Updated: Sep 20, 2022
Dear Cannabis Consumer,
There is much debate in the Cannabis community and among cannabis regulators about who will, who will not, who should, and who should not benefit from the opening of the regulated in market in the next 6 - 6,000 months (whenever New York state decides to allow the market to fully function). I have personally heard opinions ranging from "the market should be reserved for legacy operators only" all the way to "lets just give the whole thing to billion dollar multi-state operator corporations". As with any polarizing debate that must invariably come to some conclusion, the final compromise will fall somewhere between these two extremes. It does seem, however, that both sides of the discussion are forgetting a vitally important piece of the puzzle, the consumers that will fund what MJBizDaily predicts is going to be a multibillion dollar industry.
The term "Legacy Operator" itself has become a point of contention between New York's vibrant cannabis community and the New York State Office of Cannabis Management (OCM). According to the Legacy Growers Association these are "the people who created this industry before it was acceptable and were often oppressed by its illegality and deserve support in rectifying community harm." Thus far, OCM has been unable to find an effective way to define, verify and include Legacy Operators in their regulation efforts.
A multistate operator (MSO) is a cannabis company that has taken on the challenge of operating in, literally, more than one state. While there are undoubtedly exceptions to the rule, MSOs have become known in much of the cannabis community as something to be avoided. The fear in some circles is that MSOs are capable of operating on razor thin margins and will unscrupulously drive a "race to the bottom" that will irreparably harm smaller "homegrown" companies. A few lucky owners will manage a sale to hungry MSOs, but most will simply lose everything when they finally close their doors. Proponents of this type of model say that these companies have mastered functioning in and adapting to a variety of legal environments to successfully deliver a smooth running regulated market and are therefore the quickest route to taxed and regulated cannabis.
All of this debate and speculation is really only that. Neither side of this discussion has any ACTUAL control of the direction New York State's burgeoning cannabis industry takes. The true power rests with you, New York State's cannabis consumers. You, and many thousands of individuals just like you, will ultimately fund all of this. If money is spent carefully and as a result of conscious decisions you can create a cannabis market that becomes the gold standard. If your cannabis dollars are spent chasing the lowest price and the fancy brands being touted by paid spokesperson celebrities without regard to the ethics and practices behind these companies and New York becomes the eastern California.
As New York State’s regulated market comes online it is the responsibility of every consumer to choose carefully where they spend their dollars. It is up to you to decide if New York State’s legal cannabis economy will support New Yorkers. New York’s cannabis industry could potentially end up in the hands of large faceless corporations out of convenience and the state’s impatience to get those tax dollars in their coffers. I urge every cannabis consumer in New York to make the conscious decision to preserve the benefit of New York’s cannabis industry for the people of New York. As much as possible, seek out cannabis companies owned by groups and individuals that were serving the cannabis community before it was safe and acceptable.
My cautious optimism for New York's cannabis market has devolved into eye rolls at every press release from OCM. The true heroes of the modern day cannabis legalization movement are those groups and individuals who have lived in the shadows making sure safe high quality cannabis has always been available if you looked hard enough. If New York State is unable to overcome the difficulties they seem to be facing in bringing these heroes into the regulated market then I intend to continue to remain in the shadows with them - that's where the good stuff's gonna be.