clearn.png
Sunday September 25th, 2022 7:28AM

After pot conviction, NY couple plans for legal dispensary

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (AP) — Eladio Guzmán spent two years in jail for selling drugs, missing the birth of his first child. Cannabis is part of his tumultuous past, but a year after New York legalized possession and use of marijuana, it could be his future. He's eager to open a recreational dispensary.

“I did time, we suffered,” said the 44-year-old union steamfitter, sitting beside his wife at the dining table of his Long Island home. “This is an opportunity for me to take the negative that I did and actually help me do something positive.”

His wife Melissa Guzmán also experienced the war on drugs: Several relatives arrested. An uncle who spent a decade in jail. His eventual deportation to the Dominican Republic. Now, as New York develops regulations for how a person or business can apply for a dispensary license, the Guzmáns are studying the industry as they wait for an application to open a cannabis shop in nearby Queens.

They often talk about the look, size and design of their future store, which they've decided to call “Fumaoo.”

They don’t expect to get one of the first 100 retail cannabis licenses the state plans to reserve for people with marijuana-related convictions. That's because the Guzmáns don't meet some of the requirements, like having at least a 10% ownership interest in a business that ran a net profit for two years.

Still, they're not too concerned, since they qualify as “social equity” applicants. Melissa Moore, director of Civil Systems Reform at the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance, said the state appears to genuinely have the aim of furthering the social equity components of the law that were passed last year.

“I think it’s an important first step: To be very clear that people who have been criminalized for cannabis in the past can and should be able to participate in the market in New York,” Moore said, “especially given that in other states they’ve been actively banned from even being employees in some cases, and certainly have been blocked from owning dispensaries.”

The Guzmáns have joined the newly formed Latino Cannabis Association and are traveling to cities like Boston to visit dispensaries for business research. They're also attending industry conferences and online courses.

The justice system has for decades locked up a disproportionate number of Hispanics and Blacks for drug crimes. New York officials say they want to address this by trying to ensure a place in the market for people who were prosecuted.

Jeffrey Garcia, president of the Latino Cannabis Association, thinks that's a good policy. He's trying to find Latinos who are interested in investing in the industry.

“We are being very intentional in making sure that we find social equity applicants, Latinos, that understand our vision of community and helping our community and building generational wealth,” Garcia said.

Eladio Guzmán grew up in Brooklyn's East New York neighborhood where his Dominican father had a convenience store. He said he became attracted to “the street life.”

“I thought, ‘Wow these guys are making so much money, wearing gold teeth.’ ... That was hip. And my father is killing himself waking up every morning at 6 o’clock to go open this business,” Guzmán said.

He drove a taxi but also sold marijuana, cocaine, crack or ecstasy pills. “Whatever it was I was able to get my hands on,” he said.

In 2007 he was arrested for possession with intent to distribute. He was about to get married to Melissa, so she put up the deed to her family's home to bail him out. After fighting his case for a year, he was sentenced and entered Brooklyn's Metropolitan Detention Center in 2008.

Now the couple has three children and live in a house in Hicksville, Long Island. Melissa, 38, is an insurance adjuster and Guzmán a foreman at Steamfitters Local 638. Drawings with “Fumaoo” in colorful graffiti-like letters hang in their living room and kitchen. Their days are filled with working, taking their kids to after-school soccer practice and learning about the cannabis industry.

They say owning a dispensary would improve their lives and provide a better future for their children. They also say they hope to give back to their community with their profits.

“Maybe we could help redo the parks nearby, or repair the sidewalk of a neighbor, make a street look better or provide for shelter homes that may be needed in the community,” said Melissa Guzmán. The state has said that 40% of tax revenue from cannabis will be steered to minority communities that registered high numbers of marijuana arrests.

Moore, the drug reform advocate, said the state could invest in job training or after-school programs.

“We’re talking about a really significant amount of money — year after year after year — being able to be used by the communities in the ways that are going to be the most responsive to the types of harm that needs to be repaired,” she said.

New York aims to provide 50% of licenses to marijuana entrepreneurs who are women or minorities, struggling farmers, disabled veterans and people from communities that endured heavy marijuana policing.

Recreational marijuana is legal in 18 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam. Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul's administration has vowed to create “the most diverse and inclusive” marijuana industry in the nation.

