Eladio Guzman was sentenced to two years for selling drugs. He did not have the chance to give birth to his first child. Although cannabis is part of his turbulent past, it’s possible that he could open a recreational dispensary in the year following New York legalization of possession and use marijuana. He is eager to open a recreational marijuana dispensary.
The 44-year old union steamfitter, sitting next to his wife at his Long Island home’s dining table, said, “I did time, and we suffered.” “This is an opportunity to me to take the negative things that I did and actually help you do something positive.”
Melissa Guzman, his wife, also suffered the effects of the war on drugs. Several relatives were arrested. An uncle who was sentenced to ten years in prison. His eventual deportation from the Dominican Republic. As New York creates regulations on how individuals or businesses can apply for dispensary licenses, the Guzmans study the industry while they wait to receive an application for a shop to sell cannabis in Queens.
They frequently talk about the design, appearance, and size of their future store which they decided to name “Fumaoo”.
They don’t anticipate being granted one of the 100 first-ever retail cannabis licenses that the state intends to give to people with marijuana-related convictions.
They aren’t too worried, as they qualify for “social equity” applications. Melissa Moore, Director of Civil Systems Reform at Drug Policy Alliance’s pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance said that the state seems to have the genuine aim of advancing the social equality components in the law passed last year.
Moore stated, “I believe it’s an essential first step: To make clear that people who were previously criminalized for marijuana can and should be allowed to participate in New York’s market,” Moore added. “Especially considering that in other states, they’ve been actively prohibited from being employees in certain cases and have certainly been prevented from owning dispensaries.”
The Guzmans joined the Latino Cannabis Association, and they are now traveling to Boston to conduct business research. They are also taking part in industry conferences and taking online courses.
For decades, the justice system has kept a large number of Hispanics and Blacks in prison for drug crimes. New York officials claim they are trying to fix this problem by trying to make sure that people who have been prosecuted can still be on the market.
Jeffrey Garcia, president and CEO of the Latino Cannabis Association believes that this is a sound policy. He is trying to find Latinos interested in investing in this industry.
Garcia stated that they are very deliberate in finding social equity applicants from Latinos that understand our vision of community, helping our community, and building generations of wealth.
Eladio Guzman was born in Brooklyn’s East New York, where his Dominican father owned a convenience shop. He stated that he was attracted to the “street life”.
“I thought, “Wow, these guys are making such a lot of money, wearing gold-colored teeth.”… That was cool. Guzman stated that Guzman’s father is a serial killer, waking up at 6 o’clock every morning to open the business.
He was a taxi driver but also sold crack, marijuana, and ecstasy. He said, “Whatever it is I was able get my hands on,”
He was charged with possession with intent to distribute in 2007. He was just about to marry Melissa and so his sister put up the deed at her family’s house to bail him out. After a year of fighting his case, he was finally sentenced and moved to Brooklyn’s Metropolitan Detention Center.
The couple now has three children. They live in Hicksville on Long Island. Guzman is a foreman at Steamfitters Local 638, while Melissa, 38, works as an insurance adjuster. In their living room and kitchen, drawings with the word “Fumaoo”, in graffiti-like graffiti-like letters, hang. Their days are full of work, after-school soccer practice, and learning about cannabis.
According to them, owning a dispensary will improve their lives and give their children a better future. They say that they want to give back to the community through their profits.
Melissa Guzman said, “Maybe, we could help redo parks nearby, repair the sidewalks of a neighbor or make a street more beautiful or provide shelter homes that may need to be provided in the community.” The state stated that 40% of the tax revenue generated by cannabis will go to minorities that have seen high levels of marijuana arrests.
Moore, the drug reform advocate, suggested that the state invest in job training and after-school programs.
She said, “We’re talking here about a really substantial amount of money –year after year after year — being available to the communities in ways that will be the most responsive for the types of damage that needs to repaired.”
New York intends to offer 50% of marijuana licenses to women, minorities, farmers struggling, veterans disabled and residents from areas that have experienced heavy marijuana policing.
Washington, D.C., Guam and 18 other states have legalized recreational marijuana. Democratic New York Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration has pledged to create the “most diverse and inclusive” marijuana market in the country.
Eladio Guzman believes the governor is right.
He said, “I believe cannabis is the next Bitcoin opportunity, especially for minorities.”