When you think Arizona, New Mexico and Texas, cannabis is probably the last thing that comes to mind. The conservative border states have historically held stricter drug policies than their northwestern counterparts, making simple cannabis possession an imprisonable offense or even a felony, depending on your luck.
However, varying degrees of legalization in surrounding states like California, Colorado and Nevada have jumpstarted a booming medical cannabis industry in Arizona, and the Phoenix Convention Center will host the region’s first major B2B trade show: The Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo, Oct. 27-28.
In contrast to many other trade shows who charge a premium price to attend, SWCC made some strategic moves that will ensure a worthwhile event for local businesses as well as industry hopefuls and enthusiasts. By sending out free passes to all dispensary owners in the region, the expo is bringing the vendors’ target audience within reach and improving the odds of doing some real business on the conference floor. The free dispensary passes are sponsored by MJ Freeway.
Veterans can also receive a 50 percent discount on passes thanks to the Weed for Warriors Project. See the SWCCExpo website for details.
“The SWCCExpo sets itself apart by being the only one where consumer meets industry and industry meets consumer,” says Rory Mendoza, executive director of the conference. “We are the only cannabis conference that puts products directly in front of buyers, and new companies and talent in front of the industry leaders.”
Local to the region and seeking employment in the cannabis space? Attend the SWCC Career and Job Fair on Monday the 26th, the day before the expo. There will also be some speakers giving a broad cannabis industry overview – another great decision on the conference’s part to include more locals in the conversation.
Even if you’re not a dispensary owner or cultivator, the tickets to this conference are much more affordable than many other conferences we’ve seen this year. Veterans are also receiving 50 percent off conference passes, through the Weed for Warriors Project. Passes are still available here, but are expected to sell out relatively soon.
The Southwest is home to some key cannabis industry stakeholders that will definitely be reflected at this event. Apart from the stacked vendor floor, there will be speaker sessions presented by dozens of consultants, attorneys, financial experts, elected officials, entrepreneurs, executives, and medical cannabis advocates.
“We’re expecting visitors from California to Texas and beyond in large part because several of our states are evaluating policy and legislation affecting medical and recreational cannabis usage,” said Mendoza. “This conference is designed to allow policymakers and national industry leaders, investors, business executives, health experts, job seekers and entrepreneurs a place to learn, share ideas and connect with others on the national cannabis scene.”
Keynote speakers for the event are Guggenheim Fellow and author Bruce Barcott (feature for TIME); Tripp Keber, CEO of Dixie Brands; and Jessica Billingsley, COO of MJ Freeway. There will also be a panel on Cannabis in Professional Sports, presented by Kyle Turley’s organization, Gridiron Cannabis Coalition. Other notables include cannabis movement celebrities Steve DeAngelo, Cheryl Shuman and CNN “High Profits” star Katherine Grimm.
Media coverage will be plentiful, so make sure to dress to impress! Weed for Warriors Project will host a march from the federal building to cut the ribbon and open the doors to the conference, making for an amazing celebratory spectacle. Mainstream media representation at the event will include CNBC, TIME, HBO, Netflix and more.
Cashinbis will be in attendance as a media partner, so make sure you look for the team on the conference floor and more. For now, here’s a breakdown of why entrepreneurs and advocates from all over the Southwest are going out of their way to bring big cannabusiness to Phoenix.