Exactly a year after Washingtonians woke up to a new legal pot law, 700 pot entrepreneurs from 33 states gathered at the National Cannabusiness Conference at the Emerald Downs racetrack in Auburn today.
A mix of young and old, in suits and jeans, the entrepreneurs listened to presentations on how best to conduct themselves, the next states to legalize, and how to navigate the lack of legal banking services available to marijuana merchants.
The overarching theme was how far the industry has come in the year since Colorado and Washington legalized adult recreational use of marijuana. An industry study projects domestic sales of pot-related products to reach $6 billion by 2018. A policy expert predicted that 14 states — from California to Maine — could legalize weed by the end of 2017. Alaska, Oregon and Rhode Island are likely the next states to legalize weed, said Rob Kampia, director of the Marijuana Policy Project. The conference will continue Friday.
Change is so rapid, said Steve DeAngelo, owner of California’s largest dispensary, that he could see a measure to legalize weed on the ballot in the Golden State next year.
“Be squeaky clean,” DeAngelo advised, and expect to be on the front page on your local newspaper. Don’t be media-shy, DeAngelo said, but do try to convey your main point in seven words or less.
Most marijuana businesses fail, said entrepreneur Adam Bierman. “I haven’t heard that here yet,” he added.
Medical-marijuana regulations are needed in Washington state to legitimize the industry, said Chris Walsh, editor of Medical Marijuana Business Daily.
Expect changes that will allow banking services for pot merchants in the next year, said banking expert Lance Ott. Until then, don’t lie to banks about your business; you could end up on a merchants blacklist.
In pot-tourism the first state to legalize public use, or consumption at stores, will be a game-changer. “That’s why people go to Amsterdam,” said Sean Luse, owner of a California dispensary.