The good news is that the MJBiz Con held yearly in Las Vegas is growing. The bad news is that the MJBiz Con held yearly in Las Vegas is growing.
This year, the show moved from it's old site at the Rio Hotel, to the enormous Las Vegas Convention Center. And while it is apparent that the legal cannabis business is expanding at a rapid rate, with more exhibitors and attendees than ever, it also indicates an industry where many original players have given way to corporate might.
Gone are the old hippies wearing tie-dyed shirts selling worm casings and plant fertilizer. In their place, massive booths that cost a small fortune, polished executives, and exhibits that would look at home at the Consumer Electronics Show.
While we are happy that this industry that we serve is continuing to grow, it is a bit wistful that we say goodbye to those that risked so much to get us here... those that are now left out or left behind.
Keynote speaker George Blankenship, a former executive at Tesla Motors, Apple Computers and The Gap stores, presented on the first day of MJBizCon, said that the greatest hurdle for the industry to overcome was the negative perception of cannabis, started by the hippie culture of the 1960s.
This comment shows how much the industry has changed in the past few years. And while the industry wants to be taken seriously in order to continue the march toward legalization and to attract more investment dollars, let us not forget those that built the foundation that this industry is growing upon.
Perhaps we could enact a voluntary pledge that all new cannabis companies hire a percentage of people over the age of 50, for they are the true mavericks.
We did see some interesting developments at the show:
Grasshopper Kiosks unveiled a new type of "vending" system that is used as a secure, temperature-controlled environment for products, and then tracks dispensing with sophisticated software to maintain compliance with state regulations. The machine at the show was branded for Keef Cola, but can be customized for any brand.
Medicine Man Technologies showcased their "turnkey" approach to help entrepreneurs get into the business, by offering everything from cultivation methodologies, to micro-nutrients, to dispensary management. The company, which recently purchased their boutique-sized competitor, Denver Consulting Group, has expanded into 12 states, plus Puerto Rico, Australia, Canada, Germany and South Africa.
Several Chinese manufacturers exhibited at the conference, indicating that they want to try their hand at selling direct in the crowded vaporizer market.
Futurola had a large display and showcased their automated joint rolling machine, which seem to have a few gliches during one demonstration.
Genifer M showcased their cannabis-inspired jewelry, and from the sight of so many people wearing their beautiful original necklaces by the third day of the show, we can surmise that the company was one of the bigger hits of the conference.
Pump manufacturer Haskel seemed a bit out of place among all the pot-heads, but did their best to showcase their machinery.
Elixinol, the giant of the CBD world, showcased a variety of hemp-based products, including lip balm, pills, drops, pens, and liposomes.
Hippo Premium Packaging brought out a new packaging system from Europe, which will be available in the U.S after the first of the year. The entire team was dressed in football jerseys and had fun nerf footballs to hand out to attendees.
Wilson Safe Company was one of several safe companies, showing the importance of storing your valuables in an industrial grade vault.
The Terpene Store has 88 strain specific flavors of food grade terpenes.
Duber Technologies (which sounds a lot like vaporizer manufacturer, "Vuber Technologies"), showed a system that allows customers to place dispensary orders on a pad or mobile device.
Viridian Staffing was one of several companies that specializes in helping place employees in cannabis businesses.
Xtreme Cube displayed their custom-built modular structures that can be configured to operate as a store, manufacturing facility, or cultivation building.
Pax Labs, who says that the company was founded by "two Stanford Design Program graduates," showed their vaporizers, which they claim, "deliver the ultimate vaporization experience."
And many, many more.
In summary, we can be happy that our industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and that the interest level in entering and competing in the sector is higher than ever. We think that as the industry matures, we will see shrinking and consolidation, and not a continued increase in the number of companies in the market, as smaller businesses are bought out or go under due to increased competition.