Earlier this month, Trump SoHo New York hosted the Cannabis in Commercial Real Estate NYC summit. The event provided resources for investors, developers, and business people interested in moving into the legal cannabis space.
Trump SoHo, which is part of The Trump Organization, hosted the event even as President Trump himself appears more and more antagonistic toward legal cannabis.
Trump and Cannabis
Early on in his bid to become the Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Trump said he supported medical cannabis.
“Legalized marijuana is always a very difficult question,” he told GQ Magazine. “For medicinal purposes and medical purposes, it’s fine.”
Since moving into the White House, Trump and his administration seem to have adopted a different tone. In February, for example, White House press secretary Sean Spicer noted that “greater enforcement” of federal cannabis laws could be on the horizon.
A month later, Jeff Sessions spoke out against cannabis. He told a group of law enforcement officials that cannabis is “only slightly less awful” than heroin. Sessions went on to express concern over medical marijuana as well. He said that medical marijuana “had been hyped, maybe too much.”
And most recently, actions from Trump himself have raised alarm in the medical marijuana community.
On May 5, Trump signed a $1.1 trillion spending bill. Designed to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year, the bill included a number of provisions. Among the provisions that Trump said he may disregard was one about medical marijuana. This one stipulated that the Department of Justice cannot use federal funds to interfere with states that have legalized medical marijuana.
But in his signing statement, Trump said he may bypass that protection in order to pursue what he described as “my constitutional responsibility to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Trump SoHo Hosting A Cannabis Event?
Despite what appears to be the Trump administration’s growing fever toward legal cannabis, the Trump SoHo luxury hotel agreed to host the cannabis real estate summit.
For hotel management, Mr. Trump’s political position on cannabis had no bearing on the venue’s decision to host the event.
“The hotel is not, and was never, part of politics or the political campaign,” said Nicole Murano, Director of Marketing and Communications for Trump Hotels of New York. “Our efforts remain singularly focused on running a luxury hotel.”
And as far as the event organizers are concerned, it was a good opportunity to shake things up.
“It was kind of ironic that they would give us the best deal and that Trump would be so opposed to some parts of the industry,” said Rick Kaplan, Director of Events for the New England Real Estate Journal, which organized the event.
“He only licenses his name to the hotel, but we figured that it would look pretty good to have it at Trump SoHo with the way that his administration feels toward the industry. And a lot of people who attended liked that idea, too.”
He added: “I’m not sure if Mr. Trump felt the same way, but we figured he’d Tweet about it if it really bothered him.”
Moving The Cannabis Industry Forward
Kaplan said the decision to have the event at a Trump property helped accomplish his group’s goal of changing the stigma surrounding cannabis.
“We also like to show the benefits of this type of business,” he said. “There are a lot of benefits that people don’t really know about.”
“These cannabis businesses create many new employment opportunities,” he said. “And if you go into other states where it’s been legalized for a while, they find that crime rates actually go way down when this type of business moves into an area. When these businesses go into a space, they really revitalize the entire area.”
The summit included speakers and panels from a variety of fields and industries including property owners, real estate brokers, lawyers, architects, and engineers.
Kaplan said there were around 115 people who attended the event. The New England Real Estate Journal put on a similar event in Boston earlier this year. That one sold out and had a long waiting list.
The more recent New York City summit was a follow-up to the original Boston event. After seeing larger-than-expected turnouts, the organization is planning one more cannabis real estate conference. It will take place June 14 at the Boston Convention Center.