The New West Summit held its second annual marijuana business conference in downtown San Francisco this weekend. Sponsored chiefly by New Frontier Data and Leafly with gold sponsors that included Grownetics and silver sponsors that included EnviroTech, the conference focused on a wide spectrum of marijuana business; in particular technology. The summit held over 30 panel discussions, hosting over 100 speakers who talked about various aspects of the marijuana industry, technology and policy. Richard Branson, the Founder of Virgin Group and Steve DeAngelo, the founder and CEO of Harborside, one of the biggest marijuana dispensaries in the world, were amongst the speakers who talked to the crowd of over 1000 people. The New West Summit was substantially bigger than last year’s event, once again showing the constantly increasing popularity of the marijuana industry.
Tech Startups Unveil Latest Industry Innovations
Dozens of booths were occupied by businesses displaying marijuana laced edibles, marijuana buds, bongs, vape pens and other cannabis paraphernalia. Among the businesses were a large number of tech startups, which is something that San Francisco is known for nurturing. Harborside founder Steve DeAngelo said, “This plant has been illegal and underground since the invention of technology. This conference represents the intersection of Bay Area startup culture and cannabis.” Many startups present discussed various aspects of marijuana technology. Grownetics exhibited its machine-learning algorithm that helps farmers to grow larger buds in a more sustainable way. Fleurish Farms, who were another gold sponsor, revealed a product they invented that allows indoor growers to capture sunlight even more efficiently and environmentally sounder than a greenhouse.
Encouraging Words from Richard Branson
Richard Branson, who is a major marijuana advocate, also spoke at the event. Branson is part of the Global Commission on Drug Policy, a group that also includes former United Nations General Secretary Kofi Annan and 15 former world leaders who are focused on decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana worldwide. He told the attendees at the summit about the commission, saying “That’s the only way of sorting out the problems that come with drugs by not regulating and leaving it up to the underworld to supply drugs. Our commission has worked really quite hard on that. We’ve had some successes and some massive failures; we’re going to keep going until we get governments to see otherwise.”
The Marijuana Business Boom
Branson’s presence at the conference and the work that he is doing are further indications of the growing popularity of the marijuana industry. According to New Frontier, the industry is now worth $7.2 billion and is growing at a rate of 29% every year. 25 states have already legalized medical marijuana. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and D.C. have already legalized recreational marijuana and now 5 more states are set to vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana while 4 more are voting on medical marijuana. Among the states voting on recreational marijuana is California which is the 6th biggest economy in the world. Should the state vote to legalize, it would have a massive influence on the rest of the country and most likely the world.
This seems to be the best time for businesses and investors to jump in and be part of the growing industry that serves safe recreation and medical relief to so many around the world.