Last week, the Vanguard team was proud to participate in the 2019 edition of MJBizCon in Las Vegas as both an exhibitor and sponsor. With 35,000 attendees, MJBizCon is the largest gathering of cannabis business professionals in the world. As they say, “there is no place like it to equip your business for growth”. In total, 79 different countries were represented this year, highlighting continued expansion for the industry worldwide.
We’ve collected some of our team’s feedback and sat down with our CEO, Matthew Anderson for his insight. We offer our notes here for consideration and comment.
Wheat Distancing From Chaff
Though it's been a rocky year for cannabis firms, forecasts for the industry provide reason for optimism. Recent numbers from Nielsen predict that U.S. legal cannabis sales will more than quintuple from the $8 billion of 2018 to an estimated $41 billion by 2025. It's a strange confluence of circumstance that sees so much promise clouded by investor-spooking uncertainty; conditions that are readily exposing under-equipped operators.
“As the industry expands, I think that it’s a function of both the increasing number of competitors in any given segment, and the impact of actual revenue generated. Combined with the significant retraction in liquidity, I see a clearer delineation between companies that are recognizing the need to play at a high level and those that are still finding their way,” said Vanguard CEO Matthew Anderson.
In an interview with CNN, Leafly CEO Tim Leslie, who took the helm of the cannabis education and technology company after a 20-year career at Amazon, echoed Anderson’s sentiments. "There will be good businesses that potentially don't make it through the current macroeconomic cannabis environment, and that's unfortunate," he said. "But I think the good companies will continue to prevail ... I think the fundamentals of the industry are strong."
Regulations and Compliance
Beyond the necessary constraints that come with tightening capital inflows, the industry also appears to be taking ongoing regulatory and compliance issues to heart, reflecting the desires of both consumers and regulators to see greater transparency from industry participants. Brand representatives consistently directed conversation toward processes for elevated control around all aspects of production, from cultivation and extraction to formulation and packaging.
Of increasing scrutiny, Anderson says, “The looming reality of regulatory enforcement and governance in combination with consumer safety concerns has spurned a faith crisis. It’s created an environment in which not only are investors and business owners very aware of the dollars that they're spending, they're also reflecting an increasing understanding of their responsibility to the marketplace.” On the matter of how brands are responding to this, he says he’s “seeing a more serious tone and respect for the requirements needed to perform.”
Equipment Ownership Accessibility
At MjBizCon, Vanguard Scientific announced the launch of its MIDAS XII lease-to-own program, a leading-edge, supercritical CO2 extraction system that enables the preservation of the most valuable compounds and deliver the highest quality products. Vanguard developed the MIDAS lease program to enable companies the ability to gain entry into the cannabis industry for a much lower cost. Most companies trying to enter the space are looking at initial start-up costs well over half a million dollars. The program provides customers with the ability to consistently and cost-effectively produce the highest quality oils and extracts on the market.
Armed with fresh perspectives from the show, and in recognition of the rapidly changing industry landscape, Vanguard Scientific is launching a six part webinar series in early 2020, focussing on key topics in the extraction sector. Featuring key members of the Vanguard team and our top partners, these highly informative sessions will include: Facility Construction, Lab Design, GMP Process, SOPs, Equipment Selection, and Code Compliance. Registration is limited and we want to extend an opportunity to you to pre-register before the broader industry. Sign up here and you’ll be guaranteed a spot at no cost to you.
Advocacy and Philanthropy Alive and Well
Beyond the support we’re able to offer our clients and partners, an important part of our work at Vanguard is the support we’ve committed to social justice and drug policy reform in the United States and beyond. During this busy week, Vanguard hosted our own VIP event in the Tower Suites at the Encore, where we raised an attendee-built donation for social justice advocates, Students for Sensible Drug Policy. The SSDP community fights to replace the harmful global war on drugs with evidence-based and compassion-driven policies. Their 5,000 student and youth members mobilize from around the world to make change from campus hallways to the United Nations. If you’d like to join our efforts to support this important work, please do so here.
Despite an increasingly serious tone, MJBiz never leaves attendees wanting for a party, and the Vanguard team attended a few of the best, such as the full-house High Times party at Brooklyn Bowl featuring a floor shaking farewell performance by George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic.
Finally, an additional note on the topic of social justice and advocacy; our most sincere and appreciative congratulations go out to Wanda James and Steve DeAngelo, the first members of the MJBizDaily Awards Hall of Fame! A well deserved honor.
MJBizCon continues to set the bar for cannabusiness conferences and we look forward to seeing the industry’s 12 month (r)evolution come this time a year from now. Our thanks to the good folks at Marijuana Business Daily for another tremendous production.