On May 18 and 19, retailers, buyers, and investors attended the exclusive, invite-only Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference in Manhattan, NY. The prestigious two-day event, billed as the first B2B trade event of its kind, was an opportunity for luxury cannabis, CBD, and hemp wellness brands to connect with New York’s burgeoning adult-use market.
Unlike other tradeshows, LMCC’s aesthetic was akin to an Apple Store—spacious, white and inviting. Dozens of brands were in attendance, with sitting areas purposefully created for conversations. In addition to the retail exhibition, there were some high-profile speakers covering some hot topics, including “New York Cannabis Retail Comes Alive: OR Everything You’ve Always Wanted to Know But Were(n’t) Afraid to Ask,” presented by the New York State Cannabis Control Board and Bloomberg News and featuring Tremaine Wright, Cannabis Control Board Chair, New York State Office of Cannabis Management.
When I first walked in and began to make my rounds, I immediately noticed the packaging of what looked like a teddy bear falling asleep and I headed in that direction. I was greeted by a smiling man with a firm handshake. He turned out to be Kyle Paradiso, CEO of Sleepy Bear Gummies. The all-natural sleep aid products are redefining the word “wellness” and how it relates to selling cannabis and CBD-infused products.
Paradiso, a former army ranger, experienced multiple spinal cord injuries that led to his premature medical retirement from the military at the young age of 24 in 2016. Enduring chronic pain as a result, he faced numerous sleepless nights and sought solace in CBD and cannabis, which ultimately transformed his approach to wellness and provided significant relief.
“Wellness is not a one-size-fits-all approach and neither should CBD be for its use”, Paradiso says. “Getting the active material, albeit THC-v or CBD, into the bloodstream and doing what it needs to do for relief is what matters. My goal is to offer the fastest, most effective edible on the market”. And he’s not wrong, most people avoid gummies for their ambiguous dosage and onset time—I know I do.
Continuing around the show, a few other brands stood out to me including Dad Grass, Pamos beverages, and Drew Martin pre-rolls. Dad Grass for its nostalgic, approachable packaging, and its ability to be self-aware about its market position and X-factor as a CBD pre-roll that isn’t looking to get you high at all; rather, it wants to chill you out with a glass of wine, so you can stay in the moment while your friends partake in stronger cannabis. Pamos is a delicious well-branded infused beverage that left a minimal weed-like aftertaste, that really played well to the California sober crowd.
What I appreciate about the Drew Martin pre-roll is its ability to make a standard joint look and feel pretty. The brand infuses cannabis with natural botanicals, so you get a potpourri-smelling joint versus the standard aromas we’ve all become accustomed to. They offer both high and low doses, so you can relax with friends or with your thoughts while being grounded, engaged and immersed in the moment.
Overall, the Luxury Meets Cannabis Conference was a great event with positive energy. I am glad I had the chance to attend and see first-hand the direction NYC is taking with the “luxury” narrative.