Marijuana Business, Blogging, and Life Advice

Dear Brian,
How do legal cannabis businesses’ find qualified talent?

The same way a bar, liquor store, church, school, or army does – they place job ads, recruit, and interview.

It’s not hard to find someone who has skills but no job. There’s around 8-10 million of them in the U.S. at any given moment.

If you google “Cannabis employees” you’ll get a list of labor unions and staffing agencies specializing just in cannabis: Google

If you google “Marijuana jobs” you’ll find a slew of job posting services directed specifically toward cannabis: Google

Also check Craigslist, Facebook, and more, depending on what you want to do. Trimming during harvest season, for example, is like any other farmhand job and farmers advertise places “cannabis business” doesn’t.

Cannabis is an American product with retail, software, warehousing, transport, production, extraction, legal, insurance, real estate, taxes, accounting, and everything else associated with every other business in the entire world.

It’s ridiculously easy to find talent and work in this industry, like any other.

Dear Brian,
How do I move out to California with my friends to start a medical marijuana grow op?

My friends and I will have about $50-60,000 in personal assets to head down to California next year. However, we are wondering if anyone out there has personal experience, etc.

I don’t have personal experience, but I know a lot of people who do. Lucky for you, however, I just syndicated the following article on my website, along with Marijuana Stocks: 10 Cannabis Conventions Where Business Happens – Marijuana Stocks | Cannabis Investments and News. Roots of a Budding Industry.™
Top 10 Marijuana Conventions, Conferences, and Business Gatherings – Thought for Your Penny

These B2B (business to business) conferences are where you can meet every professional in every sector of every state and country in the cannabis trade, network, seek investments, or invest yourself. I wouldn’t invest that much money in anything in the cannabis industry until posing your questions at these events.

The reason I recommend them is because everyone has their own opinion, but here, you can learn from the experiences of the biggest players in the industry in roundtable discussions and make your own informed decisions beyond sales. That’s a lot of money you’re going to invest, but it’s not even close to what you need to start a company in California.

It costs $250k minimum in Arizona, and people spent over $1 million in New York’s lottery system to obtain one of five licenses and still didn’t get one. It’s a cutthroat business, and people who won and lost licenses in other states are consulting in each new state.

You can not compete with what you have and need to find partners. Here’s where you do it:

Business to Business Conferences
1. Marijuana Business Conference & Expo
Website: This spring, the industry’s must-attend conference comes to Orlando! – Marijuana Business Conference & Expo
When: November/May
Where: Las Vegas, NV (Nov)/Orlando, FL (May)
Who: Marijuana Business Daily
Why: To Seek Investment/Partnerships
Cost: Attendance = $599 Full Conference + $125 Benefit Event, or $399 Expo & Meals only, $299 Business Crash Course
Founded in 2011 by Cassandra Farrington through Anne Holland Ventures, Marijuana Business Daily is a cannabis publishing company that offers a website, quarterly trade show journal, and variety of books for cannabis professionals. With a focus on B2B, financial, and legal news and data, the company has become a go-to resource for cannabis professionals.
This semi-annual conference attracts a lot of big-name investors and successful entrepreneurs in all aspects of marijuana. The event has become one of the premier cannabis events, with last week’s Las Vegas conference at the Rio drawing 5,500 paid attendees (though the entire strip was occupied by the cannabis business, and true attendance was much larger) and 230+ exhibitors.
Along with an exhibit hall filled with booths, there are conferences and round table discussions happening throughout the event. Breakfast and lunch is provided, and there tons of smaller, more private events to network and seek investors in a more private environment. After-hours events are often held throughout the strip by the many sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees.
The cover art gallery in Denver celebrated covers from throughout the years…

2. High Times Business Conference
Website: DC Business Conference
When: December
Where: Washington, D.C.
Who: High Times
Why: To Seek Investment/Partnerships in the Nation’s Capital
Cost: $Coming Soon
I’ll discuss the Cannabis Cup in more detail in the B2C section, but there are a few reasons this conference is important. The Cannabis Cup is the premiere B2C event, and, although High Times is a counter-culture publication, the brand is still old media that survived the transition to new media better than Newsweek and many others.
That being said, the Cannabis Cup in DC is being branded as the Cannabis Business Cup, and its location in the our nation’s capital is a sign that editor Dan Skye (the pen name of Malcom McDowell) is watching the industry around these marijuana-themed events very closely.
Participating in the Cannabis Business Cup is a good bet for anyone interested in the industry, as it’s already drawn over 100 exhibitors, has access to book the top industry thought leaders, and has capacity for at least 2,000 entrepreneurs.

