Strong turnout for first MJBA meeting in Vancouver!

About 70 people — marijuana store owners, growers, processors and others hoping to sell services in the young cannabis industry — turned up Thursday for the first local meeting of the Marijuana Business Association.

(Dave Rheins addresses the crowd)
(Dave Rheins addresses the crowd)

MJBA, which has held meetings in Seattle and Tacoma, wants to start chapters in several parts of the state, including in Vancouver, said Dave Rheins, its CEO and co-founder.

“(In Southwest Washington) you pay different prices, you face different challenges together,” Rheins told the group. “We want to start these panels, where you tell us what the issues are.”

The organization plans to host job fairs, create educational sessions and build a lobbying group in the coming months, including more events in Clark County, he said.

Local business at the meeting included the main sponsor, Viridian Sciences, along with New Vansterdam, the Garden of the Green Sun medical collective, High End Marketplace, cannabis blogger Mrs. Nice Guy, G.O.A.T. Labs, Honu Enterprises, RWZ LLC and Skord LLC.

(Some of the folks in attendance included Mrs. Nice Guy and Shon from New Vansterdam)
(Some of the folks in attendance included Mrs. Nice Guy and Shon from New Vansterdam)

Bob Dingethal, a Democrat who is running for Congress against Jaime Herrera Beutler, also addressed the group and read a proclamation from Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt declaring that Sept. 18, 2014 was “Cannabis and Hemp Awareness, Responsibility, Monitoring and Safe Use Day.”

(Leavitt's proclamation)
(Leavitt’s proclamation)

In his speech Dingethal said he supports the legal marijuana industry in the state that was set up through Initiative-502.

“We fought a war on drugs that cost billions and billions of dollars and it failed miserably,” Dingethal said, adding that things seem to be moving slowly with implementation because more rules and regulations continue to be tacked on.

He said that in Congress, he hopes to work toward ending some of the strict federal regulations against marijuana, such as its classification as a Schedule 1 drug with no medical value.

He noted that he has visited Main Street Marijuana and seen many older customers in their 50s, 60s and 70s.

“I’m sure we’ll see an AARP-approved sticker on the door and a ‘Doobie Dinner’ at Denny’s” sometime in the future, he joked.

And the end of his speech, he mentioned that he has used marijuana in the past.

“I inhaled,” he told the crowd.

Justin Dufour, President and CEO of Viridian Sciences, also spoke to the crowd about his software company and the larger Southwest Washington cannabis sector.

“This is a community of people who are like-minded and want to drive this industry forward,” Dufour said. “To do that, you need a lot of people, and there’s a lot of room for growth.”