Petition to Bring Reinvestment to Harlem District 9 Following Legalization of Recreational Cannabis Sales in New York State


Advocates for these new laws claim that they will bring a huge reinvestment in communities of color impacted by the racist war on drugs. How will this work?

The regulated cannabis market in New York is expected to be a multi-billion dollar industry, creating at least $400 Million in tax revenue from New York City alone. First, that tax revenue will be used to fund government agencies with responsibilities under the law, such as the new Office of Cannabis Management, the DMV, the Office of Court Administration, and the state police. After that, 40% of the remaining tax revenue is promised for reinvestment in communities of color disproportionately negatively impacted by the war on drugs and past cannabis criminalization. Another 40% will go to public schools and education, and the last 20% will go to drug treatment, prevention, and education.

An “advisory board” will be in charge of distributing these funds, with a stated focus on social equity. This is a critical component of the state’s efforts to pump profits into rebuilding communities heavily affected by cannabis’ past prohibition. In June of this year, the state will set up this 13-member advisory board, with seven appointees from the governor and six by the state Legislature. The composition of this board will be important to its success, and we need to monitor its appointments closely. From the selection of the Chief Equity Officer, to the commissioner, to the entirety of the advisory board, these individuals must be carefully vetted and must be representative of the low-income communities of color in which they are purporting to rebuild. This language is all codified as “goals” in the legislation’s “Social Equity Mandate,” but adherence and follow through is another conversation entirely.

We the undersigned are Harlem district 9 residents who demand that:

  1. A sizable amount, at least 20%, of tax revenue from the sale of cannabis is reinvested in public social programs for our community, including jobs programs in emerging technologies, public housing, public schools, public hospitals, public parks, community gardens and recreational/fitness centers

  2. The advisory board appointees represent the people of Harlem who have had families destroyed by the racist war on drugs and the criminal injustice system and must include people with experience living at or near the federal poverty level and formerly incarcerated individuals

  3. New York cannot follow the example set by so many other states who have ignored the communities most affected by the failed, decades-long war on drugs when rolling out social equity goals. Without proper scrutiny, the city and state are saying that they are willing to see Black and Brown families remain behind bars or continue to live in poverty while selling profitable licenses to rich white business owners distributing the same product. As Harlemites, and politically engaged citizens we must remain vigilant and informed as the Governor and State legislatures appoint members to the advisory board.

Petition by
New York, New York

From: [Your Name]

Please sign this petition to bring reinvestment to Harlem District 9 following legalization of recreational cannabis sales in New York state!