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Empire State of Cannabis

Empire State of Cannabis

By Castetter Cannabis Group
Empire State of Cannabis is New York’s home for all things cannabis. We bring you the experts, activists, entrepreneurs, lawmakers, and trailblazers at the front of everything. The show dives deep into conversation around the challenges, successes, and stories that drive this industry forward. Learn about the science, business, social justice issues, law, history and more behind this ancient plant.
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Is NY’s Craft Beverage Industry a Model for Cannabis?

Empire State of Cannabis

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The State of NY's Canna-Politics
Craig Johnson is a former State Senator from Long Island and New York political guru. He joins the podcast to discuss with Kaelan the dynamic state of New York's politics and what the industry should be thinking about. 
37:24
November 29, 2021
Mayor of Jamestown Welcomes Cannabis Businesses
As municipalities weigh opting out of adult-use sales, one city in Western New York is taking an opposite approach. Jamestown has actively marketed itself as an ideal location for cannabis cultivators and processors. Mayor Eddie Sunquist described the many advantages the city offers to cultivators including a municipal-owned electric grid with cheaper than market rates.  Can former upstate manufacturing cities like Jamestown redevelop as cannabis hubs? 
22:29
October 25, 2021
Barriers: The Challenges Social Equity Applicants Face
Damian Fagon is a hemp farmer, educator, and devoted activist determined to ensure the enormous opportunities in the New York cannabis industry are accessible.  It seems simple to say that NYS will prioritize "social equity applicants" but is that enough when so many entrepreneurs will face steep barriers to success? Kaelan and Damian dive into the challenges of developing a truly equitable industry while looking at some innovative ideas to help overcome them. 
44:38
October 11, 2021
Is NY’s Craft Beverage Industry a Model for Cannabis?
Eddie Brennan is the CEO of Central New York’s most recognizable craft cider brand, Beak & Skiff’s 1911. The family business has been in operation for over 100 years and includes hundreds of apple acres that visitors flock to during the fall where they can also enjoy food, hard cider, apple wine, and even whiskey made on site. Now, Beak & Skiff has entered the cannabis industry through the construction of a state-of-the-art extraction and finished product manufacturing facility – with their eyes on the adult-use cannabis industry. How important is vertical integration to the success of a craft brand? Will cannabis replace alcohol for some consumers? How can craft brands differentiate themselves in a crowded marketplace and compete with the big brands?
28:01
September 1, 2021
How Green is Cannabis Really?
Cannabis cultivation requires enormous amounts of energy despite and in New York there are fears that large-scale grow operations could threaten the State’s aggressive clean energy targets. The Castetter Cannabis Group recently released a 27-page report developing deep into what the energy needs are of controlled environment growing and what lawmakers could do incentive efficiency. Kate Hruby, the Lead Policy Analyst at CCG and co-author of the report, describes the results and a recommendation that NYS creates a “Green Seal” signifying a product’s efficient production and qualifies the business for tax deductions. What makes cannabis cultivation so energy-intensive? How can existing and new technologies help play a role in minimizing negative environmental impacts? What successes and failures have other states seen in trying to keep cannabis cultivation “green”?
28:53
August 26, 2021
Assemblywoman Lupardo: Ag in the Forefront of a New Industry
Chair of the NYS Assembly Agriculture Committee, Donna Lupardo, joins us again to talk about the state of our hemp industry and the opportunities for farmer's within the adult-use cannabis supply chain. Lupardo was the original sponsor of legislation to establish a hemp pilot program in 2015 and pushed to provide nation-leading consumer protections and legitimacy for the hemp cannabinoid industry with the Hemp Extract Law in 2019. From her post as Chair of the Ag Committee, she has continued to advocate for the prioritization and inclusion of New York's diverse agricultural industry within the State's cannabis regulatory framework. 
28:50
July 23, 2021
Legacy to Legal
Reggie Keith, the Founder/CEO of Buffalo-based cannabis events company Canna-House, joins us to talk about a seriously complex but critical issue: transitioning legacy entrepreneurs into the newly regulated marketplace. It won't be easy, the stunning lack of diversity amongst operators in already legal states combined with evidence that the informal industry is still very much alive in places like California and Colorado - shows that many of the entrepreneurs who endured prohibition are being left behind.  Reggie and Kaelan agree: there is no way to achieve true equity without focusing on legacy market entrepreneurs. This episode will help you understand the unique and often widely varying situations legacy operators are in and some ways that the State can be intentional with bringing them into the program. 
33:44
June 28, 2021
What's going on in Buffalo?
