MJBizCon – Productive versus Madness
MJBizCon – Productive versus Madness – we need to begin by stating that we have a built-in bias against cannabis industry conferences and trade shows. Pardon us for being cynical, but the combination of NCIA’s predilection for “pay to play” for speakers, the myriad of attorneys and “consultants” have embraced tradeshow appearances over serving the needs of real clients, and what seems to be a focus on “partying” over actually getting business done has left a taste in our mouths that we lovingly refer to as “smells bad, tastes worse”.
The focus [perceived or real] on offsite “parties” and events where both cannabis product and alcohol flow freely may have some value for “winks and nods” but, can’t possibly be conducive to the conduct of substantive business development and negotiation. We have heard from multiple individuals in the industry that they didn’t bother purchasing a ticket for the conferences presentation sessions but opted for an “exhibits only” pass and indicated that they were going to set up meetings outside of the conference, or just look for individuals that they were seeking to engage with at the parties.
Our view is that everyone attending a week-long party in Las Vegas is neither the most productive use of everyone’s time, and it certainly doesn’t do much to project a professional or even business-like image for the commercial cannabis industry.
MJBizCon – Productive versus Madness
We have written extensively about our thoughts [see Gumballs] on steps that the legal cannabis industry needs to undertake urgently to shore up its image and seek support at the Federal level to get cannabis off of DEA Schedule 1. The four pillars that we believe the industry needs to focus on are:
The creation and development of regulated, legal markets that are perceived as fair, having a reasonable cost without the complexity that so onerous that compliance is impossible [Our view is that California is well on its way to achieving that goal, though there are some significant corrections, notably with respect to compassionate medical use, compliance, and lab testing, and banking to be addressed.]
The development of a significant pool of licensed professionals, particularly attorneys, certified public accountants, enrolled agents [yep, that group that I poke at all the time is critical here assuming that they have the requisite thirty hours or accounting], and scientists [my term for the chemists, healthcare, and others with graduate-level degrees and professional licenses that are critical to demonstrating the integrity of the industry to the regulators.
Competent Skilled Workforce
The workforce that performs substantially all of the labor and services [distinct from Licensed Professionals] that provides skilled, semi-skilled and manual labor for the cannabis industry [akin the enlisted ranks in the military] are critical. The workforce needs to be recognized as performing legal, legitimate services that feed families and contribute to communities, part of the legal immigration, taxation, and healthcare systems [free from the scourges of human trafficking and scourges of discrimination, sexual harassment and abuse]. Cannabis needs to lose its status as “a plant with an attitude” and be recognized for what has become, legal agricultural activity in California and other states. [The larger discussion includes, delisting from DEA Schedule I, acceptance by FinCEN and the banking system and a change in IRC Sec. 280E, possible replacement with an excise tax.].
Industry Self-Governance, Guidelines, and Process
The commercial cannabis industry needs to follow through on the creation of organizations, standards, and procedures to demonstrate its integrity. The process is going to have to include leadership from industry associations that take a long view with respect to lobbying activity, an objective process for the selection and sponsorship of content providers at trade shows and on websites. The abhorrent practices of “pay for play” for platform speakers, and tolerance of incompetence, outright criminal conduct, and the pontification of rubbish, blather, and gibberish as “expert knowledge” needs to cease. Pseudo-scientific claims and self-aggrandizement can NOT be tolerated if the industry is going to have credibility.
The coming months are going to be critical for the industry…we would certainly hope that everyone considers the need to step up and demonstrate the attributes that would support the respect and recognition that the industry is seeking.