Yesterday’s Kauai Cannabis Classic golf tournament, sponsored by Leafly and Cannafornia, capped off a truly amazing International Cannabis Business Conference, that saw around 500 marijuana industry entrepreneurs converge together to learn, share ideas and network. As the ICBC has traveled around the world, it is safe to say that there has never been a cannabis destination event exactly like ICBC Kauai.

As Brittany Lyte reported for the Honolulu Civil Beat, this ICBC put Hawaii’s marijuana scene front and center and left many wondering why the state hadn’t even decriminalized personal cannabis possession (it still remains an arrestable misdemeanor that can carry up to a month in jail), let alone legalized cannabis commerce. The Aloha State just recently legalized medical dispensaries, but the future of the industry, while moving too slowly to match the views of a majority state’s residents, is certainly bright.

The welcoming message from Tulsi Gabbard was certainly a highlight as the Democratic rising star succinctly detailed the real crime of cannabis prohibition:  ”They’ve turned everyday Americans into criminals, torn apart families and wasted huge amounts of taxpayer dollars to arrest, prosecute and incarcerate people for nonviolent marijuana charges.”

Meeting Hawaii State Senator Will Espero was certainly one highlight for me. Senator Espero is a true progressive voice that will hopefully be the state’s next Lt. Governor (and then Governor). Espero, recognizing the benefits of the cannabis industry for his state, expressed great optimism that legalization will come to Hawaii in three to five years: “You can get it in any neighborhood. But now we are thinking about it from the aspect of commercialization, of health care, of tax revenues — and that’s why the bar has been raised on the issue of legalization.”

While every ICBC showcases local rules and regulations and provides insight into the cannabis scene around the world, the real value of the event tends to be the people and the relationships that are formed, as Kauai resident told the Civil Beat, “I think the people are almost more interesting than the conference itself.” It is safe to say that the ICBC in Kauai won’t be forgotten by attendees and exhibitors and it has risen expectations for all of the ICBC staff for future events, as this conference was certainly one for the ages. Now, onto San Francisco, then Berlin, then Vancouver, then… (Stay tuned to www.internationalcbc.com for more exciting announcements soon!)