5 Ways we can improve the cannabis conference experience

Published Mar 20, 2023 09:00 a.m. ET
Unsplash / Terren Hurst

Now that cannabis is legal it’s opened up a whole new world of opportunities for companies, consumers, entrepreneurs, investors, chefs, event coordinators, and creators to benefit be it from new experiences or financial returns. It’s an exciting time and there’s so much to explore.

One of the biggest avenues for advertising cannabis-related products, services, skills, jobs, tools, equipment, and anything else related to the plant is cannabis conferences, and there’s no shortage of options out there. Each month seems to bring a new one with a unique focus or highlight, and it’s an effective way to connect, learn and get the words out to the general community.

Canna-people of all sorts take advantage of these shows, making conferences a huge money maker all around, and for the most part, people are quite happy with the offerings provided by the various circuits that exist today. Still, there are some improvements that should be made, and here, we’re going to highlight some of the suggestions we’ve heard requested the most.

1. Women should be encouraged to participate more

It’s not uncommon for the majority of cannabis conference attendees to be men, and it’s commonplace for entire panels and workshops to be dedicated to focusing on them. However, women are just as interested in learning more about cannabis, educating others, taking part in discussions, running and advertising their businesses, and taking in workshops that are designed to accommodate their specific needs. The problem is that they aren’t usually the first to be invited to the table, and even when they are, they don’t always have the financial ability to participate.

Cannabis conferences could do a better job of supporting female leaders and consumers, by focusing on bringing them into conversations, introducing programs to assist with financial limitations, and creating engaging showcases, workshops, and discussions that truly get them excited.

2. Booth bunnies could be replaced by knowledgeable experts

Booth bunnies aka booth babes are generally beautiful women who garner the attention of visitors by looking great, but they don’t typically bring much in terms of real value to a cannabis conference. Instead, those with real lived experience, first-hand knowledge, and an in-depth understanding of the products or services on display should be paid to be present and available.
Doing so would be less off putting for women who consider the position of booth bunny to be at the very least slightly degrading to females, and it would improve the recognition and sales of all vendors who participate.

3. Conferences aren’t always accessible

Whether we’re discussing accessibility in terms of an event's location, or in the sense of those with physical limitations being able to attend, this is something that could cannabis conferences could certainly improve on. Not everyone is able to travel great distances to major city centers, where staying the night and even parking costs far more. We’ve also seen far too many of these events that aren’t wheelchair accessible.

Making cannabis conferences more accessible is certain to improve attendance levels and quality as more perspectives are present and able to contribute to integral conversations that are only happening at these events.

4. Invitations should be more diverse and gender-balanced

Caucasian men rule the world of cannabis conferences much like they own most of the industry. Still, their voices aren’t the only ones that should be heard, and their presence isn’t as valuable when there isn't a diverse range of participants at the table. Though some cannabis conferences go the extra mile to include women as well as people from marginalized communities, more can always be done to level the playing field, and improve representation.

5. Difficult-to-discuss issues should be highlighted

If you see a major problem within the industry or at one of these events it should be expected that you’d say something in hopes of inspiring a change. Sadly, that isn’t always the case, as most of these events don’t want to touch on some of the most controversial topics at hand, and until they do, we aren’t likely to see any real changes take place within the industry.

These growing pains can lead to uncomfortable conversations, heated emotions, and sometimes, not-so-nice words, but shifting the focus to address the biggest issues plaguing the industry is the only way we’re going to make real progress moving forward.

In conclusion

Most cannabis conferences work to deliver the things their vendors and consumers need the most. However, there will always be small improvements to be made in this ever-changing environment. Luckily, the problems we highlighted here aren’t too difficult to solve, as long as organizers, companies, and attendees are willing to work towards building a better and brighter future for everyone.

Not all cannabis events are equal


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