Governor Kathy Hochul announced the next steps toward advancing social equity in New York’s growing soon-to-boom cannabis industry. The governor’s announcement includes the selection of Social Equity Impact Ventures, LLC, a premier minority-led investment team, to sponsor and manage the $200 million New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund.
Impact Ventures, a joint venture between an entity led by NBA Hall of Famer and entrepreneur Chris Webber, who is currently an active partner in a fund for cannabis-related ventures and noted entrepreneur Lavetta Willis.
In April, New York was seeking a manager for the $200 million fund and now it has it in the form of Webber, an active partner in a fund for cannabis-related ventures along with Willis and a firm affiliated with Siebert Williams Shank, one of the nation’s leading minority- and women-owned investment banking firms, that will be led by SWS CEO Suzanne Shank and SWS chief administrative officer William Thompson, former NYC Comptroller.
“Today, New York takes an important step forward in creating jobs and opportunity for those who, historically, have been disproportionately targeted for cannabis infractions,” Governor Hochul said. “As we create a new industry in New York, I am proud to see real progress in addressing the economic needs of our future entrepreneurs.”
Hochul also announced the appointment of new members to New York’s Cannabis Advisory Board, which will serve with the Office of Cannabis Management.
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “For too long, communities of color have been the target of discriminatory criminal justice policies and suffered serious consequences for the possession of small amounts of marijuana, while others were never arrested or charged.”
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins thanked the new members, Ebro Darden, Alex Alvarez, and Nikki Kateman, of the Cannabis Advisory Board. “Their diverse backgrounds and experience will help ensure that New York State has a fair and equitable adult-use marijuana market. I look forward to their work.”
Longtime advocate, State Sen Liz Krueger call the establishment of the Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund critical toward creating a legal cannabis market rooted in social equity and addressing the damage done by the War on Drugs.
“I am gratified to see so many prominent leaders joining these efforts and look forward to continuing to work Governor Hochul and the Office of Cannabis Management to ensure real opportunities for those impacted by past failed drug policies, and to reinvest in communities most impacted by those policies.”