On October 5-6th, Houston played host to the first ever Marijuana Investment Conference (MIC), which took place at The Westin Houston, Memorial City. Unlike other popular marijuana conventions that happen around the country, such as CannaCon and the Kush Expo, which are for retailers and the general public, alike. MIC was specifically geared towards connecting big money investors with up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
Although the recent MIC in Houston was not for the average supporter of marijuana, which is not surprising since a single registration ticket cost $995, that did not stop over 100 entrepreneurs and investors from attending, according to Mark Hayden, an organizer of the event. Investors and entrepreneurs flew in from all over the country to speak and learn about new opportunities for capitalizing on the booming marijuana market. According to the MIC website, the conference was seeking potential investors willing to invest anywhere from $150k-$10 million in the companies presenting at the event.
The inaugural MIC was broken down over a two-day period, consisting of networking opportunities on Sunday and Monday night, company presentations on Monday morning, and one-on-one interviews between entrepreneurs and investors on Monday afternoon. Companies that presented at the conference included those specializing in the production of high quality marijuana, others specializing in the distribution of medical marijuana, and even a company with plans to create the first ever marijuana-friendly resort and vacation experience.
An underlying theme was consistent among the presenting companies: How to address the continuous supply and demand issue of high quality, regulated marijuana that is currently being experienced by users of marijuana, due to the Federal government’s strict opposition towards marijuana. Still, despite federal resistance, the blossoming marijuana market sector shows some promising numbers.
According to Amanda Gross, CEO of SAI Enterprises and a Houstonian businesswoman, “Medical cannabis sales are projected to reach $18 billion annually, despite the limited availability of supply.” Gross, also, went on in her presentation to state that potential recreational and legalized marijuana markets could drive profitability even higher.
A handful of Texas based companies presented at the event. Therma-Gro, based out of Midland, Texas, manufactures top of the line green houses and custom designed growing enclosures. Though the company primarily manufactures green houses for non-marijuana related needs, the company is looking to expand into the marijuana industry.
Cannametrix is a Texas based start-up company by three Rice educated scientists. According to Erol Bakkalbasi, CEO of Cannametrix, the company would be the first of its kind in regard to the clinical testing and quality control of legally produced marijuana. What separates Cannametrix from other testing facilities is that they plan to continuously publish their data that can be accessed by the public using one of two proposed web-and-mobile-based tools. CannibinoID, would be a web-and-mobile service for comparing, choosing, and learning about cannabis. CannametRx would be a service designed specifically for medical marijuana patients.
Sadly, according to Bakkalbasi, during his company’s presentation, Cannametrix is willing to uproot from Texas and move to Colorado as soon as the investment funding comes in because the company would need to operate in a state where marijuana is legal. Remarks such as this only further prove that the draconian marijuana laws of Texas are chasing away credible businesses from Texas who are willing to capitalize on the prosperous marijuana industry and reinvest money back into the State. Regardless of the current laws and regulations on marijuana, one thing is clear: The money and the talent needed to bring the marijuana business sector into the mainstream are there.
Overall, the inaugural MIC in Houston was a huge success despite some initial set backs, including the death of Stuart C. Maudlin, President and CEO of MIC, who lost his battle to brain cancer on September 14, 2014. The news of his passing caused the MIC to be postponed from its original September date and rescheduled for last weekend, once a new corporate title sponsor, Dutchess Capital, picked up the conference. Nevertheless, Stuart C. Maudlin’s vision of MIC becoming one of the few exclusive conferences focused on bringing investors and legalized marijuana businesses together to grow the market sector was none-the-less an achievement. A second MIC conference has been proposed for Austin, TX in 2015, though no additional details have been provided.
Author: Andrew Wagner, Communications Director of Houston NORML