It was a great honor to have played a part in the 2014 International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in Portland, Oregon, the top "Marijuana Event of the Year" by the great folks at The Weed Blog, and conference organizers worked hard to top the Portland ICBC in both San Francisco with the 2nd ICBC and last weekend in Eugene at the 3rd Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference (OMMBC). Personally, I think that the OMMBC gave all of the other conferences a run for their money, if not the best one yet. The 2014 Portland ICBC was before Oregon know whether the Measure 91 legalization law would pass and the 2015 San Francisco ICBC was a rally and brainstorming session for the Golden State's 2016 effort, while the 2015 Eugene OMMBC had the comfort of knowing that legalization had passed, but that the exact rules and regulations are still being developed.
I have a recap of the 2015 OMMBC over at Marijuana Politics:
On day one, Gary Johnson delivered a great keynote, giving us a national perspective about politics and business and how he perceives the industry proceeding in the near future. I had to follow the former two-term governor and past (and future) presidential candidate (no pressure) and I focused on the need for Oregon to follow the will of the voters and implement the text of Measure 91, Oregon's legalization initiative, passed by just over 56% of the vote. I stressed the need for unity among advocates and the industry, urging everyone, regardless of their position or industry to try and understand the needs of others, including those that voted against Measure 91, as we are most effective when we work together and that we have an obligation to other states across the country to responsibly implement a legalization system that can be a model for others and certainly doesn't hurt the prospects of the states voting on legalization in the near future.
Oregon State Senator Floyd Prozankski gave a very informative update on the Oregon Legislative session, detailing the debates and negotiations legislators and policy makers are engaged in. Portland-area business attorney Ted Roe provided legal advice from business formation to trademarks to branding to following Oregon marijuana law. The final panel on marijuana and the media featured long-time activist Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts and host of the Drug War Facts Podcast; 420Radio.org's Russ Belville (and Marijuana Politics contributor); and The Oregonian's marijuana beat writer Noelle Crombie who all discussed how marijuana is portrayed in the media today and how that has changed over years, along with what we can expect in the near future.
Day two of the OMMBC, featured a keynote address by Harborside Health Center's Steve DeAngelo, who, really better than anyone, can speak about the combination of business and advocacy. The next three panels included gritty information for Oregon marijuana entrepreneurs or those thinking about joining the industry, pairing expert businesspeople with local Oregon attorneys, allowing attendees to ask pertinent questions to leaders of the industry as well as practicing attorneys. For production, expert grower Jamin Giersbach of the Talent Health Club was paired with long-time NORML Legal Attorney Paul Loney. The extracts panel featured Karen Sprague of the CO2 Company along with Grants Pass Attorney Robert Graham. A panel on retail featured the Greener Side's Chelsea Hopkins, of Eugene, along with long-time criminal defense attorney Leland Berger, who has now transitioned much of his practice to compliance issues with Oregon Cannabis Compliance Counsel, LLC.
Todd Dalotto, long-time activist and former Chair of the Oregon Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana,and current president of CAN! Research, Education and Consulting and Jeremy Sackett of Cascadia Labs tackled the ins and outs of testing cannabis; what the current testing laws are in Oregon; and where testing lab regulations are likely to take us. And finally, the entrepreneur panel featured Amy Poinsett of MJ Freeway; Dan Arbit, president of Tru Media and publisher of Smell the Truth; and Cy Scott co-founder of Leafly.com.
The next OMMBC will be in Portland, September 13-14. Cannabis possession and cultivation will be legal and we should have a good idea as to what many of the rules and regulations for cannabis commerce will be, so it should be an entertaining and informative time. Once again, the OMMBC will combine political activism with gritty, business information for those in the industry or thinking of joining the industry. And as usual, there will be great networking and entertainment to go along with the important information. Mid-September should be a great time to be in Portland, Oregon, so I hope to see you there.