Normally, when people talk about cannabis legalization or medical marijuana they think it’s only a West Coast thing, but 25 states, the District of Columbia, Guam and Puerto Rico have legal cannabis available in some form, and upcoming elections will have voters deciding on cannabis in Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, California, and Arizona.
It’s no longer a fringe movement. It’s becoming mainstream.
Having the majority of states debating legalization in 2016 concentrated in the northeast U.S., places states like Maine, Massachusetts, and the District of Columbia are now in the spotlight. History is being made, and according to the analysis by ArcView and New Frontier, the leading firms in cannabis data and cannabis market, the northeast will establish the beachhead for adult-use on the East Coast of the country.
The best place to learn about the East Coast state of cannabis is at the Business Understanding Development Summit, also known as the BUD Summit, in the nation’s Capitol on August 20.
Business leaders, activists, and people involved in the East Coast’s medical marijuana programs will be there to network, get investments, and learn about the plant. Keep in mind, November is around the corner and voters will have their voices heard on their choice for president and, in select states, cannabis ballot initiatives. So, it’s important to hear from and speak to the leading cannabis business leaders and politicians prior to election day.
Brandon L. Wyatt is a U.S. veteran and a business and civil rights attorney in Washington, D.C. He is passionate about ending the war on drugs and bringing justice to the communities hurt by it the most. As co-founder of the BUD Summit, Wyatt emphasizes the importance of coming together, at the epicenter of politics, to talk about cannabis before November. “This is the final opportunity before the election, to interact with the industry leaders that will be influencing the presidential campaigns when it comes to drug policy reform and cannabis.” Wyatt is also the national policy coordinator for the Weed for Warriors project.
The cannabis summit features high-profile speakers such as Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization for Marijuana Reform (NORML) and the cannabis oil trailblazer, Rick Simpson. Simpson reinvented the use of cannabis oil against cancer cells, effectively treating himself and curing his own case of skin cancer. Rick Simpson Oil, or RSO, is now a widely known holistic method that thousands of patients seek out. Together, these men could be called the ‘Fathers of the cannabis movement’. Their decades of work for cannabis reforms have shaped America’s map of legalized states that we see today and they will be speaking about the battles they’ve won, and the road ahead as more states fall in-line with the adoption of marijuana reforms.
Thanks to pro-cannabis advocacy groups such as the Marijuana Policy Project, NORML, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy, it’s just a matter of time until more states are able to vote on their right to the plant.
The Marijuana Policy Project helps states legalize with their three organizations with different focuses; policy, education, and a PAC that donates to Congressional members. Together, the three branches of the organization have been responsible for changing most of the state marijuana laws that have been reformed since 2000, including the legalization of marijuana in Colorado in November 2012 and in Alaska in 2014. They will be available at the summit to talk about all the new ballot initiative campaigns they are supporting to tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. In 2016, they are supporting Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada in their cannabis reform efforts. They are also lobbying and building coalitions to regulate cannabis in states without the option of voter initiatives such as Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Texas, and Vermont.
A “Hot Box” of Investors
By the year 2020, the lucrative industry is poised to surpass $22 billion, according to an ArcView and New Frontier analysis. They also found that adult use sales would comprise about 53% of the total legal market. At the BUD Summit, having the leaders of one of the fastest growing industries in America in one space means there will be serious money for investments.
In order to better connect the ‘ganjapreneurs’ to the big money investments, the BUD Summit has created a unique feature that separates it from the usual cannabis conference or expo. It’s called “The Hot Box” and it’s an enclosed session within the summit where entrepreneurs can pitch their pre-existing cannabis businesses or new cannabis business ideas to a panel of investors. This panel consists of premier accredited investors and business accelerators with over 10 million dollars combined in cannabis venture investments.
Medical Marijuana Spreads to the East Coast
It’s not just about adult-use, recreational cannabis. The BUD Summit is an effort to facilitate business innovation and education for the cannabis industry. Specifically, emerging opportunities in science, medicine, and technology will be a huge point of discussion as neighboring states like Maryland and Pennsylvania begin their medical marijuana programs.
It’s notable that Maryland is the first state in the South to pass medical marijuana. It’s below the Mason-Dixon line and many people see it as the beginning of the South coming into the hemp and cannabis revolution.
Another issue that’s close to home for D.C. and Wyatt is veterans’ access to cannabis medicine. Wyatt, along with Weed for Warriors and other East Coast coalitions are working to get vets the treatment they need for PTSD, chronic pain, and other ailments. Cannabis reform could mean more than just treating physical pain. “We can cut the skyrocketing homeless and unemployment rates among veterans by giving them jobs at their local dispensary,” Wyatt proposes.
The BUD Summit theme of health before profit resonates with people who are sick and tired of the Big Tobacco and Big Pharma monopolies.
“We want cannabis businesses to be at the forefront of healing the drug war and not just making a profit,” said Wyatt.
If you would like to attend the BUD Summit on August 20, tickets are available. For more information on speakers, like myself, who will be speaking about digital journalism and the future of cannabis you can visit the BUD Summit website. Or, if you are a budding entrepreneur with a great cannabis business to pitch at “The Hot Box” session, please contact SPenny@buddingsolutions.net.