Don’t get me wrong the #1 brand in coffee did plenty of business during MJBiz Con, MJ Unpacked, and now something called the EDC festival (Electric Daisy Chain?)arrived in this wild and crazy adult entertainment town.
However, I was here to work, so I passed up my daily cup of joe because waiting in line for over 30 minutes for a daily caffeine fix like 91% of Americans is not my thing. I was there to work two cannabis trade shows and produce a live talk show. What does this have to do with cannabis? Everything, it’s a plant and now it’s my livelihood. At least now its attached to an industry with 224 billion dollars in sales in 2021.
With millions and millions being invested in a variety of ventures and merger and acquisitions happening on almost on a weekly basis now. It was no wonder over 27,000 people attended MJBiz Con with a few thousand more at MJ Unpacked, and even more in town just to have face to face meetings again. That’s what was the most impactful impressions of this past week. For two years during the pandemic, the cannabis industry has been shuttered. No in person trade shows. No in person networking. It’s been a virtual cannabis business world. 50 years ago, cannabis meetings and deals were made in parked cars, around the corner in alleyways, now they are held on ZOOM calls, board rooms, and at conferences. This past week, meeting people I had only met virtually was a powerful experience for me. Thank you Dean Harris, Nikki Lawley, John Hartsell, Dan Humiston, Dana Shoched, Terry Booth, Nathan Mison, Demitri Downing, and many others. We even met an Ambassador from Colombia!
We all have experienced the pent-up frustrations that the pandemic has brought into our lives, but the cannabis industry survived, and thrived. Legal adult use was added to the East Coast states of NJ, NY, and Connecticut and it was deemed essential as a medicine in most of the states that had an already existing medicinal marijuana program like 36 of them!
The industry flocked to Las Vegas for two shows, one is ten years old, and the other held its first in person. MJBIZ Con was celebrating its 10th trade show with over 1100 vendors, spread out over 3 days with two huge rooms at the Las Vegas Convention center. Now a new show started by an original founder of MJBiz Con George Jage, was at Mandalay Bay for two days. MJ Unpacked hosted its first in person show designed to connect the investment community with entrepreneur startups and some of the industry’s biggest brands, like Weedmaps now WM Technologies, and Bhang corporation. ( Best promotion, make a deal banggong brought to you by Bhang edibles! )
For an East Coast start up media company like Pro Cannabis Media, seeing signs for I-15 South towards Los Angeles was weird, but then again, we were in Las Vegas, and the invasion of the excess and overload of the Electric Daisy Carnival was enough to drive us back home to our normalcy in the eastern time zone. (Have you seen this celebration of excess? Yikes!)
At MJBiz Con, I saw more growing equipment, extraction processes, bank card options, software, container companies, lighting options, and hydroponic solutions than at any other cannabis conference I’ve attended.
Did I feel safe? Sure. Kind of. Maybe. (Are we ever safe anymore from germs and viruses?) Even those of us who are vaccinated by one of the big 3, Moderna, Pfizer, J and J, we all know the variants that still can breakthrough our scientific barriers for those of us who are vaccinated.
Speaking of which, back to the pandemic. I found an interesting difference between these two shows. One, MJ Unpacked required photo id proof, and medical confirmation that you were indeed vaccinated and if you did not, you could not enter that show without a few days of negative tests. They obviously made an effort to screen their participants knowing they would have a smaller turnout than the big daddy MJBiz Con cross town.
Although one person covering two major trade shows was a daunting tax, we managed to add our annual interview total by another 8 and produced a live show on our regular Friday afternoon Green Rush Live show at 4pm EST time slot. Here’s a link to all of our coverage and we will see you next year.
As for that coffee…the airport had no line at our gate. Success. Ah, that first taste of my custom Caramel Macchiato with Oat Milk.
Upon arrival two negative COVID tests, and I feel relived and revived surviving another MJBiz Con trip in Nevada. See you next year Las Vegas.