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Sensi Magazine

NCIA Hosts 3rd Annual Business Summit

Jul 06, 2016 01:29AM ● By Randy Robinson

The NCIA Cannabis Business Summit & Expo, June 2016

How do you know when a new industry becomes legit?

When it gets an expo, of course.

For three years in a row, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) has hosted the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in California. This year's expo in Oakland drew a crowd of 3,000 people. 

That's no small news, either. The NCIA is the largest cannabis trade association in the U.S., and it acts as one of the largest pro-cannabis lobbies in the world. To date, over 800 member businesses grace its roster. When we hear about marijuana lobbyists educating members of Congress in Washington, D.C., these are the folks we're hearing about. Pushes for cannabis law reform at the federal level, from tolerant banking regulations to the CARERS Act, come from the NCIA. 

During opening remarks at this year's summit, NCIA's director, Aaron Smith, highlighted the mainstreaming of cannabis markets. "No longer does the idea of a stoner in the basement come to mind when our industry steps out of the shadows," he said. 

What comes to mind now? Professionals in business suits with million-dollar brand names backing them. The keynote address captured this sentiment. Kayvan Khalatbari, one of the founders of Denver Relief Consulting, was joined on stage by Ahmed Rahim, co-founder of Numi Organic Tea and John Roulac of Nutiva. The three entrepreneurs discussed organic and fair trade approaches to the cannabis industry, approaches based on the successes of Numi and Nutiva, two organic food companies. 

Other powerhouses in the cannabis industry flaunted their stuff at the expo. Surna, a company specializing in cannabis cultivation technologies, held a number of cutting-edge exhibits. Law firms clarified the fine print for curious business owners. Even Big Data got a big mention from Vicente Sederberg, LLC, the Marijuana Policy Group, and MJ Freeway.

Even the NCIA had new wares to unveil. In a partnership with Brainsy, Inc., the NCIA announced the Cannabis Expert Calling Network (CECN). The CECN connects people around the world to experts in the cannabis industry. For a fee, parties that want instant but highly specialized information can simply tap in to the CECN, find the expert they're looking for, and call that expert over the phone. 

Conferences like the Cannabis Business Summit & Expo bring like-minded individuals in one place to exchange ideas, information, and, most importantly, business cards. A movement can only thrive if it has a strong network. If you happened to miss this year's summit, everything's cool: you got a whole 12 months to plan for the next one.