The Koffman Southern Tier Incubator is currently hosting a four-week program focusing on the fast-growing cannabis industry.

The program, managed alongside Binghamton University’s Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Partnerships, is called The Opportunity Grows Cannabis Accelerator. The program features leaders from the business field and cannabis industry, teaching and advising entrepreneurs on how to enter the sector and succeed. The speakers include figures from Curaleaf, one of the largest cannabis companies in the United States, discussing how the cannabis industry has evolved and how interested entrepreneurs can get started. This program comes after the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) passed into law earlier this year, legalizing recreational marijuana use for people 21 and older in New York state.

Eric Krohn, the director of business incubation programming, described the origins of the program.

“I made the [Opportunity Grows Cannabis Accelerator program] with my friend Ari Hoffnung,” Krohn said. “[Hoffnung] is a long-time CEO of medical cannabis and started the very first medical cannabis company in New York state. We got together to figure out how we can provide business mentorship so that everyone in New York state who wants to explore cannabis entrepreneurship will know what they are getting into by receiving unadulterated knowledge, and will know how to pull it off by learning important foundations of business. I am teaching the business aspects of the program, while [Hoffnung] and our guest speakers will be teaching about the cannabis industry.”

One of the sessions includes a talk from New York State Sen. Jeremy Cooney, a representative of the 56th district and co-chair of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus’ marijuana task force who supported the MRTA. He will be advising on entrepreneurship and will speak about the legal foundations behind the cannabis industry.

In an email, Cooney discussed his involvement with the program and his support for the legalization of marijuana.

“I am a strong supporter of legalizing adult-use, recreational marijuana in an equitable way that reduces harm while creating new businesses, quality jobs and stimulating both rural and urban economies,” Cooney wrote. “I spoke about how the MRTA will make the cannabis industry more diverse and address decades of unjust and outdated marijuana policies that disproportionately harmed Black and Brown communities. This legislation allows for record expungement for past marijuana convictions, equitable licensure and employment and community reinvestment. If you are Black in Monroe County where my district is located, you are 16 times more likely to be arrested for a marijuana offense than if you’re white. The MRTA was designed to make up for these past harms and I am a proud advocate for its successful implementation.”

Matthew Losquadro, a senior majoring in accounting, talked about the importance of teaching people about new industries.

“When any new industry gets attention, it is important to have programs like this to give people the necessary skills to dip their feet into the business,” Losquadro said. “When Bitcoin and other forms of digital currency blew up, many people were confused on how to get started. I think it’s so awesome that there is a program to teach young entrepreneurs about new and booming industries.”

Adi David, a sophomore majoring in computer science, expressed excitement about joining the next two sessions.

“I am planning on joining the following two sessions to hear from prominent speakers in the industry,” David said. “I have an interest in business and entrepreneurship so this is going to be a great opportunity for me to learn tips and skills for my future career.”

Zoom recordings of the two previous sessions can be found on the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator’s Opportunity Grows Cannabis Accelerator website. The third session will be held over Zoom on Nov. 23 at 5:30 p.m. Those who wish to participate may register on the website here.