Now that Pennsylvania is a state where growing, selling and possessing marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal, some people are eyeing it as a way to make money.
But whatever economic opportunity that this law creates, there are lots of red tape, strict rules and huge fees attached.
It was those ins and outs about the economic opportunities created by the medical marijuana law that drew nine people to a meeting room at the Best Western Premiere Central Hotel and Conference Center in Lower Paxton Twp. on Sunday for an all-day seminar.
Robert Rudnitsky, executive director of Philadelphia NORML, a national organization supportive of reforming marijuana laws, organized the session, one of several he has held since the law was enacted in April.
“There’s opportunities for people if they are willing to get creative and they are really committed. They can get into it. So there are opportunities out there. Will it be easy? No. Do we have an answer? We’re working on it,” Rudnitsky said.
Until that answer a full marijuana legalization law crafted from legislation Rep. Jordan Harris, D-Philadelphia, has sponsored becomes a reality, Rudnitsky wanted to present a reality check to the seminar’s attendees about what getting into the business right now entails.
He warned about the “paperwork extravaganza” associated with real-time tracking of every cannabis plant that is grown from the planting of the seed to the customer who ultimately buys it. He advised them that not just anyone can work in a growing facility or dispensary. If they have a criminal history, forget about it.
He spoke of the large sums of money needed upfront some of which is non-refundable to apply for a permit to get into the business and the additional costs associated with hiring people to help fill out the state’s application and make sure it complies with all the legal requirements. There’s the restrictions on advertising and difficulty in getting a bank account for a marijuana business.
On top of all that, there is the possibility that future changes in the law could change the business that undoubtedly will continue to compete with the black market, both of which potentially could devalue any investment they make by getting into the business now.
Despite all that, convenience store owner Elias Abreu of Philadelphia still wants in.
Along with his firm belief of the medicinal benefits of marijuana and how it may be more beneficial than prescription drugs, Abreu, 32, has some selfish reasons too.
“I’m not going to lie about it. My main reason is money,” he said. “I’m tired of working 14 hours, seven days a week .”
He dove into research about the marijuana business three years ago and has visited Colorado five times to talk to shop owners out there to learn about running a dispensary. Not only that, he said he sees people smoking pot outside his store in Philadelphia every day and as a businessman, can see its potential as a money-maker if it were to become fully legal.
Abreu believes that day may come in a few years and that’s why he wants in now.
“It’s a head start,” he said. “Because maybe four years from now, they say let’s do recreational because that’s what is happening in other states. Usually people who are [permitted to sell] medical marijuana are the first to get the license [to sell it for recreational use]. So you might have to go through the bad times at the beginning with the hope that in the future, it gets better.”
Rudnitsky said his goal in offering the sessions is to get people who are interested enough to spend a day learning about the business to face the realities of what it would entail and consider ways to reduce the risks attached to the fear and greed surrounding this business.
“Today is the reality check,” he said. “If you want to get into the business, there’s a way to do it and you don’t have to lose your shirt. You don’t have to lose your bank account. So if I do anything today to make them understand the importance of networking and reducing their exposure, if I get that across by six o’clock, I’ll have done my job.”
News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Want To Get In The Legal Pot Business In Pennsylvania? It’s Not Simple Or Cheap
Author: Jan Murphy
Contact: Central PA Local News
Photo Credit: Jan Murphy
Website: Central PA Local News