NYC wants to help those affected by the ‘War on Drugs’ sell legal pot

New York City Mayor Eric Adams says he wants to promote the city’s looming legal cannabis industry

NEW YORK – New York City Mayor Eric Adams said he wants the city to promote its impending legal cannabis industry and help people in minority communities most affected by marijuana offenses become marijuana entrepreneurs.

Adams is expected to propose Wednesday that the city spend $4.8 million to reach those hardest hit by the so-called War on Drugs. Her plan would help them get to grips with the industry and build their new small businesses, like navigating the licensing process and getting financing, among other things.

“Now is the time for our city to make proactive investments to ensure those disproportionately impacted by the criminalization of these substances can reap the benefits of the new industry,” Adams said in a statement.

The mayor, a Democrat and former police captain, said the legal marijuana industry could be a key driver of the city’s post-pandemic economic recovery, as well as a recovery in tourism, nightlife and returns to the office.

The announcement coincides with April 20 — also known as 4/20 — the date known to celebrate marijuana, and a day before neighboring New Jersey begins its own recreational pot sales.

A year ago, New York legalized adult recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older. Recreational sales aren’t expected to begin until late this year or early next year, as the state sorts out regulations for what is expected to be one of America’s largest legal markets for the drug.

In New York alone, the industry is expected to generate $1.3 billion in sales in its first year, according to city hall estimates.

New York was the 16th state to legalize marijuana for adults and the second most populous state after California to do so.

A key theme of marijuana legalization in recent years has been social equity, and New York laws have provided ways to address how the justice system has locked up a disproportionate number of people of color for drug-related crimes. This includes the state’s goal of allocating half of marijuana licenses to people from underrepresented communities. The state has also expunged some past marijuana convictions.

Adams’ plan continues in that vein, suggesting that the city help those most affected by drug criminalization if they now want to become marijuana entrepreneurs. City agencies dedicated to small business services, economic development, and criminal justice would work together to identify where to target efforts, launch a public education tour and publicity campaign, and even help those starting businesses find real estate to settle.

The proposal is part of the mayor’s city budget plan which he is due to unveil next week. Along with the rest of the budget, the proposal will be negotiated with city council and is expected to be approved this summer.

New York City Councilwoman Julie Menin, who chairs the council’s small business committee, and councilwoman Amanda Farías, who chairs the council’s economic development committee, both released statements supporting the mayor’s plan. to help marijuana entrepreneurs.

Menin said it was “crucially important” for New York City to establish the legal pot industry “in neighborhoods devastated by the War on Drugs.”

“We need to be mindful of marginalized communities who have been disproportionately incarcerated because of punitive marijuana laws,” she said.

Adams said separately that with not much land available in the city, he was exploring the idea of ​​allowing marijuana cultivation and cultivation on the rooftops of public housing buildings in the city. But that idea is likely to face major hurdles because housing is heavily subsidized by the federal government, which still criminalizes marijuana.

ABC News

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