Region: Eastern Cannabis Business Conference
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Community Advocacy in Massachusetts

With expanding legalization, the cannabis industry has the difficult task of aligning with local communities – and after decades of misinformation caused by prohibition, this is no easy feat. When Massachusetts voters approved adult-use in 2016, subsequent regulations required that local jurisdictions would be able to decide whether to accept or reject cannabis businesses. As a result, one of the key requirements for obtaining a license is that applicants for a proposed cannabis business must hold a Community Outreach Meeting. In this post, we explore the importance of community advocacy in The Bay State.

Expectations for Community Advocacy

Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission guidance explains that an applicant must hold their Community Outreach Meeting within six months prior to submitting their Application of Intent. The meeting is to be held in a large assembly space such as a local school or town hall, and at least seven days prior to the meeting the applicant must publish a notice in a city or town newspaper detailing the meeting place, time, and subject matter, as well as the proposed address of the cannabis business. This notice must be filed with local authorities including the city or town clerk, the contracting authority, the planning board, and local adult-use cannabis licensing authority, and must also be mailed to owners whose property is adjacent to, directly opposite from, and within 300 feet of the proposed location.

The meeting is a powerful tool for cannabis business owners, enabling them to present their business directly to concerned residents while also demonstrating their commitment to being a positive, active force in the local community. Being transparent with meeting attendees about the essentials – which type of cannabis establishment will be at the location, which permits are required for the site, validation that the business is properly zoned, and much more – is the first step towards enabling cannabis business owners and local residents to maintain open lines of communication. Owners are able to answer questions and address concerns directly, including how they intend to prevent diversion to minors and ensure that their location “will not constitute a nuisance,” while also sharing their plans for creating a positive impact the community.

Be a part of the conversation during the educational session, “Community Advocacy In Massachusetts,” happening Thursday, February 20 during the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon is your chance to hear the latest regional insights, explore emerging business opportunities, and widen your East Coast network at the industry’s only true B2B cannabis trade show to focus on the Northeast market. Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. Join us February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center – Registration is now open!

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Where The Major 2020 Presidential Candidates Stand on Cannabis

We are entering a new decade with greater support than ever for cannabis legalization. As of the start of 2020, cannabis is legal in 33 states for medical use and in 11 states and Washington, D.C. for adult use, leaving the federal government and Idaho, Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota maintaining cannabis’ illegal status. 

Between two-thirds of Americans reportedly supporting cannabis legalization, and President Trump’s December 2019 assertion that medical cannabis states are not protected against interference from federal law enforcement, it’s no wonder cannabis has become a key issue in the 2020 presidential election. In this post, we take a look and where the major presidential candidates stand on the subject.

Senator Amy Klobuchar

Senior Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar was one of the co-sponsors of the STATES Act, bipartisan legislation that would exempt those in compliance with state cannabis laws from federal enforcement under the Controlled Substances Act. While she appears to support federal cannabis legalization, unlike many other candidates, Senator Klobuchar has yet to take a firm position on cannabis under the broader lens of criminal justice reform.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang

In addition to supporting federal cannabis legalization, Andrew Yang’s marijuana policy prioritizes the development of industry regulation and oversight, while also offering justice to those convicted for use or possession under federal law. If elected, Yang says he will remove cannabis from The Controlled Substances Act, expunge past convictions, and activate probation and potential early release for select non-violent drug offenders.

Senator Bernie Sanders

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is a strong proponent of cannabis legalization. He recently co-sponsored both the Marijuana Justice Act and the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, two pieces of legislation centering on the removal of cannabis from the federal list of controlled substances. Senator Sanders’ plan includes legalizing cannabis through executive action within the first 100 days of his presidency, vacating and expunging past cannabis-related convictions, reinvesting revenue from legal cannabis back into those communities most impacted by the drug war, and putting structures in place to ensure that legal cannabis doesn’t turn into Big Tobacco.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren demonstrated her support for cannabis legalization when she introduced the bipartisan STATES Act in cooperation with Senator Cory Gardner in 2018. She also co-sponsored both the Marijuana Justice Act and the MORE Act, and in addition to legalizing cannabis at the federal level, Senator Warren includes expunging cannabis convictions as part of her plan for comprehensive criminal justice reform.

