Highlights from the 4th Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit West
On Wednesday, May 1st, cannabis investors, industry experts, entrepreneurs and government officials convened at The Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills for our fourth annual private investment summit. The goal of the day was to educate investors on the critical risks and opportunities to consider when investing in the cannabis space and provide an exclusive venue for networking with the best and brightest in the industry. As with all of our events, we aim to curate the highest quality content and information from speakers with credibility and integrity. A few overarching themes emerged from all of the discussions including the overwhelming need to invest in research and the importance of authenticity when evaluating an investment and building a brand.
After opening remarks from J.J. McKay, founder and publisher of The Fresh Toast, the day kicked off with a panel about the legal state of the industry. The discussion between Sean McAllister (Partner, McAllister Garfield, P.C.), Michael L. Weiner (Partner, Dorsey & Whitney), Alex Freedman (Deputy City Attorney, Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation) and Adam Spiker (Executive Director, Southern California Coalition), was moderated by Matt Karnes (Founder and Managing Partner, GreenWave Advisors LLC) and focused on the U.S. regulatory environment and the progress made towards national legalization. Given the local expertise on the panel, there was a lot of insight provided around California and what might happen after legalization at the Federal level. Spiker assured the audience that while California may seem like the “wild, wild west today, there will continue to be plenty of opportunity once cannabis is legal at a Federally.” Additionally, the panel brought up CBD and reminded us that even though the Farm Bill passed last year, that doesn’t change the power of the FDA when it comes to current and future regulation.
During the Specialty Finance and Debt Alternatives panel discussion, David Kivitz (Co-Founder & Partner, Archytas Ventures) and Rob Sechrist (President, Pelorus Equity Group, Inc.) discussed with Douglas J. Hannah (Partner, Silverleaf Venture Partners) the challenges entrepreneurs and brands are up against to raise capital in the cannabis industry. From insights and recommendations in financing, the curriculum then shifted focus to how medical marijuana is transforming traditional healthcare.
Roger Abramson (Abramson Accelerator), Calum Hughes (CEO, Allied Corp.) and Jeff Chen (M.D./M.B.A., Director, UCLA Cannabis Research Initiative) were joined by a special guest panelist, Adam Smith a U.S. veteran and Allied Corp. spokesperson to talk about new models in medicine. The panel agreed that more investments need to be made in studying the plant. From clinical trials to understanding the everyday cannabis user, no one is investing in or lobbying for research on behalf of regular people. Until cannabis is de-scheduled in this country, we are unable to really study and document it’s effects like Israel has started doing. Putting the patient at the center of the conversation was exactly what Adam Smith did when he talked about how cannabis and a holistic medical model can save the lives of veterans with PTSD. In terms of the effectiveness of cannabis, Smith said “the proof is in the patient.”
Next we heard from Gene Simmons, international rock legend and serial entrepreneur, who partnered with Invictus, a cannabis brand out of Canada, to help with their public awareness and marketing. In line with key themes from the day, Simmons, known to be outspoken on his anti-drug stance, encouraged the audience to do their own research to determine if cannabis is harmful or helpful.
Also espousing the importance of doing due diligence prior to investing were Matt Hawkins (Founder, Cresco Capital Partners) and Steph Sherer (Co-Founder & Board Chair, Dioscorides Global Holdings, LLC) on the Emergence of Private Equity and Cannabis Funds panel. In this discussion, both Hawkins and Sherer shared with moderator, Murray Huneke (Managing Director, North Point Advisors) how important it is to watch out for red flags and make sure the management teams you are investing in are solid, possessing both credibility and authenticity. Sherer added that when making an investment decision, “you need to know the current climate and what it will look like ten years from now.” She says to ask, “is the infrastructure in place for a company to truly succeed?” The panel agreed that a lot of investment in R&D is needed to have a clear picture.
After several selfies with the Kiss co-founder and a lively networking lunch, the group gathered again after the break to hear from experts on the Manufacturing & Extraction panel. Joel Sherlock (Co-Founder & Chairman, Vitalis Extraction Technology), Harry Nelson (Author, The United States of Opioids) and Dr. John Mc