MJ Unpacked, one of the top cannabis business conferences, is back and better than ever. The highly curated event is preparing for its biggest show yet at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas September 28-30, coming at a make-or-break time for the market with a goal of shifting the tide toward industry success.
Legal cannabis has evolved tremendously since Colorado and Washington became the first states to allow adult-use sales a decade ago. In that seemingly short amount of time, the industry has grown by leaps and bounds despite a number of significant challenges.
George Jage, the co-founder and CEO of MJ Unpacked, knows this better than anyone. The veteran cannabis media executive and event producer has had a bird’s eye view of the market, gaining a unique perspective as the former CEO of Dope Media and the President of MJBizCon during its meteoric rise to the trade show behemoth it’s known as today.
Jage and his team created MJ Unpacked exclusively for cannabis CPG brands, retail executives, and accredited investors, cultivating an unparalleled experience for attendees to connect, collaborate, generate opportunities, and gain traction over the course of three days.
“MJ Unpacked is the trade event the industry not only needs but deserves,” Jage told Beard Bros Media. “It is the only nationally-focused event that is meeting the needs of the market at the moment. We really take the time to listen to the concerns of our audience, understand their goals and objectives, and find creative solutions that meet their needs.”
A programming blend of panels, pitches, and breakout sessions will include over 40 of the most high-profile names across cannabis speaking on a variety of topics, such as retail expansion, the emergence of consumption lounges, and the consequences of discount culture.
Several cutting-edge businesses will get the Shark Tank treatment on the aptly-named Money Stage, including award-winning beverage brand House of Saka and their newly acquired partner Gem + Jane, industrial automation firm Sorting Robotics, social impact-focused 40 Tons, and packaging manufacturer MJ-Pak. An award for best pitch will be given at the close of the three-day conference.
The Brand Experience hall will be the center of the action, showcasing dozens of the industry’s best brands, media companies, and ancillary service providers. Attendees are encouraged to literally bang the gong when they make a deal, with a ceremonial instrument hung front and center of the hall. (Make sure to pop by the Mammoth Distribution kiosk where Beard Bros Bill and Jeff Levers will be featuring their RSO line!)
The newly minted MJU Venture Summit occurring on day one provides a space for high-level venture capitalists to gather and discuss the cannabis capital landscape. A mixer on the expo floor will cap off the first day’s festivities.
Clio Awards to Honor Innovation in Cannabis Marketing and Communications
MJ Unpacked is adding a touch of red carpet glamor to its Vegas event this year by presenting the highly anticipated Clio Cannabis Awards on the night of September 29th.
Now in its fourth year, the Clios recognizes the top creativity from the marketers, designers, filmmakers, art directors, and innovators whose work has elevated the industry over the past year and a half.
This year’s three juries (Marketing & Advertising, Design & Innovation, and Film & Advocacy) collectively evaluated hundreds of entries across 14 mediums to select nearly 110 winners that will be revealed on ClioCannabisAwards.com at the conclusion of the event. The live awards show will see trophies handed out to the Grand Clio Cannabis winners, highlighting the best in show, including Agency of the Year and Brand of the Year.
Receiving special honors will be rapper and cannabis icon Berner for his marketing prowess and brilliant brand development with Cookies along with Headcount’s Cannabis Voter Project for fueling voter education and registration efforts. The event will also include the National Cannabis Industry Association Best of 420 award selected by members of the NCIA Marketing & Advertising Committee.
“Clio’s mission is to celebrate bold work that propels the industry forward, inspires a competitive marketplace of ideas, and fosters meaningful connections within the creative community—MJ Unpacked provides a platform where we’re able to do all three,” said Michael Kauffman, Executive Director of Clio Cannabis and Clio Music, of the partnership.
“We’re excited to bring the awards show to the MGM Grand stage and build a collaborative path forward to amplify even more great marketing, advertising, design, and communications at their conference in the years ahead.”
Jage added that partnering with the Clio Awards was truly a perfect match thanks to its dedication to honoring those at the cutting edge of cannabis.
“Clio has a long track record of identifying and celebrating the best in innovation and creativity—the Clio Cannabis Awards are no different,” he said. “As a gathering place for the top brands in the industry, the relationship was a natural fit for MJ Unpacked.”
Attendees are encouraged to be on time, as the awards show will also feature a sneak preview of the first campaign offered by the Cannabis Media Council. The coalition of industry professionals is the first trader council dedicated to using the power of mainstream media to shift public perception around the plant.
“Given the capital constraints of our industry, the need to grow the total addressable market of cannabis consumers to support this industry, and the desire to drive policy that supports the growth of the cannabis industry, now is a moment in time where organizations and companies in the industry could pool our resources to have an impact that would be greater than the sum of its part,” CMC Founding Board Member Annie Davis explained.
MJ Unpacked: Looking Toward the Future
While MJ Unpacked Vegas 2022 is still a week away, the team is already looking ahead to the future.
Organizers have already secured dates for their 2023 shows, signaling the high-impact event is here to stay. Jage hopes the conference is able to help the industry thrive by building connections, strengthening partnerships, and offering resources to those who need them most.
“The cannabis industry is in the middle of a very harsh storm. Honestly, I refer to it as a Bubba Gump moment. Not all the boats will make it back into the dock, but the ones who are well managed, capitalized, and have the grit to preserve will have an abundance of opportunity when the storm clears.
“MJ Unpacked is designed to deliver results, and we will continue to gather the largest number of brand and retail executives than any other show in the country to produce successful outcomes and a higher return on investment for attendees.”