An investment firm led in part by NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber will manage New York's $200 million social equity cannabis investment fund, Gov. Kathy Hochul's office on Wednesday announced.
The fund, set up as part of the state budget this year, is part of a partnership between the state government and the private sector meant to spur investment to help finance leasing and equipping up to 150 conditional retail dispensaries in New York.
Those dispensaries will be operated by people who have been affected by the enforcement of prior cannabis laws.
"Today, New York takes an important step forward in creating jobs and opportunity for those who, historically, have been disproportionately targeted for cannabis infractions," Hochul said. "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."
Webber's Social Equity Impact Ventures, LLC is a minority-led investment group that also includes entrepreneur Lavetta Willis. Both Webber and Willis work on cannabis-related ventures.
"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honored to work with New York's esteemed officials to right the wrongs for individuals who were unjustly victimized by outdated cannabis policies," Webber said. "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. 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."
Meanwhile, Hochul also announced the formation of the Cannabis Advisory Board, a panel that will oversee disbursements of grants to support communities affected by the prior drug laws. The board will include public health officials, labor union leaders and community advocates.