New York Creates $200 Million Fund to Support Social Equity Retail Leases

“They’re everywhere. They’re looking at all locations,” says real estate broker Donny Moskovic about the “frenzy” as New York state plans to lease up to 150 retail properties to help marijuana businesses secure social equity leases for stores.

The intervention—part of a push to bring diversity to the legal cannabis market—may help marijuana dispensaries overcome the challenge of obtaining a license, which can be challenging without real estate, and of finding an appropriate space for a small business trading in a commodity that is still illegal on the federal level.

The $200 million fund—backed by state and private dollars—is aimed at giving entrepreneurs of color and other under-represented groups a head start in the state’s new recreational marijuana market. The move has been touted as the first of its kind in the US cannabis industry, with industry watchers saying it could serve as a blueprint for other states looking to roll out social equity programs.

While New York’s proactive approach to providing real estate and other support for social equity applicants has garnered praise for its progressive posture, it has raised concerns and criticism among industry stakeholders and real estate firms that the move could increase competition, drive up prices, with some even saying its not enough.

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