San Francisco Marijuana Conference Looks to Future of Cannabis Industry

As 2008 seemed to point a finger at disaster capitalism and the fall of the global economy, a new and emerging market was making room for a new way forward: Cannabis Capitalism.

By Sam Sabzehzar  |  June 22, 2011

Shawn Coleman, who worked with Congressman Polis (D-CO) prior to stepping into his role as Business Development Manager at CSSB Private Bank. Mr. Coleman is speaking with MPP's Rob Kampia, while NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith discusses his trade association with Denver lawyer Warren Edson. (Photo credit:

It was a gathering of great minds, advocates, and knowledge, and for the price of a ticket to New York, where the first Marijuana Conference was held, those on the west coast were able to hear the advice and pick the brains of some of the world’s foremost authorities on the newest emerging market since the internet businesses of the late nineties.

With a two-day conference in San Francisco, The Marijuana Conference, created by DealFlow Media, venture capitalists and investors were able to meet and greet the very smartest guys (and girls) in the room.

This new industry in many ways is like the dot com era in, say, 1996, when money was still coming to the table to decide where the want to place their bets. Aside from this plant being federally scheduled as an illicit substance, many people don’t see the cannabis plant remaining in the classification that it is currently defined in and are hedging their bets on a myriad of cannabis capitalism.

Some people are worried that the pharmaceutical companies will take hold of medical marijuana, while others fear that the Big Tobacco will take over adult marijuana sales for recreation purposes.

The Marijuana Conference in San Francisco this month contends that there is room in the marketplace for everyone.

While many patients today are used to quality control and standards that can be laboratory tested and certified, there are also many adults that will not care of the quality, whether or not it is organic, or even if it is the best available. That person would be quite content with an industrial pack, or even a carton, one day purchased duty free at an even cheaper price.

Al Cole (right) listens to Bhang Chocolate Company's Director, Scott Van Rixel, discuss how labeling, like their products, has taken a giant leap forward. Ralph Morgan (center), talks about the Colorado market for infused products. (Photo credit:

Products like Alta California’s CBD-rich tinctures, made by CBD Science, could find themselves on the shelves of Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s in their herbal remedy sections, and farmer’s markets could sell various infused products both for recreation and medicinal use.

Al Coles, founder of CBD Science, says his company is “at the forefront of medical cannabis research and development.”

He adds, “We work with patients, doctors and laboratories to produce Cannabis Based Medicinal Extracts (CBME’s) that are safe, reliable, and effective.”

They work with groups like Project CBD and encourage their patients to use the projects website to take a survey so CBD research can move forward.

Other panels discussed intellectual property rights, tax and audits, banking, and even branding, where Kush Magazine’s Cheryl Shuman delivered the keynote presentation aptly titled “Media and the Modern Cannabis Consumer.”

For Shuman, who has spent the last twenty five years working with the media, illuminating the audience on her efforts to help FX Channel’s new show “Wilfred” and marks the first time network television has consulted with a marijuana expert.

Steph Sherer, from Americans for Safe Access, immediately followed Ms. Shuman and encouraged the audience to use this galvanizing momentum to pressure our elected officials, reminding everyone that patients are still in the crosshairs of a drug war still being waged by saying “we’re all still committing acts of civil disobedience.”

Ms. Sherer reiterates comments made earlier by Drug Policy Alliance’s Stephen Gutwillig and Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform’s Dale Sky Jones; that it’s also the business community that can talk to their peers about creating sound marijuana policy and medical marijuana policy.

With all the players on the sidelines ready to get some skin in the game, it’s quite evident that where the money goes, so goes the law.

As one edible manufacturer from Colorado put it: “the days of making some brownies and selling them to your local club is long gone,” but while the club remains and the brownies are in demand, only those willing to keep up with the pace can stay in the race, and in places like Denver, it’s moving a mile-high a minute.



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