When Josh Weinstein co-founded CannaGather in 2014, he didn’t know anything about cannabis and relied on his partner Gary Kofman for industry knowledge. Weinstein and Kofman envisioned a monthly education and networking event akin to the New York Tech Meetup for the local cannabis industry. Months before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Compassionate Care Act, which legalized medical marijuana, creating a networking group for marijuana professionals was an audacious idea.
Four years on from the group’s founding, Weinstein has gained a remarkable fluency with weed, weed tech and the weed industry. More importantly, CannaGather’s membership and profile has mushroomed. About 250 members gather each month at their events and cannabis pros interested in expanding the group to other cities have expressed interest. On April 17, the group held its inaugural CannaGather Awards at Galvanize, NY, where New York weed entrepreneurs celebrated excellence and innovation in cannabis industry.
I caught up with Weinstein via email shortly after the awards for a Q&A on the past, present and future of the cannabis industry.
What do you think was the biggest recent weed tech innovation? Why and how did it make such an impact?
There’s a groundswell of interest in and activity across the landscape so people are looking for every angle to be additive–which means there is innovation across the map. I just had a good conversation with one of our sponsors, Progrowtech, about increased yield and more efficient energy utilization. Another one of our sponsors, True Terpenes, is focused on creating concentrated food-quality terpenes. An honoree of our Awards event was LeafLink on the software/marketplace front. So whether it is the grow, the chemistry, the software, and beyond—innovation is accelerating and the impact of that is only going to compound.
Looking to the future, what weed science and tech do you think has the most potential to change the weed industry?
Grow technology will shape not just the cannabis industry but agriculture entirely. But also, I think we’ll see a lot of innovation in delivery/dosing modalities and medical applications.
What are you personally most excited about in the weed industry today?
Many people in the industry are excited about getting to the starting line, which we still aren’t at and need to push for: decriminalization, full medical legalization and ideally descheduling (or at least significant rescheduling). There is a fundamental problem with how the plant is treated. Once that changes, then we can get fully focused on the opportunities in the industry.
In the meantime, it’s encouraging that patients are able to get their much needed medicine, testing is improving and playing an important role, a level of professionalism has arrived, we’re able to see the promise in international markets like Canada, and we can appreciate how the industry is helping drive attention and support for us to get to the starting line for step function level changes that we can’t imagine today.