The networking group CannaGather held its fifth confab at lower Manhattan’s Galvanize venue last week, bringing together some 200 entrepreneurs, investors, press and activists from throughout the New York metropolitan area. Inspired by the New York tech industry meet-ups of the dot-com boom in the late ’90s, CannaGather hopes to similarly connect people in a burgeoning industry and help spur its growth.
The theme of this latest meet-up was “Ancillary Investing & Operating In Cannabis”—a reference to the “ancillary” end of the biz, which does not actually involve contact with cannabis. This can include everything from financial services, developing mechanisms for legal compliance and providing laboratory technology.
Speaking on this was Karan Wadhera of Casa Verde Capital, a new Los Angeles firm launched by rapper Snoop Dogg (real name Calvin Broadus), focusing on the ancillary cannabis industry. Wadhera anticipated that cannabis will be a $50 billion national industry in the coming years—and portrayed his own state as on the cutting edge.
“California is the model for what legalization is going to look like across the country,” he predicted.
East Coast vs. West Coast Weed
This sparked a volatile reaction from audience member Leo Bridgewater, a military veteran who did tours in both Afghanistan and Iraq and now uses cannabis to treat his PTSD. He challenged Wadhera to tell his California colleagues that the East Coast is about to catch up and possibly jump ahead. Bridgewater noted that his own state, New Jersey, has already held hearings on a cannabis legalization bill this year.
Next up was financial journalist Debra Borchardt, who cut her teeth at Forbes magazine, and has now just launched the news website Green Market Report, which she said aspires to be “the CNBC of cannabis.”
Borchardt donated a Pax 3 vaporizer for auction at the event to raise money for emergency aid for Puerto Rico hurricane victims. CannaGather supporter Dr. Caroline Hartridge of Long Island donated a box of CBD-infused truffles for the charity auction. CannaGather matched the funds raised, for a total of some $800.
Prowling the subsequent schmoozing session to raise awareness of his cause was Jerome DeWard of the group Cannabis4NY.org. This group is advocating a “yes” vote on the controversial ballot measure to be put before New York voters in November on holding a state constitutional convention. In the event of victory for Prop 1, the group intends to push for a “Legalize, Regulate and Restrict Access to Marijuana” plank at the convention.
The three elements of the plank are a “regulated adult-use cannabis market, robust medical marijuana program and industrial hemp as a legal commodity.” The group is also calling for a California-style voter-initiated referendum process in New York State.
The Emergence of CannaGather
CannaGather emerged earlier this year from another such networking group called High NY. CannaGather co-founder Josh Weinstein told High Times: “My team decided it was in the best interest of our community to form CannaGather, a platform from which we broaden our initial vision: to serve as the access point for people who want to get into the cannabis industry as well as where industry leaders go to connect.”
Weinstein added: “CannaGather is still the largest cannabis industry community in the New York area, comprised of 3000+ members including, for example, entrepreneurs, investors, healthcare providers, service providers, athletes, patients and advocates.”