Former Vice President Joe Biden

Former Vice President Joe Biden has a history of supporting cannabis prohibition and tough anti-drug law enforcement throughout his political career. He came under fire for labeling cannabis as a “gateway drug” in 2019, and recently reaffirmed that he won’t support legalization until there has been further study into its potential health risks. Vice President Biden does, however, support decriminalizing cannabis at the federal level, expunging prior convictions, and moving cannabis to the list of Schedule 2 controlled substances.

Mayor Pete Buttigieg

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports federal legalization as part of his overall criminal justice reform plan. In addition to expunging past cannabis convictions, Mayor Buttigieg will reinvest tax revenue earned from legal cannabis back into communities most impacted by the war on drugs, and create programs that foster entrepreneurship within the legal cannabis industry for those convicted of cannabis crimes.

Billionaire/Philanthropist Tom Steyer

While Tom Steyer has voiced support for legalization, his stance on cannabis has primarily centered on resolving the industry’s banking issues. Referencing his experience with starting a community bank, Steyer has emphasized changing federal law so that banks serving cannabis businesses won’t lose their federal insurance.

Hear what industry professionals and experts think about the 2020 presidential candidates at the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon invites you to explore the latest regional insights, discover emerging business opportunities, and broaden your East Coast network at the industry’s only true B2B cannabis trade show focusing on the Northeast market. Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. It happens February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center.  Registration is now open

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5 Steps for Making the Most of Your Time at #NECannaBizCon

As we enter an increasingly digital age, the focus has been hugely geared toward online marketing. As we’ve all experienced, the business community has begun to spend more and more of their time engaging online. Connecting with customers via email, phone calls, websites, and social media pages have made digital marketing the name of the game. This transition has left sales calls and office visits an afterthought. 

However, the marketing world has seen a rise in more structured face-to-face marketing (such as tradeshows and educational conferences) and the theory for the increase boils down to that these interactions provide benefits that digital marketing can’t. At its most basic, face-to-face marketing matters because it enable companies to make personal connections with customers – something that can’t be done as easily within the digital marketing space. 

Here are 5 steps to make the most of your Northeast Cannabis Business Conference experience:

  1. Review the exhibit floorplan and course guide: Conferences and tradeshows can surely cause sensory overload and attention exhaustion. Taking time to create a schedule and get the lay of the landscape will ensure that you receive the biggest ROI for the time you’re spending at the show.
  2. Create a ‘Must Visit’ list for the exhibition hall: It is easy to get distracted with so much happening on the tradeshow floor. Exhibitors are excited to connect with attendees and are hoping to get as much attention as possible. Use the #NECannaBizCon app to ensure that you meet with the exhibitors whose products and services are most valuable to you and your company.
  3. Schedule appointments with exhibitors and potential clients that you’re most excited to connect with: The conference can get hectic, as well as the individual exhibitor booths. As you narrow down your selected ‘Must Visit’ exhibitors and prospects, we highly recommend scheduling an appointment. This small but impactful ask will keep you on schedule and provide you with the undivided attention you need to maximize your time.
  4. Attend networking and learning events: Conference organizers want to provide you with every opportunity to elevate your visit to the show. The networking and events schedule will provide you with many opportunities to learn from experts and connect with other attendees. Lean in where it feels right because the potential to learn something impactful and meet a great connection is huge.
  5. Take care of yourself: As mentioned above, being a conference attendee can be tiring. It is important to get plenty of rest, eat well, and drink a lot of water. A good piece of advice is to bring a refillable water bottle and toss a healthy snack in your bag… just in case.

The connections you make and the information you learn are sure to elevate you and your business. Being organized with your time and intention is invaluable – a small amount of prep work will ensure that you get the most out of your time at the conference. Don’t forget to bring your business cards and wear your step tracker… you’ll be surprised how much you walk! 

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Rhiannon Andersen has served as a CMO and Co-Owner of Steelhead Productions for over 13 years and a marketing consultant for some of the most exciting brands in the country. She is an event marketing educator and her company, Steelhead, has been awarded Exhibitor Magazine’s Top 40 Providers in the event industry. As a marketer, Rhiannon has overseen brand development, business development internal and external marketing as well as all forms of communications for the companies she owns and has consulted for. She guided her company, Steelhead Productions, through the greatest recession of our time and gone on to help grow the business by over 630%, while becoming one of Inc. 5000’s Fastest Growing Companies in America.

In addition to her duties at Steelhead and as a marketing consultant, she has served as the president of the Las Vegas chapter of the Exhibit Designer Producers Association and is the current president of EO Las Vegas, a global organization for entrepreneurs. Andersen believes that marketing, done well, has the power to transform any business.

