The Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo (CWCBExpo) returns to New York’s iconic Jacob K. Javits Center for its 2023 season, June 1-3. As one of the nation’s longest-running and largest cannabis trade shows, known as the premier B2B conference on the East Coast, CWCBExpo maintains its tradition of comprehensive industry networking and education for a marvelous ninth year.

What's On At CWCBExpo 2023: CannaVest East Institutional Capital Forum, Office Of Cannabis Management Licensing Series, And Project Clean Slate Expungement Clinic

Among the highlights of the 2023 program, the expo will present the CannaVest East Institutional Capital Forum for the first time, with seminars focused on investment and fundraising. Hosted by Tim Seymour of CNBC’s Fast Money, CannaVest provides an in-depth look at the cannabis industry’s opportunities for accredited investors. According to the CWCBExpo team, the forum was “created with the family office in mind” and will be available to qualified investors on Thursday June 1 and Friday June 2.

This year, New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) also takes center stage as the department has partnered with CWCBExpo for a series of sessions on Saturday June 3 geared toward helping aspiring cannabis entrepreneurs learn everything they need to know about licensing and legal businesses. These sessions will conclude with a Q&A on the Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) license program. Attendees on Saturday can also take advantage of the expo’s Master Class: Adult Use Retail Dispensary Business Bootcamp, presented by The Cannabis Business Advisors, which offers intensive insights and strategies for those seeking to open a dispensary. On the same day, CWCBExpo launches its first official Expungement Clinic, Project Clean Slate by Minorities for Medical Marijuana (M4MM). Project Clean Slate provides free expungement resources to those with a history of nonviolent cannabis charges.

CWCBExpo Show Director Christine Ianuzzi (C) CWCBExpo

An Interview With CWCBExpo Show Director Christine Ianuzzi

Ahead of Thursday’s opening, CWCBExpo Show Director Christine Ianuzzi sat down with Honeysuckle to share what guests can look forward to at the conference.

HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: It’s so exciting to see CWCBExpo return for its ninth year! What’s different for the show’s 2023 season?

CHRISTINE IANUZZI: We’re back at the Javits Center; we’re the first cannabis trade show they’ve ever had and we’ve been with them from the beginning. But we’re growing and growing. We’ve got a big show this year, 225-plus exhibitors and over 300 booth units on the floor.

The biggest change for this year may be that CWCBExpo is hosting CannaVest East for the first time.

Thursday and Friday we are featuring CannaVest East, the financial capital summit. This is a conference that actually travels the country, and it typically is on the West Coast. At one point it was associated with the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). But they’ve been wanting to work with us for some time and they just got the opportunity to do it this time around. The speakers are from financial family offices that invest in a broad array of industries, including cannabis. There are portfolio managers, people from capital investing groups, real estate professionals. So our program in the mornings on Thursday and Friday will be devoted to CannaVest East, and then in the afternoon we have our CWCBExpo programming. It’s all in one room because we want people to see both the show and the seminars.

We want our attendees not to have to pick which track they go to. It’s a better vibe, and less stress for their conference experience, if we can keep the show focused that way. We want to pick the most relevant, most interesting, most forward-thinking things so that people could walk out of our expo floor feeling like they filled their toolbox with something that’s actionable for them. Something that can help, whether they’re already in the cannabis space or not, if they’re an ancillary business or not, to increase their business, their leads, or their marketing strategy. To leave saying, “I know what I need to do. Now I know how to raise money and where to go.” We don’t want exhibitors, attendees or speakers to miss any opportunities.

What are you looking forward to during the program?

Thursday, June 1 is the ribbon cutting ceremony. We will have some city and state officials to mark that. Alan Steel, CEO of the Javits Center, will be on hand for that. And Dasheeda Dawson, Founding Director of Cannabis NYC, is doing our keynote at 10:15AM. Then we have CannaVest East’s first round of financial sessions, very informative. Those will speak to investment and real estate topics in cannabis. In the afternoon, we have “legacy to legalization on a federal level” sessions, looking at what the challenges are on a financial front.

Throughout the conference we have several speakers who were just named in AMNY and PoliticsNY’s Cannabis Industry Power Players. We have attorneys Neil Kaufman [of Kaufman McGowan PLLC] and David Feldman [of Skip Intro Advisors]; Arana Hankin-Biggers, co-founder of Union Square Travel Agency; Kristin Jordan of Park Jordan; Amy Deneson of Pheno and the Cannabis Media Council; and of course, Tremaine Wright, New York’s Cannabis Control Board Chair. Debra Borchardt of Green Market Report will moderate the session with Tremaine [about investment in New York’s cannabis industry] on Thursday.

I always say this industry has the brave, the courageous, and the committed. I said that nine years ago when we started CWCBExpo. You don’t come into this space unless you have those qualities. That’s what it requires. We will have on Thursday a social equity panel that actually highlights the brave, courageous, and committed - they are changemakers and heroes. Thunder Walker, an expert in real estate and business ownership across the country, will moderate that panel, which features Sarah Stenuf of Veterans Ananda, Leo Bridgewater of Heart Community Capital, and Solonje Burnett of erven. We also have a tourism panel on Thursday, followed by the networking mixer at the Yotel rooftop, a very industry-friendly venue.

