It has been about a month since thousands of cannabis industry professionals embarked on our annual journey to Las Vegas for MJBizCon 2022, THE conference of all cannabis business conferences, and what an experience it was! This was the 11th year for MJBIzCon, which may not seem like a long time until you examine the changing political landscape and the developing industry in the cannabis sector over that period of time…because it has been pretty amazing!
This was also the first MJBizCon since MJBiz has been acquired by Emerald X, a wholly owned subsidiary of Emerald Holding, a New York-based business-to-business event and media company, for $120 million earlier this year. Aside from MJBizCon, the acquisition included publications MJBizDaily, Hemp Industry Daily and MJBizMagazine.
MJBizCon 2022 Recap
MJBizCon showcased nearly 1,500 booths. That’s one exhibitor for every attendee at this year’s event and 35,000-40,000 attendees were expected. As a publicly held business, Emerald doesn’t share concrete attendance data for any of its shows, but they did share that this was the largest expo to date with 280,000 net square footage, which was 10% larger than the largest MJBizCon ever (2019)! There were 54% first time attendees, signaling new entrants into the market. Additionally, there was strong attendance from mature markets in California and Colorado, and newer and anticipated markets including New York, Michigan, and Florida. 72% of attendees are VP and above, likely the most influential audience at any cannabis event in the world AND the most influential group ever at MJBizCon. Perhaps even more exciting, is the fact that MJBizCon had a $46.4M economic impact for the city of Las Vegas, as determined by the LVCVA…incredible!!
Here were some highlights for me, in no particular order:
MJBizCon 2022 Highlights
Touring and shopping at Planet 13
I have been following Planet 13 ever since they opened. I like to say they are THE “Vegas” of all dispensaries. The facility is the largest of its kind in the world, and boasts approximately 24K square feet of space with 77 point of sale (POS) stations in the retail area. They use a text-to-meet budtender system and customers are then escorted around the shop to browse products. The facility has also become a welcome marketing opportunity for Nevada brands who sell products there, and has an intake/inventory warehouse that is approximately 24K square feet. My jaw dropped when we walked in at the sheer size and magnitude of cannabis products, and I was even more impressed with how incredibly organized it all was. The attention to detail that was far beyond compliance was truly amazing. Planet 13 and their larger parent company employs a little over 600 people, with several BIPOC in leadership and strives to be the most diverse company in the state. They have also employed people with cannabis records who were not employable elsewhere. The company focuses on localized philanthropy efforts. “A good community partner identifies what their community needs and helps in that way, and that is what Planet 13 does,” said David Farris, VP of Sales and Marketing for Planet 13, and who has been with the company since the very beginning and my host for all 3 of the tours I have taken of Planet 13 over the last few years. So, what’s next? Well, since MJBizCon, the company has received approval for a Nevada consumption lounge from the Nevada Cannabis Compliance Board. The Planet 13 Entertainment Complex will be the first of its kind space where consumers can watch products being made, purchase and consume all under one roof. This luxurious, tourist friendly lounge, close to the Las Vegas Strip is expected to elevate the already incredible Planet 13 experience. “We are thrilled to be moving forward with our plan to bring a world-class cannabis consumption lounge next to the Las Vegas Strip,” said Larry Scheffler, Co-CEO of Planet 13. “Planet 13 has always been about offering new and one-of-a-kind immersive experiences for customers. We look forward to once again pushing the envelope and expanding people’s minds about what cannabis can be.” If you can’t visit the Planet 13 Las Vegas superstore, they’re also located in Orange County, CA.
Chatting with Tommy Nafso of NOXX
Tommy Nafso is the Founder and CEO of NOXX, a Michigan-based cannabis brand hyper-fixated on creating a more inclusive world through the power of cannabis, with initiatives dedicated to launching Black-owned brands and hiring employees experiencing systemic and historic inequities. Prior to starting NOXX, Tommy was an accomplished attorney in Michigan’s State Attorney General’s office and a proven industry operator in Michigan, and calls upon this wealth of experience to bolster the company’s “dispensary of the future” retail concept and skillfully guide NOXX through the constantly shifting cannabis industry.
