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The Marijuana Business Boom in California

NCIA Cannabis Now Magazine
Photo by Ben Droz/Courtesy of NCIA

Industry Events

The Marijuana Business Boom in California

In the coming week, 3,000 of the best and brightest minds the cannabis industry has to offer will converge on Oakland, California for the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo.

The third annual gathering hosted by The National Cannabis Industry Association travels west as the last two incarnations saw the event take place in the legalization mecca of Colorado. This year organizers decided to take the conference to the home of some of the world’s finest cannabis.

Over the course of 30 plus sessions, summit attendees will have the opportunity to hear from 75 experts from many of the most successful companies to arrive in the burgeoning industry. Also attendees will have the opportunity to interact with many of these speakers on the sprawling expo floor of the Oakland Marriott. To get our head around this huge event for the industry, we reached out to Taylor West, deputy director of NCIA.

Cannabis Now: Hi Taylor! So you folks must be very excited for the event in Oakland. It’s one of the most fast-paced municipalities on the cannabis regulation front right now.

Taylor West: Absolutely, we’re really excited about it. We’ve done the summit the last two years in Denver. That’s been fantastic, but we’re very excited to take it to California this year given how much is going there right now.

NCIA has had events and meetings and such in the Bay Area, but this is the first Northern California event you’ve done to this scale. One of the big discussions in California is bridging the $15 billion industry from the hillsides of the Emerald Triangle to this new regulated market and the permitting process to go with it. Where does NCIA fit into bridging that gap?

California is going to be going through some pretty massive changes in its cannabis industry over the next few years. Obviously there are the changes that were made to the medical regulation process. Then assuming we’re successful with the adult use initiative in November, that will also be a very heavily regulated market. That means some very real challenges for people who are currently operating in the industry. It’s our hope that we can be not just a community resource for people who are interested in transitioning into that kind of business, but also in having a voice in how how those regulations develop. We’re never going to get a perfect system that’s going to make everyone happy, but we are hopeful that we will see a regulatory system develop in California that has taken into account the voices of people who have been in the industry a long time.

NCIA Cannabis Now Magazine

The event will also have a lot folks with no cannabis background trying to take the jump into the industry, how do you recommend those people best use the resources available to them at the summit?

There are two really huge benefits to attending the cannabis business summit. The first is really the content of the summit itself. We put a lot of work into developing sessions and discussions with really knowledgeable experts who have a lot to teach people about. Sometimes you go to conferences and it seems like whatever content they built in is just an excuse to get people on to the expo floor. We take very seriously our mission to provide high quality education.

I think people will look at our agenda and find we have sessions designed for those who are new to the industry and sessions more interesting for people who have been at it a long time, but want to take a look at new methods and best practices. A good example is the couple sessions we have looking at the use of data, and that’s pretty new in the industry. Especially if you haven’t been working in a fully legal industry.

Keeping a ledger is new, data is still quite groundbreaking.

Absolutely, aside from the content the other big advantage is the people you’ll have the opportunity to meet. We are very proud of the fact the people that attend the Cannabis Business Summit are leaders in the industry, they are innovators in the industry. This is truly an event for people who want to do serious business within this industry, that makes it valuable as a networking opportunity or a place to drum up business. We encourage people to take part in the sessions, but it’s really important to also take advantage of the resources and companies that will be there.

The summit is offering a lot of different panels, with many of the folks at the lead in their segments of the industry. Are their any in particular that really stand out for you?

Well as I mentioned the data stuff is going to be very interesting, full disclosure I’m moderating one of those panels, but I think it’s a fascinating area where we are starting to see a lot of progress that we didn’t have before. I think we have some really in depth looks at new practices in the industry like advancements in extraction technology, or looking at what is the latest when it comes to sustainable cultivation practices. Those are areas that are evolving very quickly because we are able to bring the full innovation of an above ground market into the space. We’ve got innovators coming in from other industries that have experience working with things like new kinds of lighting, or new advanced climate control systems. These are very important areas for businesses to explore, because these new sustainable systems are going to lower costs.

Another thing I would highlight that’s particularly unique about our event is that there is always an intense focus on policy developments as well. One of our keynote speeches will be Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, who will be running for governor in 2018. We have several state specific sessions over the course of the event, then will cap it all off with our California panel and what we’re looking ahead to after November.

While we always tell people to support the movement, what is a good way for cannabis consumers to support a responsible industry in general?

First of all we are certainly aware there is no industry without the movement, and as much as we feel we are on this path were we are winning everywhere we go and progress is inevitable, that’s really not the case. So first off, don’t stop supporting the movement. It’s incredibly important that we are supporting the ballot initiatives in November.

In state’s where we have established legalization, I think the priority for the consumer would be to find ways to support the industry’s efforts to have a seat at the table in designing regulation and legislation. We see a pretty direct relationship between states that that allow industry veterans to have a seat at the table, and states that design programs that work well. So that is something we really want to see continue.

Also consumers can support the growth of a responsible and successful industry by doing a little research on the companies that they patronize. Not to sound self serving, but I think one way to see if a business it committed to the broader success of the industry is to see if they are a member of NCIA. Also I would tell people to look out for people who publicly commit to community engagement and responsible business practices, you’ll see that through their social media channels or charity events. That’s the kind of thing that should be rewarded in the industry, not only because it shows companies are committed to a bigger mission than the bottom line, but also it benefits the overall movement by demonstrating to the public that these are businesses here to be a part of the community.

Purchase tickets here.

Do you plan on attending any marijuana business events this year?

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