MJBizCon Preview: Politics Expected to Feature Prominently
Chris Walsh, CEO of MJBiz, talked to INN about his expectations for MJBizCon, scheduled to run from November 16 to 18 in Las Vegas.
Major pressure points and the cannabis industry's political future will be in focus at MJBizCon this year.
In the lead-up to the event, which is one of the market's major cannabis conferences, the Investing News Network (INN) caught up with Chris Walsh, CEO of MJBiz, to discuss the process of setting up the event and what topics will be highlighted.
The executive also talked about how the conference will differ from previous editions, and how the pandemic has affected the way MJBizCon operates.
Politics to take center stage at post-midterm conference
Cannabis sector discussions routinely become political amid the many concerns plaguing the industry.
In the US, there’s tension and rising expectations about when the country could see some sort of federal reform, whether it be by way of new banking rules or a more sweeping policy to aid those who have been punished by harsh cannabis laws in the past.
Meanwhile, in Canada, the first G7 Nation to open the doors to legal adult-use consumption, cannabis companies that once led the market are being reduced to small-scale producers struggling to find new capital. Unsurprisingly, Canadian cannabis events have featured plenty of commentary on the need for more government action to protect the industry.
Across the pond in Europe, discussions are increasing about the potential for Germany to install its own adult-use program.
Walsh said he expects politics to dominate the show floor at MJBizCon. Adding smoke to the political fire this year will be the fact that MJBizCon will take place shortly after midterm elections in the US.
“People are getting tired of the situation, that lack of federal change … there's a lot of growing pains, there's a lot of issues that business owners are facing, and they know that a lot of this could be solved with some federal reform," he said.
Loosening the tie, so to speak
Walsh told INN he’s proud of how MJBizCon has become a top-of-the-class event for cannabis business professionals.
However, as comfort with the market continues to grow, he wants to see the door open to more relaxed portions of the event along with the usual suit-and-tie components.
He said this year MJBizCon will have a few recreational lounges where attendees can relax during the trade event.
“We’re a very serious business,” Walsh said. “But we're trying to adapt, and we feel we're at a time both with our company and with the industry where we can loosen up a bit and bring more of the fun that we're creating naturally into MJBizCon.”
Running a conference as pandemic rules change
The COVID-19 pandemic was a massive hit to the conference and business event industry.
MJBizCon was no different — during the outbreak, the event's massive live presence in Las Vegas had to be altered with strict capacity restrictions and a prominent online component.
Since then, MJBizCon has undergone different permutations involving online offerings and in-person talks, but the focus now is on the interpersonal component of the event.
Walsh told INN he’s found the MJBizCon audience isn’t as invested in online portions of the conference.
“People got tired of being on their computer and listening to people speak, or being on Zoom or watching a session online,” he said. Walsh did admit that not everyone who wants to go to MJBizCon can go yet, but added, “There's only so much you could do from your screen.”
Although the cannabis sector continues to struggle in 2022, particularly the investment scene, the long-term outlook for the industry still shines bright. By bringing companies and market participants together in one place, MJBizCon will help shed light on the path forward for cannabis in the near- and mid-term future.
MJBizCon is set to take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from November 16 to 18.
Don’t forget to follow us @INN_Cannabis for real-time updates!
Securities Disclosure: I, Bryan Mc Govern, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.