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The innovation of an “dangerous” drug

The New West Summit at the Hyatt Hotel in San Franciso looked like every other tech savvy corporate business conference held there over the years. Everyone was in flashy suits, neatly drawn ties and immaculate hair styles, gathered in various group with leaders and speakers showing off their charts and statistics. Everything resembled an upbeat corporate culture, except the fact that you could smell marijuana in the air, not just a waft but a wave of strong smell. This would be banned by the law a few years ago and the venue would be penalized, but not anymore. The constitution now allows marijuana to be sold legally, opening doors to legit businesses and innovations. Such activities is deemed in countries of Asia as illegal and looked down upon, however the West is changing ever so fast with the changing preferences of people and the latest findings of data.

Yes, the summit was all about marijuana where emerging companies showed off their latest innovations in various forms of urns, pens, vaporizers and bongs. But what attracted the most attention where tech startups that did things a little different than the conventional.

“This plant has been illegal and underground since the invention of technology,” said Steve DeAngelo, founder and CEO of Harborside, one of the world’s largest medical cannabis dispensaries. “This conference represents the intersection of Bay Area startup culture and cannabis.” As noted by Mr. DeAngleo, a revolution has ensued and it will change the way people think about marijuana. It medical properties have been revered for ages and now the movement has finally started.

Marijuana has become a lucrative business endowment in four states mostly: Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Colarado, where the recreational use of marijuana has been enable, while 25 other states allows its medical use. The number of users started off with a spike and still hauling in strong numbers. It is a market full of hopes and possibilities of expansion. Now the industry is already worth over 7bn dollars and has grown by an average of 30% is the last three years. By 2020 it is expected to rise to around 21bn dollars. Therefore according to the stats it IS one of the most fasting growing industries in the US. Hence it has ushered the attention of many startups as well.

The New West Summit functioned as a headline of what a previously banned and illegal plant has grown into where it’s headed. The Summit spoke for itself bringing in promising businesses and ideas into the business platform of marijuana. A company named Grownetrics attended, which uses sophisticated algorithm to help growers grow bigger and better plants, sustainably. There was also Fleurish Farms, who built a nifty contraption that can capture 99.7% of the sun spectrum, which in turn can help farmers grow plant indoors with much less hassle and a higher efficiency than the average greenhouse.

The industry of edible marijuana is also rapidly growing, introducing gummies, lozenges, chocolates, cakes, breath strips and other marijuana infused edibles. “We’re coming to a point where we’re starting to see edibles that are lower dosed,” said Kristi Knoblich, co-founder of Kiva Confections. “It’s that person that’s looking for a glass of wine in the evening, that person that isn’t looking to get blasted.” Ms. Kristi here points out to how moderation can be better than intoxication.

The marijuana industry has become highly professionalized and considered as a legit business, with investors and innovators from all walks of life to join together. In 2015, investors spent 360 million dollars into startups, while 137 million dollars have been spent this year, as entailed by a high0end research firm, specializing in venture capital. This is a significant rest from 7 million in 2012 when the constitution was changed. Jim McAlpine, the New West Summit’s founder, said the conference is more about technology and business than getting high. The event is meant to be a forum where the future of the industry is discussed, he said, “This industry is really looking at how it’s going to grow and scale,” McAlpine said. “Last year it felt like a cannabis technology event. This year it feels like Salesforce’s Dreamforce conference.”

The world is changing and so is personal preferences and perspectives. We initially believed that the world was flat, but it is not. We believed that the planets revolves around the earth, which they certainly do not. We also believed marijuana fried brain cells and tobacco did not harm as much as marijuana, which also is not true. Humans are ever evolving, it is best that they run their course through trial and error.

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