Visiting the SW Cannabis Conference and Trade Show As a relative newcomer to the industry, at least in a business sense, the SW Cannabis conference was definitely a reality check. A product of Northern California’s Bay Area, I expected to follow a plume of smoke all the way to the Phoenix Convention Center. This was not the case.
When I arrived at the Conference there was a little bit of confusion because the show was literally flipped upside down by the Phoenix Police Department while there were hundreds of attendees waiting to get in. Outside, most had had no clue what was happening behind the curtains. Inside the vendors had to break down their entire booths and allow the cops to pick through everything they had brought on premise. A reasonable person may even compare this scenario to a raid or drug bust. Once the doors finally opened, I soon realized this was a Business Conference and not the loosy goosy Peruvian Jam Band I had pictured in my head.
I ended up at the Power Woman of the Cannabis discussion hosted by the Founders of Woman’s Grow. Now I tend to be somewhat of an Anti-Feminist so I was apprehensive to go to anything called “Power Woman”. That being said, I quit my comfortable salaried position at a Software Company just a few short days before the conference to embark on a presumably risky career in Cannabis. I knew I needed to see what these “Power Woman” were up to.
To my pleasant surprise I had the honor of being in the presence of: Christine Lunsford, Cheryl Shuman, Megan Stone, Kayle Brown, and Moderator: Amy Poinsett. These are highly educated and successful industry executives who are true pioneers in their own right. There was no bra burning at this discussion, but I did learn was what a “Cannabis Closet” is and why it is so important for successful and educated people to come out of it. I learned why representing ourselves as professionals will help this movement gain the respect it absolutely deserves. To describe this discussion as motivating would be an incredible understatement.
Speaking of well deserved respect…Slaying Dragons for Science: Eliminating Barriers to Cannabis Efficacy Research with Dr. Suzanne A. Sisley was an intense and educational discussion. On the screen behind the podium was a gigantic picture of a soldier holding a rifle over his head struggling to keep his head above the sea of pills he was drowning in. This one hit especially close to home being married to an Infantry Marine that spent more time in Iraq than he did in the States during his four year term of service.
I have seen firsthand the effects of war on our soldiers and always knew in my heart of hearts cannabis could help these men. Hearing a well respected Doctor say that the State’s that have legalized Medical Marijuana have had a significant decrease in Veteran suicide made it near impossible to choke back tears. The raw emotion in that room could be cut with a butter knife. Ironically, shortly after the Conference, Congress recognizes the VA Doctors right to legally prescribe Medicinal Marijuana to our Heros. I know for certain Dr. Sisley’s research had a large helping hand in making that happen. Thanks Doc!Another educational and mind blowing discussion was Growing Cannabis with the Plant in Mind featuring Kyle Kushman and Daryl “Butch” Williams. Butch is actually a homegrown Arizona local who owns White Mountain Dispensary in Sun City. I honestly had a hard time keeping up because this was a high level discussion for real industry horticulturists. As they were talking I kept picturing two mad scientists hovering over bubbling test tubes with mischievous laughs bellowing into the night. I may not have understood everything they were talking about, however one thing was very clear, the days of the dazed and confused stoner are long gone. Its time the world made way for the incredibly talented engineers, scientists, and business savvy professionals this plant has to offer.
Yes, the Cannabis Industry is Big Business, however, in the South West it is being fueled by passion, determination, and an entrepreneurial spirit. I did not see vendors lined up with products to peddle, what I did find was business owners sharing their labor of love to anyone who will take the time to listen. One thing is for sure, cannabis is here to stay in Arizona and most of us are here to embrace it with open arms. All and all, will you see me out at the South West Cannabis Conference next year? Absolutely. Constance Reidinger
Iguana Pappa Verde (Formally Momma Verde) Sassy yet intriguing Official Mascot for Sea-of-Green Tempe, AZ