Invest tax revenue in impacted communities
A portion of the tax revenue generated by legalization should be awarded on a competitive basis to localities and community-based organizations working in neighborhoods with the highest proportion of marijuana-related arrests and that meet other criteria, such as having high rates of unemployment and a demonstrated need for mental health or substance use treatment. The New York State Community Grants Reinvestment Fund, as envisioned in the MRTA, offers a model for the types of services this funding should support, which include job placement, adult education, mental health treatment, substance abuse treatment, and legal assistance related to reentry.
Adopt inclusive licensee eligibility requirements
Any State legislation that seeks to create an adult-use marijuana program should include explicit equity provisions so that the adult-use market reflects the communities most impacted by prohibition. Specifically, people with prior marijuana-related convictions should be made eligible for cannabis licenses, as issued by the relevant State agencies. Applicants for licenses and permits should in turn be required to demonstrate how they will support hiring of people with prior convictions. In addition, New York State should consider waiving initial application and licensing fees for applicants from priority neighborhoods and regularly solicit feedback to ensure that fees associated with establishing an adult-use cannabis business are not prohibitive.