Image of NCIA's Taylor West
Bruce Kennedy  ~  WeedWorthy ~
Taylor West, Deputy Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, talks about the changes currently facing the industry as it evolves and grows.
The legal marijuana industry gets ready to meet in Denver next week for the second annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo. The event, presented by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), is considered one of the industry’s largest and most influential business-to-business conferences and trade shows.
NCIA Deputy Director Taylor West has a unique perspective on not only the upcoming Summit and Expo, but also on how the legal cannabis industry has been growing and evolving.
In Part One of this interview, West discussed America’s changing political landscape when it comes to cannabis legalization. But she’s also considering how the 2015 version of the Summit and Expo will be different, compared to last year’s inaugural event.
While the conference expects scores of newcomers to the legal marijuana sector, West tells WeedWorthy there are also the people “who have now been established for some time, and are looking for ways to grow their businesses or to incorporate more cutting-edge technology or more innovation.”
So along with trying to keep the Summit and Expo’s agenda fresh, with education for those looking to enter into legal marijuana businesses, West says there’s a growing need to help inform industry ground-breakers;  those “who already know the 101 and are really looking to gain on the margins, in terms of making their business more efficient or more successful.”
Another sign of how rapidly the legal cannabis sector is evolving, she says, is a rising interest by marijuana-related companies in business practices you’d see in nearly any office setting – regarding issues like human resources, staffing, hiring and marketing.
And while federal prohibition remains the biggest challenge still facing the industry, West points out that the cannabis sector also has to deal with an uneven patchwork of local marijuana laws across the country.
“So for a business that’s looking to grow beyond a single state, or even sometimes a single city,” she says, “the differences in the way they have to meet regulatory burdens are huge, and that makes it very difficult to ramp up quickly.”
The cannabis industry’s lack of access to banking and mainstream financial services is another obstacle.
“In addition to banking, things like small business loans remain mostly out-of-reach,” she adds.  “So figuring out how to finance your business as it grows is a major challenge that other industries don’t necessarily face.”

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