Wow! That’s a great lineup. What happens on Friday June 2?

On Friday, we pick up again with CannaVest East and different CWCBExpo sessions. That afternoon, we’re going to have a wonderful session on safe packaging and marketing West Coast to East Coast, the lessons learned. We also have a grow cultivation panel that’s moderated by Dr. Carlyn S. Buckler of Cornell University. We have several growers represented in that.

Ianuzzi gets hands-on arranging the show floor, as seen at CWCBExpo 2022 (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture

And what’s happening on the floor? CWCBExpo is known for having a very exciting and diverse show floor.

We have a growers field, believe it or not. The growers are the beginning of the supply chain, and we actually have about 15 to 20 who will be present there. We have every sector of the supply chain represented, and that shows the growth in the maturation of New York State’s [industry] and our journey to being an emerald champion. We want all states to be in that same position; we are a national trade show and we help the industry no matter what state or country the companies come from. But it’s very comforting to see the maturing of the industry at home, even so early in the beginning.

Last year the Women Grow Pavilion that showcased 30 women-owned businesses was a huge success. Is it back again this year?

Yes. Tanya Osborne from The CannaDiva is overseeing that. We’ve allowed several women entrepreneurs to come in on a scholarship basis to show their products, to get the experience and the mentoring of a professional face-to-face conference and exhibit. Many of them are returning from participating in last year’s pavilion. We have great sponsorships for that as well. CohnReznick is the lead anchor sponsor for those scholarships. Union Square Travel Agency, TribeTokes, Crowe, Skip Intro Advisors, Torabis Group, Mass Canna Compliance, and Prince Lobel Tye are all sponsors and supportive of these women. I expect that kind of sponsorship to grow in the future, to the point that every woman in the pavilion could one day be there via scholarship, as a community pay-it-forward type of thing. That’s what we try to do.

The Expungement Clinic happening on Saturday June 3 will also give back to the community, won’t it?

Yes. Project Clean Slate is going to be there, through Minorities for Medical Marijuana. They’re registering people who have marijuana offenses and are setting them up with resources to try to get their records expunged. They’ll have lawyers on hand who will assess each case and provide an action plan to help them seek expungement. That’ll happen on Saturday, 11AM to 3PM. Walk-ins are welcome, but they have to register with Project Clean Slate when they get there. So if you were to walk the expo floor and see the expungement clinic, you can walk over there and register and talk to them about your case, and they’ll help you.

Amazing. There’s a dispensary boot camp happening on the same day, right?

Yes, we have a dispensary retail workshop on Saturday 8AM to 11. That’s with The Cannabis Business Advisors, a nationally known brand and education provider, with founder/CEO Sarah Gullickson and president Maxine Kot. We have several speakers from New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts who will give a national business approach to give actionable plans for those people who have a license, want a license, want to run a dispensary. Everything from finding real estate to opening a store. And people will actually walk out with the beginnings of a business plan. This will help with what Tremaine [Wright] wants people to be well versed in, and that’s what we’re providing.

Last year CWCBExpo had a big milestone, being the first major cannabis business conference to provide a dedicated space for an LGBTQIA+ brand with Proud Mary’s lounge.

And we have them again! Proud Mary will be here with a wonderful booth in the front. There’s a lot of talent and creativity in their organization. They are looking to support entrepreneurs and create pathways forward for them. And we want to provide that safe space, because we are an inclusive trade show.

Look, this is a gay-owned trade show. Everyone is welcome. I think it’s a sad day when people don’t feel welcome in a space, just for being who they are. That won’t happen here.

Miriam Aristy-Farer of Herbas Bodycare and Kait Caridi of The CannaDiva at the Women Grow Pavilion, CWCBExpo 2022 (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture

Are there any other special program offerings we should look out for?

We have University Row, which is up to 14 colleges that offer a cannabis business curriculum. This includes Rutgers, Cornell, Manhattan Community College, York College, Medgar Evers College, LIM, SUNY Orange, and more. Rutgers has been really interesting. They have an agricultural school, a cannabis curriculum through the business school, and they also have a cannabis program through their law school. We’ve also provided seminar scholarships for students from these colleges, so that students can sit and listen in on the seminars. That’s something we did last year as well, and many students have been getting into the industry that way. They are becoming business owners themselves.

There have been many success stories to come out of CWCBExpo over the years. The Canopy Growth and Constellation Brands deal happened at one of the earlier shows. And now it seems like new generations of business are beginning.

Many of the entrepreneurs who were in the Women’s Pavilion last year have gotten their products into New York’s brand-new retail dispensaries. So it’s extremely positive. The success stories just keep multiplying.

CWCBExpo 2023 takes place June 1-3. For more information, visit

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Featured image: Rapper Redman and Steve Bloom, founder of CelebStoner, in conversation at CWCBExpo 2022. (C) Sam C. Long / Honeysuckle Media, Inc. @tissuekulture