Rhiannon will also be speaking on the panel: The Power of the First Impression – Exhibiting at Trade Shows 101

Are Association Conferences Worth Attending?

Technology has made communication on a global scale possible without anyone having to step foot on an airplane. Yet, association conferences remain among the most effective traditional event marketing activities around. For the emerging cannabis industry, which continues to endure under continued Federal prohibition with limited access to traditional advertising and marketing, association conferences are often the best bet for cannabis business owners and entrepreneurs to network, learn, hear from industry experts, find suppliers, and showcase their brands.

Attending a conference however requires significant upfront cost and a few days away from the office, leading many industry professionals to wonder: is it worth it? In this post, we see what the statistics reveal about the value of attending industry conferences.

The Power of Face-to-Face

Even in our largely digital world, face-to-face meetings reign supreme. A 2017 Statista report says 79% of U.S. marketers use event marketing to generate sales, and it seems to be paying off:

Marketing Charts reports that 68% of B2B marketers agree that live events generate the most leads. 

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents to the 2019 Demand Generation Benchmark Survey found events to be the most successful tactic for converting leads in the middle and late stages of the sales funnel.

According to, the Center for Exhibition Industry Research (CEIR) found that it can take an average of 3.5 sales calls to close a lead from an exhibition – faster than the reported 4.5 calls it takes to close a sale without an exhibition lead. 

And another CEIR finding shared by finds that meeting with a prospect at a tradeshow costs $142 – that’s $117 less than the $259 it costs to have a face-to-face meeting at their office.

What’s The ROI?

Spending hundreds and even thousands of dollars to attend a tradeshow is a huge investment, one that many small business owners and entrepreneurs may find difficult to justify. If the following statistics reveal one thing however, it’s that return in investment can be measured in more than one way: 

According to, 77% of executive decision-makers found at least one new supplier when attending their last trade show, demonstrating how effective conferences can be at helping build new business relationships. 

But at the end of the day, companies want to see returns that translate into dollars. Statista found that among U.S. marketers who used event marketing, 44% reported generating a 3:1 return on investment, while 14% reported even greater returns of 5:1.

Don’t miss out on securing your next big deal – join us for the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference, coming February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon invites you to explore the latest regional insights, discover emerging business opportunities, and expand your East Coast network at the industry’s only true B2B cannabis expo focusing on the Northeast market. Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. Registration is now open

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Exhibiting At Trade Shows 101

Cannabis trade shows are powerful opportunities for professionals from around the globe to meet, network, make deals, and learn what’s new and trending in the industry. A brand that exhibits at a cannabis convention is making an investment in their business, incurring costs for expo floor space, booth design and build-out, travel, staffing, brochures, swag, and much more. When you’ve put so much of your time, focus, and finances into exhibiting at a trade show, making the right first impression is critical to ensuring that investment yields positive returns. In this post, we explore some of the key considerations for cannabis business owners to make sure their trade show presence translates into success.

Tips and Tricks

Brands that exhibit at trade shows tend to do so with specific goals in mind: signing up new customers, raising brand awareness, meeting with prospective partners, making a big announcement, the list goes on. Your cannabis business is sharing space on the expo floor with hundreds of other companies, which means you have mere seconds to catch the attention of thousands of attendees on the move. 

A key tip for trade show exhibitors is to sign up early. This enables business owners to secure a prime location in an environment that’s first-come-first-served, while also leaving plenty of time to strategize in preparation for the show. To create maximum visual impact, booths should be thoughtfully designed to be eye-catching, attractive, and inviting. Consider unique features that not only attract visitors but keep them engaged – like incorporating interactive displays to showcase products or a comfortable area to rest and quietly network for a few minutes. Offering exclusive offers like show discounts or giveaways in exchange for attendee business cards or email sign-up can be effective at differentiating your brand from the countless other show exhibitors, while also strengthening your prospect list. 

The right swag can also make a visit to your booth memorable. A branded reusable water bottle, for example, is likely more useful to anyone walking a trade show for three days than a sticker or keychain would be. In addition to being environmentally conscious, having hundreds of people flash your logo every time they take a sip during the expo, then later in the outside world, can go a long way towards building brand awareness.

