Creation of the Latino Cannabis Association in New York

ALBANY — The Latino Cannabis Association, a nonprofit trade group, this week launched its efforts to allow competitive license applicants of Latino descent to enter the marijuana market in New York City.

The group will also seek to “steer policy” and “promote sustainability”, according to a press release.

“The expansion of the regulated cannabis industry in New York is moving very quickly,” said Jeffrey Garcia, president of the association. He hopes to help cannabis license applicants “successfully navigate the process” on their way to building profitable businesses.

The group’s announcement comes before state regulators have presented draft regulations for the industry. Most hopefuls in the cannabis business will only be able to apply for licenses once these regulations are set in stone.

However, a new law signed by Governor Kathy Hochul last week kicked off a parallel process in which current hemp growers will be able to apply for conditional licenses to grow marijuana in the interim. Hemp is also a cannabis plant, defined by its low concentration of the psychoactive compound tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Other companies keen to enter the new cannabis market – which is expected to start operating in early to mid-2023 – have been laying the groundwork despite the lack of regulation, including currying favor with local and state politicians, investing in land and facilities and promoting their proposed future business plans to potential workers and customers.

“The time for Latinos to have a voice…is now,” said Latino Cannabis Association Vice President Melissa Guzman, “when policies are being determined.”

The organization held a launch event on March 1, where it introduced its Board of Directors and 25 founding members. His new website focuses on Latin American representation in the social and economic equity nominee category, describing the opportunity as their “Bitcoin moment”.

New York law sets a target that regulators should aim to grant 50% of all cannabis licenses to equity applicants – including minority and women-owned businesses, distressed farmers and elders disabled fighters – with a focus on “communities disproportionately affected by the enforcement of cannabis prohibition.”

The association is one of many trade groups and coalitions that have formed following the state’s legalization of cannabis use for adults.

Andrew B. Reiter