New York City night scene. Image: Paulo Barcellos Jr. via Wikimedia Commons
Bruce Kennedy ~ WeedWorthy ~
Cannabis industry representatives are looking back to 2014’s successes, as they prepare for the 2016 election cycle.
Much of the legal cannabis industry appears to be taking a big breath, as it heads into the autumn of 2015.
After last year, with legalization of recreational marijuana for adults in Colorado and Washington State, followed by Alaska and Oregon, the industry is now preparing for the 2016 election cycle. With those elections comes the possibility of marijuana legalization measures appearing on ballots in many more states.
“We are in a bit of a transition period, there are some legislation developments,” Taylor West, Deputy Director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), tells WeedWorthy.
NCIA is preparing for next week’s Cannabis Business Summit & Expo in New York City, an event that the organization says is expected to attract cannabis industry professionals from around the country; people who will take part in seminars, discussions and workshops “focused on business best practices, patient care, and the latest developments in marijuana policy reform.”
The event is also making history, with a keynote address by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), the first incumbent senator to speak formally to a cannabis industry conference.
Gillibrand is also one of the original co-sponsors of the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States (CARERS) Act. That measure would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug, to recognize cannabis has medical applications. It would also change federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies. 
New York City, as America’s financial center, may appear to be a logical place to hold a business summit on the legal cannabis industry. But NCIA’s Taylor notes the Midtown Manhattan event is geared more for people currently in the industry, or looking to enter the industry, rather than the downtown investor types.
“I’m not sure we’re expecting a dramatic turnout from Wall Street,” she says, “but certainly we have sessions that are geared toward the idea of obtaining financing, looking at the challenges of banking and taxation. So if there are folks that are interested in…getting introduced to the issues, it’s certainly an option for them.”
The New York Department of Health, meanwhile, recently awarded five medical marijuana licenses to organizations that will open dispensaries across the state. And Taylor says New York is just one of several East Coast states trying to come to terms with how it will handle a legal marijuana business that is both emerging and set to expand rapidly.
“You’re seeing a lot of the shakeout of the big changes that came in 2014,” she says, referring to these regulatory growing pains, “and then we’ll be ramping back up into the big campaign options in 2016. So now is the time for folks to figure out the nuts-and-bolts of these markets.”
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