MJ BIZ 2021 Vegas reveiw
MJ BIZ 2021 Vegas reveiw

5 Things I Think I Learned at MJ BIZ 2021

MJ BIZ Vegas was back to in-person in 2021, so what did we learn at the show?

Posted by:
Thom Baccus on Sunday Oct 24, 2021

5 Things I Think I Learned at MJ BIZ 2021

mj biz daily vegas 2021 review

After a year off, MJ BIZ was back with authority in 2021 as Chris Walsh and his team put on a great in-person event in Sin City.  After canvasing the show for 3 days, and a day the week before at the Benzinga Cannabis Conference in NYC, here my takeaways from both shows.  What ruled the roost? What was everyone talking about?  Are there any hot investment areas waiting to be discovered?  Let’s dive right in!


  1. Incrementalism Ruled the Day – After talking with over 5 people who have been doing the MJ BIZ show for over 5 years and asking, “What did you see, what caught your eye?”, the same answer came from every one of the quick survey participants. “Ahhh, not much, nothing really”. The shoulder shrugs and “nothing new under the sun” answers should not shock anyone who has been in the industry for more than a few years. After a few years of dynamic and explosive discoveries and invention, the cannabis industry settling down on the hardware, insurance, soil, lighting, and packaging side where there are just small tweaks to current systems in all the new products.  Has the cannabis industry hit Moore’s Law yet, where phenomenal change has run out after 8 years of legalization?  Cannabis hardware and plant touching machinery has become the smart phone industry.  There is only so much blood you can squeeze from stone, or in this case a new LED light, a new soil nutrient, a new HVAC system, a new extraction set up, etc. Are the iPhone 11, 12 or 13 that much different?  How about the Samsung Galaxy 9, 10, and 11?  Better chip each year, maybe a slightly better camera, a pixel or two more screen clarity, and that is about it.  The survey showed no game-breakers or oooowww-ahhh discoveries that would be the story of cannabis in 2022.  This is a sign of margin compression starting to happen on the production side, no more great discoveries that can increase yield by 33% or cut down labor costs by 25%, which leads me to #2…

  2. On the brightside, cannabis tech platforms and marijuana websites are super-hot with investors right now. The list of cannabis menu platforms, delivery platforms, POS systems, and websites with traffic getting funding is changing by the week.  As this relates to margin compression in point #1, getting consumer data and traffic is the new way to expand your margins, just check your Amazon account and look at what they show you logging in to their shopping area, as well as the “customers also bought” area.  Boom, margins increasing now as traffic converts to an order for a $0.05 flyover on a ranking article about Blue Dream, and now you expand their shopping basket without them even noticing.  Touching the consumer will be the next 10-year wave in cannabis, not touching the plant.  Everyday a new dispensary comes online and a new black-market seller sets up a website, access and getting marijuana is no longer the issues for 85% of America. Consumer data, online ordering, customer loyalty programs are all the future, just look at Amazon and some form of that is how cannabis will be ordered and delivered in the future.  Delivery platform EAZE bought an MSO and no one really understands how big and game changing that was.  Jane got $100 million in funding, Dutchie $350 million, Flowhub $19 million, Weedmaps is worth $2 billion now, PotGuide.com sold for $8.5 million, Bengiza Media was just scooped up by Beringer Capital, and the Green Market Report was bought by Crain Publishing.  Moral of the story, traffic (and its data) are king, always was and always will be.

  3. Workaround Payment Solutions – Your Days are Numbered.  All the crazy talk about payment processing at dispensaries is going to come to an end with some form of the Safe Banking Act. Cashless ATMs where the customer pays a crazy fee? Nope, sorry, Feds are on to that one.  Cash advance systems so you don’t need an MC code to run over the VISA and MC network? Nope, put that one up with pay day loans as the financial hawks at the US government are all over that stuff too.  If you are pitching a work around system to credit card processing, your days are numbered. Regardless of whether big banks are going to jump in with the Safe Banking Act, high risk merchant processing certainly will.  They will charge the dispensaries like adult sites (unfairly I might add) and make them pay 6%, but you will be able to legitimately run a credit card at a dispensary in the future.

  4. Mainstream companies are infiltrating cannabis and carving up a space before legalization – The hydroponics world is looking at a possible monopoly on equipment as Hawthorne group, aka Scott’s Miracle Grow and Monsanto if you want to connect a lot of dots, is going to be the main player for hydroponic systems in a America. Mainstream companies are setting up subsidiaries to deflect some of the press and reputation analysis, but the are moving to carve up a slice in the cannabis industry now so they can be ready for full legalization. Check packaging and plastics as well on that one.

  5. The next major war in cannabis will be over branding, which Cannabis.net covers here. There are two camps on branding for the future of marijuana. One camp says it will be super important and the only thing that will disguise one bud from another. The other camp says branding is a myth in cannabis, just as every cannabis consumer survey has shown to date. The people saying branding is going to be HUGE in the future, are people that have serious skin in the game to convince you of that fact, most notably MSOs, hedge funds invested already in certain brands, and marketers and branding people who get a paycheck from branding cannabis products. I think I heard the “branding is key to consumers, look at Coke, Heinz ketchup, Crest toothpaste” line 35 times from people trying to convince me branding is the future of cannabis products. The part they don’t get is cannabis is a plant, it grows in 8 to 12 weeks. It is not a proprietary formula, or complicated process to create. it can grow in rich countries and poor countries. My response to these people was always, “Great, but what are favorite tomato brands at the store?  What about lettuce, tell me your 3 favorite lettuce brands, go….”  A blank stare and silence.  They would tell me look at alcohol for branding and I would say, “Yes, Bud, Bud Light, and Bud products make up 93% of beer sales in America, so how is that branding working out for everyone not named Anheuser Bush?”  Every cannabis consumer survey so far has said the same thing, the consumer does not remember the brand, the color scheme, or how much of the product they used.  They do remember how much it costs and if they got the desired effect of the product.  The writing is on the wall for branding, desperate attempts by heavily vested people to convince you the “reserve, select, limited edition Blue Dream” is what better than Bob’s Blue Dream on the corner that is selling for half the price per gram since Bob doesn’t have massive overhead or hundreds of employees to consider when making a product.  The cost of water, electricity, and labor will be much more important to your cannabis investment in the future than the colors of the logo.

  6. MJ BIZ saw there first fist fight as security hired by a vendor at the show got into it with some patrons of the show who may have overstepped their bounds with a celebrity at the booth.


Here's the video of the fight at MJBizCon. pic.twitter.com/qBWdSAKQlp

— Jeremy Berke (@jfberke) October 22, 2021

mj biz fight


On side note, MJ UNPACKED, the newest cannabis show trying to muscle its way in during MJ BIZ week in Vegas, seemed to get mixed reviews at best from investors and brands.  The show was not very media friendly to the media they selectively let in to cover the show, but based on early feedback, they spent a boatload of money on show set up and presentation for what appeared to be a very limited number of attendees.  Quick surveys of people who spent a day at both shows says they probably would not take the cab ride over to Mandalay Bay next year and just skip it all together.

For 2021 MJ BIZ, see you next year!






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