By Harry Brelsford
The ability to get out and cultivate new professional relationships is nearly always the top reason people attend live events in any industry. But as live events return, there is a new conversation about the evolution of cannabis events. There are “lookalike” concerns amongst cannabis professionals.
The concern is that once you get past the well-recognized events, many of the other events are nearly the same. This is not uncommon in any industry but is unfortunately happening much faster in the cannabis space than I predicted. Here are a few of the exceptions I’ve found.
South by Southwest (SXSW)
As I write this column, I’m planning to attend the Cannabis Industry Evolution Summit inside SXSW 2022 in Austin, Texas. What’s interesting about the summit within the historic 400,000-person festival/conference over 10 days each March is the content diversity. Basically, SXSW isn’t copying the agenda from other cannabis industry events — which is becoming increasingly common in the cannabis space. This year there was an aggressive call for subject matter that resulted in 14 sessions selected from 65 submissions.
Full disclosure: Interchange is owned and produced by Marijuana Venture. I independently like this event series for a couple reasons. First, it’s all about matchmaking between retailers and applicable vendors. It uses a speed dating approach where a bell rings periodically and vendors walk to the next private sitting area to meet with another dispensary owner or purchasing manager. Second, it’s a small show by design, limited to 50 dispensary owners who get exclusive access to vendors and their wares. The format just works. Marijuana Venture has hosted 11 Interchange events in Washington and one in Oregon, with plans of adding additional states to its schedule in the second half of 2022.
Emerging Industry Professionals
This group presents a two-day expo focused on cannabis technology. This is for people interested in the technology side of cultivation, processing, dispensary and retail, seed-to-sale, insurance, security and more. In 2022, five of these events are scheduled across the United States and the admission fee is $75 to $200.
Finally, a new event targeting the information technology conversation in the cannabis vertical is the CannaTech Expo, scheduled June 21-24 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s produced by TMC, a Connecticut technology publisher. This event focuses on the full stack of cannabis technology solutions such as infrastructure, cybersecurity/security, seed-to-sale solutions, etc. (Full disclosure: I’m a speaker and co-producer for this event.)
What’s unique is that there are three tracks: a) managed services providers/value-added resellers and IT services providers; b) cannabis dispensary owners who want to learn more about technology solutions; and c) vendors. (Yes, there is a track to educate vendors about opportunities in the cannabis space.)
What did I miss?
What other events should I know about? Please reach out as I’d love to hear your feedback.
Harry Brelsford is a principal analyst at The CannaTech Group, which has offices in Seattle, Washington, and Austin, Texas. He can be reached at email@example.com or 206-201-2944.