“There is always a boom somewhere,” said a famous investor long ago. If that sage had been living today, he would be focused on the world of cannabis and would have attended the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo held at the Los Angeles Convention Center last week. The business opportunities in the years to come will equal the California Gold Rush and the real estate boom the state has enjoyed for four decades now.
This was my first marijuana-related conference, and what I found, for the most part, was a very professional crowd, looking to see what part they might have in this potential bonanza. I met a very intelligent young woman named Cheryl, who was director of sales development for a company that produced apps. She was there to explore what new apps might be needed and was just the kind of person you might see at any high-end business conference.
To be sure, I also met a few “stoners” in the group, but by and large it was a typical, upscale L.A. crowd. Many were successful business owners trying to find their place in the “Green Rush.” Industry veterans were euphoric about the gradual but continually growing acceptance of cannabis by the mainstream public.
The Big Enchilada
Following the lead of Colorado, Washington, and Oregon, California will most likely approve the use of recreational marijuana in November 2016. The impact on the cannabis industry will be huge. Even now, with only medical marijuana approved, California makes up 50 percent of the total U.S. marijuana market, according to Rob Hunt, a consultant who spoke on many panels at the conference. “L.A. County alone has a larger market share than any of the states where recreational use has been legalized,” he added.
Not only are the numbers massive, but California’s market appears more open than the one back East, where licensing has been awarded in some large states only to those politically connected. While industry insiders like Rob Hunt are not happy with these developments, they feel it is a “worthy sacrifice for legalization.”
The cannabis edibles market includes high-end chocolates, mints, energy drinks, gummy bears, and a host of other treats. Dixie Elixirs is a large player in this market, with products ranging from bath soaks to tinctures and truffles. Of particular interest was the company’s choice of both “Awakening” and “Relaxing” mints. The outfit seemed very professionally runs with artistically hip packaging and seasoned corporate personnel. Alyssa Anderson, public relations director for Dixie’s California distributor Altai Brands, left a similar position with the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas to join this new industry.
Solutions for Pets
A big part of the Cannabis Rush will be in the area of pet supplements. I don’t know about you, but I have had a couple of dogs that in their later years have suffered greatly. It looks very likely that companies like True Leaf will be able to provide products that can help. True Leaf just introduced three products to provide joint, calming, and antioxidant support for dogs. “As the laws change, we will add to this line in even more helpful ways,” said CEO Darcy Bomford. This kind of relief could revolutionize pet care in the future as well as bring costs way down. True Leaf is a publicly traded company on the Vancouver Exchange.
What About the Kids?
The Drug Policy Alliance has taken great steps to educate consumers on both the benefits and problems associated with legalization. Throughout the conference, I got the sense that the entire industry is against promoting teenage use. Parents do need to be realistic, though. Many kids are going to try it. “The ‘Just Say No’ approach has been a great failure,” said Dr. Marsha Rosenbaum. Educating youngsters is a much better way to go, and to further this, the Drug Policy Alliance is publishing Rosenbaum’s Safety First, a Reality-Based Approach to Teens and Drugs. After many years of struggle, Rosenbaum is finally gaining acceptance by school authorities seeking better answers. More on her work and other answers can be found at the Drug Policy Alliance website DrugPolicy.org.
This year’s conference was crowded and full of enthusiasm among both exhibitors and attendees. Many have been working on legalization for decades, and victory is finally in sight. Look for the bumpy ride to continue, though, as the public tries to sort fact from fiction, pros from cons, in the world of cannabis.
R.W. Navis explores the world of cannabis in Buds and Beyond, taking a look at the industry, legal developments, and marijuana-related travel destinations. If you have questions or suggestions, please write to BudsandBeyond@gmail.com.