But even with the perfect booth, the work is only just beginning. In order to have a successful conference experience, business owners need only the best people representing their brand. That means everyone has dressed appropriately and focused only on interacting with the public – not playing on their phones or hanging out with their coworkers. Make sure your booth staff are equipped with lots of business cards to hand out (trust us, there’s no such thing as having too many) and pens for taking notes, because once the show is over, conducting follow up should be seamless.

Join the Conversation

Get more trade show exhibiting tips from the experts who know best during the educational session “The Power of the First Impression – Exhibiting At Trade Shows 101” during the National Cannabis Industry Association’s Northeast Cannabis Business Conference. Formerly Seed to Sale Show, #NECannaBizCon invites cannabis industry professionals to gain the latest regional insights, seek out emerging business opportunities, and expand their East Coast network at the industry’s only true B2B cannabis expo focusing on the Northeast market. Meet with NCIA members, entrepreneurs, policymakers, industry leaders, and services providers on 40,000 square feet of expo floor. It’s all happening February 19-20, 2020 at Boston’s Hynes Convention Center – Registration is now open!

register today

10 Noteworthy #NECannaBizCon Speakers

With each conference comes new opportunities to discuss the most recent and pressing successes and challenges within the cannabis industry. That’s why we are proud to routinely welcome talented leaders from across the country to present and meet with our community. NCIA strives to offer education in every area of the industry and to every level of professional. #NECannaBizCon presenters will cover a multitude of different topics including a full track focused on the Northeast to help you prepare your business for success in this emerging market. 

We look forward to sharing the most up to date information with you as over 100+ thought leaders present at Northeast Cannabis Business Conference, February 19-20 in Boston, MA. In the meantime, please get to know some of them as we present 10 Noteworthy #NECannaBizCon Speakers:

Nancy Lake, Director, Compliance Anchor

Panel: Moving Money, Banking Money, and Cannabis Cash

Nancy Lake has over 15 years of experience in the BSA/AML world. Nancy was CAMS certified in 2008, received her CAMS-Audit certification in 2013, and her CAMS-FCI certification in 2015. She has served as BSA Officer in multiple community banks where she successfully created and implemented the entire BSA program including one bank with a number of international MSBs. She has conducted bank-wide BSA/AML training including Board of Director training. Nancy has experience working with and implementing several automated BSA/AML monitoring systems. She is utilizing her BSA experience and 19 years as an educator to provide assistance to community banks in the areas of training, risk management, and the development of sound internal programs and best practices.

Read More About Nancy Here

Ryan Rapaport, Head of Market Development, Best in Grow

Panel: How to Hit Retail 2.0 Velocity: Compliance, Talent, and Brand Success

Ryan Rapaport is the Head of Market Development of the retail optimization platform for Best in Grow. He works with top cannabis brands who are grossly underserved with technology and strategy to ensure their investments in their most important assets… people. Ryan has spent the last seven years as a leader in SaaS business development and enterprise sales strategy, with a focus on people technology with companies like PeopleMatter (Acquired by Snag) and Vangst.

Read More About Ryan Here

Dr. Stephanie Wedryk, Director of Research and Development, Rx Green Technologies

Panel: Cannabis Pathogens and Best IPM Practices for Management: Today and in the Future

Dr. Stephanie Wedryk graduated from The Ohio State University with a PhD in Horticulture and Crop Science in 2011. Her PhD research focused on organic weed management and urban vegetable production. Dr. Wedryk worked for a large agricultural cooperative focused on product development for several years. She joined the Rx Green Technologies team as Director of Research and Development in October 2017. Stephanie is excited to help cannabis growers optimize their operations through an increased scientific understanding of cannabis.

Read More About Stephanie Here

Steven Monacelli, Co-Founder & Partner, Restivo Monacelli LLP

Panel: The Ghost of 280E: Past, Present, and Future

Steven Monacelli, CPA/PFS, MST, is Co-Founder and Partner of Restivo Monacelli LLP, an innovative tax, accounting, and business advisory firm established over 25 years ago and recognized nationally as a 2019 Best of the Best Firm, Top 400 Firm and Fastest Growing Firm by INSIDE Public Accounting. As a CPA with more than 30 years of accounting, tax, and business consulting experience, Steven helps clients nationwide implement growth and exit strategies that maximize their business value and ensure compliance with complex tax laws. Steven’s first-hand business experience and diverse skill sets earned him Congressional Recognition in honor of being named one of the “Top Public Accounting Professionals” in 2015.

