BUFFALO, N.Y. (WBEN) – If marijuana is legalized in New York, a new business opportunity awaits. One legal expert said while there is already local interest, though there are steps that businesses have to take before selling marijuana.
Aleece Burgio, the Cannabis Service Team Leader at Barclay Damon and Chair of the New York State BAR Association’s Cannabis Committee, said the type of license a business will need to receive is dependent on what they want to do with marijuana.
“You could either be a grower, a producer, a processer,” she said. “You could be a distributor, have a retail store, have a nursery, delivery license, possibly an on-site consumption lounge. Say you want something small-scale. There’s going to be something similar to a brewery license called a micro-license.”
For example, if you wanted to be a retail seller of the product, Burgio said you can only own three stores. Those trying to open a marijuana retail store would also have to factor in its location because the state is forbidding stores from opening near schools or day care centers.
There will also be a limit on how much one can buy each day.
“You’re going to stay within that allotment that you’re allowed per day per person,” she said. “You show your ID again and you’re now tracked in the system. There’s a whole seed-to-sale system that is tracked.”
Marijuana regulations will be similar to alcohol sales.
Burgio said a new branch of state government called the “Office of Cannabis Management” will regulate the industry, similar to how the State Liquor Authority oversees alcohol. The new office, in fact, will be a branch of the SLA.
Businesses looking to produce cannabis will be regulated in a tiered system. Those producing in smaller areas like buildings or homes will have a limit on how much they are allowed to grow. Grow operations for larger operations like farmlands will be allowed to produce more, though specific regulations are unclear.
“We will see a craft-to-commercial availability of grow licenses,” Burgio said.
Democratic leaders in Albany said they are finalizing a marijuana legalization package, though Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said there is still debate on how to address impaired driving. Both state houses removed marijuana from the budget proposals this week, signaling a deal is near.
Once it’s legal, Burgio expects Buffalo to be a significant market due to its proximity to the Canadian border and affordability of the region.
“You’ll see, I think, a lot of hubs here,” she said.
She also said the marijuana legalization effort will have have social equity components, meaning women, minority, disadvantaged farmers, disabled veteran, and communities disproportionately impacted by prohibition will get priority on licensing from the state.