Medical Marijuana Hopefuls Gather to Learn the Biz

A potential investor being interviewed by Cannabis Investor TV at Vancouver’s GreenRush Conference.
A potential investor being interviewed by Cannabis Investor TV at Vancouver’s GreenRush Conference.

Entrepreneurs gathered in Vancouver for a one-day conference on the business of medical marijuana—an industry that Health Canada expects will be worth $1.3 billion by 2024 

The first GreenRush Financial conference for those hoping to cash in on a multibillion-dollar marijuana industry was a rousing success, says its brainchild and key organizer, Harry Barr, president and CEO of Next Gen Metals.

“Nex Gen is one of the first Canadian public companies to recognize the green rush and I’m looking for three to five companies to invest in right now,” says Barr. “This conference is a hub, a platform and a chance for us all to talk to one another.”

Barr was bullish enough to book three ballrooms for the one-day event at the Vancouver Trade and Convention Centre. All of the rooms were filled today with a thousand delegates and 44 exhibitors willing to spend $3,000 to hunt for investments in medical marijuana, industrial hemp and alternative medicine.  

It was an upscale gathering aimed at high-net-worth and retail investors, but there was more counterculture on display than your average trade show. Grey ponytails were doing deals with business suits. There was a BitCoin booth and a crew from “Cannabis Investor TV”  in a booth in the corner. Exhibitors such as Crop King Seeds (“world class cannabis”) rubbed shoulders with success stories such as Naturally Splendid Enterprises, which produces hemp based products. Naturally Splendid has products on the shelves of 300 major retailers in B.C. and Alberta. The company just signed a U.S. distribution deal for its Natera hemp superfood line.

Barr designed the event as a forum for companies like Naturally Splendid to look for venture capital investment, business-to-business opportunities and legal education. He says the industry is revved up by the recent success of Tweed Inc. of Smith Falls, Ontario. Tweed is Canada’s first publicly traded marijuana company and saw a stock-price spike of 183% on almost 10 million trades the day it was listed on the TSX. The company just raised $15 million from bought deal financing.  

Delegates today heard from industry insiders such as Tweed’s Bruce Linton, Crag Goodwin of Naturally Splendid and Jodie Emery, the wife of marijuana seed retailer Marc Emery, who is currently completing a jail sentence in the United States.

“We believe this industry has far more potential for our shareholders than oil and gas,” Chris Bunka, president and CEO of Lexaria Corp., told the crowd. Lexaria has bought a 75,000-square-foot warehouse in the Toronto area and is equipping it to grow medical marijuana pending Health Canada approval.   

“We are projecting a 30 percent profit margin in our business plans,” says Bunka, who hastens to add he’s never smoked a joint in his life.  

The new Marijuana for Medical Purposes Regulations (MMPR)  came into effect in Canada on April 1, 2014. The new rules are expected to commercialize the industry by limiting legal access to marijuana for medical use to users who buy from producers licensed under the new regulations.   

Health Canada predicts the industry will be worth $1.3 billion by 2024, when estimates are that half a million Canadians will be authorized to purchase medical pot.