Saturday, November 17, Assemblywoman Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes will host a discussion on what our communities can do to prepare to enter the multi-billion dollar legal marijuana industry.
The panel will consist of a cross section of professionals from varying backgrounds including finance, law, business, community organizing and the industry itself. Individuals interested in learning more about the various employment and business opportunities available should plan on attending.
The discussion will take place from 10 a.m. – 1p.m. at Medaille College, located at 18 Agassiz Circle on the 2nd floor of the Sullivan Center in the President’s Dining Room.
Buffalo native Ebele Ifedigbo, a co-founder of Oakland California’s The Hood Incubator, is a featured presenter. Ifedigbo, a Yale M.B.A. graduate, is committed to using business to foster innovation and racial equity in cannabis.
“The Hood Incubator is focused on creating pathways to ownership for people of color to legal cannabis,” she stated. “When I was at Yale Business School people were lightweight laughing at me when I brought up working in the weed industry,” says Ebele. “But (in February) that same school hosted a cannabis business conference.” Ifedigbo sees the launch of a new legal cannabis industry as a “perfect opportunity” to build economic and political power in Black and Brown communities.
America’s War on Drugs has failed and worse, has disproportionately affected minority communities. Marijuana use is roughly equal across races nationwide, yet Black people are nearly four times as likely to be arrested for marijuana possession. Now that cannabis is a thriving $9 billion legal industry, Black people make up less than 5% of founders and business owners.
After 40 years of impoverished Black kids facing prison time selling weed, White men are planning to get rich doing precisely the same thing. Ebele received a joint B.A. in Economics and Philosophy, with a minor in African Studies from Columbia University in New York City. Ebele grew up in Buffalo, NY, and is a proud graduate of Buffalo’s City Honors School She was most recently named to the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 List. “
Now is the time to act and create the pipeline that is going to allow people of color to have a real stake in this industry,” Ebele states in the organization’s informational video.
-Statewide Public Hearing-
On Monday, November 19, The New York State Assembly will be hosting its second of four statewide public hearings related to allowing adult use of marijuana, known as the MarijuanaRegulation and Taxation Act (MRTA – bill no A.3506C), sponsored by Assemblywoman Peoples-Stokes. The hearing will be held at Buffalo City Hall’s Council Chambers, located on the 13th Floor of 65 Niagara Square.
These hearings are open to the public, but oral testimony is only by invitation. This is a follow-up to a well-attended Assembly hearing held earlier this year on this issue. In addition, the New York State Department of Health recently released a report on the impacts of a regulated marijuana market in New York, which resulted in the formation of a workgroup by the Executive Branch.
In 1977, New York decriminalized non-public possession of small amounts of marijuana, making such possession a noncriminal violation punishable only by a fine. In recent years, New York and many other states have legalized the use of marijuana for various medical conditions.
Despite decriminalization in New York, a disproportionately high number of Black, Hispanic and Latino people continue to be arrested for marijuana-related offenses – particularly possession in public view as a consequence of stop and frisk – which often results in a criminal record that can prevent gainful employment and full participation in society.
“For me, it’s about social justice reform, ensuring that one’s ambition and opportunities are never stunted due to the inequitable enforcement of law,” stated Assemblywoman Peoples- Stokes. “People of color are denied public housing, student loans, and jobs due to minor marijuana convictions every day. This has a direct effect on a household and the ability of its breadwinners to provide an acceptable quality of life. Since New York State doesn’t have expungement, sealing those criminal records is a priority.”
Several states in the Northeastern U.S., as well as Canada, have authorized or are in the process of authorizing and regulating adult marijuana use. Creating an adult-use system in New York raises important issues about the economic structure and regulation of production, distribution and sale. Criminal justice and public health concerns, social and economic equity demands, ensuring opportunities for smaller scale and minority and- women owned businesses, and other relevant regulatory matters all need to be considered.
These hearings will give Assembly Members and all New Yorkers an opportunity to hear from witnesses and learn from the experience of other states that allow adult use. Persons presenting testimony at this hearing are also asked to consider directing their testimony to the potential impact of the enactment and implementation of A.3506-C (Peoples-Stokes), which would authorize, regulate and tax the adult use of marijuana in New York.
For more information on this, or any other local issue, please contact the office of Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes.