As 2017 draws to a close we look to next year to provide exciting news regarding the cannabis industry, how to best work with our patients, how to continue to destigmatize this incredible plant, and what emerging technologies will help us provide better medical products for our community. To that end we see a huge swath of different events, conferences, talks, and discussions tackling all of these issues and more.
One of the interesting things to note about these events is the audiences that they target. For example, there are (and have been):
- conferences by and for cultivators
- events for people looking for investment opportunities
- events for dispensaries
- cannabis competitions
- compliance summits that want to assist with regulatory, compliance, legal, business and technical challenges
- webinars and speaking events that provide support for minority cannabis business owners
- conferences that networking, education, and empowerment for women in the industry,
- and even ones that seek to include ancillary companies ranging from grow technology to legal services among their audience
But where are the conferences that embrace every facet and community within the industry? Are there events that formally invite each of these different communities to come together to learn, share experiences and knowledge, and ultimately birth innovative methods of engagement both within the industry and outside of it? Events that are nationally recognized that seek to bring together cultivators, medical professionals, dispensary owners, technology developers, lifestyle and culture brands, advocacy and education groups, and patients? And while there are events that cater to organizations like Americans for Safe Access, what about the researchers and scientists that work tirelessly to bring the most out of the therapeutic properties of cannabis? Outside of creating publicly available research material – where can they interact with other communities within the industry?
There are examples outside of the industry that show that bringing different communities together can be successful, that there can be thematic overlaps, and it can allow for new types of engagement.
For the uninitiated TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a nonprofit that began as a conference in the mid-80s that became devoted to “spreading ideas”, usually in the form of short impactful talks that cover a range of topics including everything from theoretical physics, to the power of cartoons, to making you smarter about what you eat, to beatboxing, to what defines a ‘good life’, and everything in between.
While there is no TED geared toward the cannabis industry specifically, TED still allows those within the cannabis industry to speak, share ideas, be positioned as thought leaders, and enlighten eager audiences.
A cursory search on TED’s website and their YouTube page reveals more than several presentations that have happened over the years that are centered around, or make mention of the use of, medical cannabis, including:
- A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana
- How a Technology Industry Veteran Turned Health-Care Entrepreneur Changed His Mind on Medical Cannabis
- Thinking More Broadly About What a Cannabis User Is and Can Be
- Stories of Medical Marijuana Treating Pediatric Epilepsy
- If a “Big Marijuana” is Being Formed as a Result of Big Business Taking Notice of the Cannabis Industry
- How the Interconnectability of Patient Monitoring and Data Collection are the Future of Cannabinoid Medicine
- Utilizing Hemp for Industrial Production
There are countless other talks but one of the common threads is that many of these talks deal specifically with being within the industry (to whatever extent) and speaking to the stigmas and myths that those unversed with the industry and the healing power of cannabis continue to wrestle with. These presentations are looking to answer questions, alleviate concern, provide information and resources for those struggling with debilitating medical conditions, and to educate the inexperienced or the biased.
TED may not be the archetype that the cannabis industry needs to follow, as there is a vocal community that don’t believe the TED talks to be anything that can incite actual change. As a matter of fact, there was even a TED talk about why TED talks are, for some people, little more than “Middlebrow Megachurch Infotainment.” This is because of the nature of TED to simplify complex topics for the sake of lay people to participate in the discussion.
That point, however, misses a big point when translating that model to the cannabis industry. Lay people are a crucial component of the cannabis community. Lay people can be patients looking to find a way to alleviate difficult and debilitating symptoms of a painful medical ailment. And those people need to be part of the discussion, and be provided an avenue to see the industry as a whole and interact with every aspect of it (if they choose).
While there are events like the 2018 World Medical Cannabis Conference and Expo in Pittsburgh that aims to be “the intersection of Cannabis Culture”, how will this intersectional idea be handled, and will all audiences within the culture and industry be treated with the same level of professional respect in regards to what they are presenting? A YouTube video operating as a trailer described the creator’s goal for the event being “to present the most inclusive and progressive medical cannabis healthcare dialogue between clinicians, researchers, patients, and industry leaders.” Although this conference is working to be the intersection between a myriad of audiences, there is a distinct slant towards patients, medical professionals, and perhaps by extension academia.
Is it possible to have a conference or nationally recognized event that has a successful mixture of lifestyle, business, and academic themed content and exhibitors? Or are the audiences and their interest too different?
Over the next several weeks we will continue to discuss this idea with medical professionals, dispensary owners, ancillary business operators, patients, and others to see if there is a possible solution that brings the community together in incredible new ways.
Who knows? Maybe one day soon we will see something like this: