There was definitely something in the air Saturday, May 13, as Cannastock NY kicked off its day-long festivities inside Poughkeepsie, NY’s cavernous Majed J. Nesheiwat (MJN) Convention Center in the heart of the Hudson Valley, a region one hour north of New York City. President and Geneticist at Green Luster Phenos, Justin Esquivel, delivered the event’s keynote address.
Hudson Valley High
The anticipated event took on a celebratory, carnival atmosphere inside the venue as the 50-plus participating exhibitors showcased the very best of the Hudson Valley cannabis community to more than 3000 cannabis aficionados. The upbeat, electric vibes were certainly not only palpable, but also infectious at this second Cannastock NY event. It’s safe to say that the Hudson Valley generally—and Poughkeepsie, in particular—are very happy indeed that the plant took center stage at Cannastock NY.
“The interest and the anticipation from the Hudson Valley cannabis consumers was through the roof,” said Martin Mills, Cannastock NY’s co-founder and co-producer. “But that’s the mission behind Cannabis NY: to bring authentic cannabis culture to New York where we can come together and have fun.”
Mills, a long-time New York marketing cannabis professional based in Woodstock, sums up the eclectic event succinctly: “Cannastock NY is, at its core, an immersive cannabis event.”
Esquivel, a world-class geneticist, largely agrees with Mills’ assessment of the current state of New York and Hudson Valley cannabis.
“I know Cannastock NY is focused on the whole state, but I understand that the cannabis culture here in the Hudson Valley is very predominant,” Esquivel says. “And the Hudson Valley cannabis market is one that will see a lot of consumers interacting and engaged—something consumers have to be in order for the cannabis industry to have a chance to be successful.”
California Dreaming? Not So Much.
When asked how New York will fare when compared to California’s decidedly spotty cannabis experience, Esquivel is unequivocal in his bullish belief in the Empire State’s success.
“The state of New York is going to have a bigger green rush than the West Coast—absolutely,” he says. “You have vertical farmers that are in New York City who are cultivating acres of cannabis, but doing so vertically. They might only have 500 square feet; but they’re four, five, up to a dozen tiers of cultivation. These vertical farmers are able to really maximize their square footage. But I strongly believe that the New York City market as well as the New York State marketplace will far surpass what California has done genetically.”
The self-described “genetic engineer” sees a clear-eyed future for cannabis. “I truly believe that in ten years we’re going to see federal cannabis legalization,” Esquivel says. “And that will change the way growers cultivate in general, and it’s going to completely change the cannabis marketplace in this country.”
During Esquivel’s keynote address to the Hudson Valley cannabis lovers, he honed in on specific genetics truisms he wanted to impart, speaking about genetics, tissue culture and clean cultivation. “The main point I wanted people to take away was that tissue culture can be implemented by even a homegrown individual for a very low cost, and it allows you to grow without ever watering or feeding your plants ever,” Esquivel says. “So, whether you’re a home grower, and you grow in your closet or a tent, and you’re just growing one plant, you can still take advantage of tissue culture, as well as your commercial cultivators.”
According to Mills, the Cannastock NY organizers are already planning a third event, slated to be held in the fall later this year. The first event, held at The Colony in Woodstock in October 2022, had some 800 participants, a number vastly surpassed by last week’s Poughkeepsie event.
“New York’s cannabis industry is going in the right direction,” Mills says. “We’re currently firing on half-a-cylinder out of five, but we’re moving in the right way. The interest from cannabis consumers has never been higher in the state.”
Esquivel, a native of Belize, concurs. “Green Luster Phenos is all in on New York,” he says. “My company—and I—want to make an impression in this industry. Look, in 2009, I lost a grandfather to cancer. He was given the only THC derivative pill available then because it was the only thing that helped keep food down during his intense radiation treatment. So, yeah, he’s a big reason why I have hard roots here in New York, and I want to come back here. And you know something else? I’m going to make a mark in the industry.”