The International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) takes place in San Francisco over Presidents Weekend. Alex Rogers, executive producer of the event, has deep experience in the field, much of it in the Bay Area. He has worked with such industry pioneers as Ed Rosenthal, Debby Goldsberry, Dennis Peron, Don Duncan and the late Jack Herer. Rogers now lives in Ashland, Oregon where he is CEO of Ashland Alternative Health and Northwest Alternative Health.
How is this conference different from the many others popping up these days?
This conference is more multi-pronged than some others, which primarily focus on business. We also offer a heavy dose of culture, politics, science, history and advocacy. Rick Steves, the guidebook author and PBS travel host, is on the schedule. So are Carl Hart, Ph.D from Columbia University and Republican Congressman Dana Rohrbacher, along with a couple dozen others.
We provide gritty basic information along with nuanced and esoteric facts. This will all be useful to the participants when they return to their existing, or planned, operations.
You’re from Oregon, where cannabis is being legalized. Why meet in San Francisco?
I got my start in advocating for medical cannabis here, before Prop 215. Also, I believe California’s proposed statewide ballot measure(s) will pass in 2016, making California the biggest market in the country. And it’s easy to get people to come to San Francisco.
We’re planning to bring the conference here every February.
Speaking of meeting places, I’m surprised that this will be at the Hyatt Regency – a large, mainstream business and tourist hotel. How did that come about?
No hotel I’ve ever approached has even flinched at the prospect of a marijuana group convening under their roof. I’d hasten to say there’s also a generational change in hotel management. They are stoked to work with us. Half of California smokes. Everyone [at the hotels] is personally involved with the issue. You can’t say that, for example, about a group of accountants.
Do you know of any other industries that have been built on a product that is a felony to possess – which is the case with marijuana?
I’ll admit it’s unprecedented. And I’ll add that the plant needs to be rescheduled by the US Attorney General. [Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 drug, the “most dangerous” category.] It’ll happen – but when, and how?