Pot is a hot topic. Many hope to jump into the Green Rush and many more hope to sell the picks and shovels. Some industry insiders even complain of event fatigue.
Most of these cannabis conventions focus on the business side of marijuana and thousands of people plunk down their hard earned money hoping to enter the budding industry. The huge expos and cups can be somewhat overwhelming. Smaller more focused events provide attendees with an intimacy and networking opportunity that gets lost in the larger events.
The recent State of Marijuana conference in Long Beach was the latter. State congressmen sat aside the California Growers Association and county supervisors were able to hear about concerns from established cannabis pioneers. It was an environment of open communication and problem solving.
“I knew I needed to come from a different angle,” explained Susan Soares, executive director at C.A.R.E., an organization that embraces new approaches to cannabis advancements through producing elegant cannabis culture events. “I decided to focus on bringing industry leaders together with elected officials and regulators. In my years of activism I heard one government official after another claim they had never used cannabis and never would but they were interested in the revenue.”
Soares started partnering with The State of Marijuana towards the end of pre-production on its first annual event in 2014, took on a larger role the second year and handled most of pre-production and a large portion of production this year.
“I added the cherry to the sundae by securing an elegant and historical venue at the Queen Mary, in Long Beach, California, with medical marijuana consumption allowed in a very progressive and bold way,” she said.
The ship even became the home to a cannabis plant for the two-day event.
The cannabis industry is like no other. People keep trying to compare it to alcohol or tobacco or the herbal industry, but you can’t successfully make that comparison. Cannabis is so much more complicated than that. For cannabis to be properly regulated it would take a collaborative effort. And that’s precisely what an event like The State of Marijuana is designed for, to bring diverse perspectives together.
The Queen Mary and The State of Marijuana delivered. Many interesting topics were covered with the end goal of improving policy for all concerned. A very popular panel was the one covering local issues, moderated by Jackie McGowan, a cannabis lobbyist and local licensing consultant. Several cities and counties have been taking what they considered the safe route in regards to impending regulations by banning all cannabis related activities. This panel effectively covered the ever shifting landscape of local government regulation.
Attendees paid for a pricey ticket and were asked to put away their smartphones to get immersed into the issues. By all accounts, they were glad to do it, and the conference is hopeful to remain uniquely positioned on the Queen Mary.
“My strengths are event planning, production and education. My passion is cannabis,” Soares said. “I felt like I had to take a long term look at my place in this industry and set out to bring cannabis tourism to Long Beach.”
Have you attended any cannabis events this year?