Marijuana experts from across the nation are converging in Fort Worth this weekend for the Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo.
The two-day event, which is the first of its kind in Texas, will take place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Fort Worth Convention Center, according to swccexpo.com.
“Texas is at the forefront of change in this billion-dollar industry,” said Rory Mendoza, executive director of the SWCCE, in a press release. “We encourage the public to attend and learn as we bring together policy makers, national industry leaders, investors, business executives, health experts, job seekers, and entrepreneurs to be a part of the larger, very healthy national conversation.”
Presented by the Southwest Expo Group, the Dallas Observer, and the Texas Cannabis Industry Association, the event is expected to draw thousands of attendees from across the Southwest, and Joe Guillory plans to be one of them.
Guillory, a 35-year-old Fort Worth resident, believes that cannabis legalization laws in Texas are finally moving in a positive direction.
“Texas should have moved this way years ago,” Guillory said. “There’s been so much money wasted on a fight that shouldn’t have been fought.”
The SWCCE will showcase the industry’s latest products, along with seminars and presentations by industry business leaders and experts.
These include representatives from Texas A&M Law School, Weed for Warriors, Texas NORML, ArcView Group, Women Grow, and former National Football League players from the Gridiron Cannabis Coalition, according to the website.
Guillory hopes that by attending the event he can gain more knowledge on how to get involved in the industry.
“If I decide to start something on my own, I’ll be able to,” Guillory said. “I’ll have that knowledge backing me along with a whole social network of likeminded individuals.”
According to Mendoza, this is the main goal of the convention and expo.
“Cannabis education is the primary purpose of this important event. Where industry meets consumer, and consumer meets industry,” Mendoza said.
The event is directed towards business and medical professionals who wish to gain insight into the marijuana industry.
Legal discussion will be centered on the recent Texas Compassionate Use Act, which authorizes organizations to cultivate, process and dispense low-THC cannabis to prescribed patients.
The act also requires the Department of Public Safety to license at least three dispensing organizations by September 2017, although the DPS has announced it will issue the first licenses three months early in June 2017.
A new line of cannabis products medically compliant with the Texas Compassionate Use Act is just the beginning, according to Texas Cannabis, a North Texas-based company established by AcquiFlow.
Matthew Rodriguez, a sophomore who’s had to take time away from Texas Wesleyan to pay his outstanding balance, believes that the money generated by the legal marijuana industry could go to programs that helps student who have a desire to go to college but not the funds.
“If marijuana was legal and taxed nationwide, America would have a piece of a billion-dollar industry, and the crime involved in buying and selling marijuana would be out the picture,” Rodriguez said.
But despite the “green” that the legal marijuana industry could generate, some students and faculty at Texas Wesleyan still suggest that the legalization of marijuana be approached with caution.
“I feel like that by legalizing marijuana you’re opening a door that should be opened with caution,” said Victoria Johnson, senior mass communication major.
Johnson’s main concern is society’s pressure on youth to indulge in marijuana for the wrong reasons.
“People aren’t listening to their bodies and I think that becomes an issue – when you’re not doing it for yourself or any of the benefits, but because someone else is influencing your day to day actions,” Johnson said.
Dr. Benjamin Miller, assistant professor of Biology 2, believes that while “smoking a joint or taking a bong rip” is not beneficial, marijuana should be studied to find better medications to help people with the conditions that it targets, such as pain and anxiety.
“If you vilify these drugs, it’s hindering the research that we could be doing to figure out the beneficial substances that we could be using to ameliorate different types of pain and psychiatric conditions in human beings,” Miller said.
Instead of prohibiting marijuana, Miller suggests more research into the potentially beneficial side effects.
“Should there be a war on drugs?” Miller asked. “It should be education, not a war.”
For more information about the Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo Texas or to purchase passes, visit swccexpo.com, or call 1-888-729-8199 or 1-602-451-2647. Passes are $50 per day.