Nhi Kha is the co-founder and CEO of Sativa Remedy, a retail store that curates locally grown and produced cannabinoid hemp products right outside of Buffalo. Western New York, and in specific the Buffalo Area, has quietly become a hub of activity in the cannabis industry - but why? Nhi explains how the local culture and focus on craft-made products has led to that. 
29:55
June 17, 2021
How Regulations Shape a Market
Regulatory expert Katie Neer joins us for a wide-ranging conversation that dives into some big ideas on what the New York cannabis marketplace will look like and how much influence public policy will have on the rollout.  Katie serves as a lobbyist for the NY Medical Cannabis Industry Association and is also Head of Industry Affairs for Lantern - a cannabis delivery platform. What kind of role will delivery service play in NY?  Does equity mean independently owned operations or is there a place for multi-state operators? Over the next year, what can New York regulators do in learning from other states to support the core missions of the MRTA?
35:12
June 2, 2021
NY Legalizes: What's Next?
New York lawmakers made history at the end of March by ending a decades-long prohibition of marihuana and passing the Marihuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA). This bill creates a new regulatory body to establish a framework for production and sales of adult-use cannabis... but how long will this take? We welcomed back Allan Gandelman, President of the New York Cannabis Growers & Processors, to discuss the details of MRTA, what it got right (and wrong), and what he thinks will happen over the next year as the Empire State moves to create a newly regulated marketplace  
29:29
April 11, 2021
The Business of Home Grow
As debates rage on in Albany over legalization, home-growing has become a hot-button issue. We welcomed Gary Colmey, prominent activist and owner of Rome-based grow shop Gary's Indoor Garden Supply, to tell us who really is the average home grower and how small businesses like his benefit. 
32:43
March 26, 2021
Social Equity: What it means how and we accomplish it in NY
Melissa Moore, New York State Director for the Drug Policy Alliance, discusses equity as the foundation for what legalization could look like in the Empire State. What're some of the challenges minorities and informal market entrepreneurs face in a newly legalized marketplace? How does the Governor's proposal fall short as compared to the MRTA?  Join us for an informative and necessary discussion on what the Drug Policy Alliance is doing to put equity first in the efforts to legalize adult-use cannabis. 
18:48
February 26, 2021
Senator Savino: Improving NY's Medical Program
Senator Diane Savino, champion behind the Compassionate Care Act which established New York's medical cannabis program, joined us to talk about the shortcomings of the program and what needs to happen to improve it.  With the medical program set to expire in July, Senator Savino discusses the urgency to extend it while improving patient access, affordability, and product offerings. She also gives us her thoughts on the ongoing adult-use deliberations and how medical could exist alongside an adult-use marketplace. 
28:01
February 16, 2021
Proposed Cannabis Taxes in NY: Rates and Impacts
Jason Klimmek is a Senior Associate and Head of the Cannabis Practice at Boylan Code, a Rochester-based law firm, and also serves on the Board of Directors for both NY Hemp Lab and Roc NORML. He is an expert in tax and shares his thoughts on what impacts the dueling proposed tax structures would have on product pricing, cultivators, and retail operations.  We explore the differences in the Governor's proposal (CRTA) and the legislature's proposal (MRTA) in how they levy taxes, the rates, and also where that revenue is allocated. 
36:54
February 8, 2021
Pot + Politics: A look at the politics surrounding cannabis.
Joe Rossi is a seasoned political vet and lobbyist for the New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association. He walks us through the process of getting the Hemp Extract Law passed in 2019, working with lawmakers on adult-use legalization, and what the prospects are in 2021. Joe also gives us a fascinating history lesson on politics in Albany. 
37:20
January 20, 2021
The FDA and CBD: What's next?
Renowned regulatory expert and D.C. lobbyist Tami Wahl joins us to lend her perspective on the future of hemp extracts and the FDA. Will the FDA finally allow for CBD in supplements? What could change under the Biden administration? How do New York's new regulations influence decision making at the federal level?
29:07
December 9, 2020
A Recipe for Success: Edibles in the Empire State
New York's food scene is world-renowned for its intersection of culture, innovation, and experience. We dive into how the Empire State could change the way we think about and consume cannabis edibles. Joining us is Ron Silver, NYC Chef and Chief Creative Officer at Azuca - a company that makes fast-acting ingredients for cannabis edibles, to talk about how the product category could reach new consumers, the opportunities for NYC restaurants, and more. 
35:59
November 26, 2020
Jim Castetter: The Tale of an OG
Jim Castetter founded America's first hemp-infused wine in 1997 after spending time in Amsterdam. He tells us the story of how the wine came to fruition, it's meteoric rise and fall, and what his thoughts are on how the industry landscape has changed. 
