Some 120 high level investors from the Family Office, Private Equity and Hedge Fund world gathered May 2nd at the Peninsula Hotel in Beverly Hills. Attendees came from across the globe including Canada, Europe, South America and all parts of the US.
This full day of gathering information and mingling with fellow investors started early morning with coffee and a sumptuous buffet breakfast followed by organizers Noa Kahner and JJ McKay’s introductory remarks. I sensed immediately a heightened awareness level at this year’s event. It is no longer a question of “If” they should invest in cannabis but more “Where”.
Attendees were immediately brought up to date on legal developments by a panel including Michael Miller, Michael Weiner and Joe Rogoway. The latter has actually been specialized in cannabis law since the early 2000’s. Michael Miller has had long successful career Wall Street M&A career. Mr. Weiner has a similar background mostly in Colorado and an important player in the development of the cannabis industry there.
Four Hundred + Cannabis Beer?
California State Treasurer Candidate Fiona Ma is a fixture at top cannabis events and she was front and center in the “Banking and the Public Markets” panel. She certainly surprised me when informed moderator Matt Karnes, GreenWave Advisors MP, that “there are already 400 banks in the US taking cannabis business accounts.”
The cannabis beverage market received a stunning show of support last fall when Fortune 500 powerhouse Constellation Brands announced a several hundred-million-dollar investment in cannabis beer. Perhaps no one was happier to hear that news than Dooma Wendschuh Co-Founder of Province Brands.
Dooma was part of the panel “Marijuana: Disrupting Healthcare and the Alcohol Industry”. He was adamant in his belief that “alcohol will dominate the cannabis industry in the years ahead”. Province Brands has IP in place surrounding the right to make beer out of cannabis. Their beer will come in at 70 calories where as infused beer will have way more. Ben Kovler, Founder and Chairman of GTI a national cannabis cultivation and dispensary operation, countered Dooma by emphasizing the importance Big Pharma will have going forward. Peter Barsoom, Founder the 1906 Cannabis Chocolates, added his thoughts to the panel on branding.
Lunch and More Mingling
While the panels are fascinating much of the action at an event like this happens outside the meeting room. At the Peninsula the meeting room flowed directly to a walled in courtyard where breakfast, lunch and eventually cocktails were served. This was a very popular place to ask further questions of panelists and generally meet and greet. The small plate servings were ideal for the standing table set up and allowed for further interaction.
In the courtyard I had some one on one with Max Simon, Founder & CEO of Green Flower Media. He had just hosted a panel on identifying cannabis consumers today and how to target them. Green Flower is the worlds largest video platform for trusted cannabis knowledge.
I also caught up outside with Matt Hawkins, Founder and MP of Cresco Capital Partners. Matt hails from Dallas, Texas and is well known in the cannabis private equity space. He later participated on the “Investor Roundtable” panel.
Jeffrey Britz, International Cannabrands / JUJU Royal, is another speaker that I had the pleasure to get to know. He participated on the “Branding” panel and has secured the worldwide cannabis rights to the Julian Marley name and images. Like most all involved at this event Britz brings a long successful tradition business career to his cannabis pursuits.
It must be 4:20 somewhere + The After Party
The Live Pitch Session featured PharmaCann, Phylos, Regulated Solutions, QIND and Province Brands. Immediately following this rapid-fire session attendees adjourned to the courtyard again for a well timed cocktail reception. Some got there early like Michael Arnkvarn, CMO of MPX Bioceutical Corp. Michael was no doubt anticipating the big night ahead and his company involvement.
The ever-present JJ McKay, Founder of The Fresh Toast, announced the Live Pitch award winner- Mowgli Holmes of Phylos Bioscience, an agricultural genomics company. About 6:30 attendees walked just outside the Peninsula Hotel to board a shuttle going to Bel Air for the much anticipated after party.
It is after parties like this that remind us how special it is to be involved in the cannabis industry right now especially at this caliber level. The guests were invited into a luxurious multilevel Bel Air mansion overlooking most of the westside of LA with views stretching to the Pacific Ocean.
Downstairs in the terraced gardens there was a very large bud bar where you could obtain just about anything you desired for your cannabis experience. The business mingling continued into the wee hours. Cannabrunch seemed like three days combined into one.
The day would not have been possible without the help and participation of many people. A big thank you goes out to the following:
• Event Chairman JJ McKay (The Fresh Toast)
• Dinner Host: Michael Miller (Table 21)
• Event Sponsors: Green Flower Media, CannaIncome Fund, Cassel Brock, Cresco Capital, Dorsey & Whitney, Euwana Capital, GTI, International Cannabrands, Marimed Advisors, NUKA Foods (1906), PharmaCann, PRØHBTD, Phylos, Province Brands, Qind, Regulated Solutions, Rogoway Law Group, Roth Capital, Springhouse, Floris Capital Management, and Revolution Enterprises