March 10, 2022
From The Governor’s Office:
Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the first-in-the-nation Seeding Opportunity Initiative, which will position individuals with prior cannabis-related criminal offenses to make the first adult-use cannabis sales with products grown by New York farmers. This farm-to-store initiative makes sales in New York possible before the end of 2022, jumpstarts New York’s Cannabis Industry, guarantees support for future equity applicants, and secures an early investment into communities most impacted by the disproportionate enforcement of cannabis prohibition.
“New York State is making history, launching a first-of-its-kind approach to the cannabis industry that takes a major step forward in righting the wrongs of the past,” Governor Hochul said. “The regulations advanced by the Cannabis Control Board today will prioritize local farmers and entrepreneurs, creating jobs and opportunity for communities that have been left out and left behind. I’m proud New York will be a national model for the safe, equitable and inclusive industry we are now building.”
Response From Republican State Senator George Borrello:
“From day one, I have expressed concern about New York State’s intention to prioritize recreational marijuana licenses for those with drug-related criminal convictions. Now comes the news that the state will actually be the financial backer for many of these social equity applicants, through a $200 million fund that will be included in this year’s budget.
“As a business owner who holds a liquor license, I know firsthand that there is a very high standard for applicants that includes an extensive background check of all owners, including investors. Felony convictions are an automatic bar to entry and are done to ensure that organized crime is not involved in the business.
“Yet, for marijuana licenses, those with drug convictions are not only going to the front of the line, they are going to receive start-up money, courtesy of state taxpayers. While supporters of the plan argue that this favoritism is reparation for unjust marijuana convictions, the reality is that most of these individuals’ jail time involved the sale and/or possession of harder drugs, in addition to marijuana. The idea that we can turn career criminals into upstanding businesspeople by giving them taxpayer-funded dispensaries in an all-cash industry is utter madness. In the end, New York’s taxpayers will be the collateral damage in this scheme.”