Bitsonline heads back to Denver next week for the CryptoCannabis conference, to find out more about an industry that could potentially be worth over $31 billion USD by 2021 — yet continues to exist in a legal grey zone. Again, we expect to ask (and hopefully answer) the perennial question: Can bitcoin and cryptocurrencies help here?
CryptoCannabis is a twice-yearly, one-day event. This month it’s attached to the wider series of “420” events and celebrations in Denver and other parts of Colorado. CryptoCannabis focuses specifically on finding useful financial alternatives to help businesses at all stages of the supply and consumption chain.
Speakers include attorney and industry specialist David Rodman, Official 420 Rally organizer Miguel Lopez, Mark Goldfogel of 4th Corner Credit Union, systems security specialist Darnell Washington, and several more.
As of 2017, the cannabis industry is reportedly worth $7.7 billion USD worldwide. $2.9 billion of that is recreational, and $4.8 medical. Evolve ETFs, which operates the Evolve Marijuana ETF (TSX: SEED) estimates that will grow to a total $31.4 billion by 2021 as more and larger jurisdictions join in.
The bulk of that growth and revenue comes from North America, with a fraction from Europe and Latin America. Asia remains staunchly opposed to drug use of any kind (other than alcohol and tobacco, which are rampant).
The Cannabis Scene in Denver Today
It’s been over four years since cannabis became legal for both medicinal and recreational use in Colorado, but several challenges remain there and elsewhere.
Sales of cannabis products for recreational and medicinal use are now legal in the largest U.S. state, California. Canada will become the first G7 country to legalize it at the national level in summer 2018.
As we’ve found in Bitcoin and cryptocurrency industry, official recognition and regulation doesn’t equal full permissiveness. Registered dispensaries and distributors still face prison time if they don’t adhere to strict rules governing supply chain and sales limits.
CryptoCannabis itself is banned from receiving credit card payments, despite being a conference that doesn’t sell anything except tickets to attend.
As Bitsonline discovered last year, growers are forced to monitor operations and employees, and tag and track every plant from youth to sale — employing a series of expensive and high-tech techniques to comply on top of those to simply product a quality product.
Then there’s the ongoing legal limbo the cannabis industry exists in — it’s legal at state level, but still very much illegal at federal level. Local city and county authorities within a state also serve up a mixture of rules and prohibitions.
Ongoing federal prohibition presents the highest barrier to obtaining banking and credit services, a necessity in almost any business. Any company complying with federal regulations (i.e: most financial institutions) is banned from doing business with the cannabis industry.
CryptoCannabis Asks: What Can Bitcoin Actually Do?
It’s this limbo that laid the foundations for the CryptoCannabis event — can bitcoin and other blockchain-based solutions actually do better? Actual use in dispensaries and in the supply chain is still quite minimal, and many remain unaware or skeptical of its benefits.
It’s not as simple as many think, and there are many suggestions but still no clear answer. Organizers hope this coming event will light the way a little further.
CryptoCannabis organizers pointed to two stand-out influences on the industry since last year: a lawsuit against the City of Denver by 420 Rally organizer Lopez, after the local authority canceled his organization’s permit for three years; and moves by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse an Obama-era policy whereby federal drug enforcement authorities didn’t interfere in states where cannabis is legal.
There are several powerful forces still working against the development of the legal cannabis industry — but also several in its favor. Who wins in the end, and what will it take? Stay tuned to Bitsonline to find out more.
CryptoCannabis will take place on Monday April 23rd from Noon to 7:00 PM, at Club Vinyl in downtown Denver. Tickets are available here — use the promo code “free420rallypass” to get a free Basic Access ticket.
What can cryptocurrency do for the cannabis industry? Anything at all? Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.
Images via CryptoCannabis, Jon Southurst
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