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My Reflection on CannaBrunch New York

On September 19th, 2017, I had the pleasure of attending the 3rd Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit – CannaBrunch. From a feature in “The Fresh Toast” which serves as a media partner to Kahner Global, I had read some important facts to consider prior to attending this informative event.

“Ever since Colorado legalized weed in 2012 people are seeing green—asking, ‘Where they should invest in the cannabis industry?’ And, they’re right to ask. According to Arcview Market Research legal cannabis sales in 2015 reached close to $7 billion, and are predicting that the overall industry could be worth a whopping $22 billion by 2020, and is showing no signs of slowing down. This past November’s recent election favorably indicates the public’s growing acceptance of cannabis with voters in four states (California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) approving measures to fully legalize cannabis for adult use; while Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota adopted medical marijuana programs. Half of America live with some form of cannabis program within their state, whether it’s adult use or medical—and more than 60 million Americans can enjoy recreational weed.”

From the opening of the event which was sponsored by Dorsey & Whitney with their lead partner Michael Weiner as a panelist along with John Vardaman EVP & General Counsel of Hypur and Rob Kampia who serves as Executive Director of the Marijuana Policy Project whom provided insights and an “Overview of the Legal Cannabis Industry” in the US, to the closing event of “The Emergence of Private Equity in Cannabis” moderated by Eugene Hawkin-Founder and Managing Partner of Quentin Road Ventures along with esteemed panelists Joel Sherlock, CEO of Doventi Capital and Kyle Detwiler CEO of Northern Swan Holdings. These are the early days of an industry with these experts evangelizing their experience as well as discussing both the Cole memo and the importance of the upcoming vote of the Rohrabacher- Blumenauer amendment that takes place on Dec. 8th. Andrew Kline, President of the National Association of Cannabis Business (NACB) that serves as the cannabis industry’s first and only self-regulatory organization, along with other noteworthy speakers from both the regulatory side and the capital side. When these industry sectors come together at these unique events (started by Noa Kahner back in 2014), shifts do take place.

One of the highlights of the event was the Investor Pitch session in which up and coming companies with unique offerings has 7 minutes to pitch to the panel of judges which included Jeffrey Finkle Chairman of ARC Angel Fund and Managing Member of Viridian Ventures, Ralph Amato, Managing Partner of Ventana Capital Partners and Ryan Ansin of Ansin Investments a family office that is investing in this sector. Companies such as Greenrush (e-commerce mobile app), GoFire (who was the winner), Progrowperformance, Pharmaciello, and GTI all had strong presentations.

When Peter Calfee, the founder of GoFire, noted that there are 144 chemical profiles and 1200 identified compounds (do not quote these numbers) within the plant, the variety of strains and their broad potential as a natural, organic approach to pain management and other chronic illnesses is mind-boggling yet enlightening.

With other such topics that included Cannabis Investing and Multi-State opportunities to the Benefits of an Investment Fund in the Cannabis Industry, the main hurdle that still remains is Banking in a time of Federal Uncertainty. Bianca Caban, Managing Partner of Taino Capital, along with John Vardaman of Hypur and Matt Karnes, Founder of Greenwave Advisors addressed this issue of non-bank financial services that are capable of handling cash in bulk quantity and using those reserves to conduct business independent of financial institutions not accepting bulk cash from dispensaries.

Another noteworthy panelist was Lauren Bisk, a psychologist based in New York City. Lauren has worked as an attending psychologist at St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Manhattan, and Shaare Tzedek Medical Center and The Chaim Sheba Tel HaShomer Medican Center in Israel. Lauren noted that in Israel, medicinal cannabis has been legalized for over 13 years and one can walk into a pharmacy and receive cannabis for many acute symptoms.

Overall and with many thanks to all of the speakers, sponsors, and visionaries, especially to Kevin McGovern, Chairman of McGovern Capital who hosted the evening event, we all must provide support for the upcoming vote that takes place on Dec. 8th for the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment. In addition, Peter Schwartz from Anderson Economic Group provided a sample of The Market for Legal Cannabis Products a 50 state assessment of the cannabis market for investors and those of us interested in public policy.

As with any industry sector, stay tuned to the next Kahner Global event taking place in Toronto on November 2nd.

As we continue to reach for the stars, a quote from Carl Sagan is most fitting:

“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.”

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