Though currently, there is only hope that Nevada will be the next state to legalize, it seems as though Las Vegas is already eager to embrace what the cannabis industry has to offer. The 4th annual Marijuana Business Conference & Expo took place in Sin City. And while it may seem like an ironic destination for a cannabis convention to choose a state that has yet to embrace legalization like Colorado, the event itself served as a testament to how distant the cannabis industry really is from antiquated stoner stereotypes.
Over 5,000 attendees (5,561, to be exact) piled into the Rio Hotel in Las Vegas. All 50 states were represented, and 23 countries worldwide as well. The numbers alone could be a statement about how cannabis has truly become an undeniable global industry, but that wasn't all that the conference had to offer.
The Marijuana Business Conference & Expo has now completed its fourth successful year, an effort made possible by both professional production efforts as well as the caliber of its many thousands of attendees. For two days, the event brought together some of cannabis' most prominent leaders to speak to enormous conference rooms that were consistently packed with eager, listening attendees.
Thursday kicked off with an entertaining opening from Chris Walsh of Marijuana Business Daily, who told a humorous, yet serious story about the way cannabis is still perceived by the masses. Due to a phone number mix up, a radio interview Chris was scheduled for happened to reach a prankster that decided to impersonate Chris live on air. He pretended to be "too stoned to talk," leaving the radio host at a loss for words. But when the host did finally regain his footing after hanging up with "Chris Walsh," he quickly began to accredit the mishap as something that should be expected - a commonality of all "professionals" in the cannabis industry.
But looking around, it's obvious that this is untrue, and frankly, unfair. It's shocking, to even someone who works in cannabis, how attentive and well-attended each panel is. Ralph Nader set the bar high, giving an inspiring opening speech to the sea of cannabis business people in front of him.
Beyond being well-organized and relevant to the current landscape of marijuana news, the Business Conference & Expo inspired an unshakable feeling of camaraderie amongst everyone in the room - even those who might be competing with one another in every day life. "Whether in competition or not, we must work together," Chris Walsh said, triumphantly. "We must all align for the greater goal of legalization."
It's impossible to deny the blossoming cannabis industry. According to fellow opener George Jage, the success that the conference has scene is a strong indicator for cannabis' bright future ahead. The number of attendees have increased and similarly, product standards and quality have also improved to match the demand.
Later, attendees began to explore the expansive expo halls filled with all of the latest and greatest in cannabis technology, equipment and brands. A variety of both well-known and newcomer booths lined the halls and from lighting to edibles, products ranged across the cannabis spectrum. One example of the diversity in products is Dixie Elixirs, a leader in the cannabis drink business, which has begun to expand their reach into the emerging CBD-enriched supplement lines for both humans and pets called Aceso and Therabis, respectively. Later, the company also went on to announce their international expansion and plans to bring their products to Australia and New Zealand.
Another prominent factor that was acknowledged throughout the conference was the importance and outstanding way that cannabis has embraced female leaders within the industry. Despite the fact that in almost every other industry, women continue to struggle to be seen as equals alongside men, women in the cannabis business were abundant. As speakers, booth informers and attendees, professional females were a welcomed breath of fresh air at the Business Conference & Expo.
It seems as though the event, along with the cannabis industry as a whole, can only go up from here. As proven by over 5,000 peoples and dozens of eloquent, respected speakers - the business of cannabis is one of the fastest rising markets not only in the United States, but also all over the world. There is no ignoring the medical and economic benefits of this world. Thanks to the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo, we can all rest easy knowing that we're in good leading hands.
Photo: Marijuana Business Daily