One of the largest cannabis business development groups to assist new companies is the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). Each year, the group presents three conferences aimed at educating business leaders about the latest developments in the cannabis industry.
The Cannabis Business Summit and Expo took place July 25-27, 2018, in downtown San Jose at the McHenry Convention Center. The estimated attendance was close to 7,500, all gathering to learn, network, and be part of the cannabis trade.
I was excited to go on a road trip from Southern California to San Jose to be part of the Summit’s fifth year. With my trusted music selection to accompany me, off I went on the search for my quest to immerse myself in marijuana knowledge.
I arrived on the first day of exhibits and speakers to 120,000 square feet of educational opportunities. Comfortable shoes were a must in order to accomplish the daunting task of covering as much of the sprawling exhibit space as possible. NCIA has focused on accelerating the significance and legitimacy of the cannabis industry with responsibility. The summit had close to 400 vendor booths, many first-time participants. The vast hall at McHenry Convention Center was filled with enthusiastic guests, speakers, networking lounges, as well as of some of the latest tools and technology.
There was much excitement over former Deputy U.S. Attorney General James Cole’s keynote presentation. Cole was responsible for the memorandum that encouraged federal prosecutors to not pursue federal drug charges in states that have legalized cannabis for medicinal or recreational adult use. The hall was packed, and I could feel the anticipation of the crowd. His insight on the cannabis industry was enlightening, and he explained his observance of the states’ legalization shift over the past few years. Cole believed that the United States will eventually be coming to terms with removing cannabis as a Schedule I drug, an announcement that sent the crowd roaring with approval. Cole added that many members of Congress are in favor of medical legalization.
The rest of NICA San Jose was impressive and had a vibrant energy emitting from vendors and attendees alike. First time attendees, Brian and Sarah, who did not provide their last names, traveled from Arizona. Their excitement at seeing the massive array of vendors was on full display.
“Wow, I never imagined a show like this a few years ago,” Sarah said. “But now this is a true, growing industry”. Sarah and Brian were interested in opening a cultivation site and were attending in cannabis cultivation technology panels.
“It’s amazing the major advances in growing,” Brian said. “Coming here and seeing it all is getting us excited about getting our hands in the dirt and begin growing.”
“We are so pleased that where we live in Arizona is now medical access and we hope it will soon be adult use,” Sarah said smilingly.
The exhibition floor was divided into industry focus points: dispensary and retail, extraction and infusion products, and cultivation. There were relaxing lounges in each area of focus. I visited each lounge and tried to envision being an oil processor, edibles company, or dispensary owner to fully appreciate the concept of each space.
“NCIA has a great caliber of guest who have come for information and want to be a part of the cannabis industry and most important are ready to do business,” said a Boveda sales associate named Dave. Boveda produces moisture packets used to keep cannabis flower fresh while packaged. Boveda shared packets with attendees and I was bestowed with an extra-large Boveda packet. You never know when a robust supply of flower may need to be kept fresh.
The various tracks of speakers and panels were impressive of the topics presented. All speakers and panelists must be members of NICA to present, and all were incredibly impressive. Some of the speakers that I saw included Brett Roper, CEO and co-founder of consultancy Medicine Man Technologies; Dr. Bao Le, CEO and co-founder of BAS Research, which created the line of medical support products for television personality Montel Williams and other multiple sclerosis (MS) patients; and Jeanine Moss, CEO and founder of AnnaBis Style, a line of women’s purses with compartments that store cannabis flower without emitting an odor. Her support of female cannabis entrepreneurs has been inspirational and her audience was exuberant during her presentation.
“Women are changing the face of today’s fastest growing industry: cannabis,” said Windy Borman, director of “Mary Janes: The Women of Weed,” a 2017 documentary. “We have the opportunity to make a difference.”
Borman’s screening had a full, enthusiastic house and question-and-answer session with the filmmaker.
NCIA had an abundance of cocktail parties, after-parties and by-invitation-only receptions to attend. It was difficult to decide which after-hour soirée to choose. Was it party time for a hard-working individual at NICA? All were salutary for networking, and meeting the next person that you may be creating a business transaction with. I gave it a good try but I was all talked out, and knew the next day would just as demanding. So, I headed back to the sanctuary of a hotel bed, slept, rinsed and repeated the process all over again the next day.
It is important to know that NCIA is a membership-driven organization with various levels of enrollment and dues.
I was very welcomed and felt that the caliber of the participants was extremely high. I will participate in the future as much as possible.