Highlights from the Cannabis & Psychedelics Investment Summit in Miami, February 27th, 2023
Written by: Frances Rodriguez, University of Miami School of Law
Kahner Global’s Cannabis & Psychedelics Investment Summit is back in Miami, FL, for its sixth year. The conference brought together investors and family offices to learn from some of the industry leaders.
A beautiful morning at the Biltmore Hotel began with breakfast and mingling sponsored by Lionheart Ventures on the terrace.
Samantha Gleit, Partner at Feuerstein Kulick, officially kicked off the summit and introduced Noa Kahner, CEO of Kahner Global.
Michelle Weiner, Director of Operations of Spine and Wellness Centers of America, led the first panel, which focused on the evolution of the legal psychedelics industry. The panel included Courtney Barnes, Counsel at Feldman Legal Advisors, PLLC; Andrew “Mo” Septimus, Chief Financial Officer & Co-Head of Business Development of MAPS and MAPS PBC; Hayin Raclaw, Negev Capital; and Gami Zmudze, Executive at Longevity Science Foundation.
With such a well-rounded panel, investors and family offices learned about different aspects of the emerging psychedelics industry. The session provided insight into key differences between the evolution of the psychedelics legal industry and that of the cannabis industry. Courtney says that while both may seem fairly similar at the state licensing level and have key similarities in the social equity and price problems, some notable differences exist: branding will differ significantly in the psychedelic spaces. Andrew remains hopeful that the current clinical trials will provide appropriate consumer education and speed up the legalization process. Hayim believes that psychedelics will be significant in the medical field with the growing number of psychedelic clinical trials. He remains excited about where the space is headed. Zmudze adds that there is a lot of room for investors and entrepreneurs to join the movement because he finds that the industry needs more funding.
Switching gears from the regulatory and legal side of psychedelics, Kevin Harrington, Inventor of the Infomercial, moderated the next panel, highlighting the importance of technology and patents within the cannabis industry. Ryan Hamlin, POSaBIT, and Kevin McGovern, McGovern Capital LLC, gave different perspectives on the state of technology in the cannabis industry. McGovern analogizes patents to real estate and urges the need for patent programs. When asked about the future of cannabis, he asserts that the next generation of cannabis is bio-enhancement and adds that patents will be huge given the new technology. Ryan has recognized that most start-up companies tend to focus on niche problems, but what the industry needs as a whole is an integrated suite built open that has an API. Ryan says, “it’s all about the roll-up right now” and that “it’s a really interesting time to invest because there’s a handful of businesses in this space that survived a downturn economy.”
After the session on technology and patents, Noa moderated a fireside chat with Travis Goad, Pelorus Equity Group. He is a leader in commercial real estate in the cannabis space. Despite the shift in debt markets, he shares that he is still deploying capital. Travis believes that there is a real opportunity in the current market. He says, “Cannabis is so attractive because of the capital-intensive infrastructure to build out its facilities.” While there have been differing opinions on verticalization in the cannabis industry, he notes that from his experience, companies that cultivate, manufacture, and retail are the ones who have and will last through the downturn economy.
Before the networking lunch, sponsored by Pelorus Equity Group, Djot, PsyBio, Ginger, The Herbal Chef, and Canna 11 pitched to judges Kevin Harrington, As Seen on TV Pioneer; Avi Weintraub, Tiger 21 Chair; James Whatmore, President of MAB Investments during the Investor Pitch Session.
After lunch on the terrace, Bill Brothers, Towers Investment Trust, led a panel on cannabis debt and real estate. Among the panelists were lenders Travis Goad, Managing Partner at Pelorus Equity Group, and Peter Sack, Managing Partner at Chicago Atlantic Group. Both panelists agreed that cannabis is an attractive space, noting that cannabis investment has equity-like returns due to the limited operators in the cannabis lending market. Peter conveys, “this is a place where family offices can find upside returns and differentiated risks.” Travis shares that cannabis is “a good place to put capital.” Adding a legal perspective to the session, Samantha Gleit, Partner at Feuerstein Kulick, says that lenders must learn how to protect their investments best; despite the lucrative side of cannabis, it is still an uncertain environment.
