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Cannabis businesses pitch to investors at local capital forum

Liz DeMaria of Aromafloria speaks at cannabis business

Liz DeMaria of Aromafloria speaks at cannabis business meet at a forum hosted by the Long Island Capital Alliance on Dec. 7 in Melville. Credit: Howard Schnapp

The Long Island Capital Alliance brought together investors and businesses in the growing cannabis industry at a Cannabis Capital Forum in Melville Friday morning.

The forum hosted by LICA, a nonprofit capital formation and business development organization, featured presentations by companies building their business by exploring emerging trends in the burgeoning cannabis sector.

Among these trends, manufacturing and selling products infused with cannabidiol, or CBD — a nonpsychoactive compound derived from cannabis and believed by some users to have medicinal properties — is among the most popular.

Two of the six companies that presented their business plans to a panel of investors make or retail CBD products. 

The presenting companies included two Long Island firms: Applied DNA Sciences of Stony Brook, a developer of DNA-focused technology for cannabis tracking, and Aromafloria of Huntington, a CBD health and beauty products business. A third local company that had been scheduled didn't make a presentation.

Liz DeMaria, vice president of Aromafloria, said her company’s CBD-infused offerings lie at the intersection of two growing markets: beauty and cannabis.

DeMaria, whose company is seeking a $1.8 million investment, said the best time to dive into the cannabis sector and invest in companies like Aromafloria “is now.”

“Opportunities in the cannabis beauty and wellness space right now are immense,” she said.

“It’s a white space. There are several competitors but no leaders.”

Aromafloria, she said, is working to emerge as one, and sells its products in CVS. It hopes to partner also with Sephora and Ulta Beauty to retail its products.

The company’s Huntington facility employs 25. Aromafloria expects $5 million in sales for 2018.

CBD has been legally available only in recent years. In 2017, New York eliminated a cap on the number of sites authorized to grow and research industrial hemp, a variety of cannabis rich in CBD, and allowed businesses and farmers to sell CBD.

But CBD derived from marijuana instead of hemp remains illegal in New York, except for medical marijuana cardholders.

Technically, CBD use and production is still against federal law, making many banks and credit card processors reluctant to serve companies in the sector.

Jamul Jadamba of Colorado-based BDS Analytics, a cannabis industry data analytics firm, and Harrison Phillips of Viridian Capital Advisors, a cannabis industry investment bank headquartered in Manhattan, were the event's keynote speakers. 

CORRECTION:  Aromafloria expects $5 million in sales for 2018. An earlier version of this story misstated its expected sales.

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