Read More About Steven Here

Meg Nash, Senior Associate Attorney, Vicente Sederberg LLP

Panel: Compliance is Critical: How to Avoid a Costly Mistake

Meg Nash is an attorney for Vicente Sederberg LLP, a leading national cannabis law firm. Meg works in the Boston office, where her practice focuses on counseling clients through the state licensing application process, land use and zoning requirements, and regulatory and compliance matters.

A consummate team player, Meg enjoys collaborating with cannabis entrepreneurs and other professionals involved in the licensing process- including engineers, architects, and local officials- in order to gain an in-depth understanding of her clients’ ambition. These collaborative relationships with clients empower her to provide the strategic legal advice and regulatory guidance which helps her clients achieve their goals.

Read More About Meg Here

Margeaux Bruner, Lobbyist & Corporate Social Responsibility Consultant, Perpetual Harvest Sustainable Solutions

Panel: Social Equity Strategies: What You Need To Know For Winning Applications and Successful Operations That Promote Diversity and Inclusion

At Perpetual Harvest Sustainable Solutions, Margeaux Bruner monitors and assesses trends, external environment, and internal practices; makes recommendations to develop/adjust strategies to meet the changing business and market conditions. She is a registered lobbying agent and consultant. She currently serves on the National Cannabis Industry Association’s State Regulations Committee as well as Minority Cannabis Business Association’s Policy Committee. She is a leader for National Expungement Week (NEW) and is a national speaker on leadership, diversity, equity and inclusion.

Read More About Margeaux Here

Benton Bodamer, Attorney, Dickinson Wright

Panel: Hemp: State and Federal Regulation after the 2018 Farm Bill

Benton Bodamer has represented a wide range of public and private companies, as well as many of the leading international private equity sponsors.

He regularly advises clients on complex domestic and cross-border mergers and acquisitions, leveraged buyouts, joint ventures, minority investments, divestitures, and restructurings. Mr. Bodamer also routinely counsels privately held businesses (including sponsor portfolio companies) on general corporate matters, governance, corporate best practices, and commercial transactions.

Read More About Benton Here

Jennifer Whetzel, Founder & CEO, Ladyjane Branding

Panel: The Future of Cannabis Packaging

Jennifer Whetzel is a marketing professional and founder of Ladyjane Branding. For over 25 years, Whetzel has been branding, advertising, marketing, strategizing and researching for Fortune 500 companies and B2B/B2C small businesses. After finding significant symptom relief in medical cannabis and emotional support from community members, she was inspired to use her professional expertise to help businesses in the cannabis industry develop smart, strategic and consistent brands that create deep connections with consumers. Jennifer’s signature creations, Ladyjane’s Archetypal Segmentation Model, Brand & Consumer Personality Quizzes and Two-Hour Brand Makeover all empower entrepreneurs in the industry to take their brand strategies into their own hands to stand out and sell more.

Read More About Jennifer Here

Bryan Passman, Founder + Hunter, Hunter + Esquire; The GIGG®

Panel: Overcoming Industry People Challenges: How To Hire and Retain Best-In-Class Talent

Founder of cannabis industry talent acquisition firms Hunter + Esquire and The GIGG®, Bryan is internationally renowned in executive search and advisory in the Cannabis, MedTech, Pharma, Biotech, Packaging and Food & Beverage (FMCG) Consumer Packaged Goods industries. His clients have included small and large NA-based cannabis companies, many dozens of market-leading blue chip & startup companies in the Healthcare life sciences and (food + adult beverage) Consumer Packaged Goods industries as well ancillary technology companies serving the CPG and Hospitality industries. Bryan’s Talent Acquisition expertise spans all Commercial, Operational, Financial and Technical disciplines.

Read More About Bryan Here

Milan Patel, Co-Founder & CEO, PathogenDx

Panel: A Safer Sustainable Cultivating

Mr. Patel leads the strategic vision, financial health and global growth of PathogenDx, a Scottsdale-based company that provides disruptive DNA-based pathogen testing technology and solutions for cannabis, botanical, food and agricultural industries. He has extensive experience in corporate finance, mergers, and acquisitions, business strategy and planning, infrastructure and organizational development, and controls, compliance, and audit and has led several company exits. Milan earned his BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy; an MS in Biomedical/Medical Engineering, University of Michigan; and an MBA in Finance and Marketing, University of Detroit Mercy.

Read More About Milan Here

See our entire speaker list here and review the agenda here.

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