If you want to be involved in the cannabis industry today, two items on your checklist have to be education and networking. That’s why a conference such as the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo, which begins on June 20 in Oakland, is so valuable. Now in its third year, this conference has been coined America’s most important cannabis event this year, because you will have the opportunity to meet national policy makers and those with major influence in the marijuana industry.
Keynote speakers include Gavin Newsom, the Lieutenant Governor of California; Ahmed Rahim, Co-Founder, CEO and Chief Alchemist of Numi Organic Tea; and Steve DeAngelo, Founder of Harborside Health Center. Topics from patents to emerging industry and policy issues are on the agenda and are taught by industry leaders. There will be more than 75 speakers—including Oaksterdam’s own Dr. Aseem Sappal—sharing knowledge in 30+ sessions. Plus, the conference attracts 3,000 people just like you wanting to learn and network from each other.
Oaksterdam University is involved in a number of conferences offered around the country each year and as we gear up for the NCIA’s big event next week, it seems fitting to touch on getting the most out of your three days spent at the conference. Here are eight suggestions to consider:
- Be Strategic. Before you arrive in Oakland on June 20, decide what you want from the conference. Identify a list of the people, vendors and sessions you absolutely want to speak to or see. Be mindful of what you want…are you looking for a partner, recruiting employees, prospecting for new customers, wanting to learn more about policy, etc.
- Consider Sessions Unrelated to You That Impact the Industry. Select sessions that hold value for you because you don’t know much about the topic. For instance, pesticides and cannabis may not be a top priority for your business, but it is a very hot issue that will eventually impact the entire industry.
- Plan to Take a Tour. There are some incredible tours being offered on June 20 and include Harborside Health Center, CW Analytical Laboratories, Berkeley Patients Group, Steep Hill Labs, and Dark Heart Nursery. No matter what your profession in the cannabis industry, one of these tours will provide insight into best practices for dispensaries, testing companies, and cultivator facilities.
- Visit the Exhibition Hall. Some people get squeamish about visiting the vendors who display at conferences. The NCIA conference is known for “sharing information over selling products/services,” so don’t be shy about seeing what vendors have to share. Who knows? Perhaps you’ll meet your next business partner there.
- Don’t Forget That Cannabis is Still Illegal Federally. With the recent legalization of medical cannabis in Ohio, there are now 25 U.S. states where patients can legally access and use cannabis as medicine. However, cannabis is still a Schedule I Substance under federal law and this conference offers a number of tracks regarding legal issues from federal legalization to changing regulations. Attending these sessions hold value and will be worth your time.
- Listen, Listen, Listen. Soak up as much as possible at the conference. Ask thoughtful questions and listen carefully to responses. What do you want to learn from others? Why is a session important to other attendees?
- Network at Receptions. The NCIA conference will have two important receptions: a welcoming reception on June 20 beginning at 5:30 pm and a cocktail reception on June 21 beginning at 5:00 pm. Chances are good that you’ll see speakers and attendees at these events.
- Connect When You Return. This is important on two levels. Remember to connect with the people you met during the conference. Email them or connect with them on LinkedIn (yes! LinkedIn is a great place for cannabis professionals to connect). Also, because not everyone on your team may be able to attend the conference, remember to share information you learned with your colleagues and employees specific to your business.
If you haven’t registered for the NCIA Cannabis Business Summit & Expo yet, there’s still time! Learn more about the conference, accommodations, and fee here. Use the discount code OAK15 at checkout to save 15%!