Cannabis Cultural Association’s Entrepreneur Empowerment Workshop

Co-founder Nelson Guerrero signing-in guests at Electropositive. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

Thank you for sharing your Saturday with us at the vibrant Electropositive co-work space in Brooklyn, New York. The Cannabis Cultural Association was humbled to have so many great minds with us. This was our first event outside of Manhattan, and we couldn’t have been happier. With over 150 attendees throughout the day, two panels, five discussions, and an amazing keynote speech, the Entrepreneur Empowerment Workshop was a resounding success. 
 
 Since the CCA started a little over a year ago, we’ve looked to educate our community on perspectives around cannabis that are often passed over and forgotten — veterans, the elderly, immigrants, and people of color in general. In return, you, our followers and fans have given us your warmth, passion, and trust.

Guests listening during Lauren Ruddick’s breakout session on financing. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

This was why we brought you the Entrepreneur Empowerment Workshop. Our goal was bring the brightest minds in New York and abroad to give you the down low on what to think about when starting a canna-business. We can’t let our community get left behind in this industry booming on the backs of prohibition’s victims.

We started the day with a panel on law, regulations, and accounting. Our marvelous panelists were Lauran Ruddick from Hiller PC, Hanan Kolko of Meyer Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., and Kim Petry Gladkowski of ebalance Strategic Financial Empowerment. We think the most important takeaways are to always stay compliant with your state’s laws, especially when owning a business that touches the plant, and you should probably have a lawyer and accountant to help keep you compliant.

Kim Gladowski explaining the difficulties of accounting in the cannabis Industry. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

They also reminded us of federal tax code 280e, which doesn’t allow cannabis businesses to apply for federal tax deductions. That means businesses that touch the plant are not able to make even the smallest tax deductions. This is still a major hurdle to climb towards legalization.

The following panel included Tracey Henry of Type A Media, Gia Moron of GVM Communications, and our very own Public Relations Director Leland Radovanovic. They brought us through the ins and outs of marketing and public relations. Gia and Tracey broke down the differences between professionals in marketing and PR and publicity. Social media and the importance of geo-tagging yourself in your social posts, if you’re in legal state and especially if any marijuana is in the picture was touched upon by Leland.

Gia and Tracy having fun teaching the audience about public relations. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

Attendees then broke out into one of four breakout sessions. The sessions were small intimate groups ranging from six to twenty people. Raj Tiwary of Nimbus Vape Shop shared his experiences running both a physical and online store. The product development session with Amy Peters of Kizzle Kit the cannabis toolkit was one of the more popular. New York state has a very limited medical marijuana program, and so many of our attendees were likely thinking about ancillary businesses — from pipes and tools to clothing and bags.

Entrepreneur Empowerment Workshop attendees during breakout session. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

Owning a plant touching business in New York isn’t impossible. Koushi Sunder the CEO of Stemless.co, a west coast cannabis delivery service, does just that. She splits her time between east and west cost. And of course, financing a marijuana business isn’t easy. The Cannabis Cultural Association is a 501c3 non-profit, we don’t touch the plant, and we still had a hard time just opening a bank account. Luckily, Lauren Ruddick explained many of the different out-of-the-box ways to finance your business.

Kayvan Kalatbari of Denver Relief Consulting and CCA’s Co-founder and Executive Director Kristin Jordan. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

To wrap-up the workshop, Denver’s own (possible) Mayoral candidate and all-around activist andbusinessman Kayvan Khalatbari, the Founding Partner at Denver Relief Consulting, gave the keynote speech. He reminded us all that our current form of marijuana legalization doesn’t equal social and racial justice until all arrests stop, people are released from prison, records wiped clean, and space is made for the communities most effected by the war on drugs. Couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

CCA Board President Amanda Reyes and Executive Director Kristin Jordan. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

The night wound down with a toast to our departing Co-founder and Executive Director Kristin Jordan. Kristin, from the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for the work you’ve put into CCA, the connections you’ve made, and the communities you’ve helped bring together. We wish you nothing but the best in your next phase, and we know you’ll take the challenge head on.

Hampton by Design Chefs Karl and Lance on outsides and CCA Vice-President Treasurer Joseph A. Bondy in middle. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

Lastly, we want to thank our incredible sponsors and donors — National Cannabis Industry Association, Drug Policy Alliance, Meyer Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C., and our wonderful caterers Hampton by Design Chefs Karl and Lance.

Sunset From Electropositive in Brooklyn, New York. Photo Credit — Jake Plowden

We hope everyone was able to take away practical knowledge on what you need to start a cannabis business. The green rush is happening, and together we need to make sure that money is placed in the hands of those who most need it — from victims of the drug war and on. And, as the industry evolves, it’s on us to make sure it’s fair and equitable. That it’s safe and accessible. This is the industry we envision. Why? Because, all cultures use cannabis.