PoliticsNY & amNY Metro celebrate the 2023 Cannabis Industry Power Players

Pictured left to right: Jeff Booker, Co-Founder & COO, CannaCoverage Insurance Services; Dasheeda Dawson, Founding Director, Cannabis NYC; Thunder Walker, Founder & CEO, Thunder Walker Experience, Proud Mary Cannabis; Tremaine Wright, Esq., Chair, Office of Cannabis Management ; Nichelle Santos Co-Founder & CEO, CannaCoverage Insurance Services; Joe Lustberg Co-Founder and CEO, Upwise Capital; Sean Lustberg, CEO, Mottz Only Cannabis Dispensary

Last week, PoliticsNY and amNY Metro had the honor of hosting the ‘Power Players’ in the cannabis industry at our first “Power Player” event in Midtown.

The event, co-sponsored by Upwise Capital and Fluence, brought together honorees from the 2023 Cannabis Industry Power Players list, which seeks to honor those leading the cannabis industry into the future. These leaders in government and business have championed social equity, working hard to ensure that small and minority-owned businesses have equal access to licenses and funding, while also driving innovation within the industry.

Tremaine Wright, chairperson of the New York State Cannabis Control Board, kicked off the event by congratulating all honorees and discussing the progress of the cannabis industry in New York over the past year.

“Cannabis in New York is about access, innovation and growth. That’s what we’re about. That’s what we want to see. And that is exactly why our first set of licensees are leading the way, and I am almost 100% certain that we’re going to make sure that others can join them before the year is out,” Wright said. 

Currently, there are 165 provisional retail dispensary licensees across New York, with many of these licensees among the event crowd. Wright applauded them that creating the state’s new “green” economy with cannabis is a marathon, not a sprint — and that great success lies ahead.

The audience reacts to the performance of comedian Mark Riccadonna during the 2023 Cannabis Power Players at the Upwise Capital in the heart of New York City.

“New York is the largest cannabis market in the world. It didn’t get that way overnight and it’s not going to change overnight. This is a heavy lift for all of us. This is work for all of us. That’s why it’s so important for us to be communicating with one another. But it’s also important for me to highlight that that’s one of the reasons why we have to have media partners,” Wright said. “That’s why they have to be part of the cannabis family, because they tell the stories, they inform the public, they educate our consumers. We need to make sure that we are folding in and bringing in all of the players who impact cannabis in New York and make sure they know as much as you do and that you’re sharing with them your vision for tomorrow, because cannabis in New York is great.” 

The night was filled with excitement and conversation, with honorees celebrating one another and their successes over the past year. There were also performances from stand-up comedians John Fugelsang and Mark Riccadonna.

From lawyers, to business owners to public officials such as Tremaine Wright, our 2023 Cannabis Industry Players enjoyed a well deserved night of celebration for leading the way in New York’s ever changing cannabis industry.

Pictured left to right: Jordan Isenstadt, Lauren Rudick, Kaelan Castetter, Jes Feuer, and Jennifer Bassuk