I’ve gone to each of the big MJBizCon shows in Las Vegas since 2015. But I didn’t in 2019. Yes, the MJBiz fall show is by far the biggest trade event in the legal cannabis industry. However, for me the show has lost a lot of its luster. Here are the main reasons I decided to skip MJBiz in 2019:
1. The lines/crowds: Most trade shows will mail or email your pass well ahead of the show, so attendees can get into the event easily. MJBiz hasn’t done this. In 2018 (just as in previous years), the lines were often more than two hours long to get registered and receive badges. That’s completely unacceptable.
2. The cost: Trade shows typically work on the principle that exhibitors are willing to pay for an event that gets them in front of lots of good foot traffic (read: qualified buyers). MJBiz has been able to get away with charging exorbitant entry fees for cannabis business owners and industry professionals. However, those high fees are turning away quality people in the industry. Several years ago, I noticed that a lot of dispensary owners in the Pacific Northwest started skipping MJBiz. One of the big reasons was cost. My experience at the last two MJBiz events is that the majority of the attendees are not business owners, but curious public and hopefuls. The high cost is also presumably the reason they refuse to mail passes in advance.
3. Lack of focus: Most industries that have grown fast, like cannabis, the internet and the early computer business, eventually develop focused trade events. MJBiz, with extraction, cultivation, investing, hemp and retail all under one roof means a lot of time is wasted navigating miles of aisles with products that have no interest to any particular business owner.
4. Too many unqualified people: Good trade shows are either open to the public (consumers) or they’re business-only. One or the other. Maximizing revenues by allowing anyone in the door who’s willing to pay is a good way to grow fast, but also a good way to irritate exhibitors who want to talk to businesspeople. Exhibitors who pay big money for access to customers will realize that huge crowds of “lookie-loos” are a big waste of time and energy, and yield a very small return on investment.
5. Show dates: MJBiz was December 11-13. Q4 is always a crazy time and doing a trade show after Black Friday in the middle of the holiday buying season is just nuts.
The cannabis trade show industry is currently crowded and getting more so. Many industry people are already questioning why there are so many shows, why they charge exorbitant fees to attendees who should get in free and why most events lack focus or speakers with any real value. Attendance is declining.
Having all things cannabis under one roof doesn’t make sense any more. Retailers deserve their own show, as do cultivators and folks in the extraction side of the business. Wasting hours and precious dollars walking through miles of useless exhibitors while trying to dodge huge crowds of curious public is not for me!