If there was ever any debate as to which cannabis function is the largest in the world, MJBizCon quickly put it to rest with their recent 2022 event at the Las Vegas Convention Center. This gargantuan meeting of the minds brought together the bigwigs of the industry in every category, performing as a B-12 shot for a sector experiencing some serious growing pains.
“One of the most touching moments for me was, one of the co-founders of MJBiz, Cassandra Farrington, kicked off our women’s network evening,” said Pamela Moore, senior vice president of content strategy and audience development at MJBiz, in an interview with Grow Opportunity.
Moore went on to say that Farrington did this by reflecting on what the industry was like when they started back in 2011.
“There were maybe ten booths, and then the next year she was excited when she could see a real Las Vegas ballroom filled end-to-end. Now you can’t even see the end of the hall from any given point.”
Moore added that the success speaks to the power of the industry coming together and supporting each other: “That was touching, especially as [Farrington] steps aside.”
One of the benefits that comes along with the business diversity at MJBizCon is the ability to reflect on the parts of the industry that are struggling. This year, Canada and its troubles were referenced on numerous occasions, starting with CEO Chris Walsh in his opening remarks.
Walsh pointed out that Canada’s industry has been vastly oversupplied for years, citing the 425 million grams that were destroyed in 2021. He also predicted that Canadian inventory will peak in 2023 before it finally starts falling in 2024.
The current Canadian challenges were reflected in attendance from Canada. “There were a ton of Canadians [in attendance] but less than we saw in 2019, pre-pandemic,” said Moore. She was quick to point out that industry woes are not just exclusive to north of the border either.
“California also is feeling challenged [and] everybody in New York is upset about how the social equity pieces are rolling out. That said, even when there’s pain points, it was our largest expo to date; the show floor was 10 per cent larger than our largest show ever.”
Hooray for normalization
Although one can argue that size doesn’t matter, substance does. An event of this massive scope can only be good for the ongoing normalization of cannabis. Moore agreed and further pointed out that attitude matters as well.
“MJBizCon has always been the stuffy ‘older aunt’ of the business because it’s buttoned-up. We are the Wall Street Journal, if you will, rather than the Post of the industry,” she said. “That’s because of the need to make it about the business. We are focused on the business. Everybody is there to get their next deal and we want to support that.”
Amidst the business atmosphere, there were aspects of the show that provided a sense of fun and frivolity in order to balance the ‘Bert’ with a little ‘Ernie.’ For example, there was an outdoor patio with games and food trucks, a Hall of Flowers experience, DJs, a 360-degree photo booth, among other items.
On the topic of celebrity, rap star and marijuana mogul Berner was a focus of the show this year with his extremely popular Cookies brand, with its various pillar, including retail stores and unique flower products.
Berner took to the main stage of the event and discussed different points of interest — the first being their current push for home grow seeds under the name “Cookies Seed Bank.” The brand is offering up their own genetics and hand-picked ones from their partners as well.
Berner also mentioned that he sees opportunity in both the New York and Pennsylvania markets.
Grey skies are going to clear up
As the 2022 show came to a close, the discussion of struggle and pain points in an industry facing constant change and regulation was thankfully overshadowed by a sense of optimism moving forward.
“I think people are aware of the end of the green rush,” said Moore. “It’s no longer true that you can just pop up a grow and assume you’re going to make cash, as Canada has proven amply. Everybody is getting serious, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for optimism. You just have to do it right.”