With New York’s cannabis industry in high flux, there has never been a better time for the community to get the education it sorely needs. This year, the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo (CWCBExpo) returns on June 5th and 6th for its incredible 10th anniversary, one of the longest-running cannabis trade shows in the nation and the East Coast’s premier B2B networking event. It’s sure to be a program of epic proportions… But what happens AFTER the conference?


The New York Cannabis Retail Association (NYCRA) Hosts CWCBExpo's Official After-Party At The House Of Cannabis

That’s where the New York Cannabis Retail Association (NYCRA) steps in, of course! NYCRA, a membership association connecting all cannabis industry stakeholders across the supply chain, will host the official CWCBExpo after-party on Thursday, June 6th at Soho’s The House of Cannabis (THC NYC) museum. Showcasing over 30 leading New York brands, plus live music by renowned DJ Cat Ouellette and food by the esteemed Chef For Higher, this event is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to network with thought leaders in the most elevated way. Tickets are FREE, but space is limited – so click here to get yours now.

Which New York Brands Are Sponsoring NYCRA's CWCBExpo After-Party?

Honeysuckle is proud to be a media partner for this momentous occasion. The NYCRA team is still offering some sponsorship slots for the event, so if you’re interested in being featured at the biggest party of the summer, reach out now.

Join partners including StupidDope, CONBUD, Vicente LLP, LeafLink, Jeffrey Hoffman & Associates PLLC, BioTrack, Alleaves, Seibold Security, Weedubest, PAX, Ayrloom, Etain, HPI Canna, Naturae, Freshly Baked, Slap That Ass, Ten-Ten Cannabis, District 7, Rove, Dealer Cannabis Co., Castetter Cannabis Group, Punch Edibles, HeadSpace, Hysteria, Pure Vibe, PLUGPLAY, True North New York, All In One, Heavy Hitters, 40 Tons, Drew Martin, Mind Melters, Packwoods, Torch, Silly Nice, Ruby Farms, Platinum Reserve, Good Times New York, Her Highness, Koko Nuggz, Dank by Definition, Cheeba Chews, Green Revolution, Integridy Farms, Jetty, Vapor Bar, Social Highs, and of course Cat Ouellette and Chef For Higher.

NYCRA founders Britni Tantalo, Coss Marte, and Jayson Tantalo (C) NYCRA

NYCRA Founders Jayson And Britni Tantalo And Coss Marte Talk CWCBExpo Panels, Available Sponsorship Slots, And Community Benefits

Before the fun begins, Honeysuckle sat down with NYCRA co-founders Jayson and Britni Tantalo, owners of Flower City Hydroponics, and Coss Marte, founder of CONBUD, to get the inside scoop on the after-party and the association’s expanded footprint at this year’s CWCBExpo.

*Special deal alert: Get 30 percent off tickets to the CWCBExpo with code NYCRA30 now. NYCRA members have access to a vast array of benefits associated with the conference, so check out the organization’s Discord to learn more.

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: It’s exciting to see NYCRA taking such an active role in CWCBExpo programming this year. Not only will you be hosting the after-party, but there will be an extensive NYCRA presence in the exhibition hall too. What can you tell us about those plans?

BRITNI TANTALO: I’m so grateful to [CWCBExpo showrunners] Christine Ianuzzi and Mary Vaccaro, and just the whole expo team. KymB [co-founder of TribeTokes and a CWCBExpo Board Member] made that connection for us, and they’re wonderful. They have been doing this for 10 years, keeping it in New York at the Javits Center. Now that the market’s open, I think it’s going to be one of the best shows they’ve ever had, because now they can actually showcase businesses that are operational, and real legal sales being made in the market. They opened their doors to NYCRA and the community.

JAYSON TANTALO: Absolutely. The fact that you have such a large staple expo opening the doors for social equity and street equity, as you guys like to call it – the opportunity to elevate our voices [is] really what it’s about. When we speak about what we can contribute, it’s all about elevating what legal looks like in New York cannabis and the members inside of that community. Giving us this opportunity [at CWCBExpo] allows us to generate a much stronger stance by being part of such an event… to be heard and seen at this level of corporate business.

COSS MARTE: Yes, just the fact that they're allowing individuals like ourselves, who have been impacted by the War on Drugs, to really showcase what we do and how we're running, how we've been able to execute on moving forward with the industry through advocacy, is critically important. We're grateful for sure.

HONEYSUCKLE: Many NYCRA members will be speakers at this year’s CWCBExpo conference, including both of you! What can we expect from those presentations?

