Jeff Luciano: Big Victories for Cannabis in a Small NY Town

When the village banned dispensaries, this community rallied to open its doors to cannabis.

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This week, Jeff Luciano, CEO of High End Group and High End Multi Processing, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to talk about how he rallied a community to open its doors to cannabis after the village board banned dispensaries.

Jeff Luciano got into cannabis in 2016 as a consultant helping an associate convert his business from medical cannabis to recreational cannabis in Oregon. 

When New York began embracing industrial hemp, Luciano's company became one of the first to be licensed for hemp cultivation and processing. He knew that cannabis was coming to New York and thought industrial hemp would be a good precursor once cannabis came to town. 

As New York state legalized cannabis, the state provided an option for local municipalities to opt out of dispensaries or on-site consumption. Luciano had been working with the village board for many years, and, initially, they seemed receptive to cannabis.

Spencer is a small village of about 700 residents with some 2,000 people in the surrounding town. It's centrally located about 20 minutes from Ithaca, NY, and 45 minutes from Binghamton, NY, big college towns. 

In December 2020, the village board threw a curveball and banned cannabis, citing a lack of regulation definition. Luciano had to act fast as he knew voters only had 30 days to petition the decision. 

When Spencer banned dispensaries, Luciano and his partner Nancy Murray thought that decision should be left up to the community, so they went door-to-door in the middle of a New York winter to gather enough signatures to trigger a referendum. On March 15, 2021, the Proposition 1 referendum passed 66-62. 

Beyond the victory in Spencer, Luciano and Murray operate an 18,000-square-foot facility where they process industrial hemp but plan to transition to cannabis. They also live on the property, so the commute is a simple 100-foot walk, but Luciano remains encouraged that he can help create products that benefit public health. 

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