By Haley Yaman

In just a few weeks, a harvest of abundant opportunity presents itself in East Hampton, New York for the growing business world of cannabis and psychedelia. The 5th annual Hampton Cannabis Expo, also known as CanXpo, is a dynamic 3-day weekend for networking with impressive leaders and top industry figures.

A dazzling setlist of speakers in themes such as advocacy, legalization, and investing is on the lineup for a full weekend of pitches, panelists, and psychedelia. Expanded topics from last year involve an in-depth look at these medicines in the mainstream, with a focus on social equity, accounting, insurance profits, and business mergers and acquisitions.

Watch the Hampton Cannabis Expo 2022 sizzler reel!

At the heart of it all is gregarious founder Gary Bierfriend. He sat down with Honeysuckle and offered a glimpse at what to expect in this expanding world of cannabis legalization and consumption. We learned CanXpo is unique: it pushes the boundary by fostering open dialogue in entrepreneurship, and leading panel explorations in current critical business growth issues.

“[Cannabis and psychedelics] are the frontier,” says Bierfriend, glowing with enthusiasm for the intentionality of CanXpo. “It’s a frontier with exponential potential.  After years of learning the wrong stuff about them, I’m so glad to be all tuned in to this direction and be doing what I love. It doesn’t feel like work, and I know it can make the world a better place.”

Gary Bierfriend, founder of Hampton Cannabis Expo (C) Gary Bierfriend

Gary Bierfriend And The Origins Of Hampton Cannabis Expo

A gift from the plant kingdom, Cannabis has been subjected by humans to more than just the laws of science. Its two most active molecules, CBD and THC, have revolutionized years of American healing. At the molecular level, cannabis compounds are effective in humans because of our endogenous cannabinoid system.

But modern day perspective and policy is misunderstood when it comes to psychoactive plants. Despite its potential to treat bodily ailments and ease financial burdens through entrepreneurship, cannabis and its consumers have been subject to decades of oppressive criminalization since the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

But people like Bierfriend, and the generous sponsors, speakers, exhibitors, and guests at the Hampton Cannabis Expo are changing the present for a more optimistic future. Pioneers from Advanced Flower Capital, Little Beach Harvest, Weedmaps, Seaport Global, and more will feel at home with fellow industry trailblazers.

Evolving from decades of accolades in law, banking, and Wall Street finance, Bierfriend reinvented himself as a “Robin Hood” for cannabis in the year 2015. Since then he’s been leading curated coastal happenings in the industry, and bridging gaps in cannabis and commercialization.

“I was a good spokesperson to break glass in the Hamptons,” he explains. “I reinvented myself professionally…why not do it in something I believe in?”

Gary is the ideal cannaseur to break glass, break bread, and spark new ideas at higher levels of industry. How does it work? For six years, he’s brought intentional leaders around the table in order to expand horizons for emerging entrepreneurs.

The result is a robust response in angel investors, sponsorship, and diversity within the field. “The enthusiasm for the hope cannabis offers us isn’t just contagious, it’s palpable from New York to Palm Beach, Florida,” Gary notes as he describes the growing involvement in the Florida legalization process.

This year’s earlier Palm Beach Cannabis Expo in Boca Raton, Florida, also offered idyllic beach vibes with cannabis opportunity. Like the Hampton Expo, it connected people and experts on advocacy, legalization, and investing. The one-day event was packed, characteristically, with high turnout & heady discourse. New England-based “Snowbirds” may soon be able to explore the benefits of legalization in their wintery Florida homes.

Bierfriend, center, at Hampton Cannabis Expo 2021 with Mark Zittman of Tuatara Capital (left) and Matt Karnes of GreenWave Advisors (C) Hampton Cannabis Expo

Why Hamptons Cannabis Expo Matters

In New York, it’s a bit of a different story. New York legalized adult-use cannabis in March 2021 through the Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act. As the state prepares to welcome commercial availability and success, industry observers note this year’s expo as especially relevant.

According to Matt Karnes, founder of NYC-based cannabis research and advisory firm GreenWave Advisors, the New York market is estimated to reach ~$5 Billion at maturity, the second largest in the country behind California ($7B). Total sales in 2021 reached approximately $25B, and is expected to hit ~$30B this year. NYC is also considered the cannabis consumption capital of the world.

These are all elements that Bierfriend expertly crafted in order to capitalize with the Hampton Cannabis Expo. What’s more, he brings spirited camaraderie to the proceedings, and attributes the glowing ripple effect to communities empowered by cannabis.

“I’m looking to take care of the next generation,” Bierfriend comments. “I want to put a good face on [cannabis]. That’s why I don’t like when it’s made to seem like a low-end, low-scholarship thing, because I think it’s universal. [Cannabis] has no preference for race, ethnicity, nothing. It’s sacred and it’s universal; we all have endocannabinoid systems, and we can all be helped because of it. And the industry of alcohol is a factor. It influences things.”

Gary has a point; why is cannabis use judged more harshly than alcohol? The answer is a complex history of policy and science. By  recognizing these moving parts of industry, Gary brings the importance of altruistic, inclusive discourse.

“There's a part of society that is ‘no way, no how’ about bringing cannabis into the conversation,” he continues. “As a legal expert for 30 years, everything I've led on Wall Street, and what I’ve experienced in life… I’m ready to debate nay-sayers who oppose a humane cannabis market. That's why I’m a good spokesperson to bridge both. I’ve personally experienced it in my own life. I’ve seen what cannabis has done for my anxiety, my volatility, for my sleep, for my stomach. I see the way it changes social settings. Every time I’ve been in a social setting and people misbehave…it’s so often alcohol over-consumption.”

