The cannabis industry’s events and education powerhouse, On The Revel, is returning to Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood with its 2nd Annual Revelry Block Party! From 2PM to 9PM on Saturday, August 26th, those seeking to learn about the cannabis space can enjoy top-notch networking, expert insights, and stellar entertainment at Restoration Plaza. This FREE celebration of the plant-loving community brings together professionals from all disciplines to connect with each other. (Click here to get your tickets.)
Revelry Block Party In Bed-Stuy: Cannabis, Hip Hop, And Community
Honeysuckle is proud to be a media partner for the Revelry Block Party, which is slated to draw more than 1500 attendees and features 50-plus industry partners. Presenting sponsors Kiva and Camino, plus Eureka, PlugPlay, and many other brands have curated an outstanding program. The event’s stacked performance lineup is helmed by General Steele (the rapper famous as half of the underground duo Smif-N-Wessun), and includes Smoke DZA, Kenya Vaun, Neek Bucks, Girll Codee (ShaaBiggaa and Hiii Siddity), DJ Thoro, BreezyLYN, and more. To mark the 50th anniversary of hip hop, On The Revel will also present a special keynote panel on cannabis and hip hop, hosted by OG artist-producer-cannabis mogul Shiest Bubz and spotlighting his The Smoker’s Club co-founder Jonny Shipes, iconic rapper Jim Jones, pioneering creative director Kevin Leong, and legendary record executive Kevin Liles.
The Magic Of On The Revel's Revelry Events
We’ve been a dedicated community contributor to several Revelry events. And earlier this summer, we were struck by the power of the Revelry Buyers’ Club, held at the historic Basilica Hudson in Hudson, New York. Throughout the day, as New York’s licensed cultivators, processors, and retailers networked together with those interested in knowing the ABCs of the industry, a magical feeling of unity swept through the venue and stayed with everyone long after they’d left.
Now, on the eve of a new Revelry - and, with recent legal developments, a very different era for the Empire State’s licensed retailers - we caught up with On The Revel’s Chief Impact Officer, Jason Starr. A renowned attorney and social justice advocate who is also the founding Director of Litigation at the Human Rights Campaign, Starr shared some of his favorite impressions from Revelry Buyers’ Club and why he and his colleagues at On The Revel continue to fight for the elevation of social equity.
On The Revel's Jason Starr Talks Revelry Buyers Club, Dope People, New York's Cannabis Laws, And More
HONEYSUCKLE MAGAZINE: Jason, on the bus traveling from New York City to Hudson, you spoke about the importance of using industry meetups to build relationships and empower the true meaning of social equity in growing communities and businesses that can create generational wealth. How do you feel the Hudson Buyers’ Club - and the Revelry Buyers’ Club series overall - contributes to this idea?
JASON STARR: Our brand is built on the value of knowledge sharing, and we recognize that prohibition and the War on Drugs robbed communities of the knowledge capital that is so integral to starting and sustaining a successful business. Earlier this year, we did a bunch of listening and learning calls with current licensees across the supply chain to identify the blockers that were preventing them from getting up on two feet, if you will. We're privileged to have some of that early operations knowledge capital on our team and we are in a relationship with others who want to share what they have learned to support these operators. So that's really how Buyers' Club was born. It's our flavor of an early market trade show, an industry component that we all know will grow as the New York market grows. So we're building our version of that service alongside our first operators in alignment with the restorative economic goals of the MRTA [Marijuana Regulation and Tax Act, the state’s cannabis law].
Basilica Hudson was a gorgeous venue and seemed to give everyone what they needed. Beyond the beauty of the location, why was it significant to host Revelry Buyers’ Club in Hudson?
It was mostly a practical decision for us. The majority of our licensed cultivators and processors operate outside of the Five Boroughs, and it was important for us to make the Buyers' Club as accessible as possible to them and the retailers who are clustered downstate. We piloted the trade show as a part of our winter business conference in February and made a promise to spread the geographic wealth, so to speak, so we had to make good on that commitment. Also, the Hudson Valley is one of the paradigms in the ills of corporate agriculture and the fight that legacy farmers have been engaged in is so reminiscent of the experiences of so many of our early cannabis farmers so we also wanted to give a nod to that connection and honor that struggle.
What benefits are the various operators in New York’s legal market getting out of Revelry Buyers’ Club? How is this setting advantageous to cultivators, processors, retailers and other professionals?