3. BIG Industry Show
Website: Industry’s Biggest B2B Sales Event 2015
When: February/April/September
Where: Las Vegas, NV (Feb)/Denver, CO (Apr)/Miami, FL (Sep)
Who: Formula 420
Why: To Wholesale to Retailers
Cost: $99 Buyers, Sponsorship and Exhibition Costs Vary
Formula 420 is a glass cleaner specifically marketed for the cleaning of bongs and pipes. This company has been in the industry for a few years and has made a lot of money. Sponsoring the BIG Industry Show in conjunction with the Galleria of Glass, the event precedes the April 20 Cannabis Cup in Denver and vape and tobacco expos in Miami and Las Vegas.
The BIG Show is where wholesalers of glass, smoking accessories, art, grinders, vape pens, and other auxiliary products can be sold to wholesale retailers, such as smoke shop, c-store, and other major retail business owners.
In addition to over $2.5 million in glass on display at any given moment in the Galleria of Glass (a museum-style exhibit filled with some of the best glass artists in the world), this is the show where you learn about how the cannabis industry interacts with every other auxiliary business in the world, from small businesses to corporate machines.

4. International Drug Policy Reform Conference
Website: International Drug Policy Reform Conference 2015
When: November
Where: Washington, D.C.
Who: The Drug Policy Alliance
Why: For the Politics and Activism
Cost: DPA Member – $295 Early-Bird, $395 General, $425 Onsite
General Attendance – $350, $450, $485
Student ID – $175, $200, $250
One Day – $150, $175, $200
The Drug Policy Alliance has been lobbying for drug reform laws throughout the world for a long time now. This conference also brings together attendance from the broader political and activist crowds. If you’re interested in the laws and community surrounding cannabis and other drugs, this is the educational conference to attend and get involved.
Be prepared to meet with delegates from all aspects of black-, white-, and grey-market economies from all corners of the world. While the legitimization of cannabis in the U.S. is a huge step forward, there will always be work to do on local, federal, and global levels.

5. Every Other Cannabis Business Conference
Southwest Cannabis Conference (Phoenix, AZ) Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo
International Cannabis Business Conference (San Francisco, CA/Portland, OR) ICBC SF 2016 | Home
Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo (Los Angeles, CA)Home – CWCBExpos
Now that the conferences above have made such a huge splash, everyone is trying to get a piece of the pie. It’s nearly as difficult to host a cannabis event as it is to run a cannabis dispensary, and the experience will differ widely by local community.
It’s difficult to tell who’s behind many of these conference, and their track records aren’t proven like the conferences mentioned above. These newbies are simply pulling together the ingredients to replicate the experience.
Think of them as being the Salt Lake City ComicCon in comparison to San Diego’s ComicCon International. One has Hollywood’s hottest stars dishing on the latest comic-book-based summer blockbuster, and the other is Galaxy Quest in the flesh.

Dear Brian,
Did blogging kill substantial journalism?

No – government corruption and corporate greed killed substantial journalism by over-estimating values and worth in the media. Corporations controlling content is never good, and television is still exactly that, despite the Internet and blogs having been around for a generation now.

Look at High Times – it’s still considered counterculture, yet this magazine survived the transition to new media better than Newsweek. What’s considered “mainstream” used to be what’s on TV, but that’s now supplemented by what’s online, which is the only real democratic system in existence. Your government and media are both representative democracies. Your job is totalitarian. Online you have a direct voice in decisions.

The word you might be thinking of is substantive, and in that case blogging is solely responsible for keeping substantive journalism alive – that’s why so many NY Times interns are on Twitter.

Where were you during the Arab Spring and Occupy?

Dear Brian,
What counts as marijuana paraphernalia?

Paraphernalia falls into two general categories, and whether or not you’re charged for carrying them varies vastly on where you are, who you are, and how you talk to the cops.

1. User Paraphernalia – Consumers of marijuana use a variety of tools that are considered paraphernalia, these include bongs, bowls, pipes, roach clips, any information related to growing, cultivating, processing, or selling (including High Times magazine, whose writers and staff often use pen names to avoid persecution and prosecution), papers, eCigs, eCig coils, dabbers, nails, syringes (used for refilling eCigs), and anything used to conceal anything. Also any clothing or accessories bearing a marijuana leaf, symbol, or theme can be included.

Each of these can be used for things other than marijuana, so always fall back on ignorance of its usage for drugs if caught with such items.

2. Dealer Paraphernalia – Dealers of marijuana have much different concerns, and can be busted for scales, vials, baggies, extraction equipment, grow equipment, curing bags, lighting, and much more.

Dear Brian,
How can I find a niche that works for me? I like to study many things and find it impossible to stay in a narrow track for more than a few weeks.

I’m self taught in coding, though I don’t have the CV and years to make employers comfortable. Lacking formal education closes a number of possible roles as well. My interests cycle around a lot as I seem to need variety.

I’ve tried standard corporate roles and cannot seem to make headway with the politics – getting my head down to just work I can do perfectly well but this seems to be insufficient; it’s like playing a game whose outcomes I can’t control. I can’t control what happens with proper work and effort, I find no matter what I do I can’t get a sense of opportunity and progress within the world of work which has led to my giving this up a few times now.

