This week, the National Cannabis Business Association held the sixth annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in San Jose, CA. More than 10,000 attendees visited 400 exhibitors and heard from 150 speakers, all talking Cannabis regulation, legalization and manufacturing.
"Bringing cannabis out of the elicit market and allowing legitimate business people and innovators to take part in it has lead to an explosion in technological advances, everything from processing to computer programming to the products that people actually get to them from the consumer. I only see this increasing as the years go by and as more and more state markets open themselves up and as we get more federal policies that are conducive to normal business operations in the cannabis industry," says Morgan Fox, Media Relations Director, National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA).
The industry still faces many challenges, including federal illegality and the stigma that goes with that. But public opinion has been changing -- more than 60 percent of Americans support legalization, and it’s meant big business. Colorado and Washington have done more than a billion dollars in recreational sales. California even more - closer to three billion. Even Alaska generated around $40 million in sales in 2018.
But working with cannabis and hemp is inherently difficult. Subtle differences in lighting, humidity, nutrition and even water purity have incredible impacts on total yield. The show in San Jose showcased cutting edge technology that stands to improve crop production and processing exponentially, as well as impact the entire process, from cultivation to manufacturing through distribution.
"We're definitely attracting some advanced technology," says Bethany Moore, Communications and Projects Manager, NCIA. "The extraction machines are always really impressive. There [are] other types of machinery that prepare, trim or roll cannabis, there [are] packaging assembly lines, there are ways to make doing business in the cannabis industry better, faster, cleaner and more efficient so the product is better, and we can make more money."
This industry is experiencing the kind of entrepreneurship that happens when you take a formerly elicit market and open it up for business. It also opens up a new job market.
"The first piece of advice that I would say to anybody trying to enter the industry is to bring the skills that you have," adds Fox. "Not everybody is either qualified or will be successful at being a cultivator or processor, but there are innumerable job opportunities in the cannabis industry, particularly in the ancillary businesses. NCIA's membership is almost 70 percent non-plant touching businesses. I just recommend for people to take the skills that they have and try to craft that around a cannabis structure."
"It's a great show so far," says Geoff Brown, Director, AGronomic IQ. "We've actually had some really good conversations with really interesting people. It's been a very high value conversation show. We're not having a lot of 'lookers' come by, so from our perspective, it's great.:
Next year, the summit is moving to San Francisco. But if 2019 is any indication, the show and the industry it supports, will only continue to grow.