33:49
November 6, 2020
Maria Perry: Single-Mom, Commerical Realtor, and Hemp Farmer
Maria Perry, Founder of Miss Perry Farms, does it all. From selling commercial properties in Manhattan to running her second hemp harvest to developing a female-focused brand, Maria is the epitome of what it takes to be successful in this industry. Join us as Maria describes the challenge of turning her old family farm into a successful hemp operation and why women leadership is critical to developing a female-focused cannabis marketplace.
21:46
October 14, 2020
Allan Gandelman: How Regulations Affect a Market
Allan Gandelman, President of the New York Cannabis Growers & Processors Association and CEO of New York Hemp Oil, joined us to talk hemp regs and what the adult-use industry could look like here in New York. Allan runs one of the largest hemp operations in the state but understands that in order for the industry to be successful New York needs to put craft operations first.
35:17
October 5, 2020
Meg Southerland: Growing Craft Cannabis
We caught up with Meg Southerland as she prepared to harvest her second hemp crop. Gardenworks Farm has been in her family since 1911, becoming a staple for locally grown produce, u-pick blueberries, a showcase for local artists, and a true "farm-to-table" experience. What led to Meg's decision to incorporate hemp? Does cannabis cultivation have staying power in New York's agricultural communities? Watch Meg answer these questions and provide insight that can only come with decades of experience.
17:24
September 9, 2020
Kristin Jordan: Cannabis Events During a Pandemic
Join as we have a fascinating conversation with Kristin Jordan, Director of Real Estate at Acreage Holdings and Founder of Mannada, about networking during the coronavirus. Will online conferences become the norm? How are event focused businesses surviving?
30:57
August 25, 2020
How NYC Suburbs are Delaying Legalization
On a special crossover with Steve's Cannabis Show, we dived into the politics holding up New York’s push for adult-use cannabis legalization. CCG Policy Researcher Sarah McGovern took a close look at key Democrat Senate holdouts and found that the politics of New York City’s suburbs is largely to blame for legalization efforts failing over the past two years. Join us for this fascinating joint episode of Empire State of Cannabis X Steve’s Cannabis Show!
24:15
August 14, 2020
Mayor Hal McCabe: Legalization in Small Town America
Mayor Hal McCabe of Homer, NY, and also the Executive Director for the Legislative Commission of Rural Resources where he helps to advise policymakers to the impact of laws on rural communities. The commission has been focused on ensuring adult-use cannabis legalization affords opportunity to small growers.   On this episode, the Mayor gives us unique insight into how small towns may welcome adult-use operations and explains some of the challenges it presents. 
31:20
August 4, 2020
Karli Miller-Hornick: Leadership in Uncertain Times
It's been a rough year for New York hemp growers. Karli Miller-Hornick, CEO of New York Hemp Oil and Head & Heal, describes some of the major obstacles to developing a profitable hemp farming business and their journey to a successful vertically integrated operation. Watch our conversation here with one of New York's most successful cannabis entrepreneurs.
34:41
July 28, 2020
Jason Minard: Staying Out of the Courtroom
As a farmer, family-business owner, and attorney, Jason Minard has a unique perspective on the hemp industry. Last year he joined the Hempire State Growers, a co-op growing 10 acres of high-CBD hemp, and was named their in-house counsel. In this wide-ranging conversation, we discuss what businesses need to do to safeguard their operation legally, how inconsistent regulations are providing roadblocks to the market, selling flower to the consumer, and more.
27:08
July 21, 2020
Michael Casper: A Hemp Farming Legend
In this episode, Michael tells us his story from the beginning, shares some secrets to success, and defends the ability of a small grower to compete against "corporate cannabis". In this episode, Michael tells us his story from the beginning, shares some secrets to success, and defends the ability of a small grower to compete against "corporate cannabis". Full audio is available on your favorite platform including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Radio Public, Overcast, and more!
37:28
July 14, 2020
Tom O'Mara: Hemp as a Win for Rural Communities
Touted as one of the New York Senate's "Most Conservative", Tom O'Mara was an early proponent of hemp. He helped push NY's first hemp bill to set up a pilot research program through the Senate in 2015. We sat down with him to discuss the future of hemp in New York, establishing regualtions to help farmers access markets, his thoughts on adult-use cannabis legalization, and more.
31:26
July 7, 2020
Eric Krohn: Getting to Know Your Customer
Eric Krohn is Director of Business Incubation Programming at Binghamton University. He provides guidance and mentoring to companies at the Koffman Southern Tier Incubator in Binghamton, NY. He has been a mentor to CSG ever since Kaelan's first venture into hemp wine.
