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From Green 'Rush' To Green 'Marathon': A Circumspect Industry With Science As The New Buzz-Word

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From Green 'Rush' To Green 'Marathon': A Circumspect Industry With Science As The New Buzz-Word

Marijuana Business Daily (MJBiz Daily) recently announced the acquisition of Emerald Scientific’s annual science conference (ES), considered one of the industry’s most technologically advanced.

MJBiz Daily, if you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, is one of the largest media and events companies in the cannabis space. Industry insiders have pondered MJBiz’s decision to acquire ES in an attempt to read between the proverbial “tea (or cannabis) leaves” for an indication and understanding of the industry’s direction.

For those who have not participated in cannabis industry conferences, the sector has both in scope and scale, mirrored the exponential trajectory of Canadian cannabis company listings as well as the absurd share prices that followed. The result was a confluence of hundreds of local, state and international events focused on first-look investment opportunities to provide an on ramp to those on a quest for green riches.

The result to many: conference overload, with offerings far surpassing the amount of ice cream flavors found at a local Baskin Robbins. The early years of 2011-2016 evidenced a voracious appetite for education and industry knowledge; over-crowded sessions with ‘standing room only’ presentations by influential industry speakers were common. Attendees took notes and asked informed questions reminiscent of professorial lectures. In recent years, a somewhat jaded shift has occurred, with most sessions substantially empty, and public areas over-crowded with “connectors” giving the impression of a shift to a forum predominantly for the exchange of business cards.

See Also: Global Warming Meets Indoor Agriculture: Can Cannabis Be Environmentally Sustainable?

Tumultuous public markets resulted in a cataclysmic conclusion to 2019. The advent of the Canadian public cannabis stock, implosion debacle resulted in paper losses of tens of billions of dollars. For many unfortunate investors, the rose-colored glasses given to them by hard-driving Canadian penny stock, reverse merger eco-system salesman, remained on for way too long.

This wake-up call has been painful for most and devastating to many, resulting in a quantifiable cautionary pull-back and dissipation of interest. The near disappearance of retail investors and evaporation of promised quick public exits has left many with the shell-shocked expression of Democrats after the Trump vote count.

Many are finally realizing that the so-called “Green Rush”, was a just a media-induced sound bite. The reality now settling in, is that the businesses that will survive must have the endurance to complete a “Green Marathon” instead. That means companies with both a great horse and an even greater jockey, a combination rarely encountered.

First-hand perspective is essential to make an informed opinion. In an age where facts are conjured from thin air by anyone in power or with a loud enough voice, it is even more important to understand one’s context, experience and objective.

Remember that, in the “land of the free,” 54% of Americans still don’t have a passport. Yet, they espouse opinions on international affairs as if their knowledge is first hand instead of information heard on either a “blue or red” nightly news broadcast.

Having visited nearly all of the legalized cannabis countries over the last two years, the evidence is resounding: nearly the entire planet’s legal industry is solely focused on the cannabis plant based on its medical applications.

While consumer, adult or “rec” use with exponential brand proliferation dominates US and Canadian market conversations (and potentially Mexican soon), other countries of the world consider the cannabis plant as Mother Nature’s cannabinoid factory for medicine with the potential for a new form of “pharma” whose output is specific “molecules” to cure disease and relieve suffering. The ultimate goal is the replacement of certain narcotics, including opiates and central nervous system drugs.

A new and different education appetite has emerged; a “Cannabis Education 2.0” focused on science, medicine and technology in lieu of “rate of return.”

The transition is welcome and no doubt one of the many reasons MJBiz, when looking into its cannabis crystal ball, decided to take the plunge.

Currently, 28% of the U.S. population lives in states where recreational marijuana is legal. As of this year, over 40 states have enacted statutory laws specific to the possession and use of either whole-plant cannabis or extracted cannabinoids that are in direct violation of the federal law (Marijuana is legal in 11 states for adults over the age of 21, and legal for medical use in 33 states and the District of Columbia.)

The global legal marijuana market size is expected to reach $73.6 billion by 2027, according to a new report published by Grand View Research, Inc. It is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of 18.1% during the forecast period. Increasing legalization of cannabis for medical as well as adult-use will likely promote further growth.

