What We Learned at Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Conference

World Medical Cannabis Conference Comes to Pittsburgh

On Friday, the World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo opened in Pittsburgh. The event includes workshops — everything from how to cook with cannabis to how cannabis can benefit sick children and military veterans. The two-day expo also includes a number of speakers and vendors touting the medical benefits of marijuana inside Pittsburgh’s David L. Lawrence Convention Center.

Pa. Medical Marijuana Law Takes Root

Last year, Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana, becoming the 24th state in the nation to do so. Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana system itself is still being formed, with the state now reviewing applications for the first round of grower and dispensary licenses, and working out the kinks along the way.

Big Business

Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana industry will join a nationwide industry worth billions annually, as more states adopt laws allowing for medical marijuana use or even recreational use.

Vast and Varied

The industry is vast and varied, with a dizzying number of products and producers from coast to coast, some of which are on hand at this week’s conference and expo in Pittsburgh. What follows here is a collection of products and facts about medical marijuana and the industry that PennLive gathered at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on Friday — everything from the Monster.com of marijuana to crowdfunding for pot producers.

Marijuana’s Monster.com

Simply Kind Solutions, LLC, is an employment service for the marijuana industry. CEO Keith Wolsko told PennLive they help companies at every end of the industry find workers in states where marijuana production and consumption have been legalized. “Within the next four to five years we’re anticipating another 250,000 to 275,000 jobs to be added nationwide. We’re looking at probably a $20 to $25 billion industry, and that’s just cannabis.”

LeafLocker

In states like Colorado, where recreational marijuana use is legal, LeafLocker provides a tamper resistant box that can house the product as it’s sold in stores. The box requires users to puncture a perforated seal and hold down a plastic tab hidden beneath it, before pulling open a sliding drawer of sorts where the product is held inside. Critics of legal marijuana continue to express concern about marijuana falling into the wrong hands or those of children. The people behind LeakLocker say this product helps address those concerns.

Military to Marijuana

With National Cannabis Security Services, ex-law enforcement and ex-military members are the first line of defense for marijuana growers and dispensaries, many of which remain cash-only enterprises. Part of this owes to the reluctance of banking institutions to work with pot producers and retailers due to remaining federal laws prohibiting the use, cultivation and sale of the drug — even in states where it’s been legalized. In response to the security needs presented by having large amounts of cash and marijuana on hand, Ted Daniels, a veteran of the War in Afghanistan, founded National Cannabis Security Services to help companies safeguard their assets. This article from CBS News explains further.

Safe Spaces

With security concerns continuing to dog the industry, companies like Philadelphia’s Wilson Safe Company saw a new opening for their products. They now provide vaults and safes to marijuana growers, dispensaries and smaller models to users. Bob Kassoff, vice president of marketing and sales with the company, said they’ve sold to dozens of companies nationwide and have hundreds more expected in Pennsylvania when legal medical marijuana launches here. (Pennsylvania’s version of legal medical marijuana does not extend to smokable forms of the drug, it should be noted.)

Crowdfunding

Fundanna is a crowdfunding service for marijuana producers and ancillary businesses. Through Fundanna, members of the public can invest as little as $100 in marijuana startups, and the companies can take in up to $1 million a year (a legally imposed cap, Fundanna explains.) There are some restrictions depending on whether or not the startup actually grows pot or not. For now, Fundanna is working with companies providing software to dispensaries, a company billing itself as “The Amazon of Pot,” and more.

Cannabinoid Creations

Cannabinoid Creations, a Michigan-based company, makes Cannabidiol (CBD)-enriched and CBD-infused foods, snacks and sparkling hemp beverages. CBD is itself derived from industrial hemp plants and is not psychoactive, nor is it legally restricted like products containing THC, the company says.

Charlotte’s Web

Another CBD product maker, Charlotte’s Web, is a pioneer in the field. The Colorado-based company makes a range of CBD products, including the infused oil, a sort of dietary supplement, pictured above. Proponents of CBD cite a number of health benefits for conditions including seizure activity and PTSD, while others stress its preventative potential. Federal regulators, meanwhile, have warned CBD producers to stop making medical claims about their products’ ability to treat disease. The FDA considers CBD an “unapproved new drug” that’s being “misbranded” by the companies.

What is CBD?

CBD products were plentiful at the World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh this week. But what are they exactly? According to an article published in Rolling Stone magazine on Thursday, THC, CBD, and other compounds found in the marijuana plant support the natural functioning of the endocannabinoid system, which can vary from person to person. Humans and other mammals have cannabinoid receptors, which are found throughout the body in tissues, organs, and especially the brain. The body naturally makes chemicals that fit into these receptors, and together they regulate and balance the body’s systems, from digestion to nerve signaling to the immune system. Whether by coincidence or evolution, the cannabinoids found in the marijuana plant mimic the endocannabinoids made by the body.

CBD for Pets, Too

Other companies, like the Vandergrift, Pa.-based Nature’s Best CBD, also create products geared towards both humans and their pets, including CBD-infused shampoos and sprays. Amy Bufalini, a master distributor with the company, said the pet products can help with animals experiencing seizures and anxiety.

‘More Effectively and More Safely’

Bryan Doner, an ER doctor at a hospital near Pittsburgh and one of the expo’s organizers, said cannabis has been proven to work for patients. Through events like this one, he hopes to convince the public and lawmakers of that. He also hopes to help establish marijuana as legitimate medicine, and medical marijuana as a legitimate industry. “That’s why an event like this was so important to us, to provide a platform so we can all understand it better,” Doner told PennLive. “Whether you’re a doctor, patient, researcher, security, a politician, a business owner. If we can all start to understand this on a better level, we can integrate it more effectively and more safely.”

Expo Continues Through Saturday

The conference and expo continues through Saturday, culminating in a roundtable with professional athletes —  Ricky WilliamsTodd HerremansEben BrittonNate JacksonDarren McCarty — discussing marijuana, pain management and other subjects. A schedule of events and ticket information can be found here. 

The Future in Pot

Meanwhile, former industrial towns around Pittsburgh see the legal cultivation of marijuana for marijuana-based products now legalized in Pennsylvania as a potential boon after years of decline. This optimism was summed up in a recent headline that read: “Marijuana seen by some as successor to steel in western Pa.”

Source: PA Penn Live
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