NYC mayor launches Cannabis NYC program


New York City Mayor’s Office

May Khin

New York City Mayor Eric Adams held a news conference on the launch of the Cannabis NYC program at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College on Aug. 22.

The goal of Cannabis NYC is to offer applications for cannabis retail licenses and no-cost training on how to successfully run a business in New York.

The retail dispensary licenses and applications for adult use first became available from the New York State Office of Cannabis Management on Aug. 25.

“The economic opportunities are amazing,” Adams said at the news conference. “What we are announcing here today is the first of its kind initiative to support the equitable growth of the cannabis industry in New York City by doing it here in Medgar Evers College.”

Medgar Evers is the first CUNY institution to offer a minor study in cannabis education. This year, three of its students who study cannabis won “best of show” at a National Science Foundation I-Corp Program, Medgar Evers President Patricia Ramsey said at the news conference.

Medgar Evers faculty have given cannabis presentations in Albany, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Manhattan, and the college has been contacted for partnerships and education in other states.

The program’s mission is to bring economic growth from the cannabis industry in the most equitable way possible, as part of Adams’ economic recovery plan.

Through Cannabis NYC, Adams wants to give second chances to the individuals who were arrested for marijuana possession and now struggling to find employment due to criminal records.

“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. “For too long, these communities have faced high rates of drug-related incarcerations and they have been denied opportunities to build wealth.”

The retail licenses will go to the applicants who have run successful businesses in the past and applicants who were directly impacted by marijuana criminalization. The program will give a second chance to people with cannabis convictions during the first round of applications.

The retail cannabis industry is projected to earn $1.3 billion in sales by 2023 and create 19,000 to 24,000 jobs through Cannabis NYC over the next three years.

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso and City Council Member Kevin Riley have been supportive of this program and the NYC Department of Small Business Services.

SBS Commissioner Kevin Kim announced that this is the city’s first no-cost program in multiple languages that helps entrepreneurs to apply for the state’s first cannabis retail license.

The state will issue nine licenses for the first round of applications, but Kim said they are aiming for about 150 licenses in the next round.