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$200M NY Marijuana Industry: A Failure to Launch

New York's equity rollout of its legal marijuana market relies heavily on a $200 million fund to support the state's first retailers. The entrepreneur team in charge of this has failed to deliver on their 180,000-square-foot cannabis "compound" in Detroit and investing in entrepreneurs of color with a $100 million fund, reports The duo has made several misleading outright false statements about their accomplishments; they displayed evidence of financial mismanagement and apparently missed the state's deadline of raising $150 million from private investors. That calls the state's vetting process into question, as well as New York's equity-based cannabis marketplace. "The individuals that are going to be hurt the most by this are in those very communities that we're supposed to be uplifting and empowering through this process," said Terrence Coffie, a New York University lecturer and founder of the Social Justice Network.

In January, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the creation of a $200 million public-private fund that will pay for the leasing and equipping of up to 150 turnkey Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensaries (CAURDS). Those dispensaries will be turned over to licensees who've been affected by the inequitable enforcement of marijuana laws. Last week, New York's Cannabis Control Board awarded those first licenses. In June, the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY) picked as a fund manager Social Equity Impact Ventures, is headed by NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber and entrepreneur Lavetta Willis, who launched a sneaker company in the late 1990s. In September, through the state's Freedom of Information law, NY Cannabis Insider requested records detailing DASNY's vetting and hiring process around this contract. The agency has not produced documents as of Dec. 1. has investigated many cannabis entrepreneurs and interviewed industry experts. It became apparent that many, if not all, of Webber's and Willis' plans in the cannabis space, have never materialized.


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