Chavez Gibbs is not afraid to get his hands dirty. The local farmer and chef said he’s been working for years to perfect his harvesting skills by working a shared plot of land in Upstate New York. After serving in the military and suffering wounds, the veteran started using medicinal cannabis. Since then, he’s been waiting for the chance to legally produce the plant that has helped so much in his recovery.
Recently, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill to legalize cannabis nationwide. In New York, political leaders are working to roll out dispensary and cultivation licenses across the state. When asked about his thoughts on the state's roll out, Gibbs said, "So far, it feels very rushed, like it’s not taking into consideration all the people that will want to be involved. And when you rush something like that, there’s a possibility that people will be disenfranchised."
The state is reserving the first set of licenses to go to what it calls 'equity applicants', which are people who’ve had cannabis-related convictions prior to March 31, 2021, or their immediate family members. Also, conditional cultivator licenses will go to 'distressed' cannabinoid hemp farms. But Chavez worries that aspiring farmers like him, who don’t fall under either category, will be left out.
"They are saying they are giving it to them first, but then it may be another $20,000 to $30,000 of upfront costs those people might not have," said Gibbs. There are already over 130 hemp producers licensed in the state of New York, most of which are owned by larger corporations. "So they sort of have a leg up, which is unfair to the local people that want in, or farmers that are maybe trying to do this just to keep afloat," said Gibbs.
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