Now that marijuana is legal, there is a slew of events celebrating it, much like the alcohol industry enjoys around the world. I’ve attended cannabis events around the west coast, and seen the good, bad, and ugly of event planners’ battles with law enforcement.
If you’re a user or supporter of cannabis and want to get more involved in the industry, these are the major cannabis events to look out for on the west coast.
1. High Times Cannabis Cup
Over the course of 40 years, High Times has become the premiere brand in cannabis culture, with past contributors including Hunter S. Thompson, Andy Warhol, and William S. Burroughs. Attending a Cannabis Cup is everything you hoped you would see in that weed-themed Beerfest teased at the end of the movie by Snoop and Willie Nelson.
Tickets for the Cannabis Cup range from $30-$1500, and covers a wide array of experiences. Concerts are not only held at various venues and clubs after the cup (some even sponsored by High Times and included in ticket packages), but many booths will have music blaring as you sample their products, register to vote, sign petitions, and learn more about the industry.
Loaded with art galleries, food, vendors, and informative sessions, the Cannabis Cup is the Oktoberfest, Carnival, etc. of cannabis. Look for a Cannabis Cup in California (both NorCal and SoCal have separate cups), Oregon, Washington, and especially Denver’s 4/20 event. Learn how I snuck into the Cannabis Cup or buy tickets now.
2. BIG Industry Show
Preceding the fan-favorite Cannabis Cup in Denver, CO is the Formula 420-run BIG Industry Show, a B2B show where cannabis companies meet with store owners, growers, investors, media, and reps from big pharma, tobacco, alcohol, etc.
On the final day of the BIG Industry Show, the venue is open to the public, which includes a multi-million dollar Galleria of Glass art display. Custom glass artwork, accessories, and supplies are available during this show.
The BIG Show is run separately from the Cannabis Cup, so lanyards and wristbands aren’t interchangeable. You’ll need to purchase tickets to both events, which isn’t much for an extended week-long cannabis tour of Colorado. Learn how to prepare for the BIG Show and Cannabis Cup, or purchase tickets now.
Hempfest is a free festival celebrating cannabis every year in the Seattle area. This is where most pictures of huge crowds doing obnoxious things with cannabis are found, and it’s wonderful. Filled with concerts, vendors, and huge crowds, Hempfest is the highlight of Washington’s cannabis culture.
Admission to Hempfest is free, and it’s run similar to any local art and craft festival. Hemp activists and entrepreneurs show up from all over Washington to peddle their goods as live music plays and political messages are spread. Hempfest is basically the farm-league Cannabis Cup.
4. International Cannabis Business Conference
One of the better business conferences out there is the International Cannabis Business Conference, which is held around the world at multiple times throughout the year. San Francisco’s February event and Portland’s September conference both allow local businesses to interact with the global cannabis community.
One of the biggest problem the cannabis industry faces is growing when unable to use banks or apply for federal small business assistance (or tax breaks). These hurdles are overcome using angel investors, and the underlying penny stock trade is one of the topics Jim Cramer’s watching closely for TheStreet.
Anyone looking to get involved in the cannabis industry should check out this event along with the Cannabis Cup in order to learn more about the global cannabis community before investing. Companies exist to make every type of product you can think of, and much of what you think you know about cannabis is probably a lie (if not at least an exaggeration).
5. Marijuana Business Conference & Expo
The Marijuana Business Conference & Expo is held in Las Vegas each fall, and is for anyone wanting to learn more about the cannabis industry and get involved. With a variety of learning seminars covering detailed topics from growing, edibles, regulations, accounting, IT concerns, and more. Whatever issues you may be facing in the cannabis industry, it’s likely this trade show from Marijuana Business Daily has an answer.
Las Vegas is notoriously run by the gaming commission, and don’t expect the casinos and clubs to be friendly to pot smoking within their businesses. Still, medical marijuana is legal, delivery services are available everywhere, and Las Vegas is accommodating to out-of-state tourists, so you won’t go dry.
Entrance to the conference starts at $400, with many separately ticketed sessions held throughout. As the information is quite detailed and comes from panels of experts, you can expect to pay around $2000 for a fully scheduled weekend (though there’s always a GA exhibit floor with occasional keynotes.
Brian Penny is a former business analyst and operations manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer. His work has appeared on BBC, Fast Company, Huffington Post, Lifehack, Hardcore Droid, and Cannabis Now.