Amid the haste and intensity of New York City, MJ Unpacked delivered a well organized, insightful showcase of brands and thought leaders. Inspiring conversations segued gracefully into networking opportunities.
Exhibitors were thoughtfully arranged, subtly guiding 2,458 attendees from one area of interest to the next. All three days of the event were consistently busy and every exhibitor seemed eager to chat and share insight into New York’s emerging market.
Location, Location, Location
The New York Hilton Midtown served as an excellent backdrop to MJ Unpacked. Its elegant design seemed to elevate every conversation and for those fortunate enough to stay at the Hilton it offered a seamless transition from business to pleasure.
The on-site amenities at the venue include several bars and restaurants, plus a late night market for easy snacking.
Its central location in midtown Manhattan provided an ideal gateway to some of NYC’s most popular destinations, such as Rockefeller Center, The Museum of Modern Art, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Times Square, Carnegie Hall, and the list goes on.
MJ Unpacked staff (special thanks to Mattio Communications) worked tirelessly to curate high-level discussions around New York’s budding industry.
Staff also made themselves easily accessible to attendees, eagerly directing guests to different areas of the show to make sure nobody missed a session due to a poor sense of direction.
After Hours Inspiration
Thursday evening offered a special treat for media attendees. The Media Mixtape Party, produced by The Bluntness, Sensi, Farechild, JVC, and Harbor NYC offered an intimate venue for members of the media and high-level executives to dance and mingle.
Several big names in the industry were in attendance and Farechild co-founder David Tran made the rounds with his usual charm and cordial attitude.
The site was consumption friendly and Grav provided handy refillable glass joints to ensure everyone had a way to consume responsibly.
While drinks were overpriced and the tunes were just a touch-too-loud to talk over, the vibe was engaging and business cards and smiles flowed easily.
It wasn’t quite a rooftop party, but if one knew who to ask, there was a discreet outside area that overlooked the harbor for a romantic and seldom seen view of NYC.
The final day of MJ Unpacked was as well-attended as the first two. High-level educational sessions continued throughout the day, offering attendees a unique look into New York’s regulatory environment and its hopes for the future.
“Be the Neighbor Everyone Wants” was a particularly interesting session exploring how some brands are approaching social impact and why community connections matter in any marketplace.
Technology demonstrations from new and established brands offered attendees a rare opportunity to interact with software, testing equipment, and more — all under the guidance of the brands themselves.
The expert-led roundtables were well attended and touched on topics relevant to both established entrepreneurs and wide-eyed startups.
Venture Summit activations sparked interest even amid today’s tepid economic climate as East Coast investors sought opportunities to expand their portfolios.
Blunt Brunch, a community for women executives in the cannabis industry, held an on-site activation from 2-3 PM to connect like-minded cannabis colleagues.
The networking activation offered engaging conversations, uplifting insights, and ample opportunity to build relationships with women in the industry.
Thoughts on New York’s Cannabis Scene
Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the event for non-NYC residents was the contrast between the industry discussions happening inside the Hilton and the lawless, unregulated cannabis marketplace thriving just outside the doors.
Pedestrians strolling the streets are met with dispensary after dispensary, shockingly few are licensed.
Unregulated products filled the shelves, many with flagrant California stickers adorning the vapes, infused joints, and menagerie of illegally-imported West Coast goods.
When this reporter asked one unlicensed dispensary about the California-state-of-origin stickers, she simply replied “That’s how it is for now, until New York can catch up.”
While unlicensed vendors push untested wares onto an unsuspecting public (largely tourists), the would-be legal operators sit idly by, desperately waiting for licenses to be issued, crops to be cultivated, and regulators to catch up to demand.
If you’re seeking a well-organized East Coast cannabis investment event set in the heart of midtown Manhattan, MJ Unpacked should be on your list. Attendance is exclusive to cannabis executives and accredited investors, so anyone you meet could be a potential business partner, investor, or vendor.
The next MJ Unpacked event takes place Oct. 10-12 in Detroit, Michigan.