After recreational marijuana possession and use was legalized last December, people have been able to blaze freely and grow small amounts of their own ganja as well. Legislation on retail cannabis sale, however, does not project licensed dispensary openings until at least July 2018. But as they say, the early bird gets the worm. Or perhaps, the early wake and baker.
CannaCon Boston is the “nation’s largest business to business cannabis trade show,” according to partner and general manager Dave Mesford. So, putting all the marijuana puns aside, this expo event focuses on the myriad of economic opportunities within emerging cannabis markets like Massachusetts and New England.
“We focus heavily on education and all things business,” says Mesford. “The interesting thing about this industry is that much of it is several times removed from the actual cannabis.”
For example, consider packaging. The product, especially now post-legalization and regulated, must be provided in standardized containers - a huge economic endeavor that focuses completely on plastic capsules.“Then you have ideas like child safety, labelling, and automation,” adds Mesford. And this is just one example of how huge amounts of money circulate in this industry before a consumer even has a chance to pack a bowl or roll a joint.
However, that’s not to say that consumers are not welcome or encouraged to attend CannaCon. “Anybody endeavoring to enter into the Massachusetts cannabis market has so much to learn here,” says Mesford.
Speakers will address topics covering home cultivation to overcoming misinformation and championing marijuana’s medicinal properties. One lecture will feature the “Travelling Hemp Museum” and free, take-home hemp samples.
Those interested in entrepreneurial tips can attend the CannaCon Pre-Conference Workshop hosted by Clover Leaf University. A nationally accredited institution, Clover Leaf will offer a comprehensive guide to starting up a cannabis company with information on business models and legislative restrictions. “They’ll run through every aspect of running a business, for cannabis and even other realms,” explains Mesford. A "Shark Tank"-style investor pitch session called “InCannaVest” will also be going on for those who think they have the next-best marijuana product or service.
According to organizers, 5,000 to 10,0000 people are expected to be in attendance throughout the weekend.
“Anyone wanting to get into the industry should come, regardless of where the administration goes,” suggests Mesford. “It’s not scary - come down and watch people do business.”
If you go:
July 13-15, Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston St., Boston, $40-$420, cannacon.org