Reflections on MJBizCon
Published on November 25, 2022 by Bradie Sparrow
This past week, 35,000 attendees gathered in Las Vegas, Nev., for what might be the largest Cannabis conference in the world, MJBizCon 2022.
The show was held at the Las Vegas Convention Centre and occupied two full floors, hosted more than 1,400 vendors, two and a half days of breakthrough sessions, and an outdoor smoking patio. Attendees had access to over 180 speakers, a full pre-show day of niche forums, plus endless networking opportunities and after parties.
MJBizCon is staggering in size
Since my husband Matt was attending with the Cannadri team I decided to tag along and check out MJBizCon for the first time.
Surprisingly cool weather greeted us in the Nevada dessert, but the sun warmed us during the 10-minute walk over to the north entrance of the conference centre. Seeing no sign of our conference, we asked a greeter where the MJBizCon was. He directed us towards the Vegas Loop, a Tesla powered ride option that travels a neon lit underground tunnel. Alternatively, he said the option was to walk 40 minutes to the south end of the conference centre. The Tesla driver was quite entertaining and had us to our destination in no time flat.
The expo portion of the show was staggering in size. It was however, organized into themed quadrants such as ‘business services,’ ‘cultivation products and services,’ ‘processing packaging and lab services,’ and ‘retail dispensary.’ Our group walked the floor for two full days and barely touched the surface of the offerings. Every booth had an attraction game or gimmick to get attendees to engage and accept the copious amounts of swag being given out. This is a show that requires strategy and focus for maximum potential.
A highlight for me was attending the Celebrity Cannabis Insights Session featuring B-Real of Cypress Hill, Jim Belushi, Calvin Johnson Jr. and Ricky Williams. During this heartfelt hour of sharing, none of these people were celebrities; instead we saw everyday humans working hard towards their passion in a climate that is nothing less than hostile. I was struck by how similar the struggles in the US are to our Canadian market. Every member of that panel expressed their frustration with the paralytic taxes and regulations they currently face. Every member recognized the importance and value of the budtenders who are educating consumers. Every single member on that panel was driving themselves forward purely on passion because the rewards have been few, if any at all. It was quite humbling to hear these celebrities speaking so candidly about the same realities I discuss with Canadian industry players every day.
Overall the MJBizCon experience was amazing, if a bit overwhelming, and I’m confident that next year will be a breeze now that we are familiar with the layout. Planning and scheduling will be key to taking in the best of the show—and comfortable shoes.