BUFFALO, N.Y. — A virtual community forum was held Friday to discuss how Buffalo residents can seize opportunities in the state's emerging cannabis industry.
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and New York State Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes held the forum.
“The City of Buffalo will work with all of the members of our community to make sure that funding and opportunity resulting from the legalization of cannabis reaches our most vulnerable, and will provide the support that is needed to assist people in realizing the benefits of this important legislation,” Mayor Brown said.
New York State still needs to create an agency of cannabis management, which would regulate who can grow, process, distribute and sell cannabis.
Because of that, Peoples-Stokes said licenses will not be made available to anyone for at least a year. However, she said those who want to break into the $4 billion cannabis business should get ready.
"Figure out how you can turn what you like into the cannabis business, which is quite doable," she said.
She recommends seeking out any courses or professional expertise you can.
"Don't expect that anybody is going to do anything for you in business. You do what you need to do to get ready, and if you're missing two little pieces or three little pieces, or five pieces, then ask for help," she said. "There are people who are willing to help, businesses, business organizations."
Cannabis would be taxed at a rate of 13 percent, and a portion of that money raised through taxation will be reinvested in the community.
Local governments can opt out from allowing retail locations and home growing. They have until December 31 to do so.
"For everybody that's watching this or listening to this, my recommendation is not to opt out, so I want to be very clear on that," Mayor Brown said.
With more than 200 people in attendance at the virtual forum, Mayor Brown said more conversations on the topic will be forthcoming.
If you missed the forum, you can watch it on Mayor Brown's Facebook page.