If you’re a company still weighing whether to get into the cannabis space, the clock is ticking. If you’re a brand that’s already there, prepare to hustle. That’s the message of last weekend’s New West Summit in San Francisco. From investors to innovators to brand influencers, the disruptions in the cannabis space were on full display at New West.

In just over a year since we’ve launched Civilized, we’ve seen huge shifts in the conversation around cannabis. Along with this comes capital. And lots of it as investors seek to get in on the action. And where there’s more money, there’s bound to be more competition. If New West is any indication, cannabis companies are bringing their A-game. We are seeing more sophisticated, higher-quality companies emerging along with established mainstream brands that are starting to stake out a claim in this growing market.

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Derek Riedle speaks with people at the Civilized cannabis lounge at the New West Summit.

Each milestone that brings us closer to broader normalization of cannabis also brings more players to this crowded field. One major milestone is just a few weeks away as five states - Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada – prepare to vote on ballot measures that would see them join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington in legalizing the recreational use of cannabis. “Yes” votes on these ballot measures will create momentum beyond these five states. A rising wave is sweeping across the country.

For those of us already in the cannabis space, the game is on and we need to be prepared to present the strongest brand possible and position ourselves for success. For those still sitting on the sidelines, stop waiting to get into the race or you’ll be left at the back of the pack.

Derek Riedle is the publisher and founder of Civilized, which was a Gold sponsor of the New West Summit. 

Banner photo: Derek Riedle, far left, spoke on a panel about the future of cannabis media at the New West Summit.