As we've reported, the legalization of recreational marijuana sales that kicked in on January 1 has prompted a boom in pot tourism despite the continuing refusal by the State of Colorado and the City of Denver to embrace and promote the cannabis industry.
More indications of this phenomenon can be seen in the increasing number of marijuana-themed conventions and events -- and not just around 4/20. Witness the Colorado Cannabis Summit, taking place later this month. And it's far from the last major get-together of its kind.
The conference gets underway at 8 a.m. on May 22 at the Exdo Event Center. Here's how Stan Wagner, event CEO and head of Red Thread Creative Group, hypes it.
"Back in January, I was having lunch with my business partner, Phil Walker, who's with Foothills Construction," Wagner recalls. "We'd been doing some branding work with cannabis companies that were doing some build-outs, and we were hearing that there wasn't a lot of good information out there. There have been a number of conferences built on business-to-consumer type products, but we felt there was a need for a business-to-business event.
"It's not just about grow houses, but everything that goes into them," he continues. "Construction, manufacturing of the products, packaging: all that jazz."
Wagner describes the summit as focusing on topics such as safety (hence the participation of CannaLabs, a major product-testing operation) and innovation (the CEO of Surna is among the speakers who'll address that).
Also on the agenda are jobs and employees, a subject Wagner describes as "one of my passions. We know there's a new market for budtenders, but how do you hire them? How do you manage them? How do you keep them engaged? Because there's no blueprint for this. It's an entirely new industry."
Plenty of event planners are hoping to get in on the action. On May 29, for instance, there's the Cannabis Capital Summit at Mile High Station. Then, on June 24, the National Cannabis Industry Association is sponsoring a Cannabis Business Summit at the Colorado Convention Center.
There's clearly no shortage of forthcoming cannabis summits, as Wagner acknowledges. "When we planned this back in January, there were no conferences out there," he says. "But as time went on, we started seeing them pop up here and there."
However, he sees his event as different from the others. "The Colorado Capital Conference is about investing and the NCIA event is about policy," he maintains. "We see them as more complimentary than competitive."
Is the marijuana industry big enough to support all these events? We'll find out soon enough. But organizers shouldn't count on any assistance from Colorado and Denver tourist agencies, which continue to keep marijuana at arm's length even as the local economy is getting repeated boosts from the industry.
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More from our Marijuana archive circa April 14: "Marijuana: Denver hotel searches for 4/20 weekend up 73 percent."