Marijuana industry’s future is bright, MJBizCon speakers say

George Blankenship stresses the similarities between marijuana and industry giants like Apple, Tesla and Amazon.

New Jersey recreational marijuana legalization may be a highlight of 2018; it’s possible but unlikely the Trump administration will crack down on the U.S. cannabis industry; and major mainstream corporations are “not going to miss out” on the business opportunities presented by the burgeoning marijuana trade.

Those are just a few of the highlights from four keynote speakers on the opening day of the sixth MJBizCon, which began Wednesday at the Las Vegas Convention Center.

Some of the presentations conveyed negative overtones, but the general theme was unbridled optimism.

“There are many unicorns to come, and unicorns are those billion-dollar companies,” Jeanne Sullivan – a veteran of the dot-com boom and bust era – told thousands of MJBizCon attendees.

“They are out on this floor. It is your job to find them this week and to talk to them.”

Sullivan singled out companies in the sectors of cannabis testing, regulatory compliance, data analytics and well-established brands that will likely come to dominate future markets as the marijuana industry comes into its own on a national and global scale.

But those are far from the only opportunities, a point driven home by former Apple and Tesla executive George Blankenship, another of the keynote speakers.

Rather, he focused on innovation as the key to reshaping the marijuana business.

“Sooner or later, you’re going to be able to say, ‘Alexa, send me an eighth of flower,’” Blankenship said.

He noted that before the first iPhone launched in 2007, the vast majority of companies dominating the cell phone industry are firms that have lost their market share, such as Nokia and Motorola, to more innovative firms like Apple.

“What we focused on was what we could do, not what we couldn’t do,” Blankenship said while talking about how Tesla entered the Texas automotive market despite immense logistical hurdles.

“I suggest you think about that as you’re defining the rest of your industry. You should be looking around at what’s possible … that could turn into something special.”

Jeanne Sullivan talks about prospects for the marijuana industry.

That kind of reinvention could be key to survival down the line for many companies already in the marijuana business as well, given some of the points driven home by Sullivan and Marijuana Business Daily vice president of editorial Chris Walsh.

Both speakers predicted that major mainstream companies are going to play a big role in the future of the cannabis trade.

“These companies are not going to miss out,” Sullivan said, referring to the industry entrances of Scotts Miracle-Gro, liquor distributor Constellation Brands and Netflix.

Sullivan said that her advice to those in the marijuana space is to position themselves as best they can for potential acquisition down the road by larger corporations such as those and others from the pharmaceutical and agricultural industries.

That will enable them to get the most bang for their buck when they find buyers and are able to cash out.

Because, Sullivan said, the bottom line is that “cannabis is here to stay.”

As icing on the cake, the final speaker of the morning – longtime White House correspondent Kenneth T. Walsh of U.S. News & World Report – offered a prediction that vehemently anti-marijuana Attorney General Jeff Sessions probably won’t be let off the proverbial leash by President Donald Trump.

Journalist Kenneth Walsh discusses how U.S. presidents have viewed marijuana.

“One thing that politicians do is they keep track of the polls, and … the polls are very consistently showing that America has had a tidal shift on marijuana. Most Americans favor legalization,” Kenneth Walsh said.

“Trump is following the polls … Trump is also watching what his people want him to do. If he (gets the sense) one way or the other that they want a clampdown on marijuana or they don’t, I think that’s the direction he’ll go in.”

The journalist cautioned, however, that Sessions is still very anti-cannabis and noted it’s possible Trump could decide to lump cannabis in with other culture-war topics he’s engaged in.

“He’s fully capable of being tough on marijuana if he feels his core constituency wants it that way, but I also think he’s capable of changing that if he feels his core constituency is not with him on that,” Walsh said.

“It’s not high up on his priority list. I don’t think it will be, unless his base openly demands it.”

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

4 comments on “Marijuana industry’s future is bright, MJBizCon speakers say
  1. Seth on

    How does Trumps declaration of the Opiod Crisis in the U.S. effect his possible acceptance of Medical Cannabis? It would seem that those two topics, Opiod Crisis and Medical Cannabis, go hand in hand.

    Reply
    • Donna on

      They actually do not belong together. Clinical trails are going to begin for its use in PTSD. I am part of the compassionate project and we see the difference. This plant has tremendous benefits when used correctly. I have seen my best friend die from Opiod use with Xanax. Doctors favorite combination for the elderly it seems as most in my family have been prescribed.. It depresses lung function. Fact..Heart attack is eminent. Cannabis on the other hand has no deaths associated with it..Fact… Next year Israel will have Cannibis apart of their Nursing home program. Hebrew University has uncovered some of the most amazing data to date. The WHO has a patent on the plant 2006. Our body has receptors in the endocrine system they have discovered that matches the cannabinoids of the plant. Educate yourself!!

      Reply
  2. Francis J. Boero Ph.D., CFS on

    One of the main constituencies advocating for rational legalization of CBD and THC products are veterans, who are receiving relief from PTSD and other ailments.

    Veteran advocacy groups are composed of active, motivated, and disciplined individuals. They are also well respected by conservative politicians. It may be damaging to Trump’s base if there was an all out assault on ethical use of medical cannabis.

    Certainly, we should not expect that Mr. Sessions or the current administration will remove cannabis from Schedule I, or sort out the conflicting DEA positions on CBD from industrial hemp. These actions required continued advocacy and reference to science from the cannabis industries.

    Reply
  3. Surfer Labor on

    I’m a combat veteran who fully supports MJ for medical and recreational. I voted for Trump and support most of his policies. As I did with every president before him. Unfortunately, they all let me down by the end of their term(s).
    I still work in my military craft, just in the civilian world. And I am surrounded by like minded individuals who fully support the legalization of cannabis for medical and recreational. As a matter of fact, the overall feeling is; “Live and Let Live. Be great to people and be there for them when they need it. Doesn’t matter color, sex, religion or politics!” That’s as far as my political diatribe will go.
    And this comes from a background of military veterans who served in some of the most elite units in the DoD: SEAL’s, SF, RANGER’s, Marine RECON, USAF PJ & CCT.
    Remember, Sessions lumped us in with comments about people who use or support cannabis. Not a very flattering statement.
    As far as I know, from people who work on the inside; DJT has a favorable outlook toward MMJ and doesn’t believe MJ is a “gateway” drug. Let’s just hope they’re right and that DJT intends to leave it up to the individual States to decide how to proceed with legalization in their respective State. Much like the way some State’s allow “open” carry and some don’t.
    Keep the pressure up and track the companies, entities or people who want to subvert the MJ & MMJ legalization process and put the screws to them. You have to expose the REAL interest who wish to usurp the cannabis movement. Just follow the money, it’s that easy. And this leads me to be very suspicious of Mr. Sessions, not Trump!

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *