April 1, 2021
New York legislative leaders and the Governor have worked long and thoughtfully to create a cannabis legalization plan that addresses the priorities of many diverse advocates, including consumers, medical marijuana patients, and residents of communities disadvantaged by the long-running War on Drugs.
Forty percent of revenues raised by the New York State Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act will be devoted to a Community Grants and Reinvestment Fund to support local small business that want to participate in the new legal cannabis industry. The idea is to promote entrepreneurial growth and job creation in areas where families have been hurt by high rates of arrest and incarceration for offenses that are no longer illegal. Governor Cuomo has projected $350 million could be raised by a new 13 percent sales tax on legal cannabis products.
“While this legislation is a milestone for the people of New York and for cannabis legalization as a whole, we suspect there is still a lot of work to be done fleshing out the details by state regulators and other policymakers,” said Gina Kranwinkel, CEO of NACB. “Our team stands ready to assist in any way that would be beneficial. The association has worked with our members to develop standards for responsible cannabis business and best practice guidelines for regulators in a dozen critical subject areas.”
One such area is a new set of guidelines for creating successful Social Equity Programs. Despite strong efforts, many state programs have encountered difficulties guiding social equity candidates from the application process to the end goal of opening viable businesses. “In our work on social equity, we have concluded that lack of investment capital is often the main obstacle to creating successful, sustainable businesses,” said Mark Gorman, chief government relations officer for NACB. “Many state officials are now realizing how important it is to incorporate a funding mechanism for low interest loans and social equity grants in their legalization statutes. People who qualify for cannabis licenses, but do not have access to capital, will simply have a hard time. Taking on partners who have financial means can be an option, but the licensees need to retain control of the operation,” he said.
The NACB also intends to visit with regulators to share their work on responsible advertising, packaging, and labeling practices. “We congratulate Governor Cuomo and leaders of the New York Senate and House on their much-anticipated accomplishment,” said Ms. Kranwinkel, “and we look forward to sharing all of our standards and best practices work with the state’s new cannabis regulators.”