By Sue Vorenberg
Cannabis Daily Record
The Marijuana Business Conference and Expo in Las Vegas earlier this month brought together a diverse group of visitors – billionaires, small farmers and just about everything in between, said Farmer Tom Lauerman, a Washington medical marijuana grower and activist.
But what he was most impressed by was how the various groups are starting to network, said Lauerman, who attended the conference, held Nov. 11-13 at the Rio All Suites Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
“I really think the small independent growers are the backbone of this industry, and I want to help small farmers join the legal industry as it continues to grow,” Lauerman said. “This was the largest convention ever in the history of cannabis. More money and business plans than I’ve ever seen at an event. And they were all willing to talk to us as growers.”
Some in the industry see big business as the enemy, but after meeting with the investment community, Lauerman said he doesn’t think it has to be that way.
“There were literally billionaires there writing checks,” he said. “They’re not the enemy. It’s going to be better for all of us if we work with them and protect each other, rather than fighting each other over the middle ground.”
Lauerman said he hopes to put together a coalition of small cannabis farmers so the group can better network with some of the bigger national companies getting into the industry (If interested you can reach Tom through his website here: http://www.farmertomorganics.com/).
“I want to help bridge the gap between the small independent farmer and the corporate groups that can really take this all to the next level,” Lauerman said.
Another big takeaway from the conference was the need for formalized industry standards for cannabis testing, edible marijuana products, and workplace safety and health, he said.
“Standards are a really big deal,” Lauerman said. “We need to do this now or the whole industry is going to tank.”
Lauerman has been working with federal officials to create a OSHA health and safety manual for industry workers, but more effort is needed – especially in the area of testing – so that consumers know and can make educated decisions about cannabis products, he said.
And on the plus side – Lauerman said he also noticed that industry equipment prices are dropping rapidly.
“Lighting, other equipment at the show – it’s about a half to a third of the cost of what it was last year,” he said. “That will probably bring in even more new players to the industry.”