The fifth annual Cannabis Expo (CanXpo) was held on August 20 at the Clubhouse in East Hampton, New York. It was well-received with close to 550 attendees. It showcased a number of cannabis-forward companies and a host of expert guest panel speakers.
Gary Bierfriend is the brainchild of CanXpo and first began producing cannabis events in 2018. This summer’s cannabis expo saw Bierfriend returning to the affluent Long Island area with the intention of creating a space where like-minded professionals could discuss the commercialization of cannabis while also promoting a positive image of the industry at large.
“There was a big gaping hole in the industry, despite the economic opportunity,” Bierfriend said. “In great part that was due to the stigma and generational morals.”
“I figured what better place to start than in my own community of the Hamptons, where many of the top people and relevant industry professionals, investors, and entrepreneurs have homes and visit,” he added.
Cannabis was recognized as being legal for medicinal use in New York State in 2014 under the Compassionate Care Act and as of 2019, cannabis has been decriminalized by New York State law.
Roughly two years later, state legislators passed the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA), which legalized the purchase, possession, and transporting of marijuana up to three ounces and up to 24 grams of concentrate for the 21 and over crowd, according to Weedmaps.
While cannabis products are legal for recreational use by New Yorkers who are at least 21 years of age, licensed adult-use dispensaries are not yet operational for buyers in the Empire State. Weedmapa claims adult-use dispensaries will open and be fully operational by the end of 2022.
Several exhibitors both local to New York and areas abroad were in attendance. These companies shared in their reverence of cannabis products and their stake in the future of the industry in a state rich with potential.
These exhibitors showcased products and services ranging from marijuana-centric jewelry and fashion to THC-infused cocktails and food enhancers. While others presented refined CBD tinctures and edibles designed to combat inflammation and anxiety.
A jewelry designer by trade, Jill Jacobson was among the exhibitors at the CanXpo. Her company, Canna Culture, sells cannabis themed merchandise to both high-end boutiques and dispensaries.
Jacobson says that she’s always been interested in cannabis and that her experience in jewelry and high fashion eventually led her to seize the opportunity to combine the two as cannabis becomes more mainstream.
“There’s a lot of jewelry out there but this is actually trend fashion,” Jacobson said. “I’m selling to high-end boutiques and high-end dispensaries. And I’m just going to keep building the brand. I plan on building it into a lifestyle brand actually, where there will be bags and t-shirts and baseball hats as well.”
As cannabis is becoming more popular, Jacobson hopes that people will stop stigmatizing cannabis users, and that her brand best represents that sentiment.
“I’m selling to better boutiques where it’s not even legal and people are wanting to put it in their stores just because it’s so fashionable,” Jacobson said. “I guess what I’m trying to do is to alleviate some of the stigma through fashion. That was kind of my plan.”
Not far from Jacobson’s tent was Warren Bobrow, the CEO and co-founder of Klaus. As a master mixologist, Bobrow describes Klaus as the “best cannabis-infused, terpene-forward beverage in the world.”
The company was founded about two years ago in California and Bobrow was excited about the prospect of expanding Klaus through his company’s direct-to-consumer product plan, which is on the horizon.
“My peers would kill me if I just made another seltzer,” Bobrow said. “It’s a ready-to-drink, terpene forward, hippie crasher strain. This is a hippie crasher terpene, cannabis-infused beverage and it’s the best in the world.”
While cannabis is becoming increasingly popular, Chef Federico Moreno firmly believes that people still associate cannabis with junk food that more or less coincides with the expectations of the stoner stereotype popularized in the mainstream media for generations.
Through his company, Refined Infusions, the young chef wants to stray from junk food and inject a bit of class into his brand of cannabis cuisine.
“I’m trying to direct people away from junk food and really class things up,” Moreno said. “I have balsamic, salts, and sugars that allow you to use them on pretty much anything you want.”
He added, “I infuse everything with MCT oil which allows for it to digest through your body a lot quicker. So, the intake and the moment you feel the high is a lot faster than as if you were going to eat a conventional edible. The MCT oil will bypass all of the food products.”
Operating in a certified lab in Connecticut a wife and husband duo have created a wellness brand called Grace Health and Wellness.
In 2018, wife Nicole DiMonda was diagnosed with stage four metastatic breast cancer and credits her husband, Jaime Birambila, with saving her life. His expertise as a cannabis extractor and chief science officer were put to the test when treating DiMonda’s condition with a combination of THC and CBD.
With her cancer now in remission, DiMonda and her husband decided to build their wellness brand to help others who may be suffering from a host of health problems that can be effectively treated with cannabis.
Birambila is the author of a peer-review paper that focuses on his wife beating cancer. That case study will be published in Drug Science Policy and Law, a high-profile magazine in the UK, according to the couple.
“We are absolutely just amazed that this is happening because it will provide so much of the proper research necessary to get the information out there,” said DiMonda when asked about the case study. “Cannabis does kill cancer cells. We’ve known this for a very long time and now it’s a matter of bringing it to the forefront so that people can heal.”
As the cannabis industry takes shape, certain areas will be pushed to the forefront, while others will be left behind, according to Bierfriend, when asked about his attitude towards this year’s CanXpo.
The event organizer says the theme this year seemed to be that, “the investment and growth [of the industry] has dried up, while consolidation, debt, insurance and disciplined financial and sales management are all at critical choke points.”
“Currently, there’s a huge conflict, juxtaposition, between New York being the greatest state opportunity aside from California; along with one of the greatest business failures due to regulatory and tax burdens,” Bierfriend said. “The consensus is to not follow the herd off the cliff, but to wait patiently to see how and if early adopters can succeed.”
Lead Image: Attendees of the CanXpo gather in excitement as exhibitors and speakers help make the event hosted at the Clubhouse in East Hampton, New York on Aug. 20 a success. All images herein are courtesy of Chris Mellides.