Former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson turned the corner and made his way to the booth featuring Futurola, a company known for its high-quality smoking products and equipment from Amsterdam, during the 10th annual MJBizCon in Las Vegas on Oct. 21.
While the music blared and the crowd roared, there was a unique grandiose moment as Tyson greeted fans, took pictures, signed autographs and Futurola shared samples of his blunt cones.
Napalm Brands’ owner and hip hop artist, Xzibit and actor turned cannabis farmer Jim Belushi was spotted leisurely walking through the expo. Meanwhile, iconic rapper Redman partnered Sephida Artis-Mills, President of the National Cannabis Party for a special meet-and-greet appearance with Cannabis & Tech Today Magazine. The National Cannabis Party, NCP, is a Federal Election Commission recognized political party that has been diligently advocating for cannabis regulation, research and education.
Conscious of the hoariest stereotypes surrounding cannabis users, Redman said his career, along with other hip hop legends like Snoop Dog, Method Man, B-Real of Cypress Hill and other hip hop artists, was “put on the line for weed since the 90s” and always in a space that wasn’t respected because of what the rap gods represented via their cannabis lifestyles. This lack of respect for being open cannabis smokers that integrated weed culture into music prevented opportunities for national corporate endorsements with companies like Coca-Cola.
“It [cannabis] was not understood by any business or any other platform,” he added. “We couldn’t get commercials or endorsements or even the opportunity to work with these kinds of platforms because of what we represented.”
But with so many social equity initiatives and cannabis legalization changing the conversations through the NCP and other cannabis advocates, Redman said he has high hopes of shifting the cannabis conversations into meaningful ones that could significantly change the negative stigmas surrounding cannabis and its culture.
“To be very clear, it is important that you understand the fabric of this,” Redman added. “The National Cannabis Party … we are for the people, this plant and the structure of this cannabis industry.”
According to Artis-Mills, the NCP is a non-partisan group that is presently working on expungement clinics and career fairs to provide opportunities and resources for those incarcerated or have already been released from prison.
“Putting these initiatives together and bringing the community into the conversation,” Artis-Mills said. “I think, is going to help provide fair policy and common sense legislation so that people have the opportunity to voice what their community needs.”
Grammy-Award Winning artist Lil’ Kim was also spotted on the expo floor. On MJBizCon’s closing day, Lil’ Kim announced the launch, by 2022, of Aphrodisiac, a premium line of cannabis consumer packaged goods in partnership with superbad, inc. and CampNova, two California-based cannabis companies.
Beyond the launch of cannabis products, Lil’ Kim aims to use her newfound platform to empower women in the cannabis space by developing workshops that offer guidance, support and resources centered around the cannabis industry.
“By joining forces with Lil’ Kim and CampNova,” said Carlos Dew, founder of superbad inc. “We have the opportunity to empower more women and minorities — in or trying to enter the cannabis space. These types of business ventures foster meaningful conversations that stem beyond products, hip hop or fashion but empower our communities and culture.”
As the cannabis space continues to expand, more women are stepping into the cipher for a puff of the joint too. In an effort to address the cannabis industry’s lack of gender and racial diversity MJBizCon held a special networking event — “Empowering Women in Cannabis.”
The session featured power brokers making significant impacts and advancements in the cannabis industry — Sol Clahane, vice president and general manager of Canopy Growth Corp., Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO at Ilera Holistic Healthcare, Jeanne Sullivan, chief investment officer at Arcview Ventures, Gia Moron, president at Women Grow and Saphira Galoob, executive director at National Cannabis Roundtable.
The conversations addressed the lack of access to capital available to women, which continues to be a massive challenge for women’s cannaprenuers trying to launch their plant-touching businesses. Furthermore, the panels delve into other challenges including the juggling act between businesswoman and motherhood. Towards the end of their discussions, the panelists offered words of encouragement and met with a hefty number of the attendees one-on-one.
This year’s MJBizCon week was the first in two years due to the global pandemic. The final in-person attendance, according to MJBiZCon, was more than 85 percent — 27,000 of the record-breaking 2019 attendance mark — 31,523.
Often dubbed the “Comic-Con of Weed,” Walsh wants to make clear that MJBizCon is not a stereotypical stoner event or festival. It is, however, since its 2012 launch, the incontestable meeting place for the worldwide cannabis industry — a business hub that features thousands of cannaprenuers and celebrities like Tyson seeking to connect with other plant-touching businesses, cultivators, manufacturers and retailers.
