Day one of the second annual Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference is in the books, and as someone that attended day one, I can say from first hand experience that it was a success. Day one started for me in a bit of a haze. I had spent the previous night attending the VIP social from 6-8, and then spent the next five hours or so exploring Eugene, Oregon with Jay Smoker and Kaliko. I consumed marijuana in just about every form possible and met a lot of new people. I even ran into a high school friend that I hadn’t seen since high school and wouldn’t you know it, he is in the industry (electronic security company named Security Monster, hire them!).
The day kicked off with a conference overview from event organizer Alex Rogers. Alex did a great job of hyping up the ground and laying the foundation for what to expect at the event. That was then followed up by one of my heroes, the legendary Anthony Johnson. Anthony then introduced day one’s Keynote Speaker, former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. It was very interesting to hear Gary Johnson speak because not only is he a former Governor of a swing state in America, but he is also currently the head of a very large marijuana company (Cannabis Sativa Inc.). During his speech Governor Johnson predicted that California would legalize marijuana in 2016, and that it would open the floodgates to many other states following suit almost immediately via their state legislatures.
The next speaker was Anthony Johnson. Anthony talked about marijuana law advocacy, and told the story of how Oregon Measure 91 came about and why it was so successful. The speech gave me chills, especially when he was talking about the beginnings of the campaign. He talked about how the campaign actually started in 2012, even before Oregon’s unsuccessful 2012 marijuana legalization vote. He talked about how he was part of a team that was doing polling and building a coalition – two things the 2012 Oregon Measure 80 campaign wasn’t doing at the the time, sadly.
That’s when I met Anthony, during the very beginnings of what would eventually become the Oregon Measure 91 campaign. I received an e-mail from Anthony and his best friend Travis, and I met them in Portland for lunch. They shared with me the results of their polling, and said that there were all in for a 2014 effort if the 2012 effort failed. I watched the whole process unfold, including the times when people said that 2014 would be a disaster because it’s a midterm election, blah, blah, blah. We all know how that worked out. Anthony can say whatever he wants, that he didn’t legalize marijuana in Oregon, it was a team. Look, I get it. But lets be real – had the Measure 91 campaign not had Anthony, it wouldn’t have succeeded. His strong leadership and mental Jiu Jitsu skills are impossible to replace, and I look forward to future campaigns in other states using Anthony’s skill set to ensure that more states join Oregon (and Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and D.C.!).
After a lunch break, the event resumed with a presentation by Oregon Senator Floyd Prozanski. Senator Prozanski is in the midst of a legislative session in Oregon that is seeing a lot of attacks on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP). Senator Prozanski stated that he will fight as hard as he can to ensure that the OMMP stays as is. He expressed that the medical marijuana program does not need to be merged with the recreational program. He also touched on recreational marijuana implementation, and predicted that there will be a four year Oregon residency requirement to start a recreational marijuana business in Oregon, among other things.
I wasn’t able to see the next two panels, but I heard that they were very interesting. The 2:30 p.m. slot was on ‘Regulation of Medical & Recreational’ with attorney Ted Roe. The 3:30 p.m. slot was a ‘Media Panel’ with Russ Belville, Doug McVay, and Noelle Crombie. All three people on that panel get a ton of respect from me. I wanted to make that panel especially, but I also wanted to walk around the vendor booth area and talk to people. That’s always one of my favorite parts of any cannabis event because I like to see what niches people are pursuing, what struggles they are experiencing, and what successes they have achieved.
Hands down, day one of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference was amazing. The people in attendance were very eager to learn and network, which was extremely exciting for me to see since I have been to events outside of Oregon throughout the years, and now I’m seeing big things happen in my home state. There were all kinds of people – older, younger, suits, jeans, men, women, all demographics, etc. Tomorrow is day two, which will feature Steve DeAngelo, Paul Loney, Lee Berger, and many, many other very talented speakers. If you are going to day two, you are in for a treat!