Here is the first thing you notice about Alex Rogers, no matter where and when you meet him: this tall, rangy, GI Joe handsome cannapreneur has the amazing ability to connect, simply, effectively, and often colorfully—no matter who you are.
There is a reason for this, beyond a boyish charm and a desire to just get on with things. Cannabis is his coloring theme and has been for a very long time. Alex Rogers is, if anything, one of the “old school” who also managed to evolve with an industry that is still changing.
In his salad days, he bounced around Europe as an American expat with Jack Herer and spent time in a German jail for dealing. Then he moved home, graduated magna cum laude with an undergraduate degree in political science, and opened an extremely popular medical cannabis clinic in Oregon where patients obtain their medical marijuana cards.
As of 2017, Rogers also started an international business conference that still, despite Covid, has a brand all of its own and is about to come back in the summer of 2021.
It has many fans—internationally—who will be back.
The International Cannabis Businesses Conference (ICBC) has a unique vibe all of its own. It is a deals conference unlike any seen so far in North America because of the spreading federalization of cannabis in Europe, starting with Germany, and its integration into healthcare. There are suits who show up. But it is also still a conference with a vibe that includes all aspects of the “biz.”
High Times caught up with Rogers as his life gears up for what is already an intense spring and summer.
Alex Rogers on the Creation of ICBC and the Future of Cannabis in Europe
High Times: What was your motivation in founding the ICBC?
Alex Rogers: I thought it [was] a good idea to introduce the B2B concept to Europe. Europe was always the area I was most interested in, as I considered it virgin territory and saw a big opportunity early on. After seeing what had happened in the US with regards to cannabis policy reform, I knew it was only a matter of time before Europe followed suit.
High Times: What has been the hardest thing for you about the Pandemic (and obviously suspending the conference for the last year)? How did you respond?
Alex Rogers: We do not have any big investors that we are beholden to. The ICBC is a mom-and-pop organization of the truest kind. Thus, we are very nimble and can adapt and lie dormant until the monsoon seasons come again. All I have been doing is preparing for the reopening of events. The lull has helped me tighten up some of my operational and management systems and figure out how to work more efficiently.
High Times: What is on the agenda this year?
Alex Rogers: We have our Berlin, Barcelona, and Zurich events coming up. Our Berlin B2B event is my favorite event that we do anywhere on the planet. It is the biggest of its kind on the continent, and I love that we get so many people from so many different places. It is really one of the big global cannabis meeting points.
We also have our new Global Investment Forum events that I am looking forward to. The investment event concept is still novel to Europe and there are many investors on the sidelines, but they need more information before they feel comfortable enough to step onto the field. There are also many companies that ICBC can serve by helping facilitate raising capital for them.
High Times: What do you think the biggest trends in the industry will be in the next 18 months?
Alex Rogers: I believe that investment in the cannabis space in the US and Europe is going to be enormous. Europe is on the way to more universal standardization (albeit slower than I would like) and the US Congress could soon change the banking laws that are restricting the flow of capital. When these things take place, investors will be more apt to come into the space. Also, Rec is on the horizon almost everywhere, which does not need to be stated how much business it could create. I also think many other cannabinoids will become popular. If CBD is Bitcoin, then CBG is Ethereum, and so on.
High Times: What is your prognosis for this year in Europe?
Alex Rogers: Europe is booming and will be the fastest growing market on the planet. With the growth of the German medical cannabis market, all the new positive changes in CBD regulation, and many countries talking about legalization, I think we are looking at a banner next five years in Europe.