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Cannabis trade show draws thousands to talk about the billions of reasons to start a business

An estimated 20,000 people were slated to attend the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exhibition (CWCB Expo) at the Javits Convention Center in New York, according to organizers. The East Coast’s largest trade show dedicated to boosting the burgeoning marijuana and hemp industries, the CWCB Expo kicked off Wednesday and closes today.

Several stalwarts of New Jersey’s cannabis space were featured panelists, including Leo Bridgewater, co-founder of Leaf Launch and an advisory board member of CWCB.

“What the CWCB expo does is it brings the science, technology, engineering, art and math of the entire industry as a whole,” said Bridgewater. “I do believe if the voters and the future entrepreneurs of New Jersey are going to make a decision about the cannabis industry, they should be given an opportunity to make the most informed decision.”

Steve White, CEO of Harvest Health & Recreation, which has two pending acquisitions in the Garden State, was the keynote speaker. Key sessions included the Clover Leaf University (the first accredited cannabis-related university in the country) session, another called “Hemp: The Dawning of a New Day in the USA” Bridgewater said would be particularly of interest to farmers and elected officials. And today’s, “Clinical & Therapeutic Applications of Medical Cannabis,” was stocked with various experts in the medical field.

“The CWCBE is the ultimate opportunity for folks here in New Jersey and New York, just in the tristate area, to be able to come and see this industry not in theory but in reality,” Bridgewater said. “You need to know who these companies are, who the young talent is.”

While legalization has largely gone by the wayside (for now) and medical marijuana has moved to the forefront of the conversation In New Jersey, industry experts said the expo is still a premier opportunity for potential entrepreneurs on the East Coast to learn what’s happening both locally and around the country, and how to get involved when recreational gets the green light.

“The nice thing about this show too is that it’s kind of just the right size for New York right now,” said Kelley Crosson, vice president of New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association, who moderated two panels this week.

Compared to the massive conference that takes place in Las Vegas, which can feel overwhelming, CWCB is just the right size: offering a diversity of topics and sessions, but in a way that’s manageable, she said.

“We’re kind of getting back to basics on what people coming in from out of state, or locals, need to understand before they even start thinking about getting into the business,” Crosson said.

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