Potreprenuers pause for thought at Colorado Cannabis Summit

Colorado's cannabis industry could bring in $2.3 billion in 2014 revenues now that recreational marijuana is legal. While the rollout of the state's marijuana rules and stores has arguably been better received than the rollout of national healthcare, the industries that are working to support it -- from lighting and cooling to warehousing and banking -- are struggling to keep up with the fast-paced growth. Those issues are at the center of the Colorado Cannabis Summit at Denver's Exdo Event Center on May 22.

The summit is being billed as the first business-to-business summit to support the budding marijuana industry. As such it's bringing innovation from around the country to Colorado, including companies like Surna, which is helmed by Zynga Co-Founder Tom Bollich. Surna, the key sponsor of the event, says its technology could increase climate control efficiency between 30 percent and 50 percent. "We have redeveloped how water chilling works, but the technology field is pretty wide open on what's going to come next," he says.

Meanwhile, warehouse lease rates have skyrocketed in Colorado. In the first quarter of 2014 alone, summit organizers observe that rates have gone from about $4.50 per square foot to $20 per square foot.

"That increase has brought a lot of in-state investors into the marketplace," says Phillip Walker, Director of Business Development of Foothills Commercial Builders. Those investors are individuals since banks are still not lending to most marijuana growers -- despite legislation this year that should enable banks to make such loans.

Organizers also created an app for the Colorado Cannabis Summit, which is available at the website.

Contact Confluence Denver Innovation & Jobs News Editor Chris Meehan with tips and leads for future stories at chris@confluence-denver.com.

Read more articles by Chris Meehan.

Chris is a Denver-based freelance writer, editor and communications specialist. He covers sustainability, social issues and other topics.
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