Learning about TSUMo Snacks with Caroline Yeh
TSUMo Snacks is a cannabis infused-snack food company, known for their salty & savory THC infused snacks. The edibles brand recently launched their collaboration with Snoop Dogg, Snazzle Os and two new holiday flavors, Cinnamon Sugar Churro and Turkey Dinner. I was lucky enough to get some time with Caroline Yeh, the company’s founder and CEO. Prior to founding TSUMo, Caroline spent 7 years in the cannabis industry in management roles at other California cannabis brands, including Bloom Farms and KIva. Her recent experience with Casa Verde (Snoop’s house of cannabis brands) has been a good one, and she said, “Authenticity is very important to us, and this partnership was exactly that. We want to set an example of something that is different. We are a highly diverse company with mostly people of color and LGBTQ+ ownership. This is part of our brand and our company culture. One reason I left the CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) industry to work in cannabis was because it was a new industry and not an existing structure. I wanted to work in an industry that could be shaped with more BIPOC and LGBTQ+ leadership and ownership.” Currently, TSUMo Snacks are only in the California market, where they have operated for about 15 months. However, the company is looking at Michigan as a possible expansion state.
Learning about Purple Lotus with Matt Krishnamachari
Matt Krishnamarchari, Founder and CEO of Purple Lotus, is a longtime cannabis advocate and medical patient who started his entrepreneurial journey with Purple Lotus in 2010 with only a $15,000 investment, overseeing its accelerated growth to $22M in revenue today while always staying true to its core values of service and compassion. With an emphasis on giving back to the San Jose community, Matt’s mission is focused on making a positive impact through volunteerism, white-glove customer service and top-quality cannabis. He said, “All I was trying to do was support my family in the beginning. I never thought I would be touching and helping this number of people. It’s beyond any dream I’d ever had.” The company hopes to continue to expand the reach of their delivery services and improve efficiency so they can serve even more people in the entire bay area.
Finding a New Favorite Product in Reepher
Reepher is a new type of personal liability protection that provides its policyholders (aka cannabis consumers) with cash to cover legal and associated expenses when facing cannabis DUI, possession, paraphernalia, and public intoxication charges. Reepher was founded because they believe the law should work equally for everyone. Cannabis-related charges disproportionately impact people without the financial resources to defend themselves. Reepher strives to level the playing field by providing financial support. This means Reepher members have access to the funds needed to afford effective legal representation. The company offers useful products/programs for consumers and cannabis businesses alike. Justin Kahn is the CEO & co-founder of Reepher, and is passionate about social entrepreneurship and the belief that a company can provide for the social good while still having an economically successful business. He hopes to give opportunities to impact the world in a positive way by making insurance and healthcare more accessible and equitable. Reepher was by far one of the most interesting and unique products that speaks to both cannabis consumers and cannabis businesses.
Hanging at the HighOnLove booth
I was lucky enough to get to see the action at the HighonLove booth at both Blunt Brunch and the MJBizCon expo floor and WOW was it busy! People just flocked to see the products that founder Angela Mustone has come up with. Mustone is a 15-year sexual wellness expert who is now working on breaking down the stigmas of pleasure and cannabis through her brand, HighonLove. Angela went from working for the largest global distributor of sex toys, to launching her own cannabis and hemp brand that helps women bring their pleasure to new heights. Years of research and perfecting formulations led to the creation of HighOnLove: a luxurious line of sensual and self-care products designed to take pleasure to the next level, all blended with premium cannabis oil. Products range anywhere from sensual oils to lip gloss and the line even includes a chocolate body paint! Angela’s booth and products were definitely turning heads wherever she went during her time at BizCon.
Blunt Brunch Las Vegas
This was my first Blunt Brunch and it was everything it’s cracked up to be and MORE! The platform has been throwing events in other areas but this was their first event in Las Vegas and during MJBIzCon. The Blunt Brunch mission is to create a positive, authentic and empowering atmosphere where women from all stages of life can connect with each other and find community together for women executives and business leaders. The platform was founded by Adelia Carrillo, CMO and Co-founder of EventHi, and Parisa Mansouri-Rad, President of FOurTwenty Collections. A few key highlights of the Las Vegas event include bringing over 220 women in cannabis together over brunch and over 330+ women and our allies together at the after brunch mixer. The speed networking was buzzing with connections and Jenzi’s performance and Cuff it challenge was a hit! The team is already working hard at preparing for next years event in Las Vegas where they plan to add 200 more seats to the brunch! This was by far the most women I saw in one place during my entire time at MJBizCon this year…way to go, ladies!!
M4MM DICE Mixer
The best party to be at was absolutely the annual M4MM DICE mixer. M4MM (Minorities for Medical Marijuana) had over 450 guests come together to network, enjoy great entertainment, and eat the best tacos in Las Vegas! You won’t want to miss this event in the future! Please make sure to support M4MM in their efforts.