Ashland, Ore. -- It's the first of its kind in Oregon. The two-day Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference kicked off in Ashland on Thursday.
The goal? To clear up any confusion about medical marijuana dispensaries and give entrepreneurs a leg-up to get into the cannabis industry.
150 entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs attended the conference.
"With Oregon passing a law that allows dispensaries, it's just going to open up so many opportunities for creativity and new businesses in Oregon," said Stacy Page, a vendor at the event. He co-invented the Grasshopper Extractor. The machine uses dry ice to freeze the oils on the cannabis plant, then it isolates the oil.
"People can take that and use it for edibles or press it and make hash, whatever it may be," said Page.
He was one of a number of vendors set up at the Ashland Springs Hotel for the conference.
The first of its kind
"It is the first of its kind here in Oregon," began Alex Rogers, CEO of Ashland Alternative Health. He also was the one who headed up plans for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference.
"We're going over the exact application process for Oregon dispensaries and we're also talking about the exact rules and regulations for dispensaries ... The second prong is ancillary businesses," said Rogers.
According to Rogers, ancillary businesses could be likened to the people who became successful selling picks and axes to gold miners during the gold rush.
One entrepreneur at the conference said he was excited about the future prospects.
"I'm glad to be here ... I don't personally plan on starting a dispensary but I'm just basically looking for avenues, creative ways to adapt to a market that seems to be expanding pretty rapidly," Ashland resident, David Melendez said.
A fast-growing industry
According to Troy Dayton, CEO of The Arcview Group, a cannabis-centered investment and research firm, there's a lot of money to made.
"This industry is going to grow 68% over the next year between 2013 and 2014, which makes it the fastest growing industry in America," said Dayton.
He said there are ways businesses can make money without growing or selling marijuana.
"There's consumption devices, there's insurance companies, there's point of sale and inventory management, companies," he listed.
Conference drawing people from other states and countries
Because of the potentially lucrative opportunities, the business conference drew people from other states and even other countries.
Two men traveled all the way to Oregon from Slovenia, looking to learn about the marijuana business.
"Basically we're all going to come here sooner or later to learn from you guys, how business is done," said Luka Freyer a vendor selling Ziggi rolling papers.
Recreational marijuana use is now legal for adults in Colorado and Washington and that same proposal could be on the Oregon ballot in the not-too-distant future. With the potential for legalization in the years ahead, those attending the conference are looking to learn as much as possible about what they say is the next great American industry.
This March, it will be legal to open a medical marijuana dispensary in Oregon.
While the Oregon Health Authority has released temporary rules regarding what cities can and can't do, cannabis experts said the details are still uncertain.