Evans Launches Cannabis Planning Commission | News
Mayor-elect Malik Evans has started a group to help the city of Rochester welcome what he hopes will be a growing, diverse, and equitable legal cannabis market.
Rochester’s cannabis preparation commission includes city council members Mitch Gruber and Michael Patterson, incoming city attorney Linda Kingsley, and cannabis entrepreneurs. The mission is to refine many nuances of how the market works in Rochester.
The commission’s top priorities are to ensure that people who have faced legal penalties because of cannabis, or members of communities disproportionately affected by criminalization, have a chance to participate in the legal market, Evans explained. at a press conference on Tuesday.
“If people are left out, especially black and brown communities, we will miss a major opportunity,” Evans said. “My goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen, but the only way to make sure that doesn’t happen is to have good preparation.”
The potential economic impact of cannabis promises to be enormous. According to a 2018 State Health Department report, the recreational marijuana market in New York City could be between $1.7 billion and $3.5 billion per year. The industry, he added, could create 60,000 jobs.
Board member Gruber described the opportunity presented to Rochester as “as close to a unicorn as we’ll ever get.”
“We’re sitting on the precipice of a billion-dollar-plus industry that becomes legal, taxable and regulated pretty much overnight,” Gruber said.
Legal and licensed recreational dispensaries and salons are still a long way from happening. State Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright announced in October that the regulator was working on an 18-month timeline for implementing the regulations, placing the start of legal sales in the spring. 2023.
Similarly, Evans was candid in saying there was no set deadline for his planning commission to submit the legislation to the city council for approval.
“It’s going to be as long as it takes,” Evans said. “Obviously it won’t be forever, but we want to be at least ready when the state does.”
Despite the lack of a regulatory framework, cannabis businesses have exploded in Rochester under a so-called “gift clause,” a policy whereby retailers give away weed alongside the sale of a t- overpriced shirt or sticker. Although the Cannabis Control Board has outright called the practice illegal, that doesn’t seem to have slowed it down at all. This Saturday, for example, the Main Street Armory will host about 90 cannabis vendors during the second “Cannabis Carnival.”
Jeff Medford, a longtime participant in the legacy cannabis market, believes there is real potential to improve the lives of Rochesterians through the recreational market.
“We’re at an important moment in history and Rochester can do wonderful things,” Medford said.
Gino Fanelli is a staff writer at CITY. He can be reached at (585) 775-9692 or [email protected]