thermidor<’s MJBizCon-fessions

Actually, given we went to Vegas, for a week, in the name of cannabis, we actually...

By
Dave Barton
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Actually, given we went to Vegas, for a week, in the name of cannabis, we actually...

Bless us, O Farmer, for we have sinned… 

Actually, given we went to Vegas, for a week, in the name of cannabis, we actually fared pretty well. Well done us. 

Yes, yes, yes… we know EVERYONE wants to give their two cents on this year’s MJBizCon. And that’s great. It means there’s a great deal of importance attached to it. As the cannabis world’s premier trade show, you’d expect nothing less.

For us thermidorks<, the entire Vegas experience was a new one. So consider this our (Jamie and Dave’s) ‘polyphonic’ account of the haziness and craziness. 

Don’t(?) Believe The Hype

Hype is a fickle mistress. On one hand she raises expectations to the max – doling out inflated visions of grandeur – and on the other, she underplays the enormity of a given situation. But those who’ve battled her before know to take her musings with a pinch of salt: which we did where MJBizCon was concerned.

Some 19 hours after departing a cold rainy Wiltshire at 4 am – taking in the delights of London Heathrow (routine), American Airlines (not bad), and Phoenix Sky Harbor (terrible carpet) en route – our arrival in Sin City set our teeth chattering. Yup, it was FREEZING. But still, it was sunny. So that was ok.

Down With The Clown: No Juggaloes here.

Now, one of us had been here before (three guesses…) – some 15 years before, in another life – but a lot had happened since then: state-wide cannabis legalisation, to say the least. 

What immediately struck us, as our cab segued through the eclectic cityscape, was how well cannabis seemed to fit in here. It was being openly celebrated, advertised, and signposted. Like it had always been there. In the same way that magicians, musicians, strip shows, and Cirque Du Soleil have found a home in LV, so too has the Great Green Giant. 

But did that make it ‘trashy’? Yet ‘another’ Vegas Vice? 

Kinda. We’re (Dave) all for playing tacky tourist when appropriate – perusing as we do the seething mass of gift shops for the very worst souvenirs. But we were floored by the volume of Ganja Leaf crapola and marginally-racist ‘Rasta’ figurines available for purchase.

For better or worse, Las Vegas has co-opted cannabis into its very core. So it’s only fair that it plays host to MJBizCon (in addition to the city’s vast number of hotel rooms and whopping great convention center).

Walking The Floor Show

But onto the main attraction – MJBizCon 2022 itself: that far off, fabled floor show that we’d been regaled with tales of by our more established canna-colleagues. Until now.

Cards on the table? We thought it’d be bigger. Not that it was insubstantial. It was big, don’t get us wrong; but we’d kinda envisaged a broader spectrum of offerings. Perhaps best-described as hotchpotch of Wonka-esque machinery set against a myriad of placards, rollers, 

Yup, all the right people, brands, and banners were there. But, compared to shows on our side of the Pond, overall (with several exceptions) the mood felt a bit more… transactional. And while that’s absolutely fine (they’d obvs spent a lot of cash to be in the epicentre of cannabinoidness) there was a real sense of a need to actively showcase wares and court deals directly. 

Maybe it’s the flaneuring European in us (hey – we voted ‘Remain), but expressing a passing interest didn’t seem reason enough for an extended conversation. At least not on the show floor. 

Key learning? MJBizCon-The-Event is just one part (albeit a large part) of the whole shebang. Many we spoke to were there to do business, network, explore, and party (a totally valid reason in its own right) – and achieved that simply by being in town while the event was on. 

Consequently, a lot of folks didn’t even venture into the convention itself. At first, we felt that that was perhaps a little shortsighted… but heck, what did I know? And now, we get why.

A pre-departure agreement to keep activities PG-13 served us well; mostly ‘cos we didn’t want to miss a thing. And luckily, the Nocturnal Gatherings we did attend were of a suitable calibre. 

Actually, they were more than that – they were frickin’ awesome. Shout out to the GCNC, Grasslands, Canna Consortium, and FlowerHire crews for their generous hospitality (Dave now has a thing for Cann beverages as a result).

Cann-o-Pop (Delish) vs Ha ‘Bloody’ Ha (Hints of hairspray)

Cherry Popping

The 14th November 2022 marked the day we (ok, Jamie) popped our dispensary cherries. In fact, we managed to get a couple visits in that evening. This was something we were excited to share with a lot of people at MJBiz – as we had a unique, outsiders’ perspective – one that people at the show wanted to hear.

See, while we get that it’s necessary to have a level of security in a dispensary  – given the abundance of a cash crop and cash itself – it’s a strange thing to get your ID scanned by someone sat behind a two inch sheet of perspex. Let’s face it – it’s hardly welcoming.

What was perhaps even more interesting than the juxtaposition of armed guards, ID checks, and border style security – flanked as they were by neon skull bongs and jar after jar of federally illegal material – was the consideration that this is how it has to be.

The response from a number of very experienced people on this vs. the customer experience was a flat, non-negotiable “this is how it is”. Now, we’re all for protecting kids from getting their hands on weed, and protecting businesses from kids getting their hands on weed, but why can’t you just be ID’d at the point of purchase?

We know there are rules and regulations in place to make dispensaries viable but for goodness sake, 20 years ago there was no legal rec market at all, so the consideration that anything is set in stone seems crazy.

NYC? Egypt? Nope. Just Vegas, baby.

Taking the idea further, and looking to Europe where rec is becoming an inevitability as opposed to a possibility, it’s fascinating to try and transpose this model. While America has significant and deep rooted ties to prohibition, which has clearly impacted the way that dispensaries are set up, Europe does not. 

With the framework already being pushed through in Germany for legal recreational cannabis, it’ll be fascinating to see how customer experience is developed in mainland Europe against the necessary protections that have to be put in place to safeguard kids. Will it be as draconian? We very much doubt it. Time will tell.

Dough Riders: Yeah, we went there.

High-Lights

Other highlights – other than dispensary visits (Planet 13 didn’t disappoint) – a first edibles experience (hit Dave sideways with a wave of gummy giddiness); Delta-8 sampling (a Goldilocks encounter for both i.e. just right); and of course (and not blowing smoke up any arses) simply meeting all of those we’d messaged, met before, encountered online, and/or heard stories about. 

We also has a rollicking good time on Podcast Row: some great guests full of cannabis conversation: folks which we hope will continue to be contacts and – (yikes!) – even friends in years to come.

Podding In The Name

Vacuous platitudes aside; seeing a legal, functioning, steadily growing cannabis market was an eye opener. And while the level of accessibility and availability seems like a million years away from what we have at home in Britain today, it sure does fill us with hope now we’ve seen what could be.

Stick that in your (HØJ) pipe and smoke it.

Great name for a store. Awful name for a dispensary.
Blog Author
Dave Barton
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