Let me be clear: we are not talking about dudes growing pot in their garage or spare bedroom. Nobody from Frito Lay is pimping special MJ Cheetos or Pizza Hut MJ coupons with their deliveries. The 2017 Spring MJ Biz Conference and Expo (MJBIZCON) was a group of business owners and large-scale investors in the marijuana industry working to upskill and educate themselves on the latest in regulatory compliance and technology. These are “industry professionals,” not the dude from The Big Lebowski.
The MJBIZCON was held at the Gaylord Resort and Convention Center in Oxon Hill, MD just outside Washington DC. It is the east coast counterpart to a similar conference held each year on the west coast. The MJBIZCON is billed as “America’s oldest and largest national cannabis tradeshow.”
East Coast vs. West Coast
The two shows are both the same and different. “There’s less interest in what’s going on in the industry on the east coast” said one attendee. With the east coast states lagging behind in the approval of medical and recreational marijuana, the professionals who did attend were less interested in the mechanics of growing marijuana and more interested in the regulatory, compliance, and legislative sessions that the conference offered. In fact, attendance at the educational sessions so exceeded the expectations of the show staff they said they would rethink the design of future east coast conferences and trainings.
The other variable feeding in to the rethinking of the conference and expo design is the lighter than expected traffic by attendees at the Expo. While the west coast draws 10,000+ attendees, the estimate was that there were only 3,000 attendees at the east coast event. Nearly every vendor commented on the light traffic and lack of attendee interest in engaging in commercial conversations. Opinions about this issue varied depending on vendor but most attributed the light expo attendance to lack of east coast approval of medical/recreational marijuana, the over-all quality of the educational seminars, and the fact that the Gaylord is not a tourist draw like other destinations.
While traffic was lighter at the tradeshow, it was still valuable for the CO2Meter team to attend. We connected with existing customers who are expanding their operations, customers planning new facilities, and other exhibitors interested in partnering with CO2Meter as well.
CO2 Meter Products
To meet stored CO2 regulations and fire codes, CO2Meter showed the Remote CO2 Storage Safety Dual Alarm. For those interested in growing plants, we showed the Day/Night CO2 Monitor & Controller for Greenhouses.
One of the noticeable differences from the fall to the spring product expo was a lack of innovation or new products. Very few truly innovative concepts and products are coming to market. Insiders expressed a belief that the industry has reached a level of maturity that makes major innovations less likely and costlier to produce. Others opined that industry regulation was holding back growth. Either way, it appears the industry has reached a technological plateau. No one saw it as hampering industry growth or expansion but rather saw it as an opportunity to reset and reenergize the industry.
The 2017 Fall MJ Biz Con will be held at the Las Vegas Convention Center in November. They expect record crowds. Look for our wrap up of the west coast show in December to see if these predictions will be correct.