I see others do well, make a good career that they are interested in and engaged with yet I’m quite blind to how to truly get into that. Instead I’m quite good at just studying different subjects – whether it’s programming, maths, sciences or practical things of one kind or another. I overlap skills and find that I’m good with customers, I’m ok at solving problems and invention; I extrapolate like crazy when I get half a clue about something. So, I’ve some idea of my strengths, I’ve enough discipline to learn hard things and my people skills are just fine – no social awkwardness or odd behaviours, quite average really. I was good with handling support work and client training.

Now I write because I see that I’m opportunity blind – feel I’ve always been that way and have no clue as to how to actually find a way to moderately enjoy earning a living. I’m not aiming at big money either – just £25 – £40k bracket will be enough (UK) – but finding that niche without being gatekeepered out is proving nigh on impossible.

I do realise I’ve a bundle of preconceptions that I actively try to bust by going to interviews when they come up.

This question is filled with a lot of personal fears and self-defeating assumptions. Here are some realities for you:

1) You can’t avoid office politics while also earning a living. Those “politics” you reference are a result of people interacting with each other. If you want to not interact with anyone whatsoever, who is going to pay you a living wage? You’re seeking a unicorn you’ll never find and you need to either accept that or accept failure.

2) Nobody can control the outcome of how others respond to them in any aspect of life whatsoever. Even billionaires can’t always have their way and full/complete control over everything in life like you seem to be asking for. You’re one of billions of people, and all of our ideas conflict. If someone with seemingly endless wealth can’t always have their way, why would you think you’re the one special person in the entirety of human history who can?

3) Nobody will ever hand you any opportunity. When I worked in management in Corporate America, I constantly had to remind people that real life doesn’t work like school. You don’t just show up, do what you’re supposed to, and every year you’re promoted to the next level. If life worked like that, the only way you’d ever advance in life is by aging. You have to grab the opportunities yourself. You have to accept responsibility for your own fate and stop blaming ridiculous boogeymen like these fantasy people who “gatekeeper” you out. If you simply show up and work every day, the best you’ll ever do is being able to keep your current job.

4) Every winner loses, but not every loser wins. It’s completely understandable that you feel defeated by your lack of progress in life thus far, but you need to understand that it’s your fault and nobody else’s. People who achieve success push through that wall – that’s what makes them successful.

5) You seem to lack confidence and mentioned that you decided to quit every previous job. Stop quitting every time things get hard – that’s easily the biggest reason you’ve not achieved success.

6) Nobody has an easy road, and your perceptions of people doing well is nothing more than your perception. You don’t know how they actually feel about their job if you’re only seeing them at work. They could absolutely hate what they do, but they roll up their sleeves and do it anyway. You also don’t know if they’re ultimately successful because it sounds like you’re not staying at any job long enough to even notice such big picture trends.

7) The summary of your complaint seems to be that you chose not to get a formal education. You chose to quit every job you were lucky enough to get, and you chose not to advance in them instead. There’s nobody on this planet who will be able to shelter you from the consequences of your actions. If you don’t like those consequences, put in the work to change it like everyone else.

You are solely responsible for your own happiness, your own success, and your own decisions. Absolutely nobody else cares.

Go on Twitter one day and start reading peoples’ bios and how they define themselves in 160 characters. For example, Barack Obama’s bio is: Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States.

He can define himself in such a low character account because he has a firm sense of who he is. Then you’ll read all these bios from unknown people who say random things like “I enjoy too many things to define myself in 160 characters,” or “160 characters isn’t enough to define how complicated of a person I am.”

Do you seriously believe that the President of the United States is a less complicated person than some random-Joe-Schmo teenager on Twitter? Do you somehow believe that your interests are sooooooo varied and difficult to pin down that you’re a deeper person than someone who leads one of the most dominant societies on the planet?

You need to define yourself and figure it out. Nobody can help you, and very few would even care enough to try.

How you do that is up to you – I’m not in your head and I don’t have any answer for you, nor is there enough in your question or details to come up with one. This sounds like you’re having an identity crisis, and it’s only going to get harder the longer you choose to remain stagnant.

So I guess my ultimate answer for you is pick something and follow through with it. You won’t magically find success no matter what you do – nobody ever does. Those who stick with it succeed and those who simply complain about the obstacles in front of them and refuse to make a decision on their own and follow through on it fail. Right now you’re failing and I can’t do anything to change that – only you can.

Make a decision and put in the effort. You dug this hole for yourself and you need to get out of it because everyone else is content to leave you where you choose to be.

Brian Penny High TimesBrian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared in Huffington Post, Fast Company, High Times, Hardcore Droid, The Street, and Quicken’s Small Business Resource.


Dr. Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. You can find his work in Cracked, High Times, HuffPost, Lifewire, Forbes, Fast Company, and dozens of other places, although much of it is no longer under his name. Dr. Penny loves annoying fake media.

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