One of BizBash’s most talked-about education sessions at BizBash | Connect Detroit in August was “What the Legalization of THC Means for Event Producers.” Panelists (pictured here left to right) were HOLISTIK Wellness CEO TJ Stouder, Infin8ly Elevated Events and Cannabis Wedding Expo CEO Vanessa Oliver, The Hashinista founder Elise McRoberts, and AKJOHNSTON Group founder and CEO Austin Johnston. Watch it on-demand here. Photo: Octane Design
Cannabis is creating buzz throughout the industry, but many event professionals still have questions. At a recent BizBash | Connect event, we broke down the “stoner stigma,” how to educate attendees on cannabis, laws, and more.
During live education programming at BizBash | Connect’s recent Detroit Marketplace, the first question attendees asked following a panel discussion on cannabis at events—where HOLISTIK Wellness reiterated it was serving CBD-infused mocktails on the trade show floor—was: “Where can we find your booth?”
Evidently, there’s a demand when it comes to more information on THC and CBD at events, and our panelists at the session—which you can watch on-demand here—espoused many of the benefits, as well as the complexities, involved in incorporating cannabis products and activations. Below are six things you might not know about cannabis at events, derived from our BizBash | Connect Detroit session Future Proofing Your Events: What the Legalization of THC Means for Event Producers.
1. Major events have been incorporating cannabis—the “stoner stigma” is outdated.
Ever heard of Grass Lands? It’s considered the first curated cannabis experience at a major American music festival, and this year it turned four. The experience, held in conjunction with Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival in San Francisco, allows festivalgoers to purchase exclusive products on-site and try them out in a safe space cheekily named the “Garden of Weed’n.” And, of course, live music and food vendors keep the party going.
“Outside Lands has a pop-up experience called Grass Lands—it’s an entire space designated for cannabis consumption, sales, and enjoyment,” said panelist Austin Johnston, the CEO and founder of AKJOHNSTON. “It’s got a whole vibe to it … [this] was, I believe, the first professional approach to quality branding and professional execution. It’s a safe environment that really made people feel good without the ‘stoner stigma.’ It was a place where you really felt engaged by cannabis.”
Johnston advised, “For those nervous about approaching it, be really bold in that approach—it’s no longer the stoners in the corner underneath the bleachers. If that’s still in your head, get rid of that … there’s a lot of fun stuff to do with it.”
2. Education is paramount.
It might go without saying, but any event producer interested in curating a cannabis experience needs to be familiar with the plant.
“Cannabis education is so important,” reiterated panelist Vanessa Oliver, the CEO of both Infin8ly Elevated Events and the Cannabis Wedding Expo. “And being an event planner, our job is to make sure that people feel comfortable. [It’s important to] understand that there’s versatility when it comes to people consuming [cannabis], and how we engage them with that comfort and communication—or over-communicating when there’s going to be cannabis at an event—really shows that you are knowledgeable, and you respect the fact that there’s a level of naiveté that comes when you’re first entering cannabis.”
And if you can’t become an expert quickly, hire someone who already is one. Another panelist during our session was Elise McRoberts, the founder of The Hashinista. McRoberts has been working in the cannabis industry in California for almost 10 years. Her consultancy and event production company puts on cannabis-centric gatherings like farm-to-table dinners with an optional dosing experience that’s completely alcohol free, with music and post-dinner sampling. Her speciality is helping brands elevate events without that “stoner stigma” and curating experiences for everything from dinner parties to other to-dos centered around food, comedy, dance, art, and more.
“We help cannabis brands express themselves in the best possible way, reaching target and new consumers, and helping non-cannabis [brands] and cannabis-curious consumers plug cannabis into their events,” McRoberts said.
And be prepared to answer frequently asked questions advised panelist TJ Stouder, the CEO and co-founder of HOLISTIK Wellness and MyHi. He said that the biggest question his company gets is, “Will I fail a drug test?”
“The correct answer, no matter what anyone tells you, is yes, you could fail a drug test if you take CBD every single day,” Stouder said. “You could fail as THC builds up in the system. That’s the correct answer. We put that on our site because we want customers to feel comfortable with the way they consume CBD or THC.”
Published: September 13, 2022
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News