As we put this issue to bed, we are just returning from Oakland, Calif., where we held our first conference—the Cannabis 2017: Cultivation Conference—which many of you attended. People in different roles at cultivation businesses of all shapes and sizes came together as a unified group. Investors behind the businesses were there. Cultivators with decades of experience were there. Growing teams were there. Business managers were there. Compliance officers were there. And it was awesome to see.
In my very first editor’s note for Cannabis Business Times, I wrote: “In this industry, passions run sky high, making for an even greater challenge in appeasing everyone’s interests. … There are those with significant industry roots, as well as many who are entering the market for its vast business opportunities. And between many in those groups, there is tension.”
I was pleading for unity, knowing that if the industry was pulled in different directions, it could very well pull apart. We continue to battle so many outside forces that we do not need to fight amongst ourselves or resent one another. We are all in this together, whether everyone likes it or not.
One of the most common things I heard from attendees at Cannabis 2017 was how amazing this environment of sharing was, where people from these diverse backgrounds stood up and told their stories, shared their insights, so that others in the industry could gain knowledge to help them succeed in their own businesses. Nowhere was there an air of suspicion or resentment. Cultivators who own their own businesses learned from the “businesspeople” at other cultivation operations. Businesspeople learned from cultivators. You get the point.
This sharing of information is important for any industry, but more so for the cannabis industry. As Sara Batterby, president and CEO of HiFi Farms, said (in our feature “Problem Solvers”): “… What’s not typical is to have every single company in an entire industry be a start-up. That hasn’t happened probably since prohibition.” Her comment has been stuck in my mind since I read it. And beyond that, well, it’s an industry built around a federally illegal product.
I’m thrilled to see that perhaps things are changing quickly, that we’re all realizing we are in this together. Not only does sharing information help more businesses and the industry at large succeed, but it will help in forming a united front for self-regulation. Jeremy Unruh of PharmaCann, a medical marijuana cultivation and dispensary operation with facilities in Illinois and New York, commented in this issue’s Guest Interview, “People care about our industry, but people don’t always care in the same way we care. It’s important that we figure out ways collectively of advancing our agenda.”
My experience at our Cannabis 2017: Cultivation Conference reinforced what I wrote in that very first issue of Cannabis Business Times: “I am acutely aware of the industry’s challenges and risks, but I’m optimistic that together, we can maintain our status as the fastest-growing industry in the country for years and years to come.”