A convention touted as the only gathering of its kind for marijuana business professionals will bring together weed entrepreneurs from across the country next month.

The second annual National Marijuana Business Conference & Expo will be held in the Seattle area, from Nov. 6 to 8 at the Emerald Downs in Auburn, Wash. Last year’s event was held in Denver.Washington

Both choices are fitting, as Colorado and Washington became the first two states in the nation last year to legalize recreational pot. Another 18 states, plus the District of Columbia, allow medical marijuana, and players in many of those states’ cannabis markets will attend.

The conference is expected to draw about 500 people, more than double last year’s attendance. Attendees will include dispensary executives, growers, lawyers, investors and other professionals.

A lot has changed, legally and politically, since the 2012 meeting, which helps explain why gatherings like this are exploding in popularity.

First, the legality of weed, medical and recreational, continues to expand every year, as does public support for legalization. Second, the U.S. Department of Justice announced in August it won’t interfere with legalized pot as long as states enforce strict rules that meet federal priorities such as keeping the drug away from kids and preventing violence.

Next month’s conference, and the open Expo floor, will be devoted entirely to marijuana business, finance, law and operational issues. The event is strictly for businesspeople; MMJ patients and others are not invited and marijuana use is not allowed.

Both days of the event will include workshops, case studies, expert panels and keynote speeches, all designed to help entrepreneurs build their pot businesses and deal with complex regulations in different states. There will also be networking opportunities, and the expo floor will include exhibits from top suppliers.

There will be discussions on growing, sales, edibles and banking issues, among other topics. The featured speakers include Alison Holcomb, a leading force behind Initiative 502, the law voters passed last November to legalize recreational weed in Washington State. Holcomb, a Seattle attorney, is a veteran of battles over legalization and regulation.

Other speakers include Steve DeAngelo and Rob Kampia. DeAngelo created Harborside Health Center, an Oakland, Cal., dispensary billed as the largest in the world, and is currently under legal assault by the federal government. Kampia is the co-founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, the largest pro-weed group in the country.

There will be 30 speakers in all. Tickets will cost $499 until Oct. 15, when they will increase to $599. Information about the conference is available at www.mmjbusinessdaily.com/conference/.


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