Texas laws not stopping marijuana investors and entrepreneurs
Houston played host to the first ever Marijuana Investment Conference (MIC), which took place at The Westin Houston, Memorial City this past weekend. Unlike other popular marijuana conventions that happen around the country, such as CannaCon and the Kush Expo, which are for retailers and the general public, alike; MIC was specifically geared towards connecting big money investors with up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Although the recent MIC in Houston was not for the average supporter of marijuana, which is not surprising since a single registration ticket cost $995, that did not stop over 100 hundred entrepreneurs and investors from attending, according to Mark Hayden, an organizer of the event.
Investors and entrepreneurs flew in from all over the country to speak and learn about new opportunities for capitalizing on the booming marijuana market. According to the MIC website, the conference was seeking potential investors willing to invest anywhere from $150,000 to $10 million in the companies presenting at the event.
The inaugural MIC was broken down over a two-day period, consisting of networking opportunities on Sunday and Monday night, company presentations on Monday morning, and one-on-one interviews between entrepreneurs and investors on Monday afternoon. Companies that presented at the conference included those specializing in the production of high quality marijuana, others specializing in the distribution of medical marijuana, and even a company with plans to create the first ever marijuana-friendly resort and vacation experience.
An underlying theme was consistent among the presenting companies: How to address the continuous supply and demand restrictions of high quality regulated marijuana that is currently being experienced by consumers of cannabis, due primarily to the federal government’s strict opposition regarding marijuana. Still, despite federal resistance, the blossoming marijuana market sector shows some promising numbers.
According to Amanda Gross, CEO of SAI Enterprises and a Houstonian businesswoman, “medical cannabis sales are projected to reach $18 billion annually, despite the limited availability of supply.” Gross also went on in her presentation to state that potential recreational and legalized marijuana markets could drive profitability even higher.
A handful of Texas based companies presented at the event. Therma-Gro, based out of Midland, manufactures top of the line greenhouses and custom designed growing enclosures. Though the company primarily manufactures greenhouses for non-marijuana related needs, the company is looking to expand into the marijuana industry.
Cannametrix is a Texas based start-up company by three Rice educated scientists. According to Erol Bakkalbasi, CEO of Cannametrix, the company would be the first of its kind in regard to the clinical testing and quality control of legally produced marijuana. What separates Cannametrix from other testing facilities is that they plan to continuously publish their data that can be accessed by the public using one of two proposed web-and-mobile-based tools. The first, CannibinoID, would be a web-and-mobile service for comparing, choosing, and learning about cannabis. CannametRx would be a service designed specifically for medical marijuana patients.
Texas could be set to lose business though. According to Bakkalbasi, Cannametrix is willing to uproot from Texas and move to Colorado as soon as the investment funding comes in because the company would need to operate in a state where marijuana is legal. Regardless of the current laws and regulations on marijuana, it is clear that the money and talent needed to bring the marijuana business sector into the mainstream are there.
Overall, the inaugural MIC in Houston was a huge success despite some initial set backs, including the death of Stuart C. Maudlin, President and CEO of MIC, who lost his battle with brain cancer on September 14, 2014. The news of his passing caused the MIC to be postponed from its original September date and rescheduled for the first weekend of October once a new corporate title sponsor, Dutchess Capital, picked up the conference.
Nevertheless, Stuart C. Maudlin’s vision of MIC becoming one of the few exclusive conferences focused on bringing investors and legalized marijuana businesses together to grow the market sector is being considered an achievement. A second MIC conference has been proposed for Austin in 2015, though no additional details have been provided.
By: Andrew Wagner
Communications Director of Houston NORML
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