January 12, 2016
Former U.S. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders will headline the International Cannabis Business Conference on Feb. 13 and 14 in downtown San Francisco.
She’ll be joined by Andrew Sullivan, a prominent author and blogger; Tommy Chong, star of the Cheech & Chong movies; Arjan Roskam, who started the “Strain Hunters” documentary series; and Anthony Johnson, the executive director of Oregon’s successful campaign to legalize marijuana.
“Business and Politics” is the theme of the conference, which comes as several legalization initiatives vie for a spot on the state’s November ballot.
California has a $1.3 billion marijuana market, the largest in the U.S., and legal marijuana is the fastest growing industry in the country, according to The ArcView Group, a cannabis industry investment and research firm. Newly-passed medical regulations are transforming the state’s industry, and San Francisco has begun crafting recreational rules in anticipation of full legalization.
“The industry is exploding,” said conference producer Alex Rogers. “California is already a world leader in medical cannabis commerce. Imagine how big it’ll be once it’s legal for adult use.”
Unlike consumer-focused conferences like the Cannabis Cup, the International Cannabis Business Conference focuses on business strategy and influencers. It’s designed to be a crash course for entrepreneurs who want to grow business not only in California but also nationally and internationally.
Many of the speakers are from outside the country. Panel topics include legal, banking and tax issues; fundraising and marketing; and California’s new regulations. Earlybird tickets cost $499, and the event is likely to sell out.
Elders, the conference headliner, was the first African American appointed as Surgeon General of the United States. She came out in support of marijuana legalization in 2010, long before 58 percent of Americans supported it.
December 29, 2015
If you have any experience in the cannabis movement and industry, you know that Magnolia Wellness Collective Executive Director Debby Goldsberry has been a true pioneer in both activism and business. Mentored by the iconic Jack Herer, Debby has traveled the globe helping bring freedom to the cannabis community, mentoring and inspiring many activists herself. We are so proud, honored and pleased that she helps us organize the International Cannabis Business Conference and as she helps provide the combination of business savviness and activist heart that make the ICBC a unique industry event.
Goldsberry's accomplishments are actually too many to list on a blog, she deserves a book. Winner of the 2005 NORML Pauline Sabin Award in recognition of the importance of women leadership positions in ending marijuana prohibition, Goldsberry has crashed through the glass ceiling and shouldn't be considered a top "female" leader, as she has been a longtime leader of the cannabis movement, regardless of gender. High Times recognized the impact of Ms. Goldsberry when she was named Freedom Fighter of the Year in 2011.
We are fortunate that Debby had a moment in her busy schedule to answer a few questions for our blog:
After helping found Berkeley Patients Group and helping turn BPG into one of the nation's model cannabis dispensaries, you have now found your way to Magnolia Wellness, how has your transition gone?
I left BPG 5 years ago, thinking it would be easier to become involved in an Oakland dispensary project. As an Oakland resident, with 5 generations of family having lived here, it was really where my goals were focused. Helping this community grow and thrive is important. I joined the Magnolia Wellness team nearly 2 years ago, as an Ambassador, which was a part time outreach position. Over those same years, I helped a variety of small collectives and cannabis businesses grow, doing coaching, mentoring, and gap management. This gave me a lot of hands on experience with dream building and problem solving, and I developed additional skills helping operationalize a variety of cannabis businesses. And, after leaving BPG, I took over as the Professor of Patient Relations and Procurement and Allocations at Oaksterdam University, which gave me the ability to both teach and learn from people around the world, right at the campus in downtown Oakland.
You rose from Ambassador to Executive Director at Magnolia, any tips for others that start out in a cannabis business with goals of working their way up?
The cannabis industry is built on trust, understanding, and good old fashioned proving yourself. When I arrived at Magnolia Wellness, the leadership told me that there was only one way forward, and that was to work my way up. After two years of dedication to the organization, helping increase membership by over 65% in the last year alone, the board finally adopted me into the role of Executive Director. Magnolia has already been operationalized and running nicely for several years, so I am taking the lead at a dispensary ready to take next steps, fine tuning and building upon existing standard operating procedures. This means a lot of analysis right off, learning what works and does not, and making clear choices about expansion and budgeting. My advice, set your goals, and spend time developing the skills, making the connections, and proving both your abilities and who you are as a person, before expecting a leadership role in the cannabis industry.
