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The Latino Cannabis Association launches in New York and shows a promising start

A recent bill signed by New York Gov. Kathy Hochul will allow marijuana farmers the chance to grow their crops this Spring.

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The cannabis industry has been on a steady rise since many states such as California, Arizona, and New Jersey legalized the use of recreational marijuana in recent years. In fact, global sales are expected to reach $33.6 billion by 2025.

One state that has recently legalized the use of recreational marijuana is New York. Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation in April 2021 which made recreational marijuana legal for all consumers. Many businesses have been built because of this recent news, one in particular is The Latino Cannabis Association in Washington Heights, New York.

The nonprofit organization is dedicated to providing Latinos with access to the competitive marijuana business by ensuring interested Latinos have obtained applications and contacts in order to succeed in the growing marijuana marketplace.

Jeffrey Garcia, the president of The Latino Cannabis Association, stated he wants to help Latinos succeed in the industry.

"The expansion of the regulated cannabis industry in New York is moving very fast," Garcia said in an interview with Times Union.

The organization also wants to spread the word about the disproportionate rate amongst Latinos when it comes to businesses.

Garcia also said attaining a license is the first step to entering the marijuana business.

“We want to make sure that our members are ready to actually not only get licenses, but build out these businesses and create generational wealth in our communities,” said Garcia.

Generational wealth is a vital part of many lives; however, Latinos are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to an abundance in money.

According to The Federal Reserve, a typical white family owned about $184,000 in family wealth in 2019, however, a typical Hispanic family owned $38,000.

The organization's website states that, “Latino communities have been disproportionately targeted in the Drug War and we must take our place at this new legal table.”

The website mentions that this moment in time is their “Bitcoin moment” for Latinos who are entering the marijuana workforce.

Melissa Guzman, the vice president of the Latino Cannabis Association, has also stated that now is the time for Latinos to take advantage of their services.

"The moment for Latinos to have a voice ... is now," she said.

Guzman also wants to get rid of the stereotypical associations with Latinos and drugs.

“Social justice is one of the main things that we're looking for with this association,” Guzman said to NPR. “The unity is where we come together as Latinos, within our communities, and the legacy is how we were impacted directly or, doesn't need to be directly, but it can also be indirectly by the war on drugs.”

A similar act was passed by Governor Kathy Hochul last month that will grant hemp farmers the opportunity to grow cannabis beginning this Spring.

The conditional licenses will protect New York farmers and their cannabis. Farmers will be able to grow in greenhouses and outdoors for up to two years.

“I am proud to sign this bill, which positions New York’s farmers to be the first to grow cannabis and jumpstart the safe, equitable and inclusive new industry we are building,” Gov. Hochul said.

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