It has been about a year since the doors at Upstate CBD opened. Since then, the stigma around CBD has changed dramatically.
“When we first opened, CBD was a huge gray area, and then it went mainstream,” Upstate CBD owner Donald Andrews said in an interview with Spectrum local news.
Andrews’s retail shop primarily focuses on finding what is best for the customer and also provide education.
Renata Filiaci, the holistic practitioner at their shop, says CBD can benefit people for several reasons: chronic pain, mental health struggles, and even cancer.
“We just like to give people all of the knowledge and education, so they do feel better, and when they do come back, it makes us feel great that they feel great,” Filliaci said.
Upstate CBD expanded and added the Union Street location after its initial store on Saratoga Road. However, as the business progresses, the cannabis industry changes and evolves, along with recreational cannabis being legalized in New York.
“We don’t offer it [recreatonal cannabis] now in the moment, but we would love to offer it in [the] future once we get licensing and figure all that stuff out,” Andrews said.
However, it may not happen for about another year, as the state continues to adjust regulations and specific provisions. Meanwhile, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly 45 to remove the ban on hemp-derived CBD consumable products.
“We could be using the money that we are spending in our neighboring states here,” Filliaci said.
It has been the main priority for New York, which is why the state developed the Office of Cannabis Management.
The majority of people impacted by former cannabis laws come from communities of color.
“There were a lot of people whose livelihoods, whose lives, were ruined,” Andrews said. “Being a Black business owner in Schenectady, we see first hand that a lot that goes on in the streets, people are getting pulled over, people are getting harassed for the smell of marijuana. It just messes up a lot of things up for a lot of people and a lot of people’s lives.”
According to the ACLU, Black men and women are three times more likely to be arrested for cannabis possession. Many other states have already started making moves when it comes to reparations.
One business, in particular, is Cookies, a nationwide cannabis retailer with storefronts in Worchester, Massachusetts, with shelves filled with cannabis-filled containers. The lead retailer for the organization, Crystal Millican, says social justice is the company’s main priority.
“We’re talking about social equity; we’re talking about workforce development. We’re talking about advocacy and expungement and getting people out of prison who do not belong there,” Millican said.
Cookies’ says it aims to break the industry cycle, ensuring that those who paved the way are not left behind. It is a fantastic feat to see the cannabis community come together to push for social justice reparations. Marijuana reform has and is continuing to break multiple barriers throughout our society.