The national movement to legalize cannabis isn’t slowing down in the new Trump era. NCIA, the National Cannabis Industry Association, went full-throttle with its first-ever Seed to Sale Show in Denver this past week.
The NCIA is the largest cannabis trade association representing legal cannabis businesses in the U.S., and they pride themselves on the work they do at the federal level to promote fair treatment of responsible cannabis businesses.
January 31st through February 1st over 2,000 of the nation’s leading cultivators, dispensary operators, extraction artists, ancillary product providers and infused product manufacturers convened in the Denver Convention Center.
The NCIA Seed to Sale Show brought together top industry influencers for two days of networking and education.
Their purpose was to discuss the best practices, present case studies, and share information about the science and emerging technology surrounding the whole life cycle of the cannabis plant grown, processed, and sold in a regulated market.
The first speaker to take the stage was Aaron Smith, co-founder and Executive Director of NCIA.
He recently authored an article on the state of cannabis for one of the most influential political news outlets, The Hill. In his article, he explains why legalizing cannabis is good Republican policy, and urges Congress – and Trump – to continue the policy of federal non-interference.
In his policy update for The Hill, Smith wrote about the White House’s current policy of respect for state sovereignty that’s afforded the industry so much room for success. Unfortunately, for those working directly with the federally illegal plant, that norm could be challenged under President Trump and Attorney General Nominee Jeff Sessions.
“…Sessions has frequently expressed his personal opposition to many of the cannabis reform policies that American voters have chosen,” Smith wrote. “…However, Sen. Sessions has also long advocated for federalism and states’ rights and criticized federal over-reach in law enforcement.”
There are now 28 states with some form of regulated marijuana programs, including four of the five most populated states in America – and the number doesn’t seem to be slowing down as states like Colorado boast an increase of 18-thousand jobs in the cannabis industry.
According to a recent Gallup poll, American support for legalizing cannabis is at 60 percent – the highest approval rating for the plant in nearly a half-century. The percentage rises to 81 percent of Americans when it comes to approval for medical marijuana.
NCIA’s relationship with its paying members from the industry has now culminated in this Seed to Sale Show, which highlights the future of cannabis cultivation, as well as guidance and advice for businesses as they face the new Trump administration. Their strong, united voice has been heard in the hallways of Congress as they have, in past years, lobbied Congress on issues that hit close to home like unequal access to banking and unfair tax burdens.
The show must go on
Despite the inherent challenges, the NCIA created the only show focused on innovation, best practices, science, and technology in cultivation, processing, and sales.
Speakers included Mowgli Holmes, PhD from Phylos BioScience to talk about cannabis genomics and chemistry; and Nancy Whiteman, co-founder and co-owner of Wana Brands, to name a few.
One interesting name to watch out for is Dr. Holmes; he’s a molecular and evolutionary biologist. The co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Phylos BioScience, Dr. Holmes followed Smith’s opening keynote address to talk about the science of how genomics and chemistry can bring trust to the cannabis supply chain.
Dr. Holmes flagged some high-tech solutions which are emerging from the industry, and how – in the next year or two – a combination of genomics, chemical analysis, and digital marketplace tools are going to turn cannabis into an industry that has more trust and transparency than any other.
Key takeaways from his opening keynote:
- The chemical and genetic basis for cannabis diversity – and for consumer confusion.
- The ways that this confusion erodes both consumer and retailer trust in their purchasing decisions, and makes rational licensing deals nearly impossible.
- How chemical and genetic testing can uniquely identify products and provide consumer trust.
- How these same identification and quantification tools can bring licensing and IP rationality to the supply chain.
The first of the two-day Seed to Sale Show offered attendees different tracks of educational seminars and roundtables chock-full of experts.
The industry conferences did well in directing different businessmen and businesswomen to the track of educational seminars that really fit their needs. Cultivation, infused products and extractions, and sales strategies were the focal points for many of the NCIA members and other attendees.
In addition, there were three roundtables to choose from: Human resources committee, advertising and marketing committee, and the cultivation committee.
Day two brought more of the industry’s leading experts to the stage to get into the nitty gritty of sticky cannabis issues, like what going organic with your grow entails, cannabis tax law, and protecting your business from product liability lawsuits or product recalls.
Many of the conference speakers covered the impact of the recent election on the cannabis industry, and best practices for companies in such an evolving market. The overarching theme was not to shy away from the fight for legalization.
The breakout sessions, speakers, and roundtables were also accompanied by a huge expo showroom covered with more than one hundred cannabis and ancillary companies.
A bigger purpose
To many NCIA insiders, the titles of the roundtables may sound familiar. That’s because the Human resources committee (HRC), advertising and marketing committee (AMC), and the cannabis cultivation committee (CCC) roundtables are three of the four newly formed NCIA committees.
The committees are the result of the NCIA seeing a need for its leading members to lay out best practices and affect change, where needed.
Volunteer-driven, their efforts also provide professional development opportunities.
The fourth committee is the Infused Products Committee (IPC). The subject matter wasn’t a roundtable, but instead had its own track of speakers on stage throughout both days. Experts in the infused products field included: Julie Dooley of Julie’s Natural Edibles, Peggy Moore of Love’s Oven, and Jamie Lewis of Mountain Medicine, among others.
The event was created in response to the public enthusiasm around emerging technology and advancements in the cannabis industry, but it also brought with it the concerns surrounding the future of cannabis under the Trump administration.
“Federal action against voter-approved cannabis programs would almost certainly provoke substantial backlash,” Smith wrote in his article for The Hill. He went on to say that “…Continuing a policy of federal non-interference with state cannabis programs would be consistent with Republican Party and Trump administration support for small businesses, job creation, and economic growth.”