Meet Kristin Jordanattorney lawyer and CEO of the Asian Roundtable, a professional networking organisation in the US.

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do

 

I am the founder of the Asian Cannabis Roundtable, a professional networking organisation in the US. We started meeting in my office in Korea town in NYC 2017 as a way for my Asian colleagues interested in becoming a part of the industry in New York, to educate each other and build a network of colleagues and friends to support each other in the industry. I am also a founder of Park Jordan, a real estate brokerage firm that's servicing the cannabis industry and most recently I was the Director of Real Estate for Acreage Holdings, one of there largest state operators in the US.

 

Why did you choose to specialise within cannabis?

 

I am a medical patient registered with the NY cannabis program. I’m a patient as a result of PTSD that I suffer and I find cannabis to be a tremendous medicine that helps me in my everyday life. I’m also am wellness consumer and a euphoria and joy consumer, I find that cannabis brings a lot of happiness and euphoria to my life and to my relationships and I think its a wonderful tool to facilitate good relationships.

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What mistakes do you think have been made socially in New York since legalisation in the cannabis space?

 

We’re still waiting for regulations and for the industry to take shape, so while I don’t think we’ve moved forward enough to make too many mistakes, we’re really most concerned about how this will affect communities most harmed by the war on drugs and what this means for licensure prioritisation for the communities most affected. While I don’t think we’ve done anything wrong yet I’d like to see us move very slowly and deliberately to address the implications of the war on drugs.

 

What type of players do you see entering the cannabis market within New York?

 

In my advocacy world and business life we’re seeing all sorts of people interested in the traditional industry. I think for so long marginalised people have been boxed out of tradition industries and opportunities for generation growth- cannabis unlike anything we’ve seen in my lifetime presents an opportunity for generational wealth in a way we’ve never seen before and so I’m excited we’re seeing folk from the legacy industry interested in entering a regulated industry, which is exciting because not only do they bring expertise around the plant and consumption, they also understand how to market to consumers in ways big cannabis hasn’t yet learned. 

 

I think we take for granted that our legacy dealers are simply uneducated people who lack business acumen, and that’s not my experience at all. Our legacy industry has been vibrant and has supplied medicine and wellness to communities for generations. This is not new to us and that’s why we call it legacy- we don’t call it illicit or black market, we give a nod to the fact that this industry has been here for a long time and it’s on us to recognise that and appreciate those who came before us, blazed the trail, and helped us to think about how we can deliberately bring those people into the industry. If there was not an opportunity for legacy to be involved the industry would suffer.

 

There’s a lot of excitement about the opportunities for retail and on site consumption here in the city because of the nature of what New York is, being financial capital of the world and leader in the entertainment and hospitalities industry but I’d like to remind people there’s 12 million people that live outside the city in the great state of New York, I grew up in Syracuse, New York and I went to undergrad at Albany University our state’s capital and I’m really excited to say those folks are also really interested in the industry. We’re hearing opportunities for micro businesses, onsite consumption and cultivation, there’s a lot of excitement outside New York city which is tremendous. 

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From our research on your work, we understand you’re a woman of many responsibilities- how do you assert yourself in a space where commonly women are pushed out of businesses of bought out? 

 

I think the community in New York has been dominated by women and frankly by middle aged women like myself. The unique thing I find about the subset of our community is that we’re very malleable and willing to do things. At various points in the last eight years we thought we were close to legalisation and we thought there were opportunities for us to create an industry but up to present that hasn’t happened so many of us have had to switch hats and come up with different ideas to not only stay relevant in cannabis but continue to educate ourselves and prepare ourselves for this opportunity we’ve been waiting a long time for.

 

I think very uniquely women in cannabis are preachers of resourcefulness and for me personally, I thought I was going to serve as an attorney helping with the application process but during this eight year process I’ve had several opportunities to produce events, produce a newsletter where we highlight event production, I serve on a committee with lawyers. I do a number of different things to continue to educate myself in this area.

 

We’ve not seen enough women CEO’s, women and people of colour in the c-suite of cannabis companies and I’m hopeful that because of the progressive nature of our bill in New York, the MRTA and the mandates of it that require social applicants to keep 51% ownership of their companies, I’m hopeful the regulations will help to support more participation with women and people of colour.

 

What’s your advice for companies manoeuvring in spaces where cannabis is not yet legal?

