I’m back from a week on the East Coast, part of an ongoing CannaFest Destiny Tour of education, professional community and business development that myself and Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley have been on for the past eighteen months or more. On this last leg, MJBA and Curved Papers made stops in New York City and Boston, hosting meetups, sitting down with cannabis industry influencers, investors as the legal canna-business shifts into overdrive.
With sweeping views of the Brooklyn Bridge, the New York HQ of The Blinc Group was the site of the February MJBA NY MeetUp, a discussion of “The Business and Science of Vaporization.” More than 70 industry pioneers – including representatives from CannaGather, HIghNY, Women Grow, NJCS — came out on a beautiful Monday evening to enjoy a presentation from The Blinc Group’s Arnaud Dumas de Rally, who video conference in from Berlin.
I was able to share with the room — packed with a mix of growers, manufacturers, investors and entrepreneurs – the realities of what legalization looks like out West. I spoke about the amazing diversity of product innovation and retail experience available to legal cannabis consumers, and the challenges of a hyper competitive, over-regulated marketplace. With New Jersey likely to open its adult-use market as early as this summer, the crowd in New York was electric. The same excite that we saw in Colorado and Washington in 2012, and in Alaska and Oregon in 2014, was present here in 2018 New York City. MJBA’s Stu Zakim gave a recap of last month’s successful NJ Cannabis Symposium, and invited MJBA members to enjoy a special discount on tickets on the next NJ Cannabis Symposium event on March 29th, The Finance and Investment Event.
On Wednesday and Thursday, MJBA Communications chief Zakim and I drove up to Boston for the Cannabis Market Strategies New England conference. An intimate gathering, the event was designed to provide peer-to-peer dispensary and cultivator strategies to help participants master the business challenges of the region’s industry.
Distinguished Speaking Faculty included Michael Dundas, Sira Naturals; Jeffrey Finkle, ARC Angel Fund; Kris Krane, 4Front Ventures; Aimee Burke, Phylos Bioscience; Julia Germaine, Temescal Wellness MA; and Roz McCarthy, Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana. Both Stu Zakim and I were honored to be featured speakers, representing MJBA. Tim Smale, Remedy ME, served as the master of ceremonies during the two-day conference.
The folks at the conference are from Maine, and Vermont and Massachusetts. The industry is still caregiver safe access points and medical marijuana dispensaries. Cannabis here is a cottage industry, oftentimes described as the “grey market,” and it could be 10 years ago in Washington or Oregon. The people who make things happen have come out to see what the future portends. They exchange industry intelligence, swap business cards and sneak outside for a furtive hit with fellow industry colleagues. “Is this legal here in Massachusetts?” asks one Maine farmer as he takes a toke and passes the dutchie to the left.
“We’re not supposed to be smoking in public,” answers a local. “But the cops in Boston have better things to do with their time.”