BRITNI: From our leadership, myself, Jayson, and Coss are all going to be speaking on the “Journey to Legitimacy: The OGs and OQs of Cannabis” panel. This is a two-part panel talking about our transition from the legacy to the legal market, and what that looks like from a male and female perspective. We don’t often focus on the queens that exist, so it’s cool to shed light on that. Venus Rodriguez, Chair of our Women’s Committee, will be speaking during the Women in Cannabis Business Luncheon. She’s amazing, definitely an ally and advocate for the space, so everyone should look out for her as well.

COSS: And [our NYCRA members speaking at CWCBExpo] is also highlighting the fact that this is [what] actual reparations looks like; we have not seen anything like this in any other place, in any other state. Getting the opportunity to be in front of that stage, and that audience, and having the expo really recognize us, is a major deal. Most of the time people like us are placed in the back of the classroom and not given a voice to elaborate on what we've been doing.

HONEYSUCKLE: I don’t think we’ve ever seen a conference panel that focuses on differences in male and female perspectives in the industry before. That’s amazing.

BRITNI: That’s just one of the many things I think CWCBExpo is going to bring this year. Great discussions, fireside chats, really good keynote speakers, all shedding light on some of the things that are outside of the box for a conference – talking about the street and that side instead of your more structured information on banking and insurance. Those are wonderful too, but it’s that sort of out-of-the-box thinking that’s the real heart and what people want to hear. Our OGs and OQs panel is actually the last panel right before the party.

But we have other speakers too. Puma Robinson [from VH1’s Black Ink Crew] just dropped his P-Rollz brand in New York, and we worked with him to bring that to market. He and Christopher Louie [co-founder of Made in Xiaolin] will be on the OGs panel, moderated by "Hawaii" Mike Salman of Chef For Higher. On the OQs panel, we have KymB, Lulu Tsui from On The Revel, and Jessica Naissant [founder of Wake and Bake Café]. They are going to share their history, their perspective, their transition, and their insight. I highly recommend everybody watch that panel.

JAYSON: That’s another thing for people to take note of, is that NYCRA helps [legacy players] transition into the space. Because we have this collaborative mindset, we help those who are actually trying to transition… We’re out here on the streets connecting them to cultivators and processors. We’re doing it for free. And it’s important that the community recognizes that, because not everybody is willing to give up their network. But our network is theirs. Let’s build this fucking community the right way. Let’s get some of the faces that have been in the streets your entire lives, surrounded by cannabis, into the market. That’s top priority for us.

So if there’s anybody out there that has a strong following or deep roots to cannabis that wants help transitioning, they can always reach out to us. We have a form on our LinkTree that’s made for brands so we can help connect the dots. We want the best fucking products in New York to be sold by us, and we want the best people to sell it to us.

COSS: I think it's a great platform to let people know how we did this, how we've been able to transition, and we show the steps. A lot of people have been waiting and listening to NYCRA's direction because they haven't received a lot of direction from the State. From what we've seen is that a lot of people want answers, a lot of people want to know how things are going to happen. Jayson, Britni, and I have been on the ground to the inside work of a lot of stuff that's going down. We've been the ones to [share that] torch and be like, "Hey, this is how it's supposed to be done." So I think anybody that transitions from legacy to legal [should check out the NYCRA] and the opportunities and what's there. Because we could stay legacy forever, but it's probably going to be harder work than transferring over, being out from the underground and able to market as we should be.

BRITNI: NYCRA also helped to bring Jam Master Jays [the nostalgic cannabis brand run by the estate of the late rapper] to market. We take people who really come from this culture who need help and guidance, and it’s not just a retail thing. We do it for the cultivators and processors too. This is just another thing that NYCRA can do to help link people, like we do with our access portal.


HONEYSUCKLE: Now let’s talk about the CWCBExpo after-party. Will the structure take some inspiration from NYCRA’s famous Industry Parties?

JAYSON: Yeah. We’re basically calling on the community who wants to seek out what New York cannabis looks like. We want them to participate in this event, network with actual licensed individuals and operators, and connect with them more interpersonally. Anybody who’s interested should come see what it’s all about. A lot of people have been on pause right now for onboarding with the association, so being a part of these events – whether they’re invested or not – it’s a chance to be in the room with other like-minded individuals, speak to leadership, and connect on a different level.