34:45
June 22, 2020
Eddie Brennan: Innovating with Tradition
Eddie Brennan is the President and Co-Owner of Beak & Skiff, a 108-year-old family business. You may recognize Beak & Skiff from their popular brand of 1911 Hard Apple Cider.  A statewide leader in cider and apple production, Beak & Skiff is now turning its attention to hemp - recently completing their state-of-the-art extraction facility, known there as the "Hemp House". Brennan gives us some insight into their operations and rich history in this week's episode. What lessons from the apple and cider supply chain can be applied to hemp? How can their impressive existing infrastructure be used to bring hemp extract products to the market?
31:55
June 15, 2020
Marc Privitera: How Fiber Can Become Big-Time
We 've discussed the CBD supply chain often, but what about fiber? This we took a dive into what the possibilities are with hemp based fibers, from a new carbon source to textiles, and what it will take to develop the infrastructure needed. Join us with Marc Privitera, the CEO/Principal Engineer at PreProcess Inc, as we chat about the science, economics, and environmental impact of fiber!
34:01
June 8, 2020
Amman Weaver: A Needed Discussion
This week we had a live discussion with Amman Weaver to talk about everything that is going on including racial justice, the protests, and the role that the emerging cannabis industry can play in giving communities more opportunities.
34:35
June 3, 2020
Jessica Crouse: How the Seneca Nation is Looking to Lead on Hemp
The Seneca Nation has been approved by the USDA to administer their hemp program ahead of the growing season. Hear from the woman behind the regulations, Hemp Compliance Administrator Jessica Crouse. She tells us some of the difficulties of working within the strict USDA guidelines, how sustainability is central to the Nation's program, and working towards their future with cannabis by looking to the past.
29:02
May 26, 2020
Zach Sarkis: How to Give Everyone an Opportunity to Succeed in Cannabis
How is a non-profit pushing the New York cannabis industry forward? Zach Sarkis is the founder of NYHempLab, an incubator for hemp businesses in Rochester, NY. You may know HempLab from their conferences and roundtables that bring leaders in academia and the industry together from across the state. Zach discusses the difficulty of transitioning their physical events to Zoom calls, barriers to entry for small and medium-sized businesses in cannabis, and the mission of HempLab. Empire State of Cannabis is a weekly show where we dive into the stories behind New York's cannabis industry leaders.
34:11
May 18, 2020
Dylan Barber: Diversifying a Dairy Farm With Hemp
Can the experience of being a diary farmer provide important insights for hemp producers? This week we have Dylan Barber, a third-generation dairy farmer who last summer planted two acres of hemp. We get an on-the-ground look at the crisis facing dairy farmers across the country, how the hemp markets have drawn some surprising parallels with an oversupply, and advice from Dylan for farmers looking to diversify with cannabis.
33:31
May 11, 2020
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo: How New York Got Here
This wide-ranging conversation from late February goes back to the start of New York's hemp program in 2015. Assemblywoman Lupardo describes her inspiration to set up New York's pilot hemp research program, the process to do so, and how the program transformed from a dozen research partners to a full-fledged statewide industry. We also discussed the recently enacted Hemp Extract Bill and why it was so important to pre-empt the FDA in considering extract products to be dietary supplements, imposing strict quality standards on out-of-state products, and expanding access to the market for New York farmers and businesses. This episode will give you a unique insight into New York's hemp industry and the leader behind its creation.
25:00
May 4, 2020
Steven Phan: A Retail Experience in the Big Apple
This week we interview Steven Phan, Co-Founder of Come Back Daily, one of the most well known CBD retail locations in NYC. We discuss how Steven's business has adapted to Covid-19 while being in the epicenter of the virus, how he came out to NYC from California and became involved in the legalization movement, and he gives some insight into his perspective of the supply chain issues in the CBD industry.
31:48
April 27, 2020
Dan Dolgin: New York's First Hemp Farmer
4/20 Fact: New York's first hemp farm was required to have armed guards present when they planted their seed. Four years later, Daniel Dolgin founder of Eaton Hemp, dives into the story of that first crop, building a hemp foods brand, and the challenges of being a pioneer.
31:08
April 20, 2020
Brittany Carbone: Building a Brand
Brittany Carbone is the CEO and Founder of Tonic Vibes, a thriving cannabinoid wellness brand based in the Southern Tier. In this episode we talk about the work they’re doing to support workers on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19, her story of moving from Long Island to Upstate in growing the brand, the challenges of growing hemp for the first time, and the future for Tonic. - Join our exclusive LinkedIn Group designed to connect a community of cannabis entrepreneurs, farmers, investors, advocates, and enthusiasts together to share ideas, network, and discuss.
42:50
April 9, 2020