Under your leadership, BPG became a shining example of caring for the community as part of a good business model. Can you share some thoughts about that and whether that same focus has carried over to Magnolia?
Yes! Magnolia's board of directors is staying the same, with some key additions, including a hospice nurse, and they originally built Magnolia using BPG as a model. The founder, Dave Spradlin, has a heart of gold, and has always focused on the "wellness model" as a key to developing the dispensary. This includes offering free services to members, doing community service work in Oakland, donating to key groups like Parents 4 Pot, and giving free medicine to people most in need. Nothing will really change, except that we plan to continue to grow the collective and to fulfill its founding vision. As far as my personal long standing goals of ending cannabis prohibition, freeing prisoners, keeping families together, and stopping the misguided war on drugs, we will absolutely keep up that fight, until each person who needs cannabis medicines can receive them and all the people are free.
Any specials or deals of Magnolia's that you would like to highlight?
Ed Rosenthal and Amber E. Senter have both joined the Magnolia Wellness team last month, so you can expect some epic happenings soon. The first event is our New Year's Day party, from 12 - 8 PM, with a DJ, free samples, and lots of specials on the cannabis medicines.
Magnolia has a daily deal for members, so each person can choose which day to come to find a deal that meets their medical need and budget. Check out menu at http://magnoliawellness.org/. You can also find the calendar of services here. We are soon launching regular classes and events, and are in the middle of a remodel to help improve patient care. Plus, we are putting all of our cannabis on display in one big case in our lobby, to show off the amazing offerings we have in stock.
California's legalization battle already seems pretty heated within the community. Can you share any of your initial thoughts and concerns?
Personally, I think it will be important to unite behind one initiative, even if the wording is not perfect and the execution of it does not work out exactly right. As we saw with CA's Proposition 215, the Compassionate Use Act, even an imperfect law can accomplish major goals. We have had near legalization for medical patients here for 20 years, which granted has been an uphill battle to implement, but from it sprang legalization around the world. If we have to unite behind the Sean Parker backed initiative to make changes, or at least agree to remain silent in public about concerns, to take steps that will end arrests and free people from jail, we should do that. I favor the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform initiative, which, if funded, has better language and a greater likelihood of ending prohibition.
To learn from Debby Goldsberry and other activist and industry pioneers, get your tickets to the upcoming ICBC in San Francisco on February 13-14. The first 500 ticket purchasers get exclusive access to a VIP party with Tommy Chong, featuring performances by Rocker-T and hip-hop legend Del tha Funky Homosapien. Get your tickets before prices go up and the event sells out.
December 21, 2015
For many, the burgeoning cannabis industry is the new American Dream. With manufacturing jobs hard to come by and college degrees (and even advanced degrees) not what they used to be, marijuana businesses can be an exciting career for many, similiar to the microbrewery and local winery industries. Colorado, Washington and Oregon have already started creating jobs and generating millions of dollars in sales from legalized cannabis sales and Alaska will soon follow.
California started the cannabis commerce revolution when Proposition 215 passed all the way back in 1996 and the state will only see an increase in sales, especially once marijuana is legalized for all adults. While states with medical laws on the books have already seen business opportunities arise, avenues for prosperous business ventures will only increase as more states implement regulated cannabis sales among all adults. Nevada, Massachusetts, Arizona and Maine are just a few states that may pass legalization in 2016 and we will definitely see more states regulate marijuana sales in the coming years.
With these opportunities, there are hurdles to overcome. The application process can be very confusing and staying on top of all of the new laws, rules and regulations can be difficult. The International Cannabis Business Conference helps bring together experts in the field, so cannabis entrepreneurs can thrive in the marketplace. Green Rush Consulting is a California company that is doing great work helping cannabis entrepreneurs succeed. Green Rush has helped businesses in several states and they just happen to be amazing people that are fun to be around. I got the opportunity to ask CEO Zeta Ceta some questions about Green Rush Consulting. If you are in the cannabis industry or thinking of joining, I wholeheartedly encourage you to seek out their services.
