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Spotlight - Cannabis Industrial Marketplace - October 2019

Cannabis Industrial Marketplace
By Ben Horner

Chicago- Just off the O’Hare International Airport, I arrived at the Donald E Steven’s Center to attend the on September nineteenth of 2019. Walking across the skyway from the adjacent parking structure I hauled my trusty and well-traveled cart, full of Michigan Marijuana Report magazines. Having been  to many cannabis related events over the years, there was no particular excitement or anxious anticipation, as at this point conventions and expos of this kind are par for the course….I was soon to be pleasantly surprised.

After accepting my press badge and vendor packet with assigned booth number I set out into the convention hall. As I entered the convention show floor and navigated towards my space to set up the MM Report booth,  I was taken back by the size and scope of the vendor space.

The 60,000 square foot Expo Floor was packed with 175 exhibitors showcasing their products and services, highlighting the diverse businesses already invested in the cannabis industry. Vendors included a wide variety of companies that provided products and services for the cannabis industry. HVAC, legal, real estate, automation, packaging, facility design, LED grow lights, security, genetics and just about anything else you could imagine was present. Companies from around the country traveled here to show off their products or services. Two local vendors who really touched me personally were Mary Jane’s Creations and Mindful Medicine Clinic.

The women owned and operated Mary Jane’s Creations which provides at home custom cooking classes in the Chicago area. These lovely ladies teach healthier food options, herbal infusions and extraction methods. Their services cater to one-on-one and group classes right in your own home. I wouldn’t be surprised if someone at this event made a connection for possible receipt consulting for larger scale product design in a licensed facility.

Dr. Sara Mann, MD is the physician of Mindful Medicine Clinic, which services medical marijuana patients in Illinois. Dr. Mann explained the process in which a patient must take to receive a medical marijuana patient card. The clinic, which is located in Barrington, has assisted hundreds of patients seeking cannabis treatment. Her partner Steve Fix assists her with college level cannabis classes at Oakton Community College in Des Plain. These folks at Mindful Medicine are extremely knowledgeable. If you are looking to qualify as a patient or need information about the Illinois medical marijuana program, this clinic is a good source.

Impressive engineering extraction and processing displays from extraction experts Deutsche Processing and Luna Technologies allowed attendees an impressive visual experience on processing and extraction engineering capability.

My show neighbor and friend Joshua Alper, executive VP for Harvest 360, welcomed me with a quick smile and had to run upstairs to the seminar rooms to give one of his presentations.

The Seminar Series featured 60 top-notch speakers, with 50 unique topics educating on all levels of cannabis industry expertise. Four rooms focused on business opportunities, legal impacts, cultivation/processing and technologies. Although the event organizers put a strong focus on cannabis business-to-business solutions, local speakers broke down the Illinois dynamics with personal experience and thoughtful communication.

Sherri Springer, MJ Freeway’s Director of Consulting Services, and featured speaker in the seminar series, guided attendees through what they need to know to plan for a profitable cannabusiness. One of the toughest obstacles of any business is efficient vendor and supply management. The robustness of a company’s supply chain can often be the deciding factor separating success from failure. Such an endeavor is further complicated when the market is new and heavily regulated like cannabis.

Another highlight of the Expo was The Next Great Canna Idea, a unique cannabis technology competition. Entrepreneurs with a new cannabis industry product or technology idea, were entered into a judged competition, the winner being awarded a full product patent of their idea sponsored by Block45 Legal. A lot of unique ideas were presented, and the judges had a difficult time in deciding a winner, but ultimately only one could prevail.  Congratulations go out to Kevin Whitfield for his CBD Hair Growing concept idea catching the eye of the highly respected judging committee.

Attendees included dispensaries, cultivators, small business owners, entrepreneurs looking to enter the industry, as well as medical patients and consumers interested in learning more about cannabis businesses and prospects on the horizon. Charles Baxter, a wheel chair riding medical marijuana patient explained how hard and expensive it was to be a patient in Illinois. Baxter told us that he had to register at a dispensary and could only acquire his medicine from that individual source. High prices and a limited amount of medicine to choose from made me feel a little better about the progress Michigan has made. Just getting an Illinois medical card required multiple background checks. Cost of getting his card, with everything required at the time, cost Baxter over five hundred dollars and his dispensary charges sixty to seventy dollars for an eighth.

Illinois is gearing up for full legalization on January first next year. Although there is no home cultivation for adult use, medical patients can grow. Chicago has a cap on facilities and is steering the locations out of the Chicago loop. Illinois is moving towards being the second best market in the Midwest, behind Michigan.

The was one of the best and most profitable events I have participated in years. The group will be having an expo in Michigan next March, which I highly recommend. Jennifer Wynn, the VP of Expositions for Cannabis Industrial marketplace, is excited about setting a higher bar for these industry events around the country in 2020.   Jen states, “After the incredible success of our Chicago Expo, we are very excited for our next shows and our March homecoming to Michigan to help maintain the growth of cannabis here.”

Their next events are in Florida in mid November,  Arizona in February, and Birch Run Michigan in March;  After that, it is back to Chicago in May, the Tri-States (Philadelphia) in August and ending 2020 in Ohio/Kentucky in October. Interested parties should reach out via and tell them Ben sent you!

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