First, convenience. As a community, we need to do everything we can to shorten the runway for these operators, so bringing the industry together in a centralized location and curating the environment to ensure that operators are meeting with fellow decision-makers prepared to make deals is just a practical solution for a right-now need. We also provided free headshots and product shots [powered by Honeysuckle, check out @honeymagstudios for more information], technical support for creating brand content, and, most importantly, a setting where folks could really build meaningful and valuable partnerships.
I think we have left the honeymoon phase of legalization and so some of the tenor in the community has shifted from excitement to frustration. We honor and give space for that, but we also feel like we also need to hold space for belief and radical expectation. Most people don't know that On the Revel is a portmanteau of On the Level (real, honest conversation about how the cannabis business works) + Revel (in an environment of lively and noisy self-enjoyment). So as much as we are real about the challenges, we are also in the belief business. I think our community knows that there is always that gravy that is going to leave you feeling encouraged and renewed.
What was your favorite activation at the Hudson Revelry Buyers’ Club?
I loved the Content Garden. I enjoyed posting up in the room and seeing that look on someone's face when they start to really "see" their business coming to life. So much of our intention is to have our community see themselves like we see them. A lot of folks talk about playing with the "big boys" and we're like, “No, you are the big boys! You have all the talent, ingenuity, and resilience.” Giving them a piece of that actual visual was very rewarding.
What were the most meaningful moments for you?
My favorite moment in all of our events is our team intention. A few minutes before we launch an event, we huddle as a team and share our vision for the day - what we will see and how we will feel. Our team works so well because we are really all heart-led; we really give a shit about how what we do makes people feel, and we are righteous about our commitment to making people feel special. I also love meeting all of our sponsors and vibing with them about their "why" - just learning people's story and dream! And the bus ride. I used to be a teacher, so I'm always down for a good field trip.
In July, On The Revel also hosted its first Dope People live meetup at Joe’s Barber Shop in Harlem! That’s a milestone leap bringing the brand’s Discord community IRL. What was that experience like?
First, shout out to Phil Ellison and our friends at Joe's Barber Shop for being such wonderful hosts for the evening. Our company started in 2016 as a tech meetup group, so live networking events are really baked into our DNA. [On The Revel] has evolved and grown alongside the New York market, but at our core we are connectors, so it felt good to bring it back to the basics - a welcoming environment with well-curated and actionable content filled with dope people. Joe's has a wonderful history as a community cultural institution in Harlem (really, please check it out) and the backyard is just a beautiful vibe, so we matched that with some music, food from our friends at Stoned Pizza, and great drinks from our friends at Cann and let our folks do what they do - connect and celebrate.
With the latest legal challenges to CAURD and the social equity program, what do you see as the next steps for New York’s regulated cannabis market? How are these developments affecting the Revelry Block Party?
There is real urgency in the industry right now as we experience some real growing pains, so I'm sensitive to the stress that our CAURD siblings are feeling. And it's not just the operators, but these folks have families and entire communities that are supporting and depending on them, so it's a lot of pressure and a lot is at stake. New York is an infamously tough place, and we didn't have any illusions when we fought for an equity-forward model to legalization that the moneyed interests would go quietly. But, as an adopted New Yorker, I think there is more imagination and belief here than anywhere else in the world, so if it's gonna be done, New York is the place to do it.
So I'm still bullish on the radical idea that we can build an industry that is built by and for communities most impacted by the War on Drugs. But we have to have the courage to get back in the lab, talk honestly about what's not working, and make the necessary adjustments from a legislative and policy standpoint to put the
And a note on the legal challenges. Litigation is neither an efficient nor ideal method of problem-solving, so I'm encouraged that the judge in the veterans case required the lawyers to mediate and I hope that some resolution is found. [Editor’s Note: Though mediation has broken down as of this writing - see updates here - never say never.] I'm a lawyer by training, and sometimes we do our best work when we step away from being adversarial and start using our training to actually create solutions. I don't think we need to give that over to a judge who is far less informed about the intricacies of the cannabis industry. So I hope my colleagues have the courage to help their clients take the long view and identify the more foundational threats to a truly accessible industry.
Register now on Eventbrite to get your free tickets to Revelry. The event happens Saturday, August 26th, 2-9PM at Restoration Plaza (1368 Fulton Street) in Brooklyn. For more about On The Revel, visit ontherevel.com.
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