See Also: Former NFL Player Kyle Turley To Open First Cannabis Dispensary In Moreno Valley After Plant Saves His Life

Since 2016, MJBiz had partnered with ES to produce a one-day science symposium as a precursor to its marquee event.

Chris Walsh, one of the earliest cannabis journalists and now CEO of MJBiz reflected on his company’s evolution: “When looking at where cannabis was going, we identified science as a key pillar of the industry’s future. Our early partnership created the foundation for the acquisition, which allowed us to increase our reach in cannabis science and research and to leverage our digital publishing assets, event portfolio and resource content.”

Wes Burk, the President and co-founder of ES stated, “The acquisition represents the culmination of a long term partnership. MJBiz brings robust logistics and conference infrastructure along with horsepower to scale and accelerate our ability to drive content.

ES was the pioneer in creating a platform for scientists to collaborate in the cannabis space, one of the many reasons it attracts the leading minds of science.

Wes Burk and fellow co-founder Ken Snoke first assembled a team of scientists in 2014. “We identified a need for a forum in which leading members of the scientific community could collaborate and discuss the advancements in the rapidly evolving cannabis space,” said Mr. Snoke.

“Before ES, cannabis science and research was highly competitive and often solitary; many  scientists didn't communicate and had a tendency to focus on protecting scientific secrets. We initiated ES in response to a demand for scientific content and a venue to both share groundbreaking research and to evaluate technical products critical to scientific progress.”

The platform for scientific collaboration in cannabis research and technology draws top scientists in the field and has led to numerous cutting edge projects (See 6th Annual ES Conference Agenda) which continue to shape the industry. Many of the participants of prior ES conferences have collaborated on their own supporting research. Attendees include analytical chemists, microbiologists, laboratories, manufacturers, innovators, regulatory professionals, academia, cultivation specialists, research and development professionals, and government employees.

ES’s organizational approach at the conference reflected the development paradigms embraced by numerous industries and provided a matrix of presentations with an expansive focus including: medicinal use for patients, lifestyle and adult benefits, methods of administration (inhaled, ingested, and applied) and products utilizing either hemp or cannabis as raw material.

Attesting to speaker quality and experience, over 80% had PHD’s. This year a Quality Summit was added to address important new issues within the evolving industry, including quality assurance, research, innovation, and safety. Key presentations included:

  • Vaping-induced Lung Illness and the Chemistry of Vaping with Robert Strongin, Ph.D,
  • Comparison of the Anti-Tumor Efficacy of A Whole-Plant Extract Vs. Pure THC in Preclinical Models of HER2-Positive Breast Cancer with Mara Gordon,
  • Heavy Metal Contaminants from Cannabis Vaporizer Cartridges: Valid Concern or Blowing Smoke? with Kyle Boyar,
  • Improved data quality in cannabis terpene profiling with Dr. Matthew Edwards, PHD,
  • Investigation of Matrix Effects in Potency Testing of Cannabis-Infused Chocolates with Dr. David Dawson,
  • Cannabis Substance and Product Use Categories and Quality Attributes with Andrew Samann, a Nomenclature Workshop with Kellan Finney & RJ Hopp, and,
  • Cannabis Quality: A Roll of The Dice with Kerry Starr.

By the close of 2019, industry professionals were ducking for cover as a result of numerous negative  industry issues: the vaping crisis, collapsing public markets, the ever-present and growing illicit market and more.

Unequivocally, 2020 has opened the door further to the extraordinary medical potential of the cannabis plant and which is at the core of nearly all country’s legalization strategy. As technology, research and standardization further develop, ES will continue to be a premier event for cutting-edge scientific collaboration and content. MJB’s leadership and experience will likely bring additional quality science and medical content and shift many other conferences focus.

“Science syncs with our current offerings most notably hemp and the global cannabis sector” concluded Chris Walsh. “With the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill, legal change combined with the inevitable ones to come, will expand scientific research on a quantitative and qualitative basis, as will the needs of the scientific and business communities.”

Photo by Michael Miller.

The preceding article is from one of our external contributors. It does not represent the opinion of Benzinga and has not been edited.

 

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