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Three takeaways from Business of Cannabis: New York

by Jay Rosenthal, Managing Director, Business of Cannabis

Last Wednesday, Business of Cannabis and Prohibition Partners held our first Business of Cannabis: New York event at the iconic Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center. 

The mission of our event was to highlight not only the promise of New York as the largest emerging cannabis market, but also the position New York will hold as the global capital of cannabis finance, thought leadership, and innovation – and what New York means to the global sector.

Yoko Miyashita, the CEO of Leafly, noted: ”New York has the potential to become the second-largest market after California, it will be the key that unlocks the entire east coast and it will be the trendsetter just as it is in food, fashion, finance and media. Where this state goes many others will follow.”

It was a day filled with important conversation and industry insight into what today and tomorrow look like for cannabis in New York. 

While there were scores and scores of takeaways from the day-long program, here is what I have been thinking about since last Wednesday – and what the key takeaways from the event have been for me:

Focus in social equity, done right

Accounting for social equity and social justice has been part of the cannabis legalization conversation since the earliest days of state-by-state legalization in the US. But New York  is trying to learn what has worked in states that have gone before – but more importantly, trying to identify what has not worked. And even identifying what “getting it right” means is challenging. Fifty percent of New York licenses will be for women and minority owned businesses – but as Steve DeAngelo so eloquently put in his New York Daily News op-ed – and on stage at Business of Cannabis: New York – there are serious challenges to turning this policy goal into reality.

New York’s sphere of influence is immense

Legalization will be great for New York cannabis consumers, entrepreneurs and the economy overall, but the impact of New York legalizing has major implications outside of the state as well. Not only are surrounding states pushing their cannabis legalization timelines further and faster because of New York’s efforts – think New Jersey and Connecticut – New York’s legalization effort will spark an even broader East Coast legalization push. That’s both because of New York’s relative size, but also because interstate travel is much more of a daily occurrence on the East Coast than that of their West Coast counterparts. This puts major pressure on surrounding states to up their cannabis legalization games – and New York will almost be the push that will sweep the entire East Coast into legalized frameworks.

Connect the industry in an ongoing way

The takeaway from Business of Cannabis: New York that has spurred action on Business of Cannabis’ part is that there is more work to do – and to do quickly. It was important to convene the event when we did and where we did, but it’s early days for sector development in New York – and ongoing dialogue, thought and connection is necessary. That’s why you will soon hear about upcoming dates in December 2021, February 2022 and June 2022 when Business of Cannabis will hold our next series of New York-based events. Stay tuned for those announcements. 

If you are interested in participating in or attending future Business of Cannabis events, we encourage you to reach out by email or through social media. See you in December!

See a photo recap of Business of Cannabis: New York

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