The group High NY, "New York's Cannabis Community," hosted an event on "How to Apply Your Skills in the Cannabis Industry" at a Lower Manhattan venue the evening of March 22, featuring speakers with background in the biz from California, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. Unlike these three polities, New York state has not legalized. But organizers took heart that on that very same day as their meet-up, chronic pain was added to the qualifying conditions under the Empire State's burgeoning if still limited medical marijuana program.
In between a buffet dinner and schmoozing, participants heard presentations from the out-of-state industry players.
Oliver Summers, a dispensary operator in the LA area since 2005 and founder of the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance, said that New York is now "what we looked like in LA twelve-plus years ago," and expressed hope for the industry opening up nationwide. He said he toughed it out when there was a "50-50 chance of being raided"—one of his outlets was in fact raided by the DEA.
Michael Latulippe, Boston-based president of the Cannabis Society who works with the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, said he is applying his political science degree and background as a community organizer in his current endeavors to help craft the Bay State's legalization regime, including running interference with the Department of Public Health on the emerging regulations. He decried the lack of "occupational health standards in an industry where people are dealing with peticides and mold. A lot of that has been left open by the absence of any federal presence. We need to see more work in this area."
Representing Washington DC, attorney Brandon Wyatt, a decorated and disabled army veteran who works with the Weed For Warriors Project, joined Todd J. Hughes, a US Energy Department engineer and founder of the EntreVation consulting agency, to lead a discussion on "Key Cannapreneur Concepts." Implicitly noting the uncertain climate for the industry under the new White House administration, they joked to the assembled aspiring entrepreneurs and investors that "feeling uncomfortable should be your new comfort zone."
Wyatt and Hughes then invited up audience members to give 30-second pitches on their ideas, including cannabis preparations to relieve menstrual discomforts and use of medical marijuana to ease end-of-life distress in hospices.
Chatting after the presentations, High NY co-founder Josh Weinstein called it "New York's premier cannabis industry community," hosting monthly "education/networking events" inspired by New York tech industry meet-ups of the dot-com boom in the late '90s. Weinstein, himself the "venture-based CEO" of a dating site, says High NY's mission is to "connect people in the industry, and the next generation thereof." The group's third anniversary will be in April.
"New York used to be the second largest black market in the country after Caliifornia," Weinstein said. "Now it is the largest black market since California legalization, and could become the next largest legal market. I see Massachusetts as the Colorado of the east and New York as the California of the east. One paved the way for the larger market to follow."
Graphic from The Weed Blog