Dasheeda Dawson appointed as Founding Director of Cannabis NYC

New York City Mayor Eric Adams and New York City Department of Small Business Services (SBS) Commissioner Kevin D. Kim announced the appointment of Dasheeda Dawson as the founding director of its new Cannabis NYC initiative to spearhead the agency's support of the growing cannabis industry. Dawson will lead SBS's strategy to support New York's emerging cannabis industry through widespread public education, direct services to cannabis entrepreneurs and professionals, legislative advocacy, and policy development at all levels of government.

"Our administration is committed to planting the seeds for equity in a high-growth, budding industry like cannabis sales," said Mayor Eric Adams. "The nation's most equitable cannabis industry will be in New York City, and to drive that goal home, we have chosen a proven leader with unmatched experience and credibility in this field. Dasheeda Dawson will fill the needs of entrepreneurs in this space, and as a person with lived experience and who was harmed by the 'War on Drugs,' this is personal for her. I look forward to working with her, day after day, to 'Get Stuff Done' for New Yorkers and grow this initiative."

"New York City is committed to building the country's most equitable cannabis industry," said Deputy Mayor for Economic and Workforce Development Maria Torres-Springer. "By naming an experienced and accomplished industry leader like Dasheeda Dawson as founding director of Cannabis NYC, we are ensuring our economic and social equity goals will be fulfilled as this industry grows across the city."

"Equity and social justice are the guiding principles of the Adams administration, and that's why we are so excited to welcome Dasheeda Dawson as our founding director of Cannabis NYC," said SBS Commissioner Kevin D. Kim. "Her professional experience as an educator, regulator, entrepreneur, and advocate make her ready for this moment. Her personal experience — as someone who has been impacted directly by the 'War on Drugs' — also uniquely prepared her to lead this groundbreaking initiative. I am confident that with Dasheeda at the helm of Cannabis NYC, we will help countless New Yorkers better understand and fully take advantage of this newfound opportunity."

"Leading Cannabis NYC is an incredible full circle moment. Growing up in East New York, I survived the height of cannabis prohibition and witnessed targeted enforcement derail the lives of my friends and family. I was stopped, searched, and treated like a criminal before I ever touched the plant, which shaped my initial perceptions," says Dasheeda Dawson, founding director of Cannabis NYC. "Now, as a cannabis patient, educator, and regulator, I get to support other consumers, small businesses, and local stakeholders in the growing industry so that cannabis — once used to suppress communities like mine — can be tapped as a tool for transformation. I'm thrilled to be back home, helping to craft an equity-centered approach to the city's cannabis industry framework that welcomes all New Yorkers to the table."

Dawson will serve as the primary liaison between SBS, other city agencies, the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (NYSOCM), as well as community stakeholders, including elected officials, community boards, and industry associations. She will also work to establish and collaborate with the New York City Cannabis Advisory Council, an advisory board of industry and community stakeholders that aims to ensure innovation and equity are central to the success of this emerging industry.

"Dasheeda understands what it means to run a city cannabis program that centers equity and community reinvestment," says Chris Alexander, executive director of NYSOCM. "Her historic work in Portland investing in entrepreneurs and tirelessly advocating in her home state of New York defines her as a national leader in the cannabis space. She has continued to destigmatize cannabis use while promoting its benefits, and I'm confident that she'll continue to be a powerful ally as we work together to make New York's cannabis market the most accessible and diverse in the nation."

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