Cannabis Conferences Canceled: Coronavirus and the Cannabis Landscape
by Henry Kronk
Cannabusiness is one of the bright spots in an economy that looks more and more on the ropes. Although there is debate about whether cannabis is an essential business among regulators, there’s no doubt that consumers expect easy access to their medicinal or recreational products. However, the realities of life have changed with COVID19. The issue is more complex than steady demand. The industry and money generated around cannabis may be playing an important role in ensuring the continued acceptance in the United States. After all, everyone likes the color green whether that means cash money or good flower. And the events industry is a big source of revenue from this industry for local governments and communities. However, many cannabis conferences are cancelled.
A growth or a maturing industry?
The general consensus is that the cannabis business will continue to grow like a weed. There’s no doubt that established medical and recreational markets will continue to earn tax money for their local governments. However, the big questions remain.
What will it take to make cannabis federally legal? More lobbyists and industry associations? Local grassroots efforts to change enforcement laws state by state? Will slowing down these events due to COVID19 mean that cannabis will take longer to turn into a “normal” industry? Will trade shows, big brands, and lobbying become the norm?
On the WeedWeek podcast released on March 23, Alex Halperin of WeedWeek questions if traditional big business industry conferences are the way forward. During this podcast, when asked for whom these conferences provide value, he says “journalists can find stories elsewhere, and salespeople can find their customers elsewhere.”
With the severe disruption that a global pandemic brings, the cannabis industry may continue to grow without the traditional methods of industry-building. However, many events were planned for 2020. Here’s how a sampling of cannabis events are handling the outbreak.
Cannabis Conference Cancellation, or Canna-cellations…
The National Cannabis Industry Association runs a series of “caucuses” across the country featuring corporate members like Bic and Zippo. These have been canceled indefinitely.
Cannabis Business Times, which produces the Cannabis Conference, declared on March 16th that they would work with their Las Vegas partner to find alternative dates, and aim to honor all registrations and exhibition contracts.
New England Cannabis Network (NECANN) prides itself on local product and brings its conventions to potential markets, not just those already legalized. The 2020 NECANN Boston event is rescheduled to June 27-29th. The NECANN Vermont and Illinois conventions are rescheduled for late September and late October, respectively. They are also gathering information for virtual live events.
Even the insurance industry had started with cannabusiness events. Business Insurance is scheduled to host its second annual Cannabis & Hemp conference during April. This too has been cancelled indefinitely. Their website says they are investigating options for a virtual conference and online learning opportunities.
MJBizConNEXT postponed for August 19-20 in New Orleans. It has delayed its conference but is allowing vendors and attendees to get a refund on registration fees. Attendees will have to wait to see Dia Simms (responsible for taking Ciroc Vodka from unprofitable to two billion dollars global product) and hear about her insights on brand building.
Where to go from here for Cannabis
The Coronavirus pandemic has impacted the cannabis industry significantly like much of society. These areas of impact include, supply chain disruption to cancelled of cannabis conferences events due to Coronavirus. Given this disruption, the cannabis industry will need to evolve to become more resilient In the future. The industry received legitimacy from the medical marijuana being designated as “essential” in many states. With this designation, the industry should look forward to many conferences in the future.
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