The Hamptons has gone to pot. More than 700 East Enders joined exhibitors, investors, growers and influencers at the Hamptons Cannabis Expo, a nearly 10-hour Sunday event capped by an after party on The Clubhouse lawn in East Hampton.
“Educating people on cannabis investment-wise, health-wise, I just think it’s a great expo to have just for the awareness,” says The Clubhouse events coordinator and co-owner Holly Rubenstein. Husband Scott adds, “An event like this shows that the East End is progressive and we’re seeing the big picture. It’s a good thing.”
Panel discussions on advocacy, legalization and investment strategies included industry heavyweights like Jeff Finkle, Jennifer Drake, David Feldman and even former college basketball great turned cannabis activist and investor Chris Webber who co-heads the WebberWild Fund. “This is the future,” he told the crowd in a big-screen satellite call.
Exhibitors scattered on the back lawn of The Clubhouse included everything from CBD face masks, Caribbean drinks, oils, apparel and, perhaps more significantly, a number of investment firms. Even, yes, Neiman Marcus. “We’re promoting our CBD line,” says Neiman’s Brand Experience Manager David Kirschenbaum. “I don’t know if we’ll have anything in our famous holiday catalog, but we might. It’s a product category that we’re excited about.”
After then-Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to legalize recreational marijuana in March, towns and villages across the New York State face a year-end deadline to decide whether to allow dispensaries within their borders or to opt out. The crowd was mixed about which way Suffolk County will go. But statewide, many spoke of the potential.
“Cannabis is growing dramatically. New York State is going to be one of the biggest when it gets rolling,” says Don Jackson of Young America Capital.
The Expo was postponed a week because of the storm-related threat of Henri. Still, most of the attendees were able to reschedule. The panels got a land acknowledgement from Shinnecock Indian Nation Tribal Member Chenae Bullock and Shinnecock’s Barré Hamp of Little Beach Harvest, the nation’s planned dispensary, spoke on one of the panels. “I have almost the perfect name for this job,” he joked afterward.
“This is huge,” says event organizer Gary Bierfriend. “We tripled the amount of attendance over the last one in 2019, easily. Three times as many vendors and it’s fantastic. This is a passion project.”
Attendees spent $200 to wander the grounds, nosh on brick-oven pizza and bacon-wrapped scallops, have a drink and sit in on the five panel talks. A giant tent erected for the expo served as a home base with 32 vendor booths surrounding the outside. New York City environmentalist and film producer Beverly Camhe picked up some CBD cream for her knee. “This is fantastic, I’m seeing old friends, learning about the industry, it’s just a wonderful afternoon in the Hamptons,” she says.
A few technical glitches and noisy overhead aircraft aside, Bierfriend was pleased. “The panels were world-class, we’re coming back next year,” he says. “We want to make this the biggest and most important cannabis event in the country.”