To advance social equity, Hochul selected Social Equity Impact Ventures, LLC — a minority-led investment team. Impact Ventures is an entity headed by NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber, entrepreneur Lavetta Willis, Suzanne Shank, and Former City Comptroller William Thompson.
“I’m incredibly honored to work with New York’s esteemed officials to right the wrongs for individuals who were unjustly victimized by outdated cannabis policies,” Webber said in a statement. “New York’s thoughtful and inclusive approach to establishing equity in the cannabis space and creating opportunities for those affected by the War on Drugs is truly unparalleled.”
He continued: “Together, we look forward to starting the healing process within the community nationwide and it starts by giving aspiring entrepreneurs in this state the education, resources and training to thrive in the cannabis sector. Our hope is that New York’s holistic approach can be replicated in other markets and help accelerate the growth of underrepresented businesses across the country.”
As previously reported by AfroTech, Webber is the co-founder of The Players Only Holdings — alongside Willis — which aims to help Black and brown people in addition to the demographic of women and veterans.
“Today, New York takes an important step forward in creating jobs and opportunity for those who, historically, have been disproportionately targeted for cannabis infractions,” Gov. Hochul said in a statement. “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.“
Impact Ventures is set to sponsor and manage the New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund.
Per the press release, the enterprise includes Siebert Williams Shank (SWS), one of the nation’s leading minority-and-women-owned investment banking firms. led by Shank, CEO, along with Thompson, SWS’s chief administrative officer.
SWS will raise $150 million from the private sector to fund the project. The funding will go toward supporting entrepreneurs in setting up cannabis dispensaries.
“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,” Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said.
New York’s Cannabis Advisory Board
In addition to the news of Webber’s appointment, Hochul announced the new members of New York’s Cannabis Advisory Board including Ebro Darden, Alex Alvarez, and Nikki Kateman. According to State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the intent behind the appointments is to “ensure that New York State has a fair and equitable adult-use marijuana market.” The Board will serve with the Office of Cannabis Management.