Danny Qiao ’22 reflects on the Business of Legal Cannabis Club’s inaugural event.
On Thursday, November 12, the Business of Legal Cannabis Club held its inaugural event, a talk titled “An Introduction to the Legal Cannabis Industry” by Tahira Rehmatullah ’14. Our successful club launch is the culmination of several years of effort, dating back to February 2018, when the Yale School of Management held the first-ever U.S. business school cannabis conference.
Yale SOM held the conference again in February 2020, and I had the pleasure of attending as a participant. The one-day event was an absolute hit and was actually a main driver in my decision to enroll at SOM. I was fortunate enough to meet my co-founder, Amy Gong ’21, at the conference as well, and over the summer we started deliberating about how to bring the conference back in 2021.
We realized that due to COVID-19, we were likely to be limited in our efforts at formalizing a conference by February 2021, and so decided that our best path forward would be to officially launch the Yale SOM Business of Legal Cannabis Club and host a virtual speaker series for the 2020-2021 academic year. We were able to find a “parent” sponsor in the Business and Politics Club (many thanks to B&P co-leads Sam Levine ’21 and Charlie Gress ’21) and went through a well-explained process for launch with the help of the Academic Affairs & Student life team.
When it came to deciding upon speakers, we luckily were able to get Tahira Rehmatullah as our guide for the first event to provide a broad overview of the industry. She was involved with the original 2018 and 2020 conferences and is a key thought leader and player in the industry as an investor and operator. Tahira gave a deep and thorough presentation of the current regulatory environment and market landscapes, and nuanced insights of the innate industry complexities. She noted the recent legalization wins across diverse states (Montana, South Dakota, New Jersey, Arizona, and New Jersey) and shared that she thinks the state-by-state framework will actually hamper federal legalization efforts as no state wants to give up this new source of tax revenue. In the Q&A, social equity became a key talking point, and Tahira’s involvement on the board of the Last Prisoner Project led to some great discussion on the efforts needed to rectify some of the issues in the industry. It was encouraging to hear how she embodied the “&Society” aspect of the Yale SOM mission in her career. The entire session complemented our broad curriculum at SOM.
Through our efforts, I am proud to say that we held a well-received and packed session with attendees from Yale and beyond. We are beyond ecstatic about the event’s success and look forward to convening the next set of speakers we have lined up for the fall.