Rolling Through MJBIZCON 2023: the Highs, the Hustle, and the Handshakes

Rolling Through MJBIZCON 2023: the Highs, the Hustle, and the Handshakes

I inhaled fresh vibes all last week! 

Everyone from everywhere in the cannabis industry was in Sin City for the 12th MJBizCon. The annual event is the #1 global cannabis business conference and trade show, a week-long combination of expo, breakout sessions, parties, podcasts, and award shows. 

The pulse of the industry boasts over 30,000 attendees, so my goal was to shake hands, high-five, and show my face. The importance of ancillary services is vastly underrepresented, so MJBizCon is an opportunity for anyone from anywhere to cultivate business connections.

I wanted to share my first time with the national landscape opening up and Georgia’s growing interest in medical cannabis. So I hope this helps people of color in cannabis discover the best way to dominate all five conference days.

Dollars and Sense: Is MJBizCon a Wise Investment?

It depends. The best time to consider attending the next MJBizCon (December 3-6, 2024) is now. 

Before you blink, it’ll be Halloween. The sooner you decide, the more you can save on conference tickets. For example, you can grab a conference and expo ticket for $399 or just attend the expo for $99 - if you buy them early.

To be transparent, I bought an expo-only ticket for $150 because I went to the Cannabis Marketing Summit earlier in June. I wanted to follow up with people I met there and meet people I’ve reached out to on LinkedIn or through cold email. 

My approach was casual, see who I could meet at the expo. But I did have an idea of who I wanted to speak to. You have to decide what is best for your cannabiz. 

A Brotha’s First and Last Impressions  

The line for MJBizCon exceeded my highest expectations. My first thought when I saw all the people waiting to enter North Hall on the first day was a flashback to Denver in 2014. The first day Colorado went recreational, there were hundreds of people waiting in line. The atmosphere wasn’t quite the same, but the feeling in the air was indescribable. 

Getting my badge was super easy; I scanned a QR code, and a nice black lady from Denver handed it over with the warmest smile I’ve ever seen. Then I headed to the first-timer’s open house (free event). 

I saw the Simple Pure New Jersey Owner, Tahir Johnson, but didn't get a chance to talk to him. I got my breakfast, did client work, and prepped until the expo opened. 

For the next three days, I walked the expo floor. All communities were well-represented, but I will always advocate for more diversity, inclusion, and representation. The conference and afterparties did have:

With Georgia making history as the first state where pharmacies will sell medical cannabis, Atlanta was well-represented with Sandy Moore (Hemp Box Etc), Omari Anderson (Best Dirty Lemonade), Michael Lawson, Jr (CMC), Mehka King (ColorCashCannabis), Dustin Hoxworth (Fat Nugs Mag) and many more. 

I bet there are plenty of people I didn’t see so shoutout to everyone at MJBizCon. 

Expo Exploration: The Stepping Stones for Success

I got overwhelmed just walking down one row with over 14,000+ exhibitor booths. I was literally stepping all over the convention center in my Air Jordan Ones. Remember there were two huge conference rooms full of people and plant-related products/services.

There were meetups, podcasts, and events at the expo so depending on the date and time you could have to be in two places at once. I advise anyone planning to attend to map out your days once you land in Vegas because you’ll hear about overlooked events.

For example, on Wednesday I connected with my client/mentor, BIPOCann’s Ernest Toney, before a panel he participated in. After that, I scoped out the scene on the expo floor. I visited my buddy Matt, saw Roz McCarthy on a podcast, and got to experience Xzibit podcast’s “Lasagna Ganja” firsthand.

Since it was my first conference, I wanted to leave a small footprint on the minds of certain people I connected with. I met a few on Thursday but was able to lock in with people on Friday when the conference slowed down.

At all times - the Joint Lounge that hosted the 40 Tons prison letter campaign and Xzibit podcast was the place to forge connections, exchange dope ideas, and find a melting pot of possibilities.

Off-Site Extravaganzas and Nocturnal Networking

I heard the real business deals take place at the events held away from the convention center. I missed out on most of these, except for the Emjays afterparty. But every ten minutes at the expo, I either heard about a party that had happened the night before or an event planned for later in the week. Even in the Strat Hotel’s elevator, some conferencegoers were discussing their disappointment in a celebrity-hosted strip club party. 

The highlight events included:

In the future, I will focus on the off-site events and the afterparties because I missed out on the opportunity to create lifelong memories with other cannabis professionals. However, I did have to manage client work, networking, and being a BIPOC introvert in this ever-evolving industry.

The Decision Dilemma: Decoding MJBizCon’s ROI

Is MJBizCon worth the investment? It boils down to your business goals and strategies. It's a no-brainer if you want to grow, connect, and see as much of the cannabis industry in person all at once. The energy of Las Vegas, cannabis, and entrepreneurs makes it dynamic because the present and future of cannabis are literally in the hands of attendees. 

The key lesson I learned is there is no right way to experience it. The week can be costly, considering all the costs:

  • Event tickets
  • Airfare
  • Hotel
  • Food
  • Drinks
  • Rental Car/Rideshare
  • Parking
  • Vegas Tax
  • etc
Back to blog