A Beginner’s Guide to Attending a Cannabis Trade Show

Taking Notes at Conference

It was years in the making, but your state legislators have finally legalized adult use cannabis. As an entrepreneur, you’ve had a feeling that the burgeoning cannabis industry that’s taking root throughout the country was a wise investment, but now’s the time to rub elbows and learn all you can at an upcoming conference expo. Whether you plan to attend the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition this June or anticipate going another cannabis trade show in the future, it’s important to know what to expect at a cannabis trade show once you get there.


What can you expect at a cannabis trade show?


At their core, cannabis trade shows offer many of the same things that other business conferences do. The main difference being that cannabis business conferences are centered on all things related to the plant.

Usually held in the types of convention centers you find in major cities, these events typically offer exhibitors, networking opportunities, and informational sessions or panels. The following are just a small handful of the types of companies you should expect to see and experience when attending a cannabis trade show.


Professional services


Though cannabis certainly isn’t new, the industry certainly is. As a result, new entrepreneurs and experienced alike need assistance from a wide range of professional services that will likely be at a cannabis trade show. From lawyers point of sale system makers to security professionals, these ancillary businesses support a cannabis company without ever actually touching the plant. You can expect these professionals to be on hand to outline the kinds of services they provide.


Equipment manufacturers


Growing and cultivating cannabis at scale requires a lot of specialized machinery. If you’re a business owner dealing with that aspect of the process, then you’ll likely find vendors offering everything from vertical grow solutions to flash freezing technology to LED lighting and everything else in between necessary for a successful cannabis product. There’s plenty on the table in this field, so it only makes sense that those companies would set up at a cannabis trade show.


Agricultural and gardening supplies


Since we’re talking about an entire industry based on a plant, it’s extremely likely that you would find companies that focus on actually growing the cannabis plant. Though they cater to a specific market within the cannabis industry, they play an integral role. Cannabis can be a fickle crop to deal with, so vendors that offer plant nutrients, fertilizers, cannabis seeds, top soil, and other agricultural products will likely be there to sell their wares.


Construction companies


As the cannabis industry continues to grow, it’s likely that many new and existing grow ops and cultivation centers will need to be built or expanded upon. Enter the construction companies. At a cannabis trade show, these vendors will likely showcase past projects they’ve completed while speaking with prospective industry hopefuls about how their services can bring their dispensary or cultivation facility to life. These facilities must also be outfitted with special HVAC equipment, so you can expect to see those companies on hand as well.


CBD and hemp brands


Along with legalized cannabis, the industry has seen major growth in the CBD and hemp arenas in recent years, thanks to significant moves on the federal level to either deschedule or legalize hemp cultivation and use for industrial applications, like making fabric or hemp seeds for eating. You may see some of these companies exhibit their wares or their technologies at a cannabis trade show alongside their psychoactive brethren.


Cannabis accessories


Any item that’s used to inhale or ingest cannabis falls into this category. You may see this called “paraphernalia,” but this term isn’t well-regarded, as it has a negative connotation to it. Accessories, however, covers a wide array of all kinds of items used to consume cannabis, including classics like glass pipes, innovative “smart” vaporizers, or all the other items necessary to prep cannabis for consumption and store it for later.


Technology companies


Software makes a company run. Whether a proprietary program or something existing that now services the cannabis space, technology companies can help manage a wide range of processes within the cannabis industry, including tracking sales, managing harvests, and building customer loyalty at dispensary checkout.


Is there cannabis at a cannabis trade show?


You may have heard of major cannabis events where attendees can get their hands on consumable cannabis products on the show floor, but it’s best to get that idea out of your head right now. Most venues will not allow the consumption of THC on their premises, even if cannabis is legal in the state in which they’re operating. Very few will allow limited sales on the trade show floor, and only then under very careful watch. Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo has a THC policy that prohibits the “consumption, distribution, and/or sale of THC products” during the event.


How to prepare for your first cannabis trade show


So you’ve purchased your ticket and you’re amped up to attend your first cannabis trade show. As you get closer to the event itself, you should start preparing for what will likely be a long day (or couple days) on the trade show floor. If you want to make the most out of your time during the trade show, be sure to keep the following in mind.


  • Come ready to learn. Trade shows are a great resource for gaining some more insight into a topic. Since no one knows every single bit of information about the cannabis industry, the trade show you’re attending will be a great source of knowledge. Experts may be on hand to share their expertise with attendees like you. Take time before you arrive to mark which panels and discussions you want to attend, and make a note of where some companies or people of particular interest will be on the show floor.
  • Bring your business cards. Be ready to introduce yourself to major players in the industry and potential partners alike. Design and print business cards and strike up conversations with people all around the show floor. You’re likely to begin a business card collection of your own, so be sure to make a note of who you spoke with and follow up once the show is over.
  • Practice your elevator pitch. Industry conferences and trade shows are a rush of activity for attendees, but they can be even more hectic and overwhelming for vendors and presenters. As a result, they’ll likely only have a few minutes to spend with you. That’s where your elevator pitch comes in. Boiling down who you are and what you’re looking from them down to a few seconds helps get your point across without taking up too much bandwidth. This is a good thing to do in general, so a cannabis trade show is as good a time to start.
  • Attend secondary events aside from the expo. Along with everything scheduled for the cannabis trade show, you may find events outside the show floor hours. These events can be a great way to further familiarize yourself with the companies in question, as well as get to know the people behind the label. Cannabis Week in New York City is a perfect example, days filled with special events and exclusive discounts to get to enjoy the city (and vendors) around the expo itself.
  • Don’t expect to see everything. Even though the cannabis trade show may be a multi-day affair, you may not get to everything you want to see. Come prepared with a “priority” list that you can visit first once you step onto the show floor. And if you do miss something, that’s OK: It’s a part of the trade show experience to not get to quite everything on your to-do list.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. This one may seem a little silly, but hear us out. You’re going to spend several hours on your feet, walking back and forth and standing for long stretches. That combination of time – not to mention a hard convention floor – means some serious foot fatigue. Prioritize comfortable shoes so you can keep moving around and stay focused on the business at hand, and not how uncomfortable you feel.
  • Hydrate. Much like the previous note, this may seem like obvious advice, but you’d be surprised how busy you’ll get at a cannabis trade show! While you’re not running a marathon around the convention hall, these events can be long and tiring on the body, not to mention all the talking you’ll be doing. Taking some time to drink a little water between booths or while walking to the next panel can make all the difference.


Make the most out of your first cannabis trade show


Cannabis trade shows, like every other kind of business expo, are a lot to take in at once. This year’s Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition promises to be a great opportunity to learn more about the industry itself, make new connections, and help build a strong and successful cannabis industry in the United States. By taking in the sights, meeting new people, and listening to industry experts, you can ensure that your experience at a cannabis trade show like the CWCBE can be fruitful and productive.


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