Latino Cannabis Association Launched to Build Equity in New York’s Growing Marijuana Market
New York Latinos have organized to support members in growing and selling recreational marijuana. the Latino Cannabis Association launched this month to help members who grew up in over-policed neighborhoods obtain licenses to enter the cannabis business.
The association was established late last year and officially became a non-profit organization in early 2022.
Jeffrey Garcia, chairman of the group, said obtaining a license is the first step to growing businesses throughout the community.
“We want to make sure our members are ready to not only license, but grow these businesses and build generational wealth in our communities,” Garcia said. “We provide the support around them.”
Garcia said the group will provide additional services to these businesses, such as entrepreneurs, lawyers and engineers, who also identify as Latino, to grow their community. Once these businesses start making money, the association plans to reinvest in the Latino community through grants and social justice programs.
“Social justice is one of the main things we seek with this association,” said Melissa Guzman, its vice president. “Unity is where we come together as Latinos, within our communities, and legacy is how we have been impacted directly or, doesn’t have to be directly, but it can also be indirectly through the war on drugs.”
Under state law, half of the licenses to grow and sell marijuana should be reserved for people from disproportionately affected communities and small farmers. They would have access to state-run loans, grants and incubation programs.
The Latin American association is among several business groups that have formed since the state legalized cannabis use for adults.
“We will be looking for stakeholders and investors in our communities,” Garcia said. “We understand that there are a lot of people in our communities with resources, financial resources, business resources, real estate resources, who are Latinos, that we need to come into the fold. And that will come in the form of education.
“They’re going to spread their knowledge and help all of us as we start our own businesses,” Guzman said.