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Debates about NYS marijuana legalization continue with talk about jobs

Posted: 6:52 PM, Nov 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-19 18:52:26-05

New York is hoping to become the next budding state to join those that legalized recreational adult-use marijuana.  Buffalo took center stage in the ongoing debate Monday with City Hall hosting the second of four statewide public hearings.

Those both for and against legalization spoke out.  Jobs were a hot topic.

A study by a cannabis analytics group cited by Forbes , reported federally legalizing could add more than 650,000 jobs.

"We all know the story of the Buffalo economy. We're part of the rustbelt. Different manufacturing and industrial economies have left. Well look the marijuana industry has a huge manufacturing component, too," Ebele Ifedigbo, co-founder and co-director of Hood Incubator, said.  

Ifedigbo, a Buffalo native, now lives in Oakland and started the nonprofit Hood Incubator during talks of recreational marijuana legalization in California.  The idea behind the nonprofit is to "increase the participation of Black and Brown communities in the legal cannabis industry."

"How do we make sure the folks who ake the majority of the risk, losing our livelihoods, losing our access to civil rights and political opportunities. How do we provide redress and make sure that community has full access to the benefits?" Ifedigbo said.

State Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes sponsors the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). 

"What I'm learning very clearly is that in the implementation in other states there was not an opportunity for people in color to be in business," she said. So she started "Cannabiz 101"--an event for budding cannabis business owners at Medaille College over the weekend.

Reggie Keith is a self-proclaimed "cannabis enthusiast" who plans on getting into the industry if NYS legalizes recreational marijuana. 

"I can't explain how much this industry can pull us up by our bootstraps," he said.

New York State could rake more than $435,000,000 million in tax revenue each year if marijuana is legalized. A bill could be voted on as early as next year.

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