Amid a painstakingly slow rollout, New York’s Office of Cannabis Management in May published its 70-page Social and Economic Equity Plan, outlining the state’s guidelines for prioritizing diversity within its legal cannabis market.
While the report extensively detailed prohibition’s impact on residents of New York, the failings of social equity programs in other states, the steps New York has already taken to support diversity in its licensees and the results of equity community roundtables, critics said the document failed to deliver an actual plan.
At a meeting of the Cannabis Control Board in May, Reuben McDaniel, a member of the board and CEO of DASNY (the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York), expressed his disappointment with the report.
“I don’t see this as an actionable plan,” McDaniel said, according to a story on Syracuse.com. “I don’t see any goals, budgets, metrics or timeframes.”
The Cannabis Control Board granted 50 new conditional retail licenses at the meeting, bringing the total number of retail licenses up to 215 — however, only about a dozen of those shops have been able to open, and the state has been inundated with unlicensed stores selling cannabis illegally to fill the void.
The Social and Economic Equity Plan present several “recommendations” for “building an equitable New York cannabis market.” Recommendations include protecting New York’s two-tiered market by keeping production and distribution licenses separate from retail, delivery and consumption licenses; maintaining proactive enforcement and oversight of ownership rules by requiring licensees to provide periodic reports on ownership arrangements, management-service agreements and vendor contracts, as well as conducting regular compliance inspections and financial audits; strengthening protections against predatory practices; safeguarding cannabis workers; and pacing the licensing rollout to ensure market stability.
In an interview with City & State New York, Chris Alexander, executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management, defended the glacial pace of issuing licenses.
“That slow rollout is the product of a choice that we have made as a state,” he said in May. “The choice to do the hard thing. To make sure that those who are impacted have an opportunity to participate in a meaningful way.”
— Garrett Rudolph