Watch highlights from the 2021 Hampton Cannabis Expo featuring some of the industry's most trusted experts.
The Hamptons are synonymous with perfect getaways, but the 2021 Hampton Cannabis Expo was no vacation. Instead, it was a vibrant revival of the East Coast’s cannabis industry, a reminder of the joy in-person networking brings to the sector. At The Clubhouse Hamptons resort in East Hampton, 650 people gathered for an outdoor event celebrating some of the most innovative businesses in the space, but their palpable enthusiasm for both plant and connecting with fellow humans stood out above all.
“The camaraderie is so powerful,” said Hampton Cannabis Expo founder Gary Bierfriend, “and that’s because our business intentions start with actual love. And that love is flower… And here we are, we all share that common love, and that’s why I think the energy is so good, and that’s why we keep growing every year.”
Industry stars turned out in droves for the expo, which featured numerous experts speaking on topics such as smart paths to investing in cannabis and how to navigate building businesses amid new regulations.
“The industry outside of what is happening in [New York City] has changed quite a bit since 2019, where I would say it was really in a position of distress,” observed Jeffrey Finkle, CEO of investment juggernaut The Arcview Group. “Capital markets had dried up, public stocks had cratered, you had the vape crisis looming, every day you would read about another integrity breach on boards of public companies. The industry has really righted itself in 2020 and 2021. Now there’s a sense of stability and the capital markets are open and it’s great.”
The program opened with an acknowledgement of the land and New York’s indigenous history, as Chenae Bullock and Barré Hamp of Little Beach Harvest and the Shinnecock Nation took the stage. Bullock, an internationally-recognized cultural preservationist and entrepreneur, operates Little Beach with Hamp and a board of respected Shinnecock advisors as the tribe’s vertically-integrated cannabis business, creating a unique enterprise that combines First Nation traditions with cutting-edge technology and cultivation.
Other speakers included attorney David Feldman, CEO and co-founder of consulting firm Skip Intro Advisors; Emily Paxhia, co-founder and managing partner of investment giant Poseidon; and NBA star Chris Webber and investment visionary Jason Wild, co-founders of the WebberWild Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on training and education for people of color pursuing careers in cannabis. A percentage of the proceeds from the Hampton Cannabis Expo went to benefit Last Prisoner Project, a nonprofit dedicated to prison reform and restorative justice.
“One of the big changes is that now I feel the marketplace has really organized itself in a very powerful way,” remarked Jeanne Sullivan, CIO of Arcview Ventures. “It went from people who had no idea what they were doing to a lot of people as business owners, investors, entrepreneurs, advocates, healthcare professionals [who] have really turned ideas and projects into real companies and businesses. I’m fascinated by that as an investor. I love meeting these dynamic business owners who started from scratch.”
Many of the expo’s sponsors represent Sullivan’s narrative of how the industry has evolved; despite their teams coming from diverse backgrounds and knowledge bases, they have all ridden the waves of an uncharted ocean to finally come ashore in what looks like paradise. Merida Capital Holdings, Arcview, GreenWave Advisors, Entourage Effect Capital, Measure Eight, Skip Intro Advisors, Golden Eagle, Kaufman McGowan, Ayr Wellness, Little Beach Harvest, and Feuerstein Kulick made the Hampton Cannabis Expo possible this year, but they have also helped lay the foundation of the cannabis industrial revolution.
It’s a space in which entrepreneurs like Laura Eisman, co-founder of the for-women-by-women brand Her Highness, hope to create more opportunities for inclusivity and expansive product lines. “When I was first interested in cannabis and the legal market,” Eisman noted, “I was trying to find my place… like which products really spoke to me, and none of them really did. There were products I enjoyed, but none were saying ‘I was made for you.’ And so all of [the Her Highness] products are really made with the motivation to help women and make them feel joyful and comfortable and happy.”
Following the onstage presentations, speakers and attendees alike mingled at a dinner with exhibitors and then onto the event’s afterparty hosted by The Astor Club, a membership organization that hosts cannabis-themed gatherings.
“They were looking for a partner in New York City who knew something [about] hemp and having fun and smoking weed,” commented Astor Club founder Ben Leiner. “They gave us a call.”
From advocacy to entrepreneurship, lifestyle brands to life lessons, the buzz experienced at this year’s Hampton Cannabis Expo was beyond a simple high. Layered in was the release of frustration at being unable to gather, and the euphoria of community.
“It was a first for me, since Covid,” Sullivan concluded. “To be here with a crowd was thrilling and fun and a start… [People] really want to get together in person.”
Featured image: Laura Eisman, co-founder of Her Highness, displays her "Gum on the Go" and other cannabis products.