Cannabis Week just came to a close and, like every year, there was much to learn and observe at the nation’s largest B2B industry conference. One thing that stayed in the back of my mind going into the show, was an article that I read after last year’s event, The Boys Club: A Female Perspective on Cannabis Week in Vegas.
Now, let me preface this article by saying that my goal is never to discredit another woman’s experience, but in the last few MJBizCon’s I’ve attended, I have not experienced the level toxic masculinity that was described in this article. This year I made it a point to keep an eye out for some of the issues that Gordon discussed. So, what was this woman’s perspective on MJBizCon 2022? Read on to find out.
About the Conference
Let’s quickly cover the basics of how the convention went, from a more general standpoint. First of all, it was noticeably smaller and less busy than last year’s event. As a member of the press with more of bird’s eye perspective here, my initial take was that business might be slowing down for many companies. Considering the oversupply issues on the West Coast and the overall struggles facing the industry, that’s an easy conclusion to reach.
However, when talking to people individually, I was pleased to find that nearly everyone reported better networking opportunities and larger deals being closed than in years prior. As far as who was there, the convention floor was split into four pavilions the busiest areas seemed to be in the preroll/paper/blunt wrap sector, as well as packaging.
Add to that, the High Times after party with Method Man & Redman was so much fun! Aside from the implication food would be provided and sadly, it was not, the party was everything we anticipated it would be and more… a fun, laid back atmosphere with smoking, drinking, music, and socializing with great people.
A “Boy’s Club”?
Now, on to more pressing issues. What does it feel like to be a woman attending MJBizCon in Las Vegas? Honestly, in my opinion, it feels like being a woman at most other cannabis industry conventions in the United States. There is a certain vibe in Vegas that has some people acting a bit more extreme there than they would in their hometowns or other cities, but that’s to be expected (and let’s be honest, it’s one of the reasons many of us enjoy Vegas conventions so much). I also have the added benefit of having lived in Sin City for a few years during my early 20s, so I’m relatively accustomed to the madness.
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Regarding the article from last year, this was a quote that really stuck out to me: “A frat boy party culture has begun to permeate the legal industry, distracting the narrative from the true potential of plant medicine. A culture where blatant sexism and harassment are commonplace, and testosterone-fueled pissing matches have become more prevalent. A culture, while perhaps a product of our society, is on track to potentially destroy the integrity and passion that generations of legacy operators have built in the shadows. And while sexism in the industry is nothing new, it’s become more visible than ever before thanks in part to legalization.”
Now, I can’t say there is no truth to what she claimed here. Some industries have a crazier air about them, and cannabis is just one of those industries. And we all know that some people can be downright creepy and inappropriate. But overall, I found that most men I spoke to were respectful, focused, and there to talk business like the rest of us.
It might just be my opinion, but I do believe that because MJBizDaily (the news site that operates MJBizCon) was founded by a woman, it serves as a reminder of how much we can accomplish in the industry. There is a massive level of respect for founder and former CEO, Cassandra Farrington, as we all know the convention would not be possible without her and her team of strong women that helped build it from the ground up.
Female Representation in Cannabis
One thing that Gordon mentioned, which I also find disturbing, is the dwindling number of women in upper-level positions in the cannabis industry. This didn’t used to be the case a few years back. To the contrary, female representation was greater in the cannabis industry than the general populace.
But according to MJBizDaily’s most recent Women & Minorities in the Cannabis Industry report, female executive representation is down to 22 percent right now, an all-time low from just under 37 percent in 2019. And now, it’s also well below the national average of roughly 30 percent.
The cause for this drop remains a mystery, but it’s concerning nonetheless. Not only is it disappointing on a human-rights level, but according to a recent study, companies with women in executive positions are 30% more likely to outperform other companies. So the lack of representation is disappointing on a financial level also.
Once more, my intention is not to discredit anything that other women may have gone through. But I do feel it’s important to offer multiple different views on the subject, so people – especially women – don’t make the decision not to attend based on someone else’s experience. Like it was stated in Gordon’s article, many claimed they would be skipping MJBiz altogether because they “know what happens there nowadays and don’t want any part of it”.
But it’s worth keeping in mind that the majority of people seemed to have a good time and many important deals were struck. It’s still the best place to keep up with current industry trends and get your business’s name out there. So, with that being said, we’ll see you all at MJBizCon 2023!
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