If he were a cannabis strain, Bierfriend would be Daybreaker, a Sativa-dominant hybrid that packs a lifted punch. Balanced and potent. Cerebral and grounded.

The upcoming Hamptons 3-day extravaganza? It’d be down to earth and fruity: a sativa-dominant, indoor and outdoor plant with big juicy notes: Think Birds of Paradise or Big Buddha Cheese.

Chenae Bullock (front), Managing Director of Little Beach Harvest, will speak at CanXpo. She and other members of the Shinnecock Indian Nation, which owns and operates Little Beach Harvest in partnership with TILT Holdings, will open the conference presentations with a traditional land acknowledgement. (C) Little Beach Harvest

What’s On The Schedule For Hampton Cannabis Expo 2022?

August in the Hamptons will feature a cornucopia of ultra-high net worth individuals and investors riding the momentum of industry interest. CanXpo chose the third weekend strategically, as many leading family offices and investors are also in town for their annual gatherings. An outline of the full August 19-21 schedule of the event is as follows:

Friday August 19, 2022

Friday night, August 19th, kicks off with a Shark Tank style investor pitch held at The Clubhouse, which is located in East Hampton, where exhibitors spark market movers’ intrigue by modeling products and entrepreneurial spirit.

Friday sets the stage for Saturday, which features multidisciplinary panelists expanding on topics in government relations, insurance profits, and business mergers and acquisitions.

Saturday August 20, 2022

Saturday August 20th is a full day lineup of speakers and panelists. Presentations will start at 4pm that afternoon, following an indigenous land acknowledgement with Shinnecock Tribal leaders. Notable speakers include: Key personnel from Weedmaps (Advocacy, Social Equity and Government Relations), Tremaine Wright (Chair of NY's Cannabis Control Board), Scheril Murray Powell, Esq. (JustUs Foundation), and leaders from Seaport Global, Advanced Flower Capital, and more.

The onsite VIP After Party Dinner kicks off indoors at 8pm with live music, a lavish meal and dessert bar (dress code: Hamptons Business Chic). The event will be held mostly outdoors, and can be rolled forward one calendar day should the need for rain dates arise.

Sunday August 21, 2022: Psychedelic Sunday

Sunday August 21st culminates with the awaited debut of Bierfriend’s brainchild, “Psychedelic Sunday.” Pioneers of psychedelic science and development will offer insight into the modern-day renaissance of these sacred “mind-manifesting” compounds, such as psilocybin, LSD and MDMA. Attendees can look forward to a grounding, compelling case at the multidisciplinary potential of this new frontier.

Sunday is a look into the robust response of modern psychedelic development, featuring leaders in psychedelic science, legal policy, and research. Prominent figures from Native groups have also spoken on the importance of intersectionality in this level of research that awaits medicalization.

“I’m expanding the programming out, to serve the people,” Gary Bierfriend explains. “I want to leverage the success from CanXpo. Psychedelics are the next frontier beyond Cannabis. We call it Psychedelic Sunday because it piggybacks on the growth in this next frontier. The industry and community is ready for the inaugural event, and I plan to follow the same program. Sunday has a 3-hour welcome reception, luncheon 1-4, panels from 4-7, then Sunday is casual dinner."

Also on the weekend lineup: Fireside chats, live music, and fundraising toward the JustUs Foundation: a non-profit dedicated to ensuring and facilitating the entry of legacy, or pre-legalization, operators to the legal cannabis market, led by cannabis industry legend Steve DeAngelo.

All three days offer uniquely crafted networking opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, sponsors, and guests. They are here to represent the finest in cannabis development and are here to make a strong “come up” in the world of psychedelics.

Who’s Sponsoring Hampton Cannabis Expo 2022?

Launching from last year’s successful revival at The Clubhouse, located in East Hampton, where a crowd of 650 weathered a pandemic and Hurricane Henri to make it out to the event, this year’s record sponsorship indicates a new level of groundbreaking turnout, projected at 1000+ attendees. It positions the Expo as a prime sponsorship opportunity.

Gold Sponsors

Returning Gold Sponsors include GreenWave Advisors and The Arcview Group. New Gold Sponsors include Advanced Flower Capital (Ticker: AFCG), who guests will see sponsoring the lanyards; TILT Holdings (Ticker: TLLTF)/ Little Beach Harvest/ Shinnecock Nation; and InterInsurance.

Silver Sponsors

Silver Sponsors include Weedmaps (Ticker: MAPS), National Business Capital, and Kaufman McGowan Law.

Bronze Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors include AYR Wellness (Ticker: AYRWF), who sponsors the Swag Bag; Grassi Advisors CPAs; Seaport Global, and SkipIntro Advisors. Returning sponsors also include Long Island Capital Alliance and Conor Green.

Media And Entertainment Sponsors

Honeysuckle is honored to be a media sponsor of this year’s Hampton Cannabis Expo, alongside entertainment sponsors Dan’s Papers and The Clubhouse.

As Gary Bierfriend likes to say, “Our business intentions start with actual love.” There’s nowhere that his statement becomes more evident than in the magic that is the Hampton Cannabis Expo. Check it out for yourself, and let that love for the cannabis industry bloom!

How Do I Attend The Hampton Cannabis Expo?

To attend this year’s Hampton Cannabis Expo 2022 please register online here.

If you have any questions about the Hampton Cannabis Expo 2022 - please visit the website or email the event organizers at Info@canxpo.com.

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Haley Yaman

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Haley Yaman is a writer specializing in drug science, psychedelics, public health and cannabis. She hosts the Drug Advocacy Resources podcast. She is a graduate of the University of Vermont and has an extensive background in neuropharmacology, clinical neurology and pain management.