Eladio Guzmán hopes the governor is right.

“I think cannabis is the next bitcoin opportunity, especially for us minorities," he said.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, AP Business
© Copyright 2022 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
After pot conviction, NY couple plans for legal dispensary
A couple who endured the war on drugs, including jail time, is now eager to open a recreational marijuana dispensary in New York
1:02AM ( 10 minutes ago )
Buehler gets 1st career shutout, Dodgers blank D-backs 4-0
Walker Buehler tossed a three-hitter for his first career shutout, Will Smith launched a solo homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0
12:43AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Arenado's error helps Mets stun Cards 5-2 with 5 runs in 9th
Pinch-hitter Dominic Smith hustled for an infield single that drove in two pivotal runs, and the New York Mets capitalized on an uncharacteristic error by Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado to rally for five unearned runs with two outs in the ninth inning of a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals
12:36AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Michigan chief IDs officer who fatally shot Patrick Lyoya
Grand Rapids, Michigan, police have identified Christopher Schurr as the officer who killed Patrick Lyoya three weeks ago
11:48PM ( 1 hour ago )
N. Korea's Kim vows to bolster nuke capability during parade
North Korea says leader Kim Jong Un has vowed to bolster his country’s nuclear capability at "maximum speed.”
11:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
Melissa Lucio's execution was delayed. What to know about it
Nearly half of the jurors who sentenced a Texas woman to die for the 2007 death of one of her 14 children called for her execution to be halted and for her to get a new trial before the state’s top criminal court delayed her lethal injection
10:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Wildfires tear across several states, driven by high winds
Firefighters across the country are battling multiple wildfires as tinder-dry conditions and high winds whip up flames from Arizona to Florida
10:08PM ( 3 hours ago )
Weary of many disasters? UN says worse to come
A new United Nations report says disasters are on the rise and are going to get worse
7:35PM ( 5 hours ago )
Melissa Lucio's execution delayed by Texas appeals court
A Texas appeals court on Monday delayed the execution of Melissa Lucio amid growing doubts about whether she fatally beat her 2-year-old daughter
7:22PM ( 5 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Asian shares advance on back of rally on Wall Street
Asian shares are mostly higher after U.S. stocks stormed back from sharp losses to log strong gains
12:00AM ( 1 hour ago )
Russia hits faraway targets; diplomat warns of risk of WWIII
Russia has unleashed a string of attacks against rail and fuel facilities deep inside Ukraine in an apparent attempt to thwart Ukrainian efforts to marshal supplies
10:10PM ( 3 hours ago )
Most of Beijing to be tested for COVID amid lockdown worry
Beijing will test most of the city's 21 million people as a new COVID-19 outbreak sparks worries among residents of a Shanghai-style lockdown
8:36PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business
Buehler gets 1st career shutout, Dodgers blank D-backs 4-0
Walker Buehler tossed a three-hitter for his first career shutout, Will Smith launched a solo homer and the Los Angeles Dodgers beat the Arizona Diamondbacks 4-0
12:43AM ( 29 minutes ago )
Arenado's error helps Mets stun Cards 5-2 with 5 runs in 9th
Pinch-hitter Dominic Smith hustled for an infield single that drove in two pivotal runs, and the New York Mets capitalized on an uncharacteristic error by Gold Glove third baseman Nolan Arenado to rally for five unearned runs with two outs in the ninth inning of a 5-2 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals
12:36AM ( 35 minutes ago )
Son of famed American artist charged in Jan. 6 Capitol riot
For years, Vincent Gillespie waged a legal battle to try to gain control of hundreds of paintings by his father, renowned postwar American artist Gregory Gillespie
12:26AM ( 45 minutes ago )
Doncic scores 33, Mavs rout Jazz 102-77 for 3-2 series lead
Luka Doncic had 33 points and 13 rebounds in his first home playoff game coming off a calf injury and the Dallas Mavericks routed the Utah Jazz 102-77 for a 3-2 lead in their first-round playoff series
12:18AM ( 54 minutes ago )
Top Russian diplomat warns Ukraine against provoking WWIII
Russia’s top diplomat has warned Ukraine against provoking World War III and said the threat of a nuclear conflict “should not be underestimated.”
12:15AM ( 56 minutes ago )