His amendments break down how the $100 Million in Social Equity funding will be allocated, as well as how to establish delivery services, and what the breakdown of criminal charges will look like. It also outlines how the newly legal industry will deal with the impacts to those disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
“As we work to reimagine, rebuild, and reopen New York, we’re taking every opportunity to address and correct decades of institutional wrongs to build back better than ever before,” Governor Cuomo said. “We know that you cannot overcome a problem without first admitting there is one. Our comprehensive approach to legalizing and regulating the adult-use cannabis market provides the opportunity to generate much-needed revenue, but it also enables us to directly support the communities most impacted by the war on drugs by creating equity and jobs at every level, in every community in our great state.”
In terms of the Social Equity Fund, the money will go to help revitalize communities most harmed by the war on drugs, specifically prioritizing nonprofits and other groups that are in need of funding and support. In order to receive funds, organizations can apply for funding to help with things like job placement, adult education, mental health treatment, substance misuse disorder, housing, financial literacy, community banking, nutrition services, and more, including childcare and after-school programs. Funding may also go to existing, social equity programs.
How It Can All Come Together
In order to make this new vision of legal cannabis a reality, the Department of State will work together in collaboration with the Empire State Development Corporation, who will oversee the grants being distributed. The Department of Labor and the Department of Health, as well as the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, will also be involved. The offices of Addiction Services and Supports and Children and Family Services will weigh in on how best to keep safe and support minors, and the Division of Budget will oversee the changes.
The Governor has come up with this proposal after studying and planning for the decriminalization of cannabis and then taking that step a little further with this new action. While cannabis is already decriminalized in New York, he feels that is not enough to ensure social equity and establish the new program.
The Department of Health in New York is also carrying out a study through multiple agencies that looked at all the impacts of legalization. The ultimate results of the study, as most advocates are already aware, is that the positives far outweigh the negatives. It also revealed that prohibition failed in its efforts to protect public health and safety. As many studies have already proven, it did not paint a reasonable picture of what cannabis does, and it disproportionately criminalized people of color.
Cannabis legalization in New York will be a big deal across the country, and Governor Cuomo is paying close attention to the details when it comes to his legalization plan.