Larger booths, more parties, and the inevitable influx of new California “MJ gold rush-minded” attendees brought more than 5200 to downtown Oakland for the NCIA’s mid-year show, its biggest yet.
Special appearance by Game 5 of the NBA Finals saw Bay Area locals jamming at the hotel bar, and even brought sightings of Cleveland superstar Lebron James, who stayed at the host hotel the night before the Golden State Warriors clinched their 5th NBA title. Lori Ajax, head of the Bureau of Marijuana Regulation, told attendees to expect clear, state-level rules to be available in time to select at least the initial RMJ growers and storefronts early in 2018.
Former Mexican President Vicente Fox told a packed Oakland opening audience June 13 that their commitment to a strong cannabis sector means jobs, medical options and justice for everyone. “Never forget about the bigger purposes to bring good things to the community,” said Fox who raised eyebrows in 2013 when he called for cannabis legalization, especially as another tool to stop the bloody cartel carnage in his nation.
“When you lead, the next generation will inherit a more compassionate, ethical world,” said Fox who blasted President Trump as being weak understanding trade and economic issues which shape relations with Canada and Mexico. Fox said he hoped a future legalization would create North American-wide cultivation and MJ direct trade between the three nations. “Cannabis has to be integrated into NAFTA,” Fox said, noting that national MMJ rules for Mexico should be final by fall. Fox now runs CocaCola/Latin America, and was president from 2000 to 2006.
“We have to coordinate [MJ regulation] with more than 12 California agencies” Ajax told West 420, “but we will get it done. We have to,” she said. Ajax will look to the legislatures “trailer bill” to clean up and address some other complex questions, like whether medical and recreational will remain totally separate or be allowed to have a combined consumer effort. Governor Jerry Brown and selected legislators hope to have a final “trailer bill” done by September 1st.
Amid all the uncertainty created by the Sessions regime, most NCIA attendees remained highly motivated and expectant of little direct federal attacks. “If you are in it for the long haul, these kinds of federal setbacks are part of the big picture,” noted one active retailer. And exhibitors felt that a stronger investment demand side had continued to make funding available for most of the first two quarters of 2017. New vaping technology was a popular show-goer interest, as was the growth in concentrates for consumers.
After two years of absence, the major edibles maker, GFarma Labs of Carson, CA returned with a large booth. An MJ news and digital service, GreenState, is launching from the San Francisco Chronicle, and dozens of new edible and combo CBD/THC medical products were on-display among the 200 booths. Growers continued to share best practices for designing hybrid strains for REC and MED markets, and the fact that no large farms can enter the market until 2022 gave many in the Northern California counties a sense that several profitable years can begin as soon as the new recreational cannabis rules are ready.
NCIA membership now has surpassed 1,350 companies, up from just under 1000 last fall. The full-day, National Cannabis Bar Association continuing education courses tackled a variety of issues like cannabis company formations, intellectual property, dealing with local government, plus zoning, environmental and sustainability concerns. With growth however, hundreds of delegate attendees were unable to fit into the cramped rooms housing several panels of interest.
The biggest NCIA exhibit floor to date found fewer lighting and grow firms, and a spurt in new software offerings, which included Treez/Headlight, MJ Freeway, and Cova. Several new cannabiz attorneys also joined in. NCIA plans to move its summer national show to San Jose (July 25-27, 2018) after its new California show in Anaheim (September 21-22, 2017) and its return to the Seeds2Sale show in Denver (February 7-8, 2018).