As the United States of cannabis continues to take shape with 25 states and the District of Colombia legalizing marijuana in some form, the cannabis industry is shaping up to be one of the fastest growing industries in America and on August 20, industry and medical marijuana leaders will converge on Capitol Hill at the Business Understanding and Development Summit to make the important decisions and relationships before the elections.
"This is the finalopportunity before the election, to interact with the industry leaders that will be influencing the presidential campaigns when it comes to drug policy reform and cannabis," saidBrandon L. Wyatt is a co-founder of the Business Understanding and Development Summit, also known as the BUD Summit. A U.S. veteran, Wyatt currently practices law as a business and civil rights attorney in Washington, D.C.
Wyatt is alsothe national policy coordinator for the Weed for Warriors project, he fights to correct the injustices stemming from the failed war on drugs on all fronts. "I see people in court everyday going to jail," he said as an example, "I have an 81-year-old client right now suffering from Agent Orange he was exposed to while fighting for America in the Vietnam war. The Veterans Affairs system won't treat him with the cannabis medicine he needs, so he went across state lines from Maryland to D.C. to pick up medicine. The problem is, he's facing criminal charges of up to 10 years. For an 80-year-old, that's life in prison...Our generation is too smart for this, we have access to the information - inaction is negligence too."
The BUD Summit also hosts the leader of the marijuana movement, Keith Stroup, who is also the founder of the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws (NORML). Another great advocate of medical marijuana, Rick Simpson, is on the list of speakers. Simpson is the trailblazer who defied traditional Western medicine by extracting his own cannabis oil and curing his own cancer. As leaders of the marijuana movement, they will speak to the difficulties they encountered in decades' past - and looking forward, what legal businesses and entrepreneurs need to keep in mind while they navigate the new, legitimate industry.
Clinical testing and social responsibility are folded into every aspect of the Summit, says Wyatt. "It's of utmost importance to us that clinical testing and social responsibility remain at the forefront of every new business venture."
And with projections of $22 billion in legal sales by the year 2020, there's a lot of business to do. That's why the BUD Summit is creating their own incubator for business development with a separate breakout session. Dubbed "The Hot Box", entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their pre-existing cannabis businesses or new cannabis business ideas to a select panel. This panel consists of premier accredited investors and business accelerators with over 10 million dollars combined in cannabis venture investments.
Other speakers include: Amy Rising, the Air Force veteran is working with Congress to develop viable healthcare alternatives for VA patients; Jesce Horton, Chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA); and myself, Chloe Sommers, cannabis journalist. I'll be talking about digital journalism and the future of cannabis.