On August 15th, more than 100 people – either in, or interested in the cannabis industry – assembled at a coworking space in SOHO to talk shop. And learn about the status of the industry now. The monthly evening event was hosted by Cannagather, which provides education and networking for New York’s Cannabis Community.
Hosted by Cannagather founder Josh Weinstein, the event drew (by a casual hand raise) about 40 entrepreneurs, 40 service providers (doctors and nurses) and 30 activists, with some people identifying in more than one category.
The evening certainly had an activist energy to it, with a Cannagather representative urgently encouraging the group to sign a petition that would help legalize cannabis. And Lauren Rudick, a litigator with Miller PC, who is suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions to decriminalize marijuana at the federal level, was welcomed to the front of the room with a big round of applause.
Rudick is representing five plaintiffs, including an 11-year old (living in a state where cannabis is completely prohibited) who needs marijuana to treat her epilepsy. Another plaintiff is a military veteran who needs cannabis to control PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and a third is Marvin Washington, a professional football player who is now prevented from obtaining federal grants to open a business that would allow professional football players to use medical marijuana for pain management instead of more addictive opioids.
(For reference, as of May 2017, marijuana cannabis is legal for medical use in 29 states, including New York. Of these 29 states, marijuana is legal for Adult – or recreational – use in eight states, not including New York.)
Activism aside, there were serious entrepreneurs at last Tuesday night’s event, some focused more on the medical use of cannabis than others. Cannabis is a genus of plant with different variations. One of them is hemp. The hemp plant can be used to make rope or parchment paper, but it also has a health-improving compound in it called CBD. While CBD falls into somewhat of a gray area regarding legality, many people knowledgeable about the compound say that it is legal throughout the U.S. and does not even require a doctor’s recommendation. CBD has been linked with reducing anxiety, nausea, depression and has anti-inflammatory and anti-psychotic properties.
There is another compound called THC, which is widely illegal, and is found in high quantities in what is commonly known as the marijuana plant. THC is what creates a “high” and its effects include feelings of euphoria and sometimes increased anxiety and paranoia. However, research has shown that THC can have a positive effect on pain relief, PTSD and poor appetite. No one at last week’s Cannagather event was openly advocating for the use of THC for non-medical reasons. Below are some of the products being made by founders who attended last Tuesday night’s Cannagather event.
Founder: Dr. Caroline Hartridge
Hartridge is a primary care doctor with a private practice in Brookhaven, NY, on Long Island. She specializes in Osteopathic (focus on disease prevention) Medicine and was inspired by her patients to find a hemp-derived product that could treat many different symptoms without getting them “high” or compromising their results on a drug screen test. (By the way, Hartridge makes house calls from Manhattan to Montauk!)
BREATH, SOAK and EAT health products, created in March and sold for the first time this month. For patients with asthma, COPD (a lung disease) and cystic fibrosis, Hartridge said she wanted to help deliver the medicine into the lungs without having them smoke or vape. So she create her first product – a salt with CBD from hemp, called BREATH ($12-$19, depending on dose). The salt is ingested through a salt generator. Then Hartridge added SOAK ($7), an Epsom salt product to put in a hot bath that enters the body through the skin. And finally, EAT ($9.25-$277.50), which was “a happy accident and is the best seller,” Hartridge said. EAT are chocolate truffles made of cacao from Costa Rica, infused with CBD. All of the CBD comes from hemp grown in Colorado. All products are for purchase online at: www.drhhs.org
Founder: Oleg MaryAces
MaryAces is a long-time entrepreneur in the cannabis space and is also the founder of Magic Within, a marketing and branding company.
Z1 (vaporizer). This sleek, portable vaporizer made of U.S.-sourced stainless steel was released this May at six locations (in NYC and Boston) of Beyond Vape, an international chain of smoke stores that sells vaporizers. With feedback from customers, MaryAces and his partner have already designed two additional models – the Z3 and ZTopper – which have been available for pre-orders since August 1.
The development of the Z model line has been exactly three years. With no outside investment, MaryAces used only his own resources, working with one of his partners to design the product from his family’s house in Marine Park, Brooklyn. The Z model is one of the only vaporizers on the market that is not made in China, and part of the three year journey to get to the Z1 vaporizer included trying to manufacture it in China.
“All the samples we were getting were inadequate,” MaryAces said. “We had to replace every part at least once and several parts two times because of their poor quality control.”
Ultimately, MaryAces found Nice Steams, a Connecticut-based design and manufacturing company that has made the process so much easier, MaryAces said.
Z1 is available for purchase at: www.nicesteams.com for $99.95.
Founder: Moshe Klar
Klar started creating The Happy Kit three years ago, first as a side project in West Orange, NJ. It is now his full-time job and he has freelancers working on his website and social media.
The Happy Kit are small zippered cases of items that are useful to have when smoking any kind of cannabis or tobacco. Items include a three-inch glass pipe, a plastic magnetic grinder, rolling papers and a hitter pipe. The website says that The Happy Kit “is intended for tobacco and legal use only,” but, of course, users can smoke anything they like using the instruments in The Happy Kit. There are several products on the site, from the Happy pipe (sold by itself for $9.99) to the most fully equipped Very Happy Kit ($69.00). All products are available at www.thehappykit.com
-By Todd Stone