What You Missed at the NCIA in Oakland

Rachelle Gordon

July 13th, 2017


The cannabis industry is growing at a rapid pace, with more and more people looking to get in on the ground floor. On June 12th-14th, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) held the 4th Annual Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in Oakland, CA. Thousands of entrepreneurs, activists, and thought leaders attended educational workshops, speeches, networking events, and explored the hundreds of vendors on the expo floor.

“Our first two years were held in Denver, and last year and this year we’re here in California,” said Bethany Moore, Communications and Programs Manager at NCIA. We’ve probably almost doubled our attendance from last year, which I think is due to several states voting to implement cannabis programs recently. The attendance at the show this year is more than 5,000 people including exhibitors and speakers. Plus, we have over two hundred and fifty exhibitors and over a hundred and fifty speakers on our educational panels.​

“We recently held our first Seed to Sale Show in Denver in January. That show’s​ ​focus was on the life cycle of the plant whereas this show is everything, wide ranging from A to Z. We also have quarterly networking events, called the Quarterly Cannabis Caucuses,​ in eight regions across the country. So every three months, ​NCIA staff just zig-zags across the country and visits with our members in smaller, regional groups.​”​

Speakers and Workshops

The number of workshops, seminars, and speakers was dizzying, with dozens of different topics covered. The latest developments in LED lighting, delivery methods, and more were all featured. The keynote speaker was Vicente Fox, former President of Mexico. Thousands of people crammed into the venue’s large ballroom to hear this world leader’s inspiring and impassioned speech. Mr. Fox touched on the failure of the War on Drugs, and the terrible effects of prohibition on all of North America. However, he was hopeful that the world was heading in the right direction.

“This will go on, this will scale if we are responsible in our decisions, and professional in what we are going to do do, and this is where is where it’s most important – meetings like this, where we can exchange, where we can learn, where we can be trained to do things the right way.”


The expo floor was buzzing with activity over the course of the conference. Attendees perused dozens of booths, featuring companies and organizations of all types and sizes.

“We were here last year but we were not exhibitors,” explained Jason Nelson, President and CEO of New Growth Insurance. “We are (exhibitors) this year, and it’s opened our eyes. This event is bigger, better, and stronger than it was last year. They’re already moving the event to the San Jose Convention Center next year, so it’s going to be huge!”

“It’s always good just to come out to a great event like this,” said Damien Payne of Firesale. “With all of the relevant new companies, it’s great to see what’s out there. Whether you’re in lighting, whether you’re into the manufacturing or the tech. It’s all here, all relevant companies that you can do business with.”

Moving the Cannabis Industry Forward

NCIA is dedicated to empowering cannabis entrepreneurs and advocating for legalization. In September, the organization will hold the California Cannabis Business Conference in Anaheim, California. NCIA also holds a plethora of events across the country for folks already in the business and those looking to get in. These meetings and conferences are a wonderful opportunity for the industry to thrive.

“We just had the Seed to Sale show in Denver in January,” explained Moore. “That was only focused on the life cycle of the plant whereas this show is everything, wide ranging from A to Z. We also have quarterly networking events in eight regions across the country. So every three months, our staff just zig-zags across the country and visits with our members in smaller groups.”

“I have come out of this event having learned some new things about the industry, and expanding my knowledge about the industry,” said Kathryn McCall, a partner with Sideman & Bancroft LLP. “It was immensely valuable.”

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Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. She was the president of her college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and worked in Amsterdam for a brief time. Find her online at www.rachellegordon.net.

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