Pot business seminars in Chicago are just about the most popular in the country

SHARE Pot business seminars in Chicago are just about the most popular in the country
SHARE Pot business seminars in Chicago are just about the most popular in the country

As D-Day for medical marijuana approaches in Illinois, local interest in cashing in on the cash crop is [insert dumb-local-news-pot-pun here]*.

Bob Calkin, whose LA-based Cannabis Career Institute has put on how-to seminars about starting your own dispensary from Hawaii to New Hampshire, says the interest in the Chicagoland area outstrips any he’s seen outside of Nevada.

Calkin will put on the CCI’s third all-day seminar at the Rosemont Hyatt Regency on Saturday. With more than 60 would-be entrepreneurs preregistered for the $249 course, Calkin expects to double the attendance he saw in July, when 40 showed up.

Much of the interest can be attributed to the semi-legal nature of the law in Illinois. As Washington and Colorado embark on the wholesale legalization of the drug, many entrepreneurs see opportunities to grow their businesses in the quasi-legal environment that keeps larger interests out of the market. “Now’s the chance to establish your brand, market it and build it, then when it becomes legal, you can sell out to larger interests,” Calkin says, anticipating that Illinois will follow in the footsteps of Washington and Colorado. “Philip Morris will be interested in developed brands, or edible companies. They don’t want to get involved with semi-legal.”

Calkin says his seminars attract all kinds, from entrepreneurs and investors who want to open up dispensaries to accountants and attorneys looking to drum up clients. “It’s basically Business 101,” says Calkin. “Plus cannabis.”

Included on the agenda of the 10-hour seminar is a walk-through of the Department of Health’s registration process, a discussion of customer loyalty programs, and sessions with a criminal attorney and a “top cannabis industry chef,” who will train attendees on proper techniques for titration.

Calkin, 49, has more experience building a cannabis-related business than most, having begun his own marijuana delivery service in L.A. in 1988. “I have plenty of prelegal experience,” he says. “Now I’m an expert on the compliance side of things.”

*Your options include heating up, ski high, budding, piping hot and buzzing.

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