BRITNI: For me, it’s exciting because our events allow B2B to happen. They allow retailers, cultivators, processors to connect because our members always show up, but we also bring the community. That's what makes it so great linking with the CWCBExpo because there's so many brands out there, but they're competing against out-of-state illegal brands through these illicit shops. And having these events allow community, the person around the corner, maybe somebody who's not directly related to the cannabis community here in New York, to try become familiar, become educated, to go into a legal dispensary to make a purchase. We have to build these brands. We have to show the community, we have to educate them, and this is a pathway to do that. Being in the room is critical. Your network is your net worth. You never know who you're going to meet and what that can turn into for your business. So the value is there across the board.

COSS: I think it also allows us to bring something tangible to the table for those who are legacy to see what is possible. And I think that's a huge inspiration and the hope that we're giving individuals who want to cross over as like, "Hey, we've been in the legacy side not too long ago. Now we're on a legal side and this is a possibility, that we could open up a market and have an industry party and bring our energy, our flavor, our culture, our own design of New York's cannabis industry to the table." We don't want to copy or bring the flavor over there. This is how we're going to do it and how it's going to be.

HONEYSUCKLE: And you still have some sponsorships open for the after-party?

BRITNI: Yes, we are actively, very quickly, filling up our sponsorship spots. We have [THC NYC] from the rooftop to the ground, five levels. Each level is going to provide a different experience and allow these brands and businesses to showcase themselves. This is going to provide a more intimate experience [than our previous Industry Parties], so we’re excited about that.

JAYSON: We’ve got Chef “Hawaii” Mike of Chef For Higher, cooking up all the food. We’re going to have an open bar, and we are looking for a liquor and beer sponsorship. DJ Cat Ouellette is going to be spinning the tables. We have to elevate her, because she’s great at what she does and she gives back to the community. She is a CAURD licensee as well. Hawaii Mike, he was one of the first legacy brands to transition to legal in New York. So we’re trying to keep everything kind of in-house. We’re giving back to the members of our association by paying them for their services, so we’re elevating one another.

BRITNI: It's really important that people continue to invest in our events and organizations such as NYCRA, because we truly are the voice of the community, and we utilize these resources for our legislative agenda, for our voice in Albany to be able to help pay or put money in the pockets of our members by creating opportunities for them. Our organization needs fees to function. We run this beautiful access portal that everyone loves, and so all this goes to a not-for-profit, and it goes to all these CAURD and social equity operators trying to get off the ground. We appreciate any support people can give, because you're investing in the community.

HONEYSUCKLE: In an interview for Honeysuckle’s latest print edition, you spoke about NYCRA’s diverse legislative action plan. How are events like this party contributing to that mission?

JAYSON: We’re trying to shape what the infrastructure looks like for every link of the supply chain, not just retailers.

COSS: I think what we want is actual fairness. What we've seen in the industry is that if you basically have a gold pass to skip the line, it's all about money. What we want to bring to the table is that we should be able to [have a conversation], have great lines of communication, and have fairness on the application process. It shouldn't be a "pay to play" type of deal. Obviously people do need some type of financial support to open up a store, but people shouldn't be taken advantage of in the process.

BRITNI: When people invest in our organization, they should understand that it benefits them. If you’re a cultivator, processor, an ancillary business, insurance, point of sale platform, if you’re investing in NYCRA, you’re investing in your customers. That’s very critical. As far as our lobbying and legislative work, what we advocate for benefits the whole supply chain too.

This goes beyond throwing an after-party. People need to understand that when you choose to give your money to NYCRA, it [is funding our work toward] the regulation and policy that we need to be fully efficient in how we operate. Across the supply chain, we can all agree on that, and that’s why we’re working together in our cannabis conference and with other organizations… Events such as [the CWCBExpo after-party] helps fund those initiatives for the change we need throughout the supply chain.

JAYSON: We also want to give Honeysuckle a massive shout-out for giving us this platform as an opportunity to be published and pushed out for the community to see and read. You guys push the content that’s relatable to the community. It’s important for every cannabis person reading it, whether they’re inspired to [enter the industry] or not, but to go beyond getting high and understand what’s really happening in this industry. So thank you for that.

The CWCBExpo after-party, presented by NYCRA, takes place on Thursday, June 6, 2024, 8-11:30PM at THC NYC, 427 Broadway in New York City. Click here to get your tickets on Eventbrite. For tickets to the CWCBExpo and its official conference programming, use code NYCRA30 for a 30 percent discount. Learn more at cwcbexpo.com.

For more information about the NYCRA, follow @nycannabisretailassociation on Instagram, or fill out the form linked here to onboard as an NYCRA member.

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Jayson Tantalo

Britni Tantalo

"Hawaii" Mike Salman


Jaime Lubin


Featured image: NYCRA founders Britni Tantalo, Coss Marte, and Jayson Tantalo (C) NYCRA