Attendees at the International Cannabis Association’s convention Sunday sought to apply their business experiences to an emerging market.
Among those present at the two-day convention at the Hard Rock Hotel were a security expert, a New York ammunitions manufacturer, a self-described reverend of cannabis, a real estate investor and others — all eager to learn more about the emerging industry.
The keynote speaker was New York state Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat and a sponsor of a medical marijuana bill that passed in New York on Friday. New York would become the 23rd state to legalize medical marijuana if Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs the bill.
Once New York goes, so will the rest of the country, Savino said.
Amanda Kenefick, vice president of an ammunition manufacturer, said she was attending to meet people in the industry and learn about the topic. Kenefick, who asked that her company not be named, said the passage of the medical marijuana bill in New York has gotten her interested in the business opportunities, even though implementation is expected to take at least 18 months.
David Osegueda, investor and founder of Green Magic and Green Cures said his products, which include supplements and beverages made with hemp, are successful because they can be legally distributed nationwide.
This is in contrast to generally higher THC products that are smoked or eaten like edibles and that have a different legal status, depending on the state.
Most of the 1,000 attendees seemed to share a perspective that cannabis should be legalized, referencing studies indicating the medicinal benefits and arguing that the ban was rooted in politics.
Dan Humiston, founding member of the association, said those trying to break into this industry may find ways to apply seemingly unrelated experience to the developing cannabis business.
“You don’t see it right away and it might be too late by the time you do because everybody else jumped in,” Humiston said.
Humiston, who has worked in the indoor tanning industry for 29 years, said he started the association as a way for people such as himself to break into an industry he described as “rogue.”
One person who has used his strengths to carve into this burgeoning industry is Michael Julian, managing director of MPS International, a security company created specifically for medical marijuana collectives and dispensaries.
After sitting on a medical marijuana board, Julian said he saw an opportunity to get involved with security.
Julian has previously worked with executive protection, hostile terminations, union strike security and celebrities.
But the cannabis industry presents unique issues.
“What we’re now looking at is a business that has huge amounts of cash on hand all day,” said Julian. “That is a target for the criminal element, so they need physical security.”
Julian is referring to the predicament that dispensaries across the nation are facing when it comes to banking. States such as Washington and Colorado have legalized medical marijuana and recreational marijuana, but the business is still illegal on the federal level.
For this reason, banks have been unwilling to loan to entrepreneurs to start a marijuana business or to accept money derived from a medical marijuana business, Julian said.
Julian offers dispensaries armed transportation of money and secure storage, among other services.
The convention concluded Monday.
Contact reporter Alexander Corey at email@example.com or 702-383-0270. Follow him on twitter: @acoreynews