Forget the days of putting pot in a closet under a heat lamp. Things have gotten sophisticated since you hoped your weed would grow on a hope and a prayer and few sprinklings of Miracle Grow.
Philadelphia will experience its very first cannabis business and medicine conference on Saturday, paving the way for business and industry professionals to stretch their brainpower, now that medical marijuana is legal in Pennsylvania.
Scott Greiper is the president and founder of Viridian Capital Advisors, a New York-based financial and advisory firm solely dedicated to building market leaders in the emerging marijuana industry.
He and 12 others from around the country will be part of a panel discussion titled, “Innovation in the Cannabis Industry: Technology, Medical & Investment,” at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in Old City, which will delve into the issues now facing those who can take advantage of the passing of S.B. 3. Gov. Tom Wolf signed the bill on April 17, officially legalizing the use of medicinal marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania.
Greiper said there is an interesting dynamic between how the state and federal governments will interact, because the legalization of marijuana is still murky in the different jurisdictions.
“It’s a very challenging environment for businesses, and then challenging for the investors looking to invest in the industry,” he said.
“It’s all very fluid, and because we are the first – and only investment banking in the industry – solely devoted to the cannabis base, we track all this data, to advise clients and also to advise companies looking to raise capital,” he said.
“The industry is in the very early stages, beginning to show some maturity in the types of management teams that are coming in as operatives of public and private companies. There have been significant improvements over two years ago – significant improvements over the types of investors coming in ... more professional investors. Three years ago, it was all individual retail investors, but there’s been maturity in the business models of these companies.”
Mark Doherty is director of Sales for Urban-Gro, a national company that provides commercial-grade LED lighting systems for cannabis, pest control and water treatment solutions, among other things.
“For many years now, cannabis, because of federal law, because of stigma, what have you, has been an industry in and of itself, people are marketing solutions specific to cannabis,” he said.
“If we look at the commercial tomato industry, greenhouse tomatoes, for example, that is a very close standard for growing cannabis. Organic practices or integrated pest management, we can take best practices from those industries and integrate them into cannabis and see a more efficient cultivation of cannabis.”
Michael Stalbaum is senior vice president of marketing and operations for KIND Financial, which helps investors and businesses operating within the cannabis industry adhere to financial and regulatory compliance.
“Like liquor, in Pennsylvania, you never see liquor in a private person’s hands. It’s very similar,” he said.
“Our software tracks the plant from the minute it’s born and then we scan it when it leaves the growers to the lab and track it all the way to the grower – seed-to-sale technology.
“Some hurdles we touch on are banking hurdles, which still haven’t been figured out in any states. It’s good to educate people about what’s coming down the pike."