2014 Marijuana Business Convention Day One Recap

The 3rd Annual Marijuana Conference & Expo kicked off this year in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 12, 2014. The event is taking place at the Rio All-Suites Hotel and Casino. Nearly 3,000 people are expected to attend. That number has grown significantly from the 400 who attended the first show 24 months ago! The industry is booming and the meeting room was full today with a receptive audience ready to hear the “Marijuana Business Crash Course” from a bevy of fine presenters.

The show is sponsored by Marijuana Business Daily (www.mmjbusinessdaily.com/conference). Its co-founder and CEO, Cassandra Farrington, was the moderator. The event was jam packed, but the organizers ensured that things flowed smoothly.

Highlights included a very interesting presentation by Genifer Murray, the CEO of CanLabs, based in Denver, Colorado. Genifer did an outstanding job in explaining the importance of testing marijuana products. Testing not only ensures consistent dosages, but it protects consumers against harmful chemicals. It was interesting to learn that some states do not even have marijuana testing! (AZ, DE, MN, RI, VT) Other states test for some things (bacteria, mold, solvents, etc.) Clearly, marijuana testing is evolving. Better testing standards will make products safer, help with industry credibility and improve product formulations.

It was reported that the average cost of applying for a dispensary license is approximately $100,000! Less than one-third are actually approved. The application process is very cumbersome. Make sure you work with a reputable marijuana consulting firm if you undertake this process.

Dispensary licensing practices vary by state. Some have lotteries (AZ), other have qualified lotteries (WA and FL), competitive process (the most common) and minimum standard (CO and OR). Also, be prepared to wait, if you are lucky enough to get a license. It is estimated that retail sales will not go live in Alaska for more than another year!

The idea that stoners are all aged hippies is a stereotype. There are as many types of marijuana consumers as there are types of people. The average consumer is a 40 year old male. The fastest growing consumer type is retirees who no longer have to submit to drug testing at work. Women are also a huge growth area. Finally, there are many users who are battling illnesses. Marijuana businesses need to understand who their customers are. It is also important to brand your business as the industry gets more competitive.

Today’s speakers also included marijuana real estate experts, investment consultants, security companies and legal advisors. It was a varied mix of information and perfect for the many aspiring marijuana business people in attendance. It was a GREAT first day.