From Humble Beginnings to a Major Industry
The cannabis industry has come a long way, from a few California-based mavericks back in 1996 (with the legalization of medical cannabis there), to today, where experts say, the industry is expanding and maturing at an ever-increasing rate. Consider the sheer number of states who’ve legalized medical and more recently, recreational marijuana. Now, the densely populated East Coast is starting to allow adult-use. Soon, densely populated New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania are expected to follow in the footsteps of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts.
Another reason, public opinion has liberalized in recent years. The latest Pew Research Center poll, conducted in October, finds that for the first time, a majority—61% of Americans, believe cannabis should be legalized for adult use. Research is limited. But the body of work conducted thus far suggests that cannabis consumption is far safer than consuming alcohol or cigarettes, which has encouraged entrepreneurs and big businesses alike.
So much so that those who were once opposed legalization, like New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, are having a change of heart. Former Speaker of the House John Boehner, who was once diametrically opposed to legalization, is now involved in a holding company that invests in the industry. What’s more, lots of mainstream celebrities now own cannabis-based businesses.
Perhaps the most significant reason, there may be just way too much money to be made to ignore. In a recent report, Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics found that in North America alone, the cannabis market was worth $9.2 billion in 2017. They expect it to grow to $47.3 billion within the next decade. Today, so many professionals are jumping ship from so-called straight industries, to make it big in state-legal cannabis. Scientists, engineers, lawyers, marketers, salespeople, agricultural professionals, and more, are bringing their skills to bare in hopes of cashing in on this lucrative market.
The NCIA Business Summit & Expo
Nowhere was the industry’s maturation more evident than at the most recent National Cannabis Industry Association’s (NCIA) Business Summit & Expo. This was the award-winning trade show’s 5th anniversary. Over 7,500 attendees showed up at San Jose Convention Center on July 25-27. NCIA is the industry’s only national trade organization. In 2016, this summit and expo won the Trade Show Executive’s Fastest 50 Award, and The Denver Post’s Cannabist Golden Pineapple Award, for “best business event.” It’s grown even bigger and more prestigious since. At this latest one, 150 speakers and thought leaders were in attendance.
The keynote speaker was former US Attorney General James M. Cole. He’s the author of the famous “Cole Memo,” which under the Obama administration, informed law enforcement and prosecutors not to raid or prosecute state-legal cannabis businesses. This is considered a paradigm shift in the legal landscape surrounding the industry. Besides speakers, networking opportunities, and a 120,000 sq. ft. exhibition space to explore, visitors could take part in educational sessions concentrating on cultivation, infused products and extracts, and business strategies and innovation.
The show was well-organized. Attendees could clearly see the industry is maturing, evident by the much wider range of businesses that are working to gain their share of the market. These included law firms, insurance companies, packaging equipment providers, leasing companies, marketing firms, printers and labeling companies, testing services, and much more. Although it used to be a small, tight-knit community, today, there is a plethora of operators from different states and countless ancillary businesses. Regulations, best practices, and trends within the industry were on everyone’s tongue.
Currently terpenes—the biochemicals in cannabis that give it its flavor profile and aroma, are a preoccupation of the industry. Since extracts and infused products are becoming more popular, preservation or collection of terpenes are of utmost importance. For extractors, steam distillation might be the best method to secure terpenes. Ai Vacuum, an industry leader in botanical refinement equipment, offers several options perfectly suited for this process.
Our glass reactors are one. The 50-liter model is one of the most popular in the industry. This gives you ultimate control over the process. It offers great torque, an adjustable stirring speed, and consistent pressure, which allows for the creation of perfect, uniform product. Another option, which may be easier and more cost-effective, is a rotary evaporator. The 50-liter SolventVap is the perfect choice. It’s reliable, durable, and has lots of useful features, like a motorized warm water bath—for precise temperature control and an easy-to-use vacuum release, which can be used to continually feed the system.