Chris Walsh: Business-Focused Cannabis Conference Sorely Needed to Unite Fragmented Industry

By Chris Walsh

I’ve been to about a dozen so-called “medical marijuana” conferences and events since we launched this publication a year ago. And I’ve noticed that most of them have two traits in common: They aren’t very focused on the medical side of marijuana, and they don’t really target the MMJ business community.

Instead, these events serve as gathering places for stoners, advocates pushing for the general legalization of weed, patients and head shops that use scantily clad women to peddle pipes at exhibitor booths.

This is not the type of image medical marijuana businesses should embrace, and it is not the type of event that will help the sector evolve and expand.

This industry desperately needs a conference that can help medical marijuana professionals grow and improve their companies. A conference where dispensary owners, entrepreneurs, investors, lawyers and vendors can come together to discuss the important issues of the day and learn how to succeed in this turbulent environment. A conference focused on best practices, banking, finance, operations, strategy and survival. A conference where MMJ leaders can work together to strengthen the industry as a whole. A conference that will help bring professionalism and credibility to medical marijuana.

I have covered many industries in my career as a journalist: technology, national defense, small business, sports business, tourism, airlines, transportation and even skiing. Every single one of these has an annual conference specifically focused on business issues facing professionals in the sector. These events are a fundamental part of American business, serving as a venue for learning, sharing knowledge, networking, advancing common interests and creating unity.

The medical marijuana industry currently does not have this kind of high-profile, business-focused event. And that is exactly why Medical Marijuana Business Daily decided to organize such a gathering.

We are officially hosting the National Marijuana Business Conference, which will be held Nov. 8 and 9 in downtown Denver. This is not a marijuana lifestyle, cultural, patient or pseudo-MMJ conference. Don’t expect to see fake orgasm contests, babes with bongs, kush girl pageants or rock bands. Our conference will feature a lineup of industry leaders who will address issues of vital importance to dispensaries and other MMJ businesses. Think banking, cannabis testing, local and national regulations, the government crackdown, competition, expansion strategies and best practices.

There will be an expo floor with more than a dozen booths from companies that cater to dispensaries and other cannabis businesses, plenty of networking opportunities and even the ability to meet with MMJ lawyers one-on-one.

That’s not to say this won’t be fun. The National Cannabis Industry Association will host a cocktail party the evening of Nov. 8 in conjunction with the conference, which will provide a perfect venue to unwind, celebrate the fact that the MMJ industry exists and support an organization working on behalf of medical marijuana businesses. We’re sure it’s going to be a memorable bash.

I know many of our readers attended a conference last year in San Francisco hosted by the now-defunct Medical Marijuana Business Report, which was run by DealFlow Media. It was a truly professional event where suits outnumbered tie-dye T-shirts. That’s what we’re aiming for, only bigger and better – and without the suits (business casual is fine).

We hope – and fully expect – that this will become the premier annual business event in the industry. We want to provide professionals with actionable information, the kind they can immediately implement to help improve their businesses. And we’re open to suggestions. Let us know who you want to hear from and what you want to learn about, analyze and discuss. Tell us what you expect to get out of an event like this and how it can help your business. I’ll be lining up more speakers and finalizing an agenda in the weeks to come. Email me or fill out our online speaker nomination form with your suggestions.

Our ultimate goal is to help this industry flourish. Uniting the business community under one roof each year for a truly business-focused conference is key to making that happen.