Cannabis Creative Conference
Last week I attended the Cannabis Creative Conference, it was held at the Expo Center in Portland. The program stated that the Cannabis Creative Conference, “was designed to be a celebration of an industry milestone in Oregon with the passing of Measure 91″. Over the course of 2 days attendees were privy to educational sessions for current business owners, or those itching to start a new endeavor. Along with the sessions that included some 27 speakers, there were also over 60 companies in attendance with exhibitor booths, and at the end of day 1 there was a networking session with drinks and snacks where people could become more familiar with one another.
I had originally planned on attending both days, but unfortunately those plans were ruined, so I could only attend the second half of the first day. I was pretty bummed about it (I had even paid for 2 days of parking!), but still feel like I got a lot out of the 4.5 hours that I was able to be there. I arrived at noon and caught up with Chronic Travels, and a friend while I stood in awe over how many booths filled the space. I wasn’t into the first session I caught, so I ducked out and popped into the, “NW Craft Food Market Gone, NW Cannabis Market” that was put on by Adam Stites of Mirth Provisions, the makers of Legal Soda. This session explored some of the current trends in the edible and craft mj market, and what the future holds. When I stepped in, there wasn’t an empty seat in the room, it was packed! I’m not surprised though, with the growing popularity of edibles and the unique food offerings in the Pacific NW, there’s many minds a-tinkering. There were a decent amount of caterers in attendance, I kept wondering what tasty concoctions they’d come up with.
After that session it was time for lunch, the restaurant & grill inside the Expo Center was packed, so I enjoyed a slice of pizza with my pal, Chronic Travels. She was such a champ and stuck out both days, what a trooper! We shared a bench with Suzanne Harank, the Co-Founder and CEO of MRM Systems, she was fueling up for the talk she was about to give: “Cannabis Compliance: Your Key To Success”. While we were sitting there we talked with Suzanne a bit about the product testing in Oregon and how different the 3 rec markets in Colorado, Washington, and soon to be Portland are, but how we’re all dealing with the same struggles: banking, stigma, proper product testing, and how rapidly the industry is changing since it was first legalize recreationally.
With a full stomach I was ready to hit the booths…so many booths!! I didn’t hit every booth, but I did speak a little with the ladies at Golden XTRX, they make C02, vape cartridges that you can attach to your vape pen battery (250 doses), dabbables, and personal vaporizers that require no charging or filling, lasting you about 250 doses. I stopped by H.E.M.P.’s booth and shot the shit with them for awhile, I cannot tell you how wonderful Megan and Gareth, the owners are. It was interesting to get their take on how they think the legal cannabis market will be when stores in Oregon are able to start selling, and how that will affect the market up here in Vancouver, where they’re located. They were very optimistic, because in the grand scheme of things they’re doing what they love. Two of my favorite booths: The Fresh Connection PDX and Chalice Farms! As you can see from the pics below, Chalice really had their booth game on point! (I was going to say “on fleek”, but I don’t wanna sully the Mrs. Nice Guy name just yet!) Beautiful buds were in small wooden chalices, locked away in these beautiful display cases made of some kind of wood. It was like you were in a little shop right inside the conference! Dope magazine had a nice display of their magazines and their Dopen. My favorite booth was probably the one I spent the least amount of time at! Just before everything was shutting down for the networking/happy hour session, I noticed a booth with these huge canvas prints of some beautiful buds. The booth belonged to The Fresh Connection PDX, a female founded cananbis farm.
The second session I attended was “State of The Leaf” that was held by Paul Campbell of Leafly. It was interesting to learn more about the company that helps me with my strain reviews. Leafly is basically the wikipedia of weed, where users share reviews and pictures of cannabis strains and dispensaries. Along with that they also offer services to dispensary owners where they can put up their menus and much more. Some of the stats were crazy, like the fact that they had an increase in traffic from users 65+ who were looking to buy, their was a 500% increase in traffic from women, they’ve even received traffic from users who don’t live in states where cannabis is legal (rec/med). The people at Leafly noticed the weed isn’t just about THC anymore, other trends are growing too, like CBD’, edibles, and concentrates. Not surprising, but their most popular content comes from their knowledge center/Weed 101. A lot of the questions attendees had for Paul, was how they got their some of their strain information, and Paul let them know that some of the information is crowd sourced through the reviews that users like you and I post. One of the things I am somewhat excited about is that soon Leafly will be rolling out a new feature that can help trace a strain’s lineage….CRAZY!
The last session I attended was with Chronic Travels and our friend (not sure if they care about their name being shared), that was put on by the owners of Pure Green in Portland, Meghan and Matt Walstatter called, “Lessons Learned: Insights From Medical MJ for the Transistion to Rec”. This session was to give some insight on the issues Matt & Meghan have had to deal with since opening up shop 2 years ago, like banking and staffing turnover. Matt and Meghan have also helped create political change, and strengthened the industry as well. What are some of their tips?
- When hiring a inventory manager, think about someone who is a weed geek and has their finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the cannabis market.
- Make sure your staff has retail experience, cannabis knowledge, and passion for the industry.
- Have the right mix of products: flower, concetrates, edibles, etc, and make sure you have a good mix of indica/sativa/hybrid at different price points.
- Watch your sales, and adjust accordingly that way you can spot trends early on.
- Count your inventory daily, and record keeping is a MUST!
- When it comes to banking, use multiple accounts and change up your deposit patterns, and pay vendors in cash.
- Make sure you have all your permits, licenses, city and county building codes, zoning, and occupancy load information…basically hire a Compliance Mgr!
- When it comes to marketing make sure your brand has a professional experience. Try focus groups or brainstorming sessions with friends and employees if you’re stuck for ideas.
- Show you community love and stay informed on what’s going on. Meet the experts, hit events, help spread awareness to normalize, it can definitely help market your business.
- WORK WITH LABS AND KNOWLEDGABLE PEOPLE!!
I didn’t make it to the second day, but Chronic Travels and another friend were VERY impressed with the “Groundswell: Cannabis Production, Techniques, Science & Thoughts” session with that included panelists: Hunter Neubauer of OreGROWN, Tyson Haworth of sofreshfarms, and Jeremy Plumb from Farma+. The Q & A sessions at these conferences can always be so iffy, sometimes people are long winded, or they’re know-it-alls, but sometimes you learn things. I think that’s why I like attending these conferences. I’m far from ever owning or starting my own cannabusiness, but by attending the conference I gain the same knowledge and guidance as those looking to start their own, and that’s pretty dope.
A big Thank You to the Cannabis Creative Conference for being awesome and letting me attend!