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Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo kicks off in Phoenix

Vendors showcase their products at the third annual Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center on Oct. 13, 2017. (Photo: Aydali Campa/The Republic)

Marijuana entrepreneurs, enthusiasts, educators and non-profits headed to the Phoenix Convention Center to learn more about the marijuana industry and what its future may look like.

Many attendees and exhibitors at the third annual Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo have a positive outlook about the industry’s future. Why? Because the conference is about education and, by extension, challenging stereotypes.

“We’re not pushing the commercialization of marijuana. We’re pushing the educational understanding of marijuana as medicine. That’s what this conference is about,” said Demitri Downing, executive director of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association and the three-day event’s organizer.

Downing said he is hoping to create an environment where anyone can learn about marijuana and its therapeutic and medicinal benefits.

Anyone, including Arizona lawmakers. Free passes are available to lawmakers interested in learning more about the industry, Downing said.

“I would encourage those who want to regulate marijuana in a responsible manner to understand branding, marketing and advertising thoroughly.”

What to expect

The event kicked off on Thursday with a crash course into beginning a career in the marijuana industry and a boot camp for investors curious about opportunities in the “world’s fastest-growing industry.”

On Friday, the exhibition floor opened and educational sessions continued.

About 250 exhibitors showcased their products and services on the exhibition floor.

Products such as grow lights, machinery to aid in packaging marijuana and consumables like marijuana-infused soft drinks and syrups were on display.

You can’t leave with cannabis-infused products. They are just featured at the event, not sold.

Sessions and speakers

Friday’s sessions focused on cultivation, branding and the medical-marijuana business among other things.

Will Humble, who was instrumental in implementing the state’s medical-marijuana laws, spoke Friday.

Humble, a former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, said that he didn’t anticipate there would be so many people applying to obtain medical marijuana.

If he had anticipated the number, he said, he would have lowered the cost of the card. He called the price of the card his biggest mistake in devising the program’s regulation.

The cost to apply for an Arizona medical-marijuana card is $150, or $75 for people who are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Speakers to look for on Saturday

On Saturday, sessions and speakers will focus on the future of cannabis, recreational marijuana and medical-marijuana users.

Vicente Fox, the former president of Mexico and an advocate of legalizing drugs, is set to speak.

He is also a vocal critic of President Donald Trump.

Fox became a vocal advocate of legalizing drugs after leaving office in 2006.

In 2015, Reuters reported that Fox said Mexico would legalize marijuana within a decade. His comment came shortly after the Mexican Supreme Court approved growing marijuana for recreational use.

Other speakers include:

Cheryl Shuman. Called the “Martha Stewart of Marijuana,” Shuman is a self-made billionaire who manages a $100 million hedge fund to invest in the cannabis industry. She speaks at 2 p.m.

Marvin Washington. A retired NFL player who played for 11 years, Washington will speak about using medical marijuana as a way to combat prescription opioid abuse. He will appear as part of a panel with other former NFL players.

Getting tickets for Saturday

Doors open at 10 a.m. at the south building of the Phoenix Convention Center.

Tickets are $50 (plus a $3.44 fee) and can be bought online or at the event.

Republic reporter Richard Ruelas contributed to this story.

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About 6,000 people are expected to attend the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo at the Phoenix Convention Center. (Photo: Aydali Campa/The Republic)

More than 6,000 people are expected to attend the three-day event about the marijuana industry and what its future may look like.

The Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo (SWCC)

The Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo (SWCC) and the Southeast Cannabis Conference and Expo (SECC) series are brought to you by Weedmaps, and several other national sponsors to host the most exciting professional and educational medical cannabis conferences the United States Cannabis industry has ever seen.

Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo (SWCC)

Attendees and exhibitors will hear from speakers there to educate and inspire, not just showcase, their brand, products or businesses. As always we will create a highly professional environment where the outlines for the future of cannabis will take shape. The conference includes seminars from top industry leaders, and an exhibit hall filled with businesses showcasing industry related products and services. I personally look forward to your participation in this groundbreaking event.

Come take a look at the future. Register today!
SWCC Expo & SECC Expo’s are open to all age groups and there is no need for MMJ card

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The Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo (SWCC) The Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo (SWCC) and the Southeast Cannabis Conference and Expo (SECC) series are brought to you by Weedmaps, and