How was Cannabis Conference 2023?

Cannabis Conference 2023 was all about sharing knowledge on how companies are surviving and thriving in U.S. cannabis. It truly lived up to its claim as “the industry’s leading event for plant-touching businesses.” Can a conference change the state of the cannabis market? No – but it can facilitate the knowledge sharing desperately needed to move this industry forward across state borders. 


The lineup of speakers, panelists, and presentations shared knowledge relevant to every corner of the industry. From understanding the market to the nitty gritty of cultivation, there was the opportunity to learn about the cannabis industry from those deeply entrenched in it. Furious note-taking ensued as founders shared gems of knowledge - like Planet 13’s experiential marketing strategy or the way a local dispensary is beating price compression in Michigan.   


I was fortunate to share Brightfield Group insights for “marketing and product selection for an evolving customer base.” After presenting, I was grateful to have many questions about the insights; conversations about cannabis consumer insights lasted past the after party! Anyone who has caught me at a Chicagoland event knows I can talk the trends for hours. That’s exactly what I got to do at Cannabis Conference, and I was not the only one! 


Knowledge sharing was the theme of the evening, even if just to understand how someone prepared their application to grow in Texas’ medical program or how much taxes Alaska farmers pay per pound. There is so much to know about U.S. cannabis as each state enacts its own flavor of legalization, and as the collective knowledge grows, so does the industry. 


A key theme of my presentation was looking outside of your own market to understand how to better serve customers. Taking a nationwide look at cannabis consumers provides an excellent baseline to see where your market could be better, what’s missing on shelf, and who is not yet in the market. But after conversations with probably a hundred entrepreneurs deeply invested in the space, it’s abundantly clear that all parts of the industry need to look across borders.  


While I’ve only been immersed in the cannabis industry for four years, it’s clear legislators prefer to reinvent the wheel in each state. But does the industry have to? Usually when I talk about moving across borders, it’s regarding multi-state operators and their processes and brands. At Cannabis Conference, it was refreshing to see the lessons of seasoned, successful entrepreneurs be shared with those at square one from newer markets like Maryland, New Mexico, and yes – even Texas.  


One of the best compliments I got after my talk was that Brightfield Group’s insights were  “the cherry on top” of their educational experience. They were a new cultivator and felt they had deeply furthered their knowledge at the previous day’s Cultivation Roundtable. I’m grateful that the insights shared were well received and useful to people’s entrepreneurial journey, but the full picture of learning was so much bigger.  


So, while there’s plenty of reason to frown in U.S. cannabis in 2023, the sharing of knowledge at Cannabis Conference 2023 was surely a reason to smile. The lessons shared will resonate throughout new and existing markets, keeping the industry growing even in trying times.  


Published: 8/23/2023