Business

MJBizCon 2021 Launches Day One With a Bang

Day One of MJBizCon offered inspiring insights from some of the industry’s most prominent players. The event features 250,000 square feet of expo floor, 1000+ exhibitors, 80+ speakers, and ample opportunities for networking and learning. 

Unlike years passed, MJBizCon 2021 offered both live and digital components. Digital attendees can watch select sessions remotely or on demand. 

Wednesday’s content kicked off with a State of the Industry address from MJBizDaily CEO Chris Walsh.

He touched on the many challenges and hardships that impacted the globe during 2020 before diving into his predictions for the future of the cannabis space.

MJBizDaily estimates retail sales will double over the next few years. National branding is also taking off and will play an increasingly important role in the marketplace.

Walsh also briefly explored Canada’s evolving marijuana marketplace, noting cannabis is becoming a part of the country’s culture and lifestyle.

MJBizCon KickOff 2021

Next, digital participants were offered a live-streamed panel titled “General Session: MJBizCon KickOff 2021.” The session featured cannabis industry consultant and advisor Andrew DeAngelo, SimplyPure founder and CEO Wanda James, Curaleaf CEO Joe Bayern, Swami Select co-founder Swami Chaitanya, Co-Chief Operating Officer at Ayr Wellness Jennifer Drake, and co-founder of Happy Munkey LLC Vladimir Bautista.

The session offered many powerful takeaways, such as Swami’s point that 600,000 people each year are still being arrested globally for cannabis.

The panel frequently touched on the importance of Black and brown communities in establishing the legal market and how those legacy growers and sellers are still being penalized and exiled from the legal cannabis community.

The shadow economy that helped countless low-income individuals feed their families is now legal in 38 states and these early participants are still unable to join the legal market due to poor public policy. 

James added that during 2020 there were fewer women- and minority-owned cannabis businesses than the year prior. There was also less investment in women- and minority-owned businesses in 2020 than in years prior.

Bayern noted there needs to be a collaboration between the corporate cannabis market and smaller retailers. He emphasized the role larger corporations play in developing infrastructure that can ultimately benefit startups. 

Drake also noted that without changes to public policy the industry cannot advance in an equitable way. She suggested changes such as allowing felons to enter the industry, making the application process more accessible for low-income individuals, and changing the application language to make it easier to understand.

Bautista pointed out that to make this industry something people can be proud of in ten years, policymakers need to make more entry points for Black and brown people.

Celebrity Meet Ups

Cannabis & Tech Today hosted a meet and greet session on the expo floor with MC and NCP co-founder Redman to celebrate day one of the conference.

His appearance signaled the start of the Golden Ticket Giveaway, sponsored in part by Fluence, which is offering participants a chance to win up to $15,000 in prizes. Click here to see the prizes and sign up to win.

Tech and Data Take Center Stage

Data and technology were focal points of day one. In the session titled “Unicorn Yields: Raising the Bar of What Cannabis Can Produce,” panelists discussed the importance of data for driving quality crops. LEDs especially are driving advancements. 

In a subsequent session, “Making Your Cannabis Smarter: How Data and Tech are the Roots of the Cannabis Industry,” panelists focused on data acquisition and its role in industry transparency. 

Day two promises more content, networking, and celebrity appearances.

Look out for actor and comedian Jason Gann. He’ll be signing copies of the fall issue of Cannabis & Tech Today at booth #C3260 on October 21 at noon Pacific Time.

Whether you’re attending masked, in-person or participating virtually from the comfort of a less crowded space, day two is sure to have something for everyone.

Ebby Stone

Ebby Stone is a freelance writer specializing in cannabis, with a focus on the innovators and businesses shaping the industry.

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