LAS VEGAS–The legal cannabis industry invaded Las Vegas this week when the largest U.S. cannabis trade show MJBizCon was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Exhibitors from every industry sector and all over the globe filled the center’s Main Hall.
Thousands of attendees stood in line on the show’s first morning, eager to see what the industry has to offer, network with various vendors, and make deals where and when they were able. A handy show app could be downloaded and allowed QR code scanning for easy information exchange, as well as schedule updates. The show saw an internationally diverse crowd, with many Canadian cannabis companies either browsing or hosting booths.
mgretailer was among 227 global, national, and local media outlets in attendance, according to a count issued by MJBizCon.
In the front row, in front of an entrance, iconic lighter brand BIC Lighters was a familiar, mainstream brand doing smart business in peak position. According to show info, 1,027 exhibitors meant a floor dense with booths, from mega-sized enclosures that encompassed the size of whole dispensaries (several hosted by firms specializing in dispensary design, like Seven Point Interiors impressive display) all the way to hundreds of earnest exhibitors in 10x10s, with their best and latest products.
Well-known humidity control company Boveda Inc. said they felt the floor had probably doubled in size from last year.
Businesses that had big presence at the show included CBD product manufacturers, who were free to hand out THC-free product samples. Also with lots of booth acreage: Industrial scale extraction equipment sales and manufacturing; local Nevada mega-dispensaries; product distributors; packaging designers, packing and container systems, and labelers; architectural companies specializing in grow facilities and dispensary design; as well as complete vertical business consultants, ready to advise on building a cannabis business, from seed-to-sale.
Cannabis terpene extractors offered sniff samples of potent-smelling terpenes, presented as fine perfume, and filled the air with exotic, botanical scents.
Every kind of cannabis accessory was on display, like handmade titanium water pipes at the Quiver Fabrications booth. Vape brands at the show numbered in the dozens. High-end personal vaporizers have become an intersection for design and technology, with vapes like DaVinci’s line. Other vape manufacturers on the floor included Flav Inc., Quant Vapor, PAX Labs, and KandyPens, to name a few.
Surprising to some; there was no consumption or display of actual cannabis product allowed at MJBizCon due to regulations preventing display or use of actual cannabis at the venue. In the most legal/illegal nation in the global cannabis market, show-goers had to suspend reality for a few hours by viewing many displays decorated with faux cannabis and jars stocked with green reindeer moss or realistic-looking buds made from plastic.
But wherever cannabis-friendly crowds gather, beer afficianados are not far behind; that makes sense when one understands that hops are a distant cousin of cannabis. Show sponsor Two Roots Brewing Company let attendees sample their IPA and stout in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions. Unable to serve THC-infused product at the show; they are introducing non-alcoholic craft brews at their California brewery that will be infused with cannabis, including THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes.
Thermo-regulation systems company Huber USA also plied attendees with Sam Adams beer and hard cider, on tap and chilled perfectly.
At job placement company HempStaff.com, a company rep said that their most in-demand job category was for extractors. In years past, she said, cultivators had been in great demand, but as the industry grows and scales up, extraction services are quickly expanding to take the lead. More like a matchmaker than a mainstream employment agency, Hemp Staff doesn’t offer temporary placements, opting instead to find qualified job seekers for positions where they will be a good fit.
Canadian-based industrial extraction equipment manufacturer Vitlalis Extraction Technology displayed a custom-built extraction machine that looked like a small oil refinery, like several at the show. Vitalis specializes in fabricating machine components from raw metal and is able to accommodate clients’ specs in a variety of configurations, based on their facilities.
Vitalis Co-founder James Seabrook explained, “We’ve been meeting with people from all over the world, not only the U.S. Because we make it from scratch, like the [machine] you see here, we’re able to develop a whole system for the client that works for them, their resources, and their objectives. Of course, the quality of our machines is high because we’re not ordering any parts–everything is hand-fabricated and installed by us.”
The company recently announced an installation for CBD product manufacturer HempAmericana that will be located in New York State. Vitalis Director of Customer Relations Jeff Willard also has the distinction of being on the team that performed the first hemp extraction in Serbia, for a Vitalis client.
Multinational CBD brand Elixinol, based in Australia (with U.S. HQ in Broomfield, Colorado), was the first CBD brand allowed to use billboard advertising for their products in Japan and have products available currently in 40 countries. The company projects a clean, modern image and put an emphasis on education at this year’s show, according to Sales Executive Armando Torrescano.
“For us right now, it’s about education for the public,” Torrescano said. “That not only helps us, but the whole industry. At this point, consumers are really interested in and looking for information on CBD products, so Elixinol has a whole team of social influencers that are also experts, athletes, and so on.”
Called the Elixinol Champions, the group includes Elixinol Medical Director Col. Philip Blai, MD, V Capaldi (PaleoBossLady.com), MMA champion Tiffany “Time Bomb” Van Soest (TiffanyTimebomb.com), MMA championship contender Andrew Leone (BaliMMA.com), and ultra-runner “Sherpa” John LaCroix (HumanPotentialRunning.com).
Another multinational medical cannabis company, Israel-based Tikun Olam was at the show represented by their U.S. division. Marketing Manager Lauren Donley said that it’s an exciting time for the company, with hope that the U.S. may someday follow Canada’s legalization precedent. In any case, she said, “We’re sticking to our roots in Israel, though, where we have the ability to do important medical cannabis research with the government’s support.”
On the agricultural side, Hawthorne Gardening Company (whose parent company is iconic gardening brand Scott’s Miracle Gro) hosted a massive display of lighting and high tech indoor gardening supplies. The company earlier this year acquired hydroponic gardening supplier Sunlight Supply Co.
Dozens of growing supply and product manufacturers showed every imaginable LED lighting set-up, ventilation systems, grow pots, growing medium, as well as high tech environmental control systems and companies creating plant nutrient blends.
Leading manufacturer Advanced Nutrients had a roomy booth with belly bars and velvet couches. The company’s media-savvy owner “Big Mike” Straumietis was recently featured in entertainment magazine Variety as one of the “Power Players of Pot,” alongside advocates like comedian/pundit Bill Maher and legendary rapper Snoop Dogg.
Vendors like father- and daughter-owned and operated Genifer M. Jewelry, a fine jewelry designer that showcases delicate marijuana leaf motifs, saw brisk business. Her designs are popular with industry members, celebrities, and cannabis consumers alike.
Founder Genifer Murray is not just a cannabis-related product entrepreneur–Murray is a longtime industry member and advocate. The bio from her company’s website outlines her accomplishments, including “president and founder at CannLabs, one of the first cannabis testing labs in the U.S., and she was a founding member of the Women’s CannaBusiness Network, which was a part of The National Cannabis Industry Association; this organization was the foundation for Women Grow.”
She said that it had been a busy show, from the perspective of a seasoned show veteran.
On the walk back to the convenient Las Vegas monorail Convention Center stop, after the show, Director of Member Advocacy for nonprofit National Organization for Cannabis Compliance Ryan de Long looked exhausted, but said he felt enthusiastic about contacts made at the show.
He agreed, though, that it would be good to get back to his hotel and change into more comfortable shoes, for the evening’s activities.