The medical marijuana industry is proposing a massive minority contracting and hiring program to woo legislators to keep their weed firms in business.
They worry as lawmakers decide between two proposals to legalize recreational use of marijuana.
“Our bill is deficient,” said Assemblyman Joe Lentol (D-Brooklyn). “It doesn’t consult the medical marijuana experts. We need to give credit to those people who know the business.”
The concern of medical marijuana practitioners is that full-scale legalization will siphon away patients who currently need a prescription to get cannabis.
In order to stay in play, the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association is proposing an “inclusive legalization program” that promotes economic opportunity. It’s offering $25 million in zero-interest loans to minority and women business entrepreneurs, $500 million for infrastructure development and $1 million in community grant funds.
Data estimates 1.5 million recreational users will demand almost 638,000 pounds of marijuana per year. NYMCIA pledged a free online job training program dedicated to creating 10,000 jobs to meet this demand.
Sen. Diane Savino (D-Brooklyn) championed the group’s offer.
“The fact is, this is an expensive industry to get into because it’s still illegal on the federal level. It’s an industry dominated by investment, which is a barrier.”
Other lawmakers, including Speaker Carl Heastie, have concerns that big companies will shut out minority populations that have been negatively impacted by the criminal justice system.
“It’s a complicated business, you learn by doing it,” Savino added. “It’s a very important step to show how serious they are and want to help.”
Nearly 100,000 New York patients rely on treatment from medical marijuana. It’s ingested via tablets or oils to be vaped but cannot be smoked.
Thirty three states, including Washington, DC, have legalized medical pot.
Savino said the policy talks are ongoing, and details aren’t set in stone yet.