CannaGather Is NYC’s New Tech Meetup for Weed

The 411 on 420 investing, right this way

By Shari Gab

CannaGather Is NYC’s New Tech Meetup for Weed
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09 January 2018

Woulda, coulda, shoulda.

The three little words every seasoned investor fears.

And if there’s one industry that’s ripe for the staking at present, it’s good ol’ cannabis.

So we tracked down Josh Weinstein, the founder of NYC meetup CannaGather, to chat about investment, advocacy and Snoop Dogg’s newest venture.

Plus: what to expect at the group’s next session, stirring the pot next week.

InsideHook: What should one expect at a CannaGather meetup?
Josh Weinstein: CannaGathers feature a mix of education and networking. We kick off with food, drinks, sponsor booths and networking, and then move to our education segment, which features industry-leading keynote speakers. And it’s all followed by an after party at a nearby upscale pizza spot, Adoro Lei.

IH: Who are we going to meet there?
JW: It's primarily a mix of entrepreneurs and investors, plus service providers, healthcare professionals, athletes, media, advocates and more.

IH: Why here? Why now?
JW: I started the organization four years ago, inspired by the New York Tech Meetup and the triple-bottom-line opportunity that cannabis offers. There's financial upside, medical opportunity and social justice reform that is all baked into the cannabis industry's progression. New York is the capital of the world — particularly for finance and media. Plus I live here, so it's important that we get involved. The organization has grown tremendously, but now is an interesting inflection point as legalization is spreading around the country and our medical program is picking up steam.

IH: Is cannabis commerce the new dot-com? That is, is there a bubble nearing that will eventually burst?
JW: Cannabis is the new dot-com insofar as it can yield a massive paradigm shift and platform that will bring progress we can't even envision at this point. In terms of a bubble, I don't see it as such barring a massive federal government crackdown. But in the context of investments, all opportunities should be carefully vetted, like any other industry.

IH: How do you think Jeff Sessions’s announcement that the federal government will have greater power to crack down on legal marijuana operations will affect the approach of investors?
JW: I don't think anyone really knows the impact that his announcement will (or won't) have. Investors may be more concerned, but the industry is still processing the news.

IH: If I want to invest, where would you advise I start?
JW: Come to our events! Happy to chat with folks who are interested and getting in touch with connectors is obviously a good first step. There are networking groups and funds like Casa Verde Capital (Snoop Dogg’s company and a major advisor of ours) who would also be a good steward of capital into the space.

IH: Say I have $1,000, where should I invest? How about $10,000? $1m?
JW: I'd say if you are only able to invest $1,000, then it probably isn't worthwhile to get involved. If you want to experiment with public equities, then maybe, but I'd advise against it. My only capital investment in the space thus far is $10,000 in Cronos Group (MJN.V), one of our past speakers (I invested well after they spoke to avoid conflict of interest). If you have $1m to invest, definitely come see me.

IH: Will recreational use become a reality in New York?
JW: Cannabis is legal in New York State for a variety of medical conditions. In terms of adult use, it seems that is the direction things are headed. With New Jersey coming online, it should make things very interesting.

IH: If someone wants to advocate for the legalization of marijuana in NY, where should they start beyond CannaGather?
JW: There are other great organizations as well: DPA, NORML, NCIA, MPP, CCA and more.

IH: What does someone who has no interest in using legal marijuana serve to gain from its legalization in NY?
JW: When I started CannaGather I never consumed cannabis — CBD [for cannabidiol hemp oil, a therapeutic compound found in marijuana plants that can be isolated without the psychoactive effects of THC] or otherwise, so I fit this demographic. For me, it's not about the consumption. It's about the importance and opportunity of this industry. It's entrepreneurship. It's medicine. It's a statically proven substitute good for dangerous products. It's an end to the 'Drug War' policing era which is largely an assault on minorities.

IH: Anything we should be looking forward to for the 1/16 event?
JW: There's a lot of interesting tension and crossover when it comes to cannabis and the alcohol industry (so too with pharma). Chris Burggraeve, our keynote speaker, is a legendary marketer and former CMO of AB InBev, one of the main players in the alcohol industry. I'm very interested to hear about his experience, path to the cannabis industry and his thoughts on the interplay between these two industries.

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