Doug Waltner, Pension Trustee of Broward Fire Rescue, moderated the next panel. The panel discussed the benefits of an investment fund in the cannabis industry. Walter J. Dix, Chairman and Trustee of Broward Fire Rescue, shares that as fire departments gain control of their health insurance and pensions, cannabis is at the forefront of this movement. Patrick Kim, Partner and Founder of Altmore Capital, advises that while there are good investments in the cannabis space, there are also bad ones. Due diligence is extremely vital in this industry. Michael Weiner, Partner at Dorsey & Whitney LLP, hopes that people who invest in the industry want to do so for more than just profit. He adds that if more people choose cannabis for similar reasons to Broward Fire Rescue, it will create the right kind of companies within the space.
Before heading into the last few panels of the day, Fueurstein Kulick sponsored a quick refreshment break, where attendees could network and grab a pretzel.
After the break, Dustin Robinson, Founder of Iter Investments, led an insightful conversation on psychedelics and pharma. David Langer, Founding Partner at Lionheart Ventures, views that “drug development companies are the most interesting opportunities for potential returns at this stage of the industry.” When Dustin brought up the topic of patents in psychedelics, noting the significant difficulties in patenting psychedelics, Gina Kirch, Founding Partner of The Venture Collective, agrees that while there may not always be an opportunity for patents, a broader defensibility of patents is needed. Additionally, President of Irwin Naturals Adam Birk advises staying close to patent developers to utilize their CROs. Evan Levine, Founder of PsyBio Therapeutics Inc., boasts of the many patents he has filed and agrees that they are essential to his success in the psychedelic space.
In the next session, moderator Adam Fayne, Attorney at Saul Ewing LLP, was joined by John Repetti, CPA of Cooper Family Office, Avi Weintraub, Tiger 21 Miami Chair and Cannabis Investor, and Sylvia Benito, Chief Investment Officer at ASK Family Office, to discuss cannabis and psychedelic investments for family offices. John says having scientists to rely on provides him with new investment opportunities. Avi has recognized that demand for cannabis is overtaking alcohol in some states. This shift means that when cannabis is federally legal, the price will shoot back up. Sylvia touches on her perspective on investing in psychedelics; she finds excellent opportunity in the retreat model because of the lower regulatory risks and the significant impact she has witnessed.
The final panel discussed the medical cannabis market. Moderator Michael Wilner boasts that the medicinal marketplace is growing. When asking the panel how the passage of recreational cannabis affects the medicinal market, George Meek, Founder of CHILAM, says he sees this as an opportunity for the medical market. While the EU hasn’t gone recreational yet, he agrees with fellow panelist Chris Beals, former CEO of WeedMaps, that “going recreational will educate the population that cannabis is medicine, and it will ultimately grow the medicinal market.” Chris shares that the passage of recreational use will create an exponential shift, “you will get an extra level of normalization,” which will lead to more medicinal use.
Before closing remarks, delegates were invited to break into smaller group discussion tables to trade experiences and lessons learned from investing challenges and opportunities in the public and private sectors. Six small group discussions were led by panelists ranging from topics such as global medicinal cannabis to investing in psychedelics.
Stephen Lenn, Managing Partner of Brennan Manna Diamond, closed the summit, urging all attendees to “follow the money out of the shadows and into the mainstream.”
The day concluded with a cocktail reception in the courtyard and the announcement of the winner of the investor pitch session: Psybio Therapeutics!
The Cannabis & Psychedelics Investment Summit showcases the best and brightest cannabis entrepreneurs and is the premiere summit for institutional investors, family offices, and ultra high net worth investors. For additional information on any presenting companies, please email us at email@example.com.