Rochester Mayor-Elect Malik Evans announces Cannabis Preparation Commission

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Mayor-elect Malik Evans is getting ready for legalized marijuana in the city. Tuesday he announced the Rochester Cannabis Preparation Commission.

Evans said this commission is so important for the planning stages to make sure Rochester is ready when the state starts issuing marijuana sale licenses to businesses.

“This initial group will get together and then they will engage other members of the community, they will bring people into the commission as they seek to do this but this is all part of the planning process and that’s why planning is here,” Evans said.

Evans announced his Cannabis Preparation Commission will consist of Co-chairs Ebony Miller Wesley, Director of RIT Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Truman Tolefree, Founder and Managing Principal of Intersection Realty Group; Councilmembers Mitch Gruber and Michael Patterson; Community Member Jeffrey Medford; members of the Evans Administration Special Assistant to the Mayor John Brach, Chief of Staff Tammy Mayberry, Director of Planning Kevin Kelly, and Corporation Counsel Linda Kingsley will also serve on the initial commission with other members of the Evans Administration to be added.

With the legalization of adult-use recreational marijuana as an entirely new industry opening up to the state, Evans said being deliberate about the tactical implementation of the legislation is key.

“We want to make sure that this is available to folks in the community in relation to an entrepreneurial perspective if people are left out particularly, black and brown communities, we will miss out on a major opportunity and my goal is to make sure that doesn’t happen and the only way we can make sure that doesn’t happen is that we have good preparation,” Evans said.

The commission is calling for equitable distribution in offering business licenses and says if there’s no plan in place, Rochester will miss a huge opportunity.

“We need to be thoughtful and strategic about making sure people who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs, particularly black and brown folks, have an opportunity, have the real opportunity to build ownership, to build wealth through this industry,” councilman Mitch Gruber said.

Evans said while there’s no exact date on when this plan will be out, the goal is to learn the positives and negatives from other cities where it’s legalized to make it unique to Rochester.

“Number one, there’s the mechanics, time, place, manner, location,” Evans said. “Those types of things are extremely important so that conversation needs to happen. The other side is the education piece. How do we make sure we don’t leave people out?”

Evans said they should have something in place by spring, which is the time frame the state is planning on doing licenses.