High Desert: A Cannabis Conference in the Land of Law Enforcement
It’s no secret that cannabis trade shows bring a buzz and excitement to the community from the moment the attendees arrive in town. The overall vibration of the event largely depends on the locale.
Phoenix, Arizona just happens to be home to eight jails, a DEA field office, and some of the strictest criminal penalties in the United States for cannabis-related offenses. Lump in the other southwestern markets close by – Nevada, Texas, and New Mexico – and you’ve pretty much found the home base of the drug war.
Many might have wondered, “Who in their right mind would hold a cannabis conference here?!” However, with a burgeoning medical cannabis industry already ramping up, an adult use regulation initiative campaigning for 2016, and progressive legislation moving forward in neighboring states, the region appears to be shrugging its ruthless reputation in favor of free market principles, and the very first Southwest Cannabis Conference & Expo reflected that.
Rory Mendoza is more than sane; he’s a genius businessman for recognizing the vast opportunities the Southwest offers to the cannabis industry. “I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of the SWCCExpo; every element was absolutely perfect. We can’t wait until next year to continue working with the individuals who were part of this event.” He has ambitions to take the show on the road as a regionalized conference series.
Though law enforcement did get briefly involved on day one of the show, sweeping the expo floor with drug-sniffing dogs and causing vendors to wait on the sidewalk for the all-clear, the rest of the conference went off swimmingly and provided not only business and networking opportunities, but a great time for attendees.
Featuring aisles of vendor and exhibitor tables, the expo floor was one of the biggest we’ve seen thus far – impressive, considering the Cashinbis team is running out of fingers on which to count all the events we’ve attended this year.
Some new, interactive booth designs from the larger sponsors really stole the show as far as being hubs for networking and new deals. Industry veteran Weedmaps built a square, walled-in structure with a small living room feel, filled with shirts and other merchandise to share with attendees. Leafly’s bright and open display featured several pillars outfitted with every smartphone or device charger known to mankind, offering a place for vendors and attendees to juice up and meet new people at the same time. The event’s headlining sponsor, MJ Freeway, created a lobby-like setting with multiple chairs, sofas and tables where people could be seen on phone calls, laptops, and face-to-face meetings throughout the day.
Offering a place to sit and hang out is a low-pressure way to attract new business directly to your booth. It’s a great way to set your brand apart from the rest of the exhibitors and exude a friendly and inclusive attitude.
Whimsical and over-sized vehicles lined the outside of the floor as well as the center aisle, providing an extra dose of fun, music and visual appeal to what is typically a pretty “vanilla” floor setup. We commend the SWCCExpo organizers for being open to so many different and creative varieties of brand exhibitors, and for making the event worthwhile for the general public.
Even for companies without a branded exhibition table or booth, there was great value in the speaker sessions as well as networking across the expo floor.
“The SWCCExpo was a great event. We planned to attend in order to check out the vendors, speakers and overall experience, as well as to support all of our friends in the industry,” said Holly Alberti-Evans, co-founder of Healthy Headie Lifestyle and winner of the Arcview Denver “Best Pitch” award earlier this year. “I am pleased to say it was positive. From the expo floor, to the key note speakers there was much buzz and excitement! There seemed to be lots of business, networking and deals happening all around.”
Speakers and panels covered marketing and entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, regulatory and legalization campaign updates for the Southwest region, industrial hemp and hemp CBD products, veteran and Native American issues, cannabis in professional sports, and new research into medical cannabis for PTSD.
Stay tuned – We completed over a dozen video interviews with speakers, panelists, and prominent attendees at the SWCCExpo. Join our Facebook community for first looks at all our multimedia material.