Arizona’s Cannabis Business Community Stands United
***Virtual Marijuana Industry Trade Association Town Hall Meeting Builds Consensus and Camaraderie During the Health Crisis***
PHOENIX, Ariz., — Last month, medical marijuana was deemed essential during the COVID-19 health crisis by Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. on April 22nd, the business and medical community serving the state’s patients united and made history at the first virtual town hall style meeting of the Marijuana Industry Trade Association (MITA–AZ). The event brought together 16 industry powerhouses and more than 100 attendees to discuss the state of Arizona’s cannabis industry.
The high-profile, well attended business networking organization, established by Demitri Downing in 2016, traditionally meets in person each month with a standing room only crowd at a downtown Phoenix hotel. The group discusses policy, relevant topics and pressing issues affecting those who are successfully navigating the emerging cannabis industry. Organizers bring in speakers, lawmakers and thought leaders from across the country, and oftentimes the world, to share knowledge about the successes and sometimes pitfalls of creating and maintaining compliant medical and adult use cannabis programs.
Today, the organization shifted gears, met virtually, and looked inward to bring together local, long-time Arizona experts. Speakers ranged from dispensary and brand owners, packaging companies and testing labs, to certification centers, communication companies, attorneys and financial technology providers. Each shared how their own business models have changed in order to better serve patients during a pandemic.
According to Downing, many of the companies are using a portion of their sales to help others, now more than ever before. “Take a look at Nadeem Al-Hasan and Thomas Rimbach of Baked Bros. Their company is buying lunches for first responders, providing masks for others, plus they have started a campaign to help those affected by domestic violence.”
Mohit Asnani of Downtown Dispensaries and iLava encouraged people to use this time to speak frankly with their local lawmakers about the tax benefit communities received from medical marijuana sales. “Now is the time to make your voices heard,” he said.
Liz Valentine of Greenstar Doctors shared information on the uphill battle she is facing as she tries to sway lawmakers to approve telemedicine for cannabis certifications so her company and others may safely serve high risk patients.
While many of the companies face obstacles, and most are excluded from qualification for the CARES Act federal funding relief, industry leaders remain optimistic about serving patients and the community as part of their evolved business approach due to novel coronavirus.
Hypur, a financial technology company servicing highly regulated industries and based in Scottsdale, Arizona, continues nationwide growth during the crisis. Company representative Tyler Beuerlein calls this time “bittersweet,” as demand increases for electronic payment options during this historic time.
John Hartsell reported his expanding packaging company, Dizpot, was able to maintain a well stocked supply chain with careful inventory management.
Alex Sternheim of Arizona Starhouse Distributing reported his company sales remain strong, and how he is now more than ever proactively “belt tightening,” in order that his company remain healthy and vibrant.
The MITA-AZ town hall meeting was produced by Adi Jagannathan of SCI Creations and led by MITA-AZ founder Demitri Downing and Danielle Sedgwick, director of strategic partnerships for MITA-AZ and founder of the Jayd Agency. Participants included Dr. Sue Sisely of the Scottsdale Research Institute, Tyler Beuerlein of Hypur, Samuel Richard of the Arizona Dispensary Association and the Smart and Safe initiative, John Hartsell of Dizpot, Jennifer Corso of Level One Labs, Alex Sternheim of Arizona Starhouse Distributing, LilachPower of the Giving Tree Dispensary, Nadeem Al-Hasan of Baked Bros, Mohit Asnani of Downtown Dispensaries, Liz Valentine of Greenstar Doctors, Ian Makar of Geo Leaf Brands, Kim Prince of Proven Media, and attorney Joe Keene of Sacks Tierney Law Firm.
The next virtual meeting is slated for Wednesday, May 6th, from 4 to 6 p.m. For information or tickets, visit MITA-AZ.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.