Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo (CWCBE) took place over three days at The Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center on New York City’s West Side and while the event’s expo portion wasn’t surprising in its typical presentation or lack of actual cannabis, the standouts of the event were surprising, candidly forward comments about legal cannabis by the featured speakers. The talks were the focal point of the event.
New York City Mayor Eric Adams seems to agree. The veteran NYPD officer opened his brief remarks to the audience with a joke.
“I’m a bit disappointed,” Mayor Adams said. “I thought I’d walk in the room and have a nice scent of weed goin’ on in here.”
He went on to discuss his intentions for New York City’s legal cannabis industry at the well-attended speech at CWCBE.
“There are great opportunities, and as I talk with mayors across the country, no one has seemed to have gotten it [cannabis legalization] right,” Adams said. “This is our opportunity to get it right; and the way you do that is with the power of information. We allocated, in our executive budget, close to $5 million just about assisting in openings of facilities, all the info you need. How do you navigate this complex new way of using cannabis for so many different reasons and so many different products? We want to hear your feedback. Reach out to us and my small business service commissioner. If there’s something you believe we can do better to make it happen, we want you to be a part of it.”
Legal marijuana will undoubtedly be big business for New York, “The numbers speak for themselves,” the mayor said. “The potential of raising almost $1.3 billion in this industry, 19,000 to 24,000 jobs. We’re going to be giving out 200 licenses in the area of cultivation and 200 licenses in the area of retail and 162 have already been issued. This is an opportunity for those who were left behind to really participate in this industry. We want to be clear that the magic term is equity.”
The mayor continued. “Those who were impacted by heavy-handed policing and had their lives destroyed, we need to make them whole. That means job training and improving credit reports of those who’ve been unemployed because of marijuana arrests. How do we make them whole? The money that’s set aside is about really looking back with understanding and acknowledging that we can’t just say, ‘let’s start from where we are.’ We have to make people whole who’ve gone through some very difficult periods of over-policing in the area of cannabis throughout this entire city, throughout this entire state.”
The newly elected mayor ended his less than three-minute speech in this rather remarkable fashion:
“So, welcome here,” Mayor Eric Adams said. “Enjoy yourself; light up, and, most importantly, spend some money. We want your money. Thank you.”
While the mayor encouraged the CWCBE attendees to smoke cannabis, smoking anything indoors is prohibited at the Javitz Center and throughout the Empire State.
In contrast to the mayor’s pithy and succinct remarks, rapper, author, actor, record producer and Co-Founder of the National Cannabis Party (NCP), Redman went several minutes over his allotted keynote speaker slot. Plugging the NCP, an official Presidential Electoral Party registered with the Federal Elections Commission representing the cannabis industry; the rapper explained that he isn’t representing a specific brand.
Additionally, while repeatedly calling for unity in the industry, Redman contrarily discussed the Schadenfreude of Jay-Z’s cannabis brand Monogram, which is notoriously unpopular among cannabis aficionados. The rapper remarked that while some celebrities who are true proponents of the plant, such as Wiz Khalifa, deserve to have a cannabis brand, arrivalists, and opportunists, including Jay Z apparently, shouldn’t be white labeling a cannabis brand when he has “never done shit for the industry.”
When discussing the regulated legal cannabis industry in New Jersey, Redman said that “What we should be doing is learning off the mistakes of the West Coast.”
“It’s not about social equity; it’s about equity empowerment,” Redman insisted.
For the record, Redman admits that he has never been to a New Jersey cannabis dispensary or bought cannabis from a Multi-State Operator (MSO). He still consumes legacy cannabis.
When Redman was done speaking and came off the Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo stage, he ran into fellow rapper and cannabis brand entrepreneur Spliff Star. The two shared their enthusiasm for how far they’ve come from the rap game to the legal marijuana game and teased one another about the names on their expo badges.
Redman’s badge said Sooperman Luver, while Spliff Star’s had his official government name rather than his moniker.
“This weed game is serious. I’m Mr. Lewis now,” joked Spliff Star.
“You can’t even say ‘marijuana’ anymore,” Redman lamented. “You have to say, ‘cannabis,’ now.”