Story by Michael Hagar
Last month CannaBiz Journal attended the Cannabis Business Expo at the Tacoma Dome, which was organized and hosted by the Imperious Expo + Directory. Staying true to their promise of “Business Before Pleasure,” the event was focused on the emerging medical and industrial cannabis industries and featured over 90 exhibitors and over 40 speakers. To be completely honest, this was the first time I had ever been to a business to business (B2B) conference of this nature and had no idea what to expect. Luckily I was not alone, made many new connections, and even saw some familiar faces.
After paying for parking, gathering our gear and making it through the security check we picked up our media passes and entered the Exhibition Hall. Inside we found rows of booths with informational materials, products and representatives of nonprofit organizations, startups and well-established businesses. Armed with our voice recorders, cameras and an undying interest in all things cannabis, we set off to make rounds of the show floor.
Talking to this many people in a short time isn’t something I’m used to, so about halfway through the day I made my way to the concessions stand to grab a burger basket. After getting my food I met up with Mat in the dining area where we discussed our plans for the rest of the day.
Having spent most of our time visiting booths, we decided it would be good to catch the public policy panel featuring a handful of members from The Cannabis Alliance. This turned out to be a good decision as the final panel of the day was incredibly informative and helped clarify the state of the cannabis industry in Washington. When the presentation ended we made our way back to the hotel with sore feet and a nearly overwhelming amount of information, but we had more left to do before turning in for the night.
Throughout the course of the day Weedmaps was handing out wristlets for anafter party they were sponsoring. Somehow I managed to miss this detail while being absorbed in new technologies and information filled conversations. Luckily, my fellow reporter Mat had picked up a pass for me, so after quickly gathering our bearings we set off to Wingman Brewers to kick back and relax a bit. The after party consisted of a barbecue, good live music, and plenty of familiar faces from the Expo. Throughout the night people remained friendly and inviting. We got a chance to chat with Alex from Grow for Vets and Jedidiah Haney from The Cannabis Alliance and we even got to hang out with some folks from Dabstars. It was a great way to end the first day of the Cannabis Business Expo.
Up bright and early the next day, we started off with opening remarks from David Murét of Viridian Staffing and Alex Cooley of Solstice. The next panel we planned to attend was rescheduled until the early afternoon, so instead we got a quick bite to eat, met up with the rest of the CannaBiz Journal team and set off to meet the exhibitors we couldn’t reach on the first day.
We regrouped at the Grow for Vets booth, where we met with Alex, from the prior night and Crystal Newton, their current president. We learned more about their organization and reasons that led to its founding. The mission of Grow for Vets is to save as many lives as possible by providing cannabis and the resources to grow or obtain it to veterans in need.
After that, we visited more exhibitors, had lunch and then attended a series of presentations that started at noon.
The first presenter of the afternoon was Joy Beckerman of Hemp Ace International. She’s a world renowned advocate of industrial hemp and a wonderful speaker to hear in person. Next up was author, horticulturist and legendary cannabis advocate, Ed Rosenthal. He gave us some cost savings and harvest maximization techniques and shared a number of photos from his work abroad, which was a privilege to see. Last, but not least, we sat in on the Strength in Diversity panel, which featured the chairwoman of Women Grow’s Portland chapter, along with Alaska’s very own Charlo Greene, whom you might remember quitting her job on air to start a new career in the cannabis industry. Every presentation we attended was informative and engaging and we’d like to thank the speakers for all their efforts and taking the time to be there.
Over the course of the Cannabis Business Expo we had the opportunity to meet with many great people and to learn a lot about these emerging cannabis industries. I was even able to get a picture of Charlo Greene with Mat Lee of CannaBiz Journal!
There were so many noteworthy exhibitors that I can’t simply list them, as it wouldn’t do them justice. My first B2B conference was a great learning experience and I felt privileged to interact with so many industry leaders in such a small place and in such a short amount of time. By the end of day two my voice was starting to get sore from talking so much—and for me that’s a good thing.
I’d also like to thank Eric Norton, co-founder of the Imperious Expo + Directory, for putting together the Cannabis Business Expo and bringing together such a wonderful group of businesses, nonprofit organizations, and speakers, and helping bridge the gap between the cannabis and business worlds. For all intents and purposes,this event was a great success and I hope to attend more like in the future.