Descending over 250,000 square feet of showroom floor featuring over 1,000 exhibitors, the expo spotlights different aspects of the cannabis space including industry-focused services, technology, research presentations and more.
Cannabis beverages were not featured at the 2019 MJBizCon. But this year, the cannabis drink space took center stage and featured a variety of cannabis-infused cocktails with THC, THCA, CBD or Delta-8 as ingredients.
The hefty number of canna beverage business owners featuring their services in packaging, machinery and equipment capable of making water-soluble emulsions were more evident than anything else at the expo. With over a hundred types of cannabis-infused beverages already on the market in multiple legal states, there is no subtle hint that more products paired with technology are coming to the cannabis space.
MJBizCon wouldn’t be the mega cannabis conference it has transformed into, over the last 10 years, as the world’s stage for unveiling leading cannabis innovations. This year alone, hundreds of tech companies like Green Broz, CampNova and Fluence took the in-person opportunity to unveil new product lines or spark conversations. Furthermore, the expo show floor provides attendees with up-close demos of new patent-pending technological and product design advances under one roof.
GreenBroz, known for its automated harvesting solutions, presented its Model G Grinder and the Model Z Belt Trimmer. Geared to the pre-roll market, the Model G Grinder features a first-of-its-kind system that allows the elimination of stems while preserving valuable trichomes and enhancing quality significantly.
“We invest heavily in engineering innovation and are really an incubator for novel, future-oriented technology solutions,” said GreenBroz Mechanical Engineer Kevin Bower. “We are excited to be able to share what we have been working on and welcome the opportunity for in-person interaction and customer feedback.”
Also as a part of the exhibit was the company’s Model Z Belt Trimmer, also an industry first, which offered high output while maintaining a high-quality end product. It has the capability to process 100+ pounds per hour and combines the output efficiency of typical barrel trimmers with the quality generated by the traditional GreenBroz Dry Trimmer.
Fluence by OSRAM, for example, known as the leading LED lighting supplier in the global cannabis market, debut its high-output SPYDR 2h, SPYDR Fang, waterproof RAZR Enclosed and next-generation RAPTR top light as well as its new lighting controls, Wireless Flex Dimming and the SHYFT Light Scheduler.
In so many words — the LED supplier exhibited its newest product lines with data and research that noted “a clear, positive impact on cannabis crop yield, cannabinoid content and overall plant quality under broad-spectrum lighting,” according to its CEO David Cohen.
“The efficacy of LED lighting solutions for cannabis cultivation is no longer a question,” Cohen said. “Cultivators have embraced the power of LEDs and are seeking new ways to harness broad-spectrum lighting technology to optimize their cultivation environments. Fluence’s innovative new products—informed by the latest photobiology research—will enable cultivators to achieve exceptional crop performance.”
CampNova, a SoCal tech e-commerce lifestyle platform that also features the best celebrity cannabis brands like recently ranked number one Fryday Kush by Ice Cube, was also in the mix. According to co-founder and CMO, Emery Morrison, during the pandemic, dispensaries went from partially online to fully online. The shift prompted CampNova and its delivery partners to utilize data and technology to reach customers and take a more direct-to-consumer approach and integrate it with their marketing efforts.
“One of the more exciting areas of growth in cannabis is the use of technology,” Morrison said. “From growing the plant using advanced farming techniques to customer experience and communication to implementing AI to help make better decisions to grow your company.”
According to Morrison, attending this year’s conference provided his team with an opportunity to have formal discussions on marketing strategies and finding ways to amp the company’s brands. Because of CampNova’s ability to socialize the buying process with one-click ordering and access to on-demand products, they’re able to establish customer loyalty while leveraging direct access to data. The technology he shared comes into play when it’s infused with marketing.
After four days of meetings, expo walkthroughs and dozens upon dozens of MJBizCon after parties and networking events throughout the Las Vegas strip, the conference wrapped on Oct. 22.
Founder and CEO of apparel giant Fubu, Daymond John, also known as one of the most high-profile entrepreneurs and investors in the nation and co-star of ABC-TV’s “Shark Tank” gave the closing keynote statements for MJBizCon 2021 that Friday morning.