Dear New Yorkers,

Back in January 2022, Gov. Kathy Hochul outlined a vision for the social-equity goals of New York’s new cannabis law: The state would create a $200 million fund to build out dispensaries for retail licensees with past cannabis-related convictions. 

This, lawmakers and regulators agreed, was a chance for those who had been most harmed by decades of racist drug policies to not only participate in the legal market — but to thrive from it.

But nearly two years later, financing documents obtained by THE CITY reveal that the 10-year loans it offers to dispensary owners are highly restrictive and potentially burdensome. Until now, the details of the loan agreements have been largely unknown.

The loan documents, which licensees are required to sign in order to obtain financing, show that the state’s public-private fund is authorized to rack up significant expenses without consulting the borrower. Their interest rates can climb to 18% for the costs of building out a business that licensees don’t fully control. 

And if licensees want to pay off their loan early, they still owe the fund a portion of the interest for the full 10-year terms – which could amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

In other states where cannabis is legal, there are social equity programs with aims similar to New York’s, but with vastly different loan terms. 

Weather scoop by New York Metro Weather

Thursday’s Weather Rating: 9/10. OH MY! Sunny and relatively warm, with high temperatures in the lower 60s and a light breeze. What more can you ask for in mid-November? The vibes are SO good out there.

Our Other Top Stories

  • Speaking of the state’s beleaguered cannabis rollout, THE CITY has a guide to legal weed in New York. It includes a list of all the open legal commercial dispensaries in the five boroughs — plus, information about the entirely separate medical cannabis dispensaries, and expansions to the eligibility criteria that qualify New Yorkers for a medical card.

Things To Do

Here’s what’s going on around the city this week.

  • Thursday, Nov. 16: Kelp Cultivation in NYC, a half-day conference about ecological restoration in New York Harbor. Tickets from $23.18 (sliding scale available), 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Pratt Institute Research Yard in Brooklyn.
  • Thursday, Nov. 16: Cara Fitzpatrick with Wesley Morris: “The Death of Public School,” discussion about the Pulitzer-winning Chalkbeat editor’s new book. Free from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Library in Manhattan, and online via Zoom. 
  • Saturday, Nov. 18: Queens Botanical Garden birding event with NYC Audubon. Tickets $8-10, which includes garden admission, from 9:30-10:30 a.m.

THE KICKER: The results are in for the Museum of the City of New York (MCNY) gingerbread bakeoff competition. The overall winner was Patty Pops’ “Hip-Hop.” That entry and others — which include recreations of the American Museum of Natural History, the arch at Grand Army Plaza, and more — are on view at MCNY through Jan. 15.

Thanks, as always, for reading. Make it a great Thursday.



PS. Love THE CITY? Our nonprofit newsroom runs on support from readers like you. Donate here.

Correction: This text has been updated to reflect the correct “overall winner” of the gingerbread bakeoff. The recreation of the American Museum of Natural History was the only the Manhattan winner.

THE CITY’s work is made possible, in part, through the support of our sponsors. Interested in becoming a sponsor of THE CITY? Contact us here

Copyright © 2023 THE CITY, All rights reserved.