When did you first get involved in cannabis law reform activism and why?
I first considered myself a cannabis activist at the age of 15, when I grew my first cannabis plant. At that moment I knew that it would be a part of my life forever. From that moment on I continued to cultivate the medicinal plant in various stages throughout my life for the next 20 years. Around 7 years ago, I began consulting for license applications and working with policies in California and throughout the U.S.
Can you describe the work of Green Rush Consulting?
Green Rush Consulting provides services that help build cannabis-based businesses from A to Z. It consists of a specialized core team with a focus on business licensing, development, and deployment. GRC has a vast network of relationships to provide the best solutions for creating a cannabis-based business, and has successfully won many types of licenses throughout the United States.
What states have you worked in?
California, New Jersey, Arizona, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Connecticut, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Illinois, Maryland.
Any success stories that you want to highlight?
GRC helped open the very first dispensary in Illinois history to be registered in the state. I consider this a great highlight as the license application process was extremely difficult and limited.
Any tips or advice for those getting started in the industry or thinking of joining?
Yes get started now! Make sure you are committed to becoming a successful cannabis entrepreneur and be ready to take on anything. With the dynamic changes that happen in the industry, it is important to shield yourself from danger, create efficient and sustainable business solutions, and be well prepared for any type of change that comes with the turf.
California is certainly a hotbed of activity, any thoughts you would like to share about the new medical regulations?
Yes I think that California is ready for legalization however it is very divided on the issue. Because California was the birthplace of the cannabis industry you see today it is also the most established market. The fact it has been so loose when it comes to regulations has made it very difficult in peoples minds to embrace any regulations. As opposed to the newer states, most medical cannabis cultivators have been living their careers as "outlaws" since the beginning of the cannabis industry as it was necessary to do so.
It is critical that all individuals and groups who believe in cannabis should unify together and under a legislation that makes sense. The nation and the world is watching California and it will be up to us to create regulations that reform cannabis laws responsibly for everyone in this state and beyond.
What about any of the legalization measures that have been filed?
The most talked about legalization measure is the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, also known as the Sean Parker Initiative. I think that the act has a lot of great language in it to protect small farmers, assist with non-violent offenders, and provide a structure for licensing of facilities. There are pros and cons to this piece of legislation.
It seems that you have crafted a family atmosphere at Green Rush, including working with your significant other (something that I can relate to), how would you describe your company culture and how the dynamics work for you?
The company culture of GRC is very family-oriented and community based. Our values of Integrity, Innovation, Stewardship, Diversity, and Unity transcend across our business relationships and internal operations. As the founder working with my spouse as a co-founder, I find it very rewarding to work together on the evolution of the business and the industry itself. We incorporate community events that allow the company to connect with the businesses and individuals who create the heart of the industry. I feel very grateful to be with the talented people on our team as we pioneer this together.
Any challenging stories regarding regulations compliance that you would like to share?
We recently submitted many applications in Maryland for multiple businesses. I have to say that Maryland was the most difficult application process to submit for a license in terms of competition as well as completing. The challenge of having only 45 days and pivoting to fit the regulations in a short time is a daunting task and took us significant effort to be successful as opposed to other state processes. I can only expect that we will see more of this type of application process going forward.
Anything that you would like to add?
Yes I am thankful that I will be speaking at ICBC this year with all the industry experts!
You can learn more about Green Rush Consulting by checking out their website, or calling them at
5 10-47 9-7327. Green Rush can help you succeed in the industry, no matter your cannabis specialty. Green Rush will be at the upcoming ICBC in San Francisco, so you will have an opportunity to learn from this company there. Remember to get your tickets soon as the event will sell out and the first 500 ticket purchasers get exclusive access to a VIP party with Del the Funky Homosapien and Tommy Chong.
Interested in attending or exhibiting at the ICBC?
Either way we'd love to hear from you. This is a must-do event for anyone interested or involved in the emerging cannabis industry.