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Highlights from Kahner Global's 2nd Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit Florida

The cannabis industry is expanding at a breakneck pace as more entrepreneurs and investors jump on board what could be a $190 billion global industry that is still in its infancy. The recent Kahner Global Cannabis Private Investment Summit in sunny Ft. Lauderdale allowed many of the leading voices in the industry to bring potential investors up to speed on some of the most recent changes to the rapidly evolving industry and to provide proof that a strong entrepreneurial spirit can thrive even in a difficult regulatory environment. The level of attendance was also a reminder that there is growing interest for opportunities within the cannabis industry among high-net-worth individuals, family offices, and even some institutional investors.

Hosted by Greenspoon Marder LLP and emceed by JJ McKay of The Fresh Toast, the event included seven panel discussions that touched upon issues such as regulatory compliance and the mechanics of CBD extraction, presentations by cannabis thought leaders, a pitch competition involving six cannabis companies, numerous opportunities for networking, and a powerful keynote address on the way that cannabis can be used to improve the lives of athletes during and after their careers by former NHL player and cannabis advocate Riley Cote. The full day of panels, pitches and presentations concluded with a cocktail hour.

Some of the unifying themes throughout the event included the growing importance of Toronto as a hub for cannabis startups, the rise of Europe as a major market for medical cannabis, and a reminder that most banks and venture capital funds in the United States are still waiting until there are fewer regulatory headwinds to fully embrace the cannabis industry. As a consequence of the latter trend, the cannabis market has not maximized its full potential for growth, but it has also meant that family offices, angel investors, and high-net-worth individuals continue to be the predominant sources of capital for cannabis startups.

This particular topic was the subject of the day’s first panel, “An Overview of the Legal Marijuana Industry.” Matthew Ginder, Esq., senior counsel for Greenspoon Marder, was the panel's moderator and deftly navigated the speakers through some of the day's most complex subjects with his fellow panelists, Kevin Hart (CEO of Green Check Verified), John Vardaman (Vice President and general counsel for Hypur), Gian Paolo Veronese (Chief Business Development Officer of Big Rock Partners), and Matt Karnes (Founder of GreenWave Advisors).

The consensus among the group was that the complexity of regulatory compliance may offer some unique opportunities for smaller banks. Mr. Hart noted that the federal restrictions on cannabis that have caused larger banks to eschew the industry could leave the door open to struggling community banks. “Community banks need deposit dollars,” he said. Serving as the banks for members of the cannabis industry could provide them with a lifeline.

Mr. Vardaman added that the cannabis industry should be a banker's dream because it is so regulated. “That means greater transparency,” he concluded.