August 2022 Regional Cannabis News: NY, CT Adult-Use Programs Prioritize Social Equity

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Each month, Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition (CWCBExpo) offers a convenient regional news round-up highlighting significant developments in the tri-state area and Pennsylvania. Get these updates in your inbox by subscribing to our email newsletter, or follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Twitter to get the most recent edition when it’s published.

From famed rapper Ice-T receiving a license for a dispensary in Jersey City, NJ to Pennsylvania taking steps to protect banking services, the Northeast’s cannabis industry is evolving at a rapid pace. Social equity has continued to be a major theme as the region lays the groundwork for its cannabis industry too, with New York and Connecticut working to include key provisions in their adult use regulations. With all the buzz surrounding cannabis in the northeast, this month’s regional news update is not to be missed.

Pennsylvania adopts cannabis banking protections

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) has signed a bill to protect banking institutions and insurance firms that work with medical cannabis companies from state prosecution.

Sponsored by Rep. Rosemary Brown (R-PA), the legislation was passed into law as an amendment to House Bill 331, a non-cannabis-related banking bill.

The bill states that a “financial institution authorized to engage in business in this Commonwealth may provide financial services to or for the benefit of a legitimate cannabis-related business and the business associates of a legitimate cannabis-related business,” explicitly endorsing access to the state’s financial system for compliant cannabis businesses.

“All businesses that provide jobs and grow the state’s tax base require investment and protection as a basic necessity,” Pennsylvania Cannabis Coalition executive Director Meredith Buettner said in a public statement. “House Bill 331 ensures equity for legitimate cannabis businesses, but most importantly, it sends a signal to the federal government to pass a national ‘safe banking act’ that protects an industry that helps millions of patients and generates billions in tax dollars.”

Although the legislation authorizes Pennsylvania banks to work with legal cannabis businesses, it does not require them to do so. And while state law now protects banks and insurance companies doing business with the industry, these institutions could still be at risk of federal consequences, potentially limiting the overall impact of the law. Federal reform is still required to address the widespread challenges associated with financial services and funding for cannabis businesses.

Connecticut Social Equity Council approves first five adult-use dispensaries

Connecticut’s Social Equity Council has approved the first five lottery adult-use retail cannabis dispensaries as a part of the state social equity initiative to benefit communities most affected by Prohibition.

All approved applicants will be referred to the State Department of Consumer Protection for the next steps in the licensing process. If approved for provisional licenses, the retail applicants will have the opportunity to prepare for full licensure from the Department of Consumer Protection (DCP) to sell adult-use cannabis directly to consumers or through a delivery service.

“I am proud of the progress the [Social Equity Council] continues to make in reviewing social equity applications and creating opportunities for those who are ready for a seat at the table,” Ginne-Rae Clay, Social Equity Council Executive Director, told the Hartford Courant. “The adult-use cannabis industry is alive and moving forward. The process for reviewing applications is designed to be inclusive of as many applicants as possible.”

The council reportedly denied one social equity retail application and approved a recommendation to reject nine applications due to ownership and control concerns. These approvals come just weeks after the Social Equity Council approved 16 adult-use cultivation licenses earlier this month.

New York approves regulations for adult use dispensary licenses

The New York Cannabis Control Board has officially approved regulations for conditional dispensary licenses. According to the new regulations, all conditional dispensary license applicants must prove they are justice-involved. This means that the applicant or a family member was convicted of a cannabis crime prior to March 31, 2021, and have at least two years of experience owning a profitable business.

This is part of the state’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative, intended to assist New Yorkers most impacted by the War on Drugs.

The conditional retail license regulations take effect on August 3. The Office of Cannabis Management expects to give out between 100 and 200 licenses, which would be non-transferable for four years. Retail sales could begin as soon as later this year.

Rapper and actor Ice-T to open a dispensary in Jersey City

The Jersey City Cannabis Control Board has approved New Jersey native Ice-T to open an adult-use dispensary this year. The legendary rapper and actor was born in Newark and owns a home in Edgewater.

The 5,000-square-foot dispensary, named The Medicine Woman, is set to open this fall on Tonnelle Avenue. The location is just a few miles from Midtown Manhattan, and will feature “the best of New Jersey cannabis brands, limited edition merch, education, and inspiration.” Ice-T will co-own the dispensary with model Charis Burrett, known professionally as Charis B, who founded The Medicine Woman.

The dispensary plans to hire locally and will also support several cannabis initiatives and local community organizations, including the Last Prisoner Project, Jersey City Mural and Arts Program, Jersey City Employment and Training program, and Hudson County Community College.

“I’ve dedicated my life and career to giving back and paving the way for minorities. As a New Jersey native, I’m excited for the opportunity legalization offers our community, and I look forward to ushering in a new era for cannabis in the state,” Ice T said in a press release.

Stay in the loop with cannabis industry news

With new cannabis trends and regulations emerging every day, businesses must stay up to date on the happenings within their area to gain a competitive edge. Events like the CWCBExpo and resources like our monthly news updates are a necessity as more changes come to the northeast. Follow our monthly round-ups and check out next year’s CWCBExpo to keep learning and networking with industry leaders that are building the cannabis industry of tomorrow.

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