New York State currently allows for medical cannabis. However, a surge of legislative efforts now places New York on the verge of adult use legalization. If expectations become reality, the market could generate $3.65 billion in sales by 2022, according to Bloomberg and BDS Analytics. Furthermore, recreational sales could generate $700 million annually for state government services.
In New York City, its cannabis community has been bustling for years, and it saw a significant uptick when New Jersey accelerated its legalization efforts. As such, the cannabis community has swelled and buzzed more than ever. An increasing number of consumers, entrepreneurs, activists, enthusiasts and many more are now involved in a city that consumes more cannabis than any other city in the world.
One person who has been involved well before the bubble began to swell is Sanjay Singh. A producer for live and experiential events, Singh’s interest in cannabis began like that of many, in high school growing up on Long Island. At 18, his first experience was far from ideal after he became paranoid from smoking too much. However, he persisted and began to recognize the benefits of the plant. He told The Marijuana Times, “I became acutely aware of the crosslinking of ideas that I was thinking about.” He explained that cannabis allowed him to establish these links easier than ever before. He elaborated “…I was stumbling upon new ideas or new connections that would’ve taken me longer to understand prior, or not at all.”
Today, Singh continues to use cannabis for a growing number of reasons, which include medicinal purposes stemming from a severe skin condition and other pain. Since coming to this realization, Singh has used his experiences to fuel his work. “My work in the cannabis field is to create or recreate that feeling for other consumers.”
Using his film experience and passion for connecting people, Singh’s approach to production work and community building represents the ideal ethos of today’s cannabis community, New York or elsewhere. This includes creating experiences that match to varying cannabis experience levels. “For a lot of people, they don’t have any experience with cannabis at all,” he points out. “And so, we’re navigating a space where we have different types of entry levels of consumers.”
Singh’s keen insights into art and event experience, among many other talents ranging from sales to photography, lead him to work with numerous cannabis endeavors. Some of his efforts include work with groups like PussyWeed and CannaGather. In these projects, Singh interacts and adds to the fiber of New York City’s cannabis community, which continues to embrace the ethos of the early days while welcoming the new. “We’re still sharing ideas and trying to figure out how to handle the culture shift and communicate the culture shift. It’s part of a larger discussion on how we communicate cannabis.”
When looking towards the bigger picture, Singh takes a fluid approach to his career’s big picture. His focus is on discovering additional engaging projects and partners through his production work and networking. Above all else, he values transparency in his partners. He elaborated, “The way you conduct yourself is extremely important in new collaborations where a new industry is moving so fast where you don’t necessarily have ten years to try and suss out a relationship and figure out if this person is trustworthy.” He added, “You need to have a candid and authentic approach so that people can take your word for what it’s worth and run with that.”
Growing up in Long Island allowed Singh to see the New York City cannabis community shift in real-time. Now living in Manhattan, he is that much more connected to the community pulse. Today, he sees the influx of business professionals entering the nearly legal marketplace. From his dealings and perspective, Singh sees an intersection of the old and new cannabis community. While newcomers assess the environment, he notes a sense of openness and collaboration among everyone. That said, it remains clear that there is a divergence. “I do think that there is a specific agenda that people have when they’re in the business end of cannabis as opposed to the recreational consumption side where it’s more communal, experiential, not agenda-based.”
Like many, Singh expects the cannabis industry to normalize like other markets in time. With such activity, commerce and interest centered on New York – in cannabis and beyond – he places the city in a rarefied air. “New York City, first and foremost, is the capital of the world – I still believe that.” While noting Dubai and Hong Kong as some contending destinations, Singh views New York as the center for world media and the importance it has placed on it by much of the global community. This extends to cannabis. Despite lagging in progress compared to other states, Singh sees New York State and the city serving as an example that shows how a city integrates cannabis into its existing culture. Two areas of interest he’d like to see New York improve legislation around is public consumption, hoping to have it treated just as cigarette consumption is, and home growing, which he considers “an opportunity for everyone to get involved.”
Overall, while creativity and professional gains are clear benefits, Singh recognizes that the power of the plant goes far beyond these aspects of life. “As a creative, it’s helped in some respects,” he explains. “But in a greater regard, it’s helped my approach towards thinking.”
Singh is hard at work wrapping up a short at the moment. Additionally, his online film festival, Nukhu, which allows viewers to watch and vote on movies year round, is planning this year’s ceremony for the top submissions. This year’s celebration will also include CBD elements to stick with Singh’s goals of educating the public and normalizing cannabis.
Sanjay Singh represents just one face in New York’s diverse cannabis landscape. By combining passions for cannabis and creativity with a business acumen, Singh is one of the many working their tails off to make a name for themselves in this rapidly evolving space. More to the point, people like him work so hard not only for themselves, but also for the advancement of cannabis ethos long-held before he was ever on this Earth. While nothing is for certain, the future of cannabis in the city, state and beyond will continue to have ethical advocates at the table with people like Sanjay Singh involved. He’ll be happy to introduce you to everyone.