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NY Gov. Pledges $200M To Boost Social Equity Efforts As Part Of Cannabis Legalization Program

The fund will provide direct capital and startup financing to social equity applicants as the state takes meaningful steps to ensure that New York’s cannabis industry is the most diverse and inclusive in the nation.

By Jelena Martinovic

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) is set to pledge $200 million to support social equity applicants within the state’s burgeoning marijuana market.

On Wednesday, Hochul revealed an extensive State of the State book, laying out the plan for 2022, including policies she will pursue as well as her intentions to promote equity and economic justice in the cannabis industry.

Kathy Hochul
Photo by Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

“Together these actions will help ensure that as New York’s cannabis industry thrives in the year ahead, more New Yorkers can reap the rewards,” the book says.​​​​​​​

Hochul emphasized that creating “opportunities for all New Yorkers, particularly those from historically marginalized communities,” is important now that the market stands to generate billions of dollars.

Though marijuana legalization was signed into law last year by her predecessor Andrew Cuomo, marijuana business licenses have yet to be approved.

“In support of that goal, Governor Hochul will create a $200 million public-private fund to support social equity applicants as they plan for and build out their businesses,” the document says. “The fund will provide direct capital and startup financing to social equity applicants as the state takes meaningful steps to ensure that New York’s cannabis industry is the most diverse and inclusive in the nation.”

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

RELATED: New York Gov. Hochul: Legal Cannabis Industry Will Generate ‘Thousands Of Jobs And New Industries’

In addition, 50% of all licenses will be awarded to equity applicants, including individuals from impacted communities, as well as minority- and women-owned businesses (MWBEs), distressed farmers, justice-involved individuals and service-disabled veterans.

“Together, these actions will help ensure that as New York’s cannabis industry thrives in the year ahead, more New Yorkers can reap the rewards,” the book reads.

RELATED: NY Senator Files Bill To Include Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual People For Cannabis Equity Benefits

Moreover, New York will also set up a new Division of Harm Reduction within the Office of Addiction Services and Supports to address harm reduction principles and strategies, including expanding access to naloxone and buprenorphine, and investing in fentanyl test strips, to name a few.

Harm Reduction Campaigns

In December, New York City became the first in the nation to open two overdose prevention centers (OPC) where people can use illicit drugs and receive medical care and services in an attempt to curb the drug overdose crisis plaguing not just NYC but the entire country.

To tackle the growing issue, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) filed a pair of requests for applications (RFAs) last week to provide funding to research the efficacy of a variety of harm reduction policies, including decriminalization and safe consumption sites.

A total of nine selected applicants will run studies as part of the five-year program that will approve up to $6.75 million for the projects within the fiscal year.

This article originally appeared on Benzinga and has been reposted with permission.

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