By John Schroyer
Facing a cloud of uncertainty under the new Trump administration, more than 3,000 cannabis entrepreneurs, investors and executives are descending on the nation’s capital this week for the third annual spring Marijuana Business Conference & Expo.
The gathering, held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center on the outskirts of Washington DC, kicks off Wednesday morning with speakers and participants discussing a range of topics and trends as well as the industry’s future under the new occupant of the White House just a few miles to the north.
The conference’s first panel on Day One, in fact, will address the Trump factor. The new president has not yet articulated a specific cannabis policy. And his administration has not made clear whether it will be tougher on state-legal marijuana programs than the Obama administration, which largely took a hands-off approach after the Cole Memo was issued in 2013.
The Trump panel will feature U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Oregon; John Vardaman, a former official with the U.S. Department of Justice; former Obama White House official Andrew Perraut; and Steph Sherer, the executive director of Americans for Safe Access.
Also on Wednesday, Marijuana Business Daily will issue its 2017 national industry retail sales projections and other data, along with its updated industry Factbook.
The first day of the conference includes keynote addresses from Vardaman and Loren Israelsen, the president and co-founder of the United Natural Products Alliance.
The thousands attending the conference is yet another indication the cannabis industry has not slowed, despite ominous anti-marijuana rhetoric from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
Attendance at the conference is up by at least 10% since the 2016 spring event held in Orlando, Florida.
There are also 275 exhibitors on the expo floor – yet another significant increase from last spring’s conference, which had roughly 195 exhibitors.
Marijuana Business Daily CEO Cassandra Farrington noted the conference typically serves as a staging ground for cannabis entrepreneurs looking to either jump into the burgeoning industry, or for established companies with an eye on expanding their footprint.
“We fully expect that a good number of investment deals will be made during the conference over the next few days, which just underscores how healthy the overall marijuana industry is and how it is almost certain to continue to thrive in coming years,” Farrington said.
The conference, which runs through Friday, will also feature dozens of speakers on a litany of cannabis-related topics, from advanced cultivation techniques and regulatory changes in the infused products business to boosting retail profits and social media marketing.
John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]