The atmosphere at CannaCon Midwest was electric this past weekend. The Cobo Center was bustling with Michiganders poised to get in on the state’s sexiest new industry: cannabis. Michigan has had medical cannabis since 2008, but in just a few months the state will begin issuing licenses for recreational cannabis, which is expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in the state. On Friday morning, the line to get a badge for the exhibition hall was about the length of a football field.
The Crowd at CannaCon Midwest
Other news that had conference-goers excited (especially the lawyers) was the news out of Washington D.C. On Thursday, the day before the conference began, the House of Representatives approved a measure to block the Department of Justice from interfering in states that legalize recreational cannabis. This was particularly welcome news for everyone at the conference hoping to participate in Michigan’s upcoming recreational market.
Although a good number of people at the conference were licensed operators, or at least prospective licensed operators, most were not actually vying for a license at all. Most of the people we talked to were from ancillary service providers. We spoke with lawyers, accountants, insurance brokers, bank representatives, and representatives from companies selling everything from security systems to point-of-sale software to packaging and labeling supplies.
Compliance is Crucial
Attendees who stopped by our booth had drastically different roles and interests in the cannabis industry, but they all seemed to understand the importance (or inevitability) of compliance solutions. They wanted to know how Simplifya’s software could help their business. They wanted to know if it would give them an edge against the competition.
But, to be completely honest, not everybody who stopped by the booth did so to learn about compliance. Some just loved our swag. Our “Compliance and Chill” fans and our “Sexy. Smart. Compliant.” hats were a huge hit. We hope to see people fanning themselves with compliance fans while rocking compliance hats at conferences in the future.
Governments and Stakeholders Can Work Together
On Saturday afternoon, toward the end of the conference, the team took a break from the exhibition hall to catch a seminar from Andrew Brisbo, the executive director of Michigan’s newly formed Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA). He spoke to a packed room about the agency’s efforts to work with, and not against, industry stakeholders. He touted the fact that the MRA has approved applications at a much more rapid clip than its predecessor and also talked about the state’s efforts to encourage financial institutions to work with cannabis businesses.
Within the next week or so, the state will roll-out a platform to enable the MRA, financial institutions, and cannabis businesses to communicate and share information. Mr. Brisbo’s overall message was that the MRA wants to see the industry succeed and will work closely with stakeholders to make it happen. The seminar illustrated the possibility for stakeholders and governments to work together to build the industry.
The CannaCon Midwest conference provided a great opportunity for novices, experts, and everyone in between to gather and learn from each other. We look forward to working with our new connections in Michigan to help them grow their cannabis businesses!