Cannabis Drinks Expo 2019, A Huge Success!
Over 80 exhibitors and hundreds of visitors participated in the first-ever North American conference dedicated to cannabis drinks
To see where the future of the legalized cannabis industry is headed, look no further than the first-ever Cannabis Drinks Expo in San Francisco. The event, the first of its kind dedicated to the emerging marketplace for cannabis drinks, attracted a sold-out audience of enthusiastic supporters for a red-hot market category. More than 80 exhibitors filled the trade show floor of the South San Francisco Conference Center, while hundreds more attendees participated in a dual track of presentations, talks and panel discussions featuring some of the biggest names in the legalized cannabis world.
Kicking off the Cannabis Drinks Expo was keynote speaker Jeff Maser, President and CEO of Tinley Beverages. In his presentation, Maser discussed the major challenges and opportunities facing participants in the cannabis drinks industry. Following this keynote address, Bill Silver, the CEO of Cannacraft, gave an inspiring introduction to the world of cannabis drinks. In “Grass to Glass: Tapping the Market for Cannabis Beverages,” Silver outlined what is both similar and different to other drinks products, as well as the reasons why cannabis is poised to become an entirely new category of drink with strong momentum for future growth.
Of course, the cannabis industry remains one of the most regulated in the nation, with a patchwork quilt of different laws and regulations for every state that has legalized recreational marijuana. Thus, one focus throughout the daylong event was how to deal with the convoluted legal challenges of the cannabis space. To help participants understand the current legal and regulatory landscape for cannabis, attorney Rebecca Stamey-White, partner at Hinman & Carmichael LLP, gave a presentation on “Selling and Distributing Drinks: What’s Different For Cannabis?”
In addition, a major highlight of the afternoon session of the Cannabis Drinks Expo was a panel discussion moderated by attorney Omar Figueroa: “Cannabis Regulations Across Boundaries.” Until every U.S. state legalizes recreational cannabis, any company looking to launch, develop or grow a cannabis drinks product will need to have a very detailed understanding of what is – and what is not – allowed in every single geographic region where they plan to do business.
In addition to legal issues surrounding the cannabis space, there are also a whole host of medical and scientific issues that still need to be resolved. As part of the diverse crowd of participants that the event attracted, a number of scientists and medical professionals took part in the Cannabis Drinks Expo. For example, one morning breakout session featured a panel discussion on dispensaries that was moderated by Dr. Arup Sen, CEO of Infusion Biosciences. And one afternoon breakout session featured Dr. Alexey Peshkovsky President & CSO of Industrial Sonomechanics LLC explaining the science behind water-compatible cannabis extract nanoemulsions.
Once it is possible to understand the science of cannabis, that’s when you can fully leverage your creativity and originality to come up with truly category-changing products. To illustrate that point, world-renowned mixologist Warren Bobrow (also known as the “Cocktail Whisperer”) gave a presentation on cannabis-infused cocktails. And later in the afternoon, Rachel Burkons, Co-Owner of Altered Plates, led a panel discussion entirely dedicated to the world of cannabis drinking and dining. Popular trends within the world of food and drink, the panelists suggested, could be coming to the cannabis drinks space as well. For example, the “farm-to-table” movement is now giving birth to a similar “crop-to-kitchen cuisine.”
The Cannabis Drinks Expo also dedicated significant time and attention to marketing, brand-building and brand development. For example, in the afternoon session, cannabis mixologist John Korkidis Cannabis mixologist, Educator, and Founder of Proposition Cocktail Co. explained what’s happening in the world of communications and media for cannabis drinks brands. Adam Miron, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer at Hexo, talked about the mainstreaming of cannabis beverages.
In addition, Narbe Alexandrian, President of Canopy Rivers, provided an overview of where the “smart money” (e.g. venture capital firms) is investing its money when it comes to legalized cannabis. And Eric Schnell, Co-Founder and President of Mood33 Cannabis Infused Sparkling Tonics, gave an inspiring presentation on next-generation cannabis infused beverages. The future of the cannabis drinks category, he pointed out, is really only limited by our collective imagination. We’ve already seen tonics, seltzers, cocktails, beers, wines and even coffees that have been infused with cannabis. So what’s next?
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And, of course, the Cannabis Drinks Expo featured a very active exhibition trade show floor. Throughout the course of the day, it was possible to meet vendors, exhibitors and potential partners from across North America. This was the place to be in order to see the development of a major new consumer goods market. Some of the big-name exhibitors included Rebel Coast Winery (the first and only cannabis-infused wine company), Southern Distilling Co., Cannacraft, Tinley Beverage Company, Caliva, and Weedka (high-quality, cannabis-flavored vodka). On the exhibition floor, it was possible to get a preview of some of the most innovative and original products in the marketplace today.
By the end of the day, the hundreds of participants at the first-ever Cannabis Drinks Expo had a very good idea of how to get started in the cannabis drinks category. A full day of presentations led to new insights and ideas while networking opportunities on the trade show floor led to new partnership ideas. Already, plans are being put into place for next year’s Cannabis Drinks Expo, which promises to be bigger and even better, packed with even more exhibitors and world-class products.
The next Cannabis Drinks Expo will take place in San Francisco on July 30-31, 2020, followed by an event in Chicago on August 3, 2020. For more details on how to sign up as an exhibitor or participant, please see: www.CannabisDrinksExpo.com