We recently interviewed Jonathan Elfand (co-founder) of Empire Cannabis Clubs after a local farmer accused him of being “privileged” and “not operating by the book” and here’s what he had to say about his take on social equity in the State of New York.
Jonathan Elfand – “We are operating legally under a particular section of the MRTA. We believe a courageous legislator involved in the drafting of the MRTA added the particular section to protect the rights of citizens who don’t have the money nor power to control this new industry, including farmers such as yourself.
It seems you believe strongly in all the bull cocki being passed around by all the state agents involved in trying to control the outcome of this financial windfall.
Well, a little advice, don’t believe all the hype when there is so much money to be had.
1) Sure, it was a wonderful idea to allow the medical companies to have less restrictions, less fees, and better cañnabis to sell, correct? No, those benefits for the medical dispensaries were done only to assure the MSOs (aka corporate companies, big money donors) that although, allowing the social equity individuals to start first would look good for the politicians, adding these medical benefits would secure their market share before social equity could actually open. Similar to allowing the medical market to function like the recreational market as in CA Prop 215 dispensaries.
2) By letting the struggling hemp farmers get a head start on cannabis production the board was definitely showing there concern for the farmers correct? Yeah right, for the board new that the 1st harvest would have to be done on the cheap using outdoor growing techniques so that the harvest would have to be brought in by October knowing full well no stores would be open for months. Meaning, they knew full well that you would have your cultivation license, but be going broke by the time the first stores opened, and as you’re struggling to sell your 6-month old last years outdoor harvest, they then opened the doors to the vertically integrated medical companies with their indoor fresh flower. AKA the politicians look terrific for looking out for social equity and still look good to their big money donors.
3) The $200 million fund was supplied by the state to care for all the social equity participants. Sure, and Pinocchio’s nose wasn’t really that big. $150 million of the $200 is coming from private money, a basketball star involved with the private money lender with no knowledge of the industry other than wanting to be involved with corporate cannabis is running the whole program, and the equity participant receives whatever storefront location those 2 parties want and when the equity participant fails, those 2 parties can buy up their license. “Sounds like an avenue to success for social equity.” Let’s also look at the fact that not only are you limited to whatever space they choose for you, but you also aren’t allowed to expand in the industry for 4 years until you clear the preliminary license hurdle, and you also have to run a business without being able to procure any products. It took 10 years for CA to develop all the products they have today and even if it went really fast, you won’t see any abundance of quality products for several years. That is except when corporate gets the ok to open a few months after u with the products they have been developing and producing for the past 5 years (still very limited) and with their limited supply u think they are selling u any?
4) And if u haven’t read the rules yet, then let me educate. When ur dispensary fails Webber and the money man get 1st dibs on your failed license without restrictions as to a particular location. So, along with corporate buying up your failed farms, they now own the entire distribution network just like every state.
Lastly, as to your privilege, I was a college educated individual who got in trouble for the use of cannabis leaving me without the ability to secure gainful employment. I chose to partake in business with the substance I enjoyed and spent many years of my life in prison for many later convictions for cannabis violations to proliferate the freedom to use cannabis and profit from it that you are so blessed with today. I refuse to let those that already have the riches to take this massive industry away from those who have never have had.
P.S. I hope your harvest is very successful and when you have no one to sell it to, Empire Cannabis Clubs will do everything we can to assist.”