 

My first piece of advice is don’t be discouraged, this is very hard. It’s hard for big operators and small individuals and certainly there are challenges to accessing capital for people of colour and women in the industry, in every industry, not exclusive to cannabis but the federal regulations make it all that much harder. So I suggest you surround yourself with a helpful community, I’m fortunate that I have a number of women around the country who check in with me periodically and touch base to see what projects we’re working on and what relationships we can extend to each other. So surrounding yourself with that tribe of people that will continue to grow your experience is important.

 

Do you think in the future, venues will become more open to smoking in their spaces?

 

100%. One of the key components to the New York state bill is the on-site consumption license and that was vital to participants in the NYC area because many of us live in multiple dwellings and subsidised housing situations that are federally subsidised and prevent you from consuming cannabis even in your private dwelling so it was very important for safe consumption to happen in a safe environments. I don’t fall into this category but I have many friends who have children who choose not consume in their home. Combustion is of course one of the cheapest and most popular ways to consume and also the one that is least discrete so we need to create these spaces for safe consumption and I absolutely believe that as states adopt adult use programmes, this will include on-site consumption because we see this in New York.

 

What’s been the best event you’ve been involved in with Manabat? 

 

What was really exciting to me was the cannabis law summit, cannabis real estate summit and cannabis media summit. I’m a lawyer and real estate professional so those were my peers and colleagues and it was fairly for me to put that curriculum together but the cannabis media summit was a really special and unique event for us to produce. While we were producing the cannabis law summit there were a number of freelance reporter who had attended back in May 2018 and my good friend Dan Adams (cannabis reporter for the Boston Globe) took me aside and said “you have something special here, we’d love to see something like this for media professionals” and what I learnt was a couple of things: mainstream media in the US do not have cannabis dedicated reports and that becomes problematic because you have these reporters such as a health reporter or business reporter dipping into cannabis without a full understanding of the industry so there gets to be these snippets here and there without a big picture understanding.

 

The other thing that Dan was thoughtful about teaching me is that reporters because they have limited bandwidth and often times are not dedicated to just cannabis, they have difficulties in sourcing brands who are not as visible or popular or community leaders who may not get the interviews and such and so through the cannabis media summit we saw an opportunity to not only highlight women and people of colour and to bring these people to the reporters so they could access these brands easier, but also the smaller brands because Dan taught me as a reporter, he could not receive brand products, so devices and such. If they were mailed directly to him he has ethical considerations and would have to package them up and send them back. But what we learnt is if he participated in an event for which everyone receives gift bags, we could take advantage of that gift bag and so it was a way for us to get those brands in front of reporters and fortunately for us, we’ve partnered with some great brands who have managed to get visibility from these reporters by taking part in our media summit. 

 

The regulators get a lot of their information clearly from reporters and journalism. If the journalists have a small window for that exposure, then the regulators are listening to that input and not having a full appreciation for the bigger industry and where that played out was Massachusetts so there was a vape scare relegated to CO2 cartridge vapes yet they banned all vaporising including dry flower vaporisation which is a medicinal method for ingestion from which a lot of people have benefited, including myself. We realised if we enlightened the journalists to the intricacies around issues like vaporisation to drill down on them as they should, there’s a difference between CO2 cartridge vaporisation and dry herb vaporisation, potentially we could help to influence the regulations so they will be more mindful about what the impact of the regulations will be. 

 

Can you tell use about the first time you tried cannabis?

 

I was a little older than most of my friends and colleagues. I was in college at the University of Albany and I must have been a freshman. Certainly everyone around me was consuming cannabis but I hadn't even seen weed before college. Funny enough I was sitting in a dorm room full of friends and someone for some reason kept telling me we actually smoked basil. It was a weird experience for me honestly because I knew I was pretty high but they tried to convince me otherwise.

 

At times in my life I knew I was on track to become an attorney and always thought cannabis was not conducive to a professional life so after college I waved goodbye to my college roommates, handed them the rolling papers and bongs, went off to law school and then I realised everyone smokes weed. Once I graduated law school I figured now I’m going to be a professional so handed off my equipment again to my law school friends and moved to New York, started working in a law firm, met some judges and realised... everyone smokes weed. 

 

 

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Check out 'The Future of Cannabis in New York' starring Kristin Jordan on YouTube.