MJ Unpacked, a CPG-focused B2B cannabis trade show, recently held its second flagship Las Vegas event.
Founded by George and Kim Jage of Jage Media, MJ Unpacked is specifically designed to generate deal flow. Featuring a curated guest list of innovative brands, decision-makers, high-level thought leaders, ace media, and accredited investors, the three-day event is a departure from bigger conferences like MJBizCon thanks to its unique environment catering to both work and pleasure.
While it does contain a bevy of engaging panels, fun exhibits, and networking opportunities, added touches like a pitch competition, oxygen bar, and a gong meant to be struck when a deal is done make MJ Unpacked stand out. A newly minted partnership with the Clio Cannabis Awards, which honors creativity and innovation in the global marijuana market, offered a touch of Hollywood red-carpet glamor with a Vegas twist.
A mechanical bull in the corner of the brand experience hall was also a first.
After a jam-packed week full of meetings, interviews, pitches, and after-parties, we were left with a few key takeaways:
The cannabis industry needs a combination of business and culture to thrive
It’s no secret that the current state of the cannabis industry is disjointed (no pun intended). The dichotomy that exists between legacy operators and more corporate-minded (but supportive) professionals is vast. Often, the energies are like oil and water, with both sides unable to find common ground.
However, it was clear after the latest MJ Unpacked that the old-school and the new school need one another if our industry is going to make it out of these trying times.
The idea that all suits are Chads hoping to exploit the community is false, and not every OG grower is a bitter hayseed. Everyone has something to offer and we must find common ground, pool our collective knowledge resources, and work together in order for everyone to succeed.
East Coast expansion is on everyone’s minds
With New York set to become one of the nation’s largest legal cannabis markets, it seems almost every brand wants to stake a claim. Nowhere that has been more evident than MJ Unpacked.
Most of the brands we spoke to were interested in setting up shop in the Empire State. Other markets getting folks excited included Illinois, New Jersey, and even Missouri. And while brands were likely to say yes to any market that wanted to have them, the East Coast definitely reigned supreme.
It will be interesting to see who shows up when MJ Unpacked returns to NYC next April. Make sure to stay tuned.
Creativity is key to market evolution
Innovation was front and center at MJ Unpacked in multiple ways. Between the show’s individual quirks to the up-and-coming brands on display, the vibe was fresh and exciting all around. But it was the addition of the Clios that made everything become crystal clear when it comes to creativity in cannabis.
Seeing the Grand Clio winners and their dazzling work showed just what is possible for our industry. Despite restrictions on cannabis marketing, the brands and organizations who took home accolades were beyond inspiring, offering thought-provoking and engaging campaigns with global reach. From a mega-viral hemp bus ticket initiative out of Germany to Cookies’ mainstream crossover success, it felt like the sky was the limit. A sneak preview of the Cannabis Media Council‘s upcoming debut campaign exhilarated the crowd, providing a glimpse at what’s to come for the group as they work to end the stigma against cannabis in modern media.
Were you at MJ Unpacked? What were your favorite moments?