Clay picked as inaugural executive director of cannabis industry’s Social Equity Council

Ginne-Rae Clay, president of the Greater Waterbury NAACP and a small business consultant, has been selected as the inaugural executive director of the state Social Equity Council (SEC), a key regulator for the state’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis market, according to sources familiar with the situation. Clay has been selected following the SEC’s first meeting earlier this month, during which the council identified parts of Connecticut as being disproportionately affected by the 50-year “war on drugs,” a key criteria for determining … Continue reading “Clay picked as inaugural executive director of cannabis industry’s Social Equity Council”

Ginne-Rae Clay, president of the Greater Waterbury NAACP and a small business consultant, has been selected as the inaugural executive director of the state Social Equity Council (SEC), a key regulator for the state’s forthcoming adult-use cannabis market, according to sources familiar with the situation.

Clay has been selected following the SEC’s first meeting earlier this month, during which the council identified parts of Connecticut as being disproportionately affected by the 50-year “war on drugs,” a key criteria for determining whether a cannabis business applicant is eligible for social equity status. 

Social equity applicants enjoy advantages like reduced fees and preferential spots in lottery drawings for cannabis licenses.

The SEC, which will have a large role in approving cannabis business licenses for both social equity and general applicants, is scheduled to hold its next meeting Sept. 2.

In addition to her position leading the Greater Waterbury NAACP, Clay is president of Executive Solutions, where she provides management and technical assistance for entrepreneurs and small business owners, according to her online resume on LinkedIn. 

She has also served as Bridgeport’s director of planning and economic development, responsible for overseeing the day-to-day administrative affairs of eight city departments, from 2013 to last August, her LinkedIn profile says. According to the CT Post, Clay also worked at the Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) from 1987 to 2007, after which she served as state director of the Connecticut Small Business Development Center at Central Connecticut State University.

Clay could not be reached for comment Tuesday morning. State officials also declined comment.

The council will operate as an independent body, but is administratively under the auspices of the DECD. The Council’s 15 members — who are appointed and unpaid — will make decisions related to licensing and social equity measures and Clay will implement them.

The adult-use cannabis legalization statute Gov. Ned Lamont signed in June says SEC members must finalize and publicly post final social equity applicant qualifications by Sept. 1. Those applicants can begin submitting forms 30 days later, and non-equity businesses can start applying 30 days after that, the law says. Medical dispensaries may begin applying to convert their licenses to serve the adult-use market on Sept. 1.

It’s not clear if those deadlines will be met. 

So far members of the SEC include

  • Interim chairperson Andrea Comer, deputy commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection
  • Joseph Williams, an international trade specialist for the Connecticut Small Business Development Center at UConn
  • Kelli Vallieres, director of the Connecticut Office of Workforce Strategies
  • David Lehman, commissioner of the Department of Economic & Community Development
  • Melissa McCaw, secretary of the state Office of Policy & Management
  • Shawn Wooden, state treasurer
  • Subira Gordon, a Speaker of the House appointee
  • Michael Jefferson, a Senate President appointee
  • Edwin Shirley, a Senate Majority Leader appointee
  • Corey Betts, a House Minority Leader appointee 
  • Ramón Arroyo, a Black and Puerto Rican Caucus Chair appointee
  • Ojala Naeem, a House Majority Leader appointee

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