Story and photo by Matt Cote
Hundreds of cannabis industrialists filled the bustling auditorium: entrepreneurs, investors, thought leaders and capitalists all stood eager to discuss industry challenges and their brilliant solutions at the first National Cannabis Business Summit in Denver, Colo.
The National Cannabis Industries Association (NCIA), a lobbyist group advocating for a legitimate and responsible cannabis industry, has organized several professional events, but this was the first one geared toward a national discussion in a state with legal cannabis already on the books. It was impossible to ignore the air of progress as the summit corralled more suits than tie-dye worshippers. NCIA drew eager, hard-working and industrial pioneers ready to profit from the greenest gold rush in American history.
Up until January 2014, the trend leading up to the summit was one of uneasiness, mystery and sporadic support but now this multi-billion-dollar industry is growing like a weed and the American businessperson is enthusiastic about the economic implications and opportunities ahead.
Citizens from every state flocked to the NCIA Summit at the Colorado Convention Center. The bustling auditorium hosted companies with big ideas looking for big money and, with a quick pass through the arena, it seemed obvious why California had such a massive presence: the experienced few wanted a bigger piece of the pie.
Groups like Auntie Dolores Edibles, who earned the vote for Best Pitch at the ArcView Group’s event the night before NCIA, discussed their plans for national expansion with potential investors while other California brands, like Kiva Confections, also expressed growth plans for entering Nevada and Arizona. It seemed like the smartest groups from California hope to expand their businesses in other states immediately. After all, Colorado is the legal marketplace with a stability unseen in states like California where few regulations are at work to add structure to the sprawling cannabis industry. And, while some brands scramble to take advantage of the growing opportunities, other California companies have already surpassed the earliest stages of a Cannabis Empire.
Bhang Capital, built by Scott Van Rixel, founder of Bhang Chocolate in Oakland, Calif. announced his joint venture with Gevitta to introduce a CBD-enriched mint spray to anyone in need of relief from instant cannabidiol. Van Rixel, the pioneer sponsor of the NCIA Cannabis Business Summit, also launched Bhang Business Services. This financial network delivers exclusive discounts as Bhang collects valuable data about cannabis consumers — a new, diverse and mysterious demographic now entering the mainstream consumer culture. He identified growth opportunities within the cannabis marketplace and has effectively diversified the Bhang brand into a multitude of enterprises. All of his effort seeks to increase the sophistication of cannabis as an industry and the close affiliation between Bhang and NCIA shows a future where industry titans work together to make the future more welcoming to their chosen commodity.
Other thought leaders have managed to establish themselves as powerful players within the space by solving specific problems facing the cannabis industry. Mark Goldfogel, founder of C4EverSystems, claims to have solved the banking issue by helping companies manage their cash businesses with an industry-specific ATM machine for cash handling.
Apeks Supercritical displayed their industrial equipment for botanical oil extraction which caters to the increasing popularity of cannabis concentrates within medical and recreational cannabis markets. Unfortunately, the company’s home state of Ohio has yet to enact laws that facilitate the business of cultivating, manufacturing or distribution of cannabis.
This type of situation stands as a popular trend among the businesses at the Cannabis Business Summit. While attendees enjoyed and indulged in the potential of a legal and well-regulated cannabis market, the rest of the country suffers from prohibition or limited medical marijuana legislation. Everyone in the main auditorium chirped about opportunity, expansion and investment while those who chose to participate in the panel discussions expounded on the nature of the industry, the current legislative situations and the implications and obligations of total legalization.
The crowds piled into rooms to engage with thought leaders and pioneers as they discussed a variety of pressing issues including: Best Practices in Cannabis; the Mechanization of Cultivation; the Political Landscape on a State-by-State and National Stage; the Expansion of Infused Product Businesses; the Future of Lab Testing; the Evolution of CannaBusiness Law; the Influx of Technology; the Science of Extraction; How to Talk to The Press and a phenomenal discussion about the Elevation of Women in the Cannabis Industry which stood in distinct parallel with simultaneous conversations happening in the tech industry and our globalized economy.
Cannabis has introduced a new innovative bubble within the American economy. While the rest of the world argues over job loss, corporate tax evasion and unethical business practices, people of cannabis discuss healthy alternative products, better solutions and brighter futures for the patients and people of Colorado and beyond.
Matthew J. Cote grew up in New Jersey, matured in South Florida and received his BA in Language, Writing and Rhetoric from North Carolina State University. As the educated loud-mouth on campus, Matthew tried his best to teach his friends their rights about cannabis possession. In San Francisco and Berkeley, where he currently resides, he develops branded discussions, eloquent arguments, and engaging web materials as @CannabisStrains that help people, patients, and the planet better appreciate cannabis as a beneficial commodity. He enjoys old-school hip hop, electric guitar, skateboarding and intellectually stimulating conversation.