DC Cannabis Expo Set for Feb. 28 – March 1, 2015


On Saturday, February 28, 2015, ArcView Market Research and Viridian Capital Research will co-host a session on “Funding Your Cannabusiness” at the Comfytree Cannabis Expo and Job Fair in Washington, D.C.

Two things stand out: the expo is scheduled to begin two days after Congress’s anticipated failure to block Initiative 71, and its focus is largely on commercial operations. Retail recreational sales will not be legal in D.C., and medical dispensary sales are limited by the requirement of a physician’s recommendation.

Is the Comfytree Cannabis Convention disguised defiance, wishful thinking or might the sessions help lay the groundwork for near-term growth of the cannabis industry in Washington, D.C.?


Comfytree Cannabis Convention

Comfytree describes itself as an organization that combines education and entrepreneurship. It runs a traveling seminar designed to educate prospective marijuana industry entrants on basic topics such as the process of acquiring a dispensary license, cultivation center operation, marketing, advertising and finance. Recent stops have included Cincinnati, Chicago, Indianapolis, Louisville, Columbus, Atlanta, Dallas and Austin. As in D.C., many of these seminars feature speakers from the local activist community.

In addition to the session on “Funding Your Cannabusiness,” the D.C. agenda includes sessions titled, “Marijuana 101: The Steps to Getting Into the Green Rush,”  “Cannabis and Congress,” “Run Your Cannabusiness Like a Fortune 500 Company,” “The Vote for Cannabis: A Conversation with DC Councilmember David Grosso” and “External Markets.” The second day of the seminar focuses particularly on cultivation issues. The cannabis job fair and expo continues through both days.

The exhibitors will include many of the well-known names in the legal marijuana industry:  ProVerde Laboratories, ArcView Group, Metropolitan Wellness Center, Leafly and Canna Energy.


Timing is Everything

The peach and pistachio color palette of the website and cozy language of the prepared materials suggest a cheerful pediatrician’s office, borderline cloying, but everything is good in its own way. Nonetheless, there is a certain in-your-face element to the timing.

In all likelihood, Congress will have failed to block Initiative 71 by February 26, two days before the seminar begins. The initiative authorizes limited cultivation and social sharing of marijuana, but not sales. Section 809 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2015, subsequently adopted by Congress, appears to halt further development of the regulatory system that would permit sales of recreational marijuana. It has been difficult for many to see the way forward for commercial investment and development.


Could Medical and Recreational Be Combined?

D.C.’s medical marijuana dispensaries are protected from Department of Justice enforcement action by other provisions of the cromnibus. Adam Eidinger, Chair of the D.C. Cannabis Campaign, has suggested an administrative solution to the D.C. dilemma that would allow medical dispensaries to make recreational sales in a completely open way. According to Eidinger, Mayor Muriel Bowser might simply ask the Department of Health to draft new rules that would drop the requirement of a physician recommendation for those over 21. It is an intriguing suggestion; it would essentially combine the two parts of the industry. Mayor Browser has not commented, and the idea could also be overtaken by the events of the next few days.


The Weird Relatedness of All Things D.C.

Congress has a lot of work to do in the next few days. Most notably, funding for the Department of Homeland Security is set to run out on Friday, February 27, a situation linked to congressional objections to the president’s proposed executive actions on immigration. This is hardly a happy prospect in the wake of increased ISIS threats against domestic targets, like shopping malls.

Some commentators have suggested that a likely solution would be a short-term continuing resolution, presumably to be followed by another and another in coming months. D.C. legalization activists have seen this movie before when Section 809 was slipped into the cromnibus at the eleventh hour. That time the funding crisis was created by congressional objections to the Affordable Care Act.

It seems farfetched to suggest that immigration policy, healthcare, the threat of terrorism and D.C. marijuana have anything at all to do with one another. Nevertheless, this is Washington, D.C., and a touch of paranoia is to be expected. The complicated jockeying at the end of February includes a warm and “comfy” cannabis convention sharing the nuts-and-bolts of entrepreneurship. Information is power and, at the very least, marijuana activists, the Council of the District of Columbia and the legal marijuana business community are keeping the pressure on for full legalization.

Anne Wallace is a New York lawyer who writes extensively on legal and business issues. She also teaches law and business writing at the college and professional level. Anne graduated from Fordham Law School and Wellesley College.

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