We recently had the pleasure of interviewing Dan Humiston, founder and president of the International Cannabis Association, who represents a large demographic of hopeful entrants to the cannabis industry. While there are plenty of people across the U.S. who are looking to transition from a black market cannabis career to owning a regulated business in the legal industry, there is also much interest from people who see cannabis purely as a business opportunity and who may have never grown–or even consumed–it themselves.
In this interview, Dan talks about how he made the choice to transition from his successful career as a business owner to founding a cannabis business association, and what he predicts the future holds for the legalization movement.
Read the full interview below:
Ganjapreneur: How did you first get involved in the cannabis industry, and what was the transition like from your previous career?
Dan Humiston: In 1985 I opened my first tanning salon and over the next 30 years I grew my chain Tanning Bed Inc. to the largest chain in New York and one of the largest chains in the country. In the mid 2000’s, tanning industry sales started to fall and by the end of the decade it was apparent that I needed to find ways to reduce or repurpose the space of my stores which were over 4,000 square feet. In 2012 I saw a 60 minute report about the cannabis industry and started trying to figure out how divide my tanning salons into tanning salons and dispensaries. Oddly enough, the industry association would not provide information to non-industry companies because they said “they were an industry association formed by industry companies, so why would they willingly provide information for future competitors?” I attended a trade show in late 2013 but felt unwelcome because the show was designed and built for people already in the industry. Realizing that there are many other aspiring marijuana entrepreneurs that are looking for help, I decided to fill the void.
What are some of the International Cannabis Association’s primary goals?
The only goal of the ICA is to help people get into the cannabis industry. We are not an advocacy association because there are already groups doing a great job fighting to make cannabis legal. Our mission is to open the cannabis industry to anyone who is interested.
What are some of the ways that the ICA helps people get involved?
The ICA was founded by entrepreneurs and business people who were not in the cannabis industry. This foundation gives the ICA a unique perspective and understanding of the kind of information and access that professionals are looking for. The cannabis industry is transitioning from a criminal, underground industry to a legitimate industry. The ICA provides information in a format designed for the future of the industry, not the past.
What do you think the next two years have in store for the legalization movement?
Over the next two years I believe that a lot of states will pass medical marijuana laws and some states will pass recreational laws. I think that marijuana will be a important topic in the 2016 presidential campaign forcing Congress to seriously address the issue in 2017.
If a Republican wins the presidency, do you think we will see any kind of push-back from the federal government against states who have legalized cannabis?
The 2016 presidential elections are on everyone’s mind. The industry should expect change no matter who wins. Some of the changes will be good and some will be bad but all of the changes will create opportunities for solid, nimble companies. 2017 is going to be even more exciting.
Which market do you think will have the biggest impact on our economy over the next ten years: recreational, medical, or industrial hemp?
Industrial hemp has the potential to have the biggest impact on our overall economy over the next ten years because it impacts so many industries.
Of the states that may legalize cannabis in some form or another within the next two years, which are you most optimistic about?
If California legalizes recreational cannabis, what would that mean for the industry as a whole?
If / when California legalizes recreational marijuana it will be a game changer. It will motivate other states to follow them to legalize recreational in their state. That will put the pressure on the Feds to change many federal laws including banking laws which will likely lead to changing marijuana from a schedule 1.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone starting a business in the cannabis industry?
Go to our NYC or LA Cannabis World Congress & Business Expositions to learn from industry experts and Network, Network, Network. There is so much opportunity: the fastest way to get involved and find your niche is to talk to both people already in the industry and people who want to get into the industry. So many people who attended one of our shows last year discovered the idea, met the partner, signed the licensing agreement or got the investment at our show and launched their cannabis business.
Thank you for sharing your knowledge and experience, Dan! We look forward to seeing the ICA build bridges to help ganjapreneurs get the information and preparation they need to grow their cannabis businesses.
For more information about the ICA and the Cannabis World Congress and Business Expo, follow these links:
ICA Website: www.internationalcannabisassociation.com