Mayor Eric Adams rolled out his Cannabis NYC initiative on Monday to promote the regulated growth of the recreational marijuana industry across New York City.
Kevin Kim, commissioner of the city's Department of Small Business Services, joined the mayor at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn to pledge support for small businesses and entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry as New York prepares for the next phase in recreational marijuana, which was legalized in March of last year. The state of New York is planning to prioritize recreational cannabis licenses for those who have been most affected by past convictions for marijuana.
“The regulated adult use cannabis industry is a once-in-a-generation chance for underserved communities, especially Black and brown communities, to be a part of this new industry here in our city,” Adams said Monday.
Kim said the program’s immediate goal is to expand resources for retail license applicants. New York state has established nine distinct application categories including retail dispensary, cultivation, processing, and on-site consumption. The state Office of Cannabis Management will begin accepting retail license applications this Thursday, August 25th. State officials have said recreational marijuana sales could begin as early as this year.
Among the services the city will offer are training for new business owners; application support for aspiring licensees; connecting “cannabis entrepreneurs” to free services; and fostering job-creation and partnership opportunities within the industry.
The mayor claims the city’s legal cannabis industry expansion could generate approximately $1.3 billion in sales revenue by 2023, and create as many as 24,000 jobs in the next three years.
The mayor, who is a former police officer, quipped that the industry will “light up” the city’s economy and bring wealth to communities of color that have historically high rates of incarceration for marijuana related crimes.
Medgar Evers President Patricia Ramsey expressed the institution’s support or the legalized industry expansion and introduced the college’s new minor in Cannabis Education. The degree program will offer the college’s predominantly Black student body resources for starting and running profitable marijuana businesses.
Since legalization, several businesses in the city have been marketing marijuana prior to the state’s official licensing process, using a legal loophole that the state has attempted to stymie.
When asked how these new industry expansion measures might affect law enforcement responses to drug crimes, Adams maintained that illegal vendors will be apprehended.
“You can never have a legal market with an illegal market,” he said. “They can’t go together.”
Correction: The original version of this story misstated the date on which this event took place.