marijuana industry in New York will generate nearly $2.5 billion in annual sales by the fifth year of the program.