The calendar is full of conferences for companies in the cannabis industry - literally hundreds now take place every year in this rapidly growing industry. In this mix is the State of Marijuana event taking place In Long Beach, California, Sept. 26-27. Now this conference is, of course, unique because it's taking place on the Queen Mary cruise ship that's docked permanently in the harbour. But the conference is also noteworthy because its main purpose is to connect industry leaders with policy makers, says event organizer Susan Soares.

Soares says that traditional events which connect industry players with each other certainly serve a purpose, but she says it's most useful to bring together business leaders with politicians who make so many decisions that affect the overall health of the industry.

"The best thing we can do is influence policy," says Soares, who is also Executive Director of C.A.R.E., a non-profit organization that plans events and does public education and research, all with the goal of advancing the cause of cannabis legalization. "We're putting elected officials and industry leaders in the same room together. It's more of a political event."

The two-day conference is packed with expert panels on policy issues that directly affect companies in the cannabis industry.

Panels will focus on understanding, navigating political terrain

Day One kicks off with a panel discussion called, Cities, Counties and Bans Oh My!, which focuses on how to navigate the local laws that govern medical marijuana from place to place. The experts are people in the "trenches" on this issue, including Don Saylor, Yolo County Supervisor; Yamileth Bolanos, founder and president of the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance (GLACA); and Paul Koretz, City of Councilmember, 5th District.

Other panels discussions on the first day include a session called, Once It's Legal I'm Getting Into The Business (featuring business and legal experts who will give advice to new entrants into the market) and The Federal Conflict (featuring industry experts talking about managing the challenges of the federal prohibition on cannabis). The formal events for the day will conclude with the group watching and discussing the first presidential debate that will take place that day.

On Day Two, the first panel discussion is called, The Evolution of Pot, a discussion about how geneticists will engineer cannabis strains for the new consumer market. The decades-long prohibition encouraged the production of high-THC strains, but will come next in newly legalized markets. The last session of the day, Adult Use of Marijuana Act, will feature a debate between opponents and proponents of the California ballot initiative expected to be passed in November.

In addition to the panel discussions, there will be several high-profile keynote speakers, including:

  • Steve DeAngelo, founder of Harborside Health Center, the largest medical marijuana dispensary in the world, Co-founder and President of The ArcView Group, a company formed to introduce investors to the cannabis community.
  • Ethan Nadelmann, founder and Executive Director of Drug Policy Alliance.
  • Troy Dayton, CEO of The Arcview Group
  • Betty Yee, California State Controller

You can still register for this two-day conference. For more information on registration or the conference itself, visit the State of Marijuana web site.

Civilized is a media sponsor of State of Marijuana.