Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference Miami 2023

Social media, particularly Twitter, was a central topic of discussion at the 16th iteration of the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference (BCCC), which took place at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach, April 11-12.  Medical Marijuana is legal with a prescription in the State of Florida.

With approximately 2500 attendees, Benzinga saw a 20% increase in ticket sales from last year’s Miami conference. The pre-pandemic attendee numbers were less than 900, according to the Head of Benzinga’s Cannabis & Psychedelics Departments, Elliot Lane.

“This year’s event, while a capital conference, saw nearly 1000 meetings set with our largest audience still fighting for a legal cannabis industry in the toughest time this space has ever faced,” Lane says. “We saw politicians, investors, larger companies, new brands, industry services and many others tell us how they plan to be competitive and not only survive but thrive in the next 12 to 18 months.”

In the “CBD: Cannabis Industry’s Star Child” panel moderated by Cannabis Now contributor Sara Brittany Somerset, Tennessee-based indoor cultivation company Flowgardens’ chief strategy officer and board member David Miller spoke about considering the fact that while capital markets are down in the cannabis sector, the time is ripe to reanalyze CBD as a safer investment. Miller cited the CBD sector’s lack of issues with IRS 280-E compliance and the ability to ship nationwide as top reasons for giving cannabidiol a leg up over its more potent predecessor.

However, Lane says, “the cannabis industry is far from giving up, and we saw that this entire week in Miami.”

Conference sponsor Golden Eagle Partners’ David Traylor reiterated Lane’s sentiments.

Opportunities Abound on Twitter

Alexa Alianiello, head of cannabis partnerships at Twitter, took center stage at Benzinga, sharing her passion for the plant and its potential by recounting her life-changing journey with cannabis.

Twitter made social media history by becoming the first platform to allow cannabis advertising in March. While Meta-owned platforms Instagram and Facebook are constantly deleting cannabis-related profiles, Twitter made impactful internal policy changes to enable cannabis and ancillary brands to self-promote and directly drive sales.

The inclusive ads policy is the most substantial and comprehensive in the sector, creating a scalable, differentiated, new marketing channel for cannabis, Alianiello told Benzinga’s conference attendees. 

“We found that the best content on Twitter follows a few different characteristics: It’s entertaining, informative and relevant,” Alianiello said. “What I want to speak to is the power of advertising to shift perception; to illuminate the possibilities of this category; and to elevate it and bring it forward.”

Time will tell if advertising cannabis companies on Twitter will help the industry bounce back.

Following Alianiello’s well-received remarks, a powerhouse panel of all C-Suite women spoke about how to build an edibles empire. Moderated by publicist Rosie Mattio, Principle of Mattio Communications, the discussion’s key takeaway was using consumer data to differentiate consumer packaged consumer goods (CPG) trends. 

Meanwhile, on the expo floor, combat veteran-operated nonprofit organization Warriors Choice Foundation was situated nearby fellow exhibitors, female-owned business and brand accelerator Women Grow. While the collaboration between Benzinga and Women Grow began at the previous conference in Chicago, the partnership between the two powerful entities continues to prosper.

Dr. Chanda Macias, MBA, Ph.D., chairwoman of the board of managers and CEO for Women Grow, described how Multi-State Operators (MSO) overshot the mark: “A lot of MSOs went out and had a broader reach, but they didn’t penetrate the depth of the markets. So, they never had the roots to anchor them into those markets. It was subsequently easy to pull them out and make them irrelevant throughout the national landscape.”

Dr. Macias emphasizes how critical it is to truly understand the places where you want to make an impact.

“When thinking about your business expansion, it’s important to consider how dedicated you are to that particular region or state and whether you are willing to do the work to achieve the depth in the market necessary to become an anchor in that region,” she said.  

Dr. Macias, also the CEO of the cannabis and hemp healthcare enterprise National Holistic, based in Washington, DC, further stressed the importance of service to a dedicated community.

“I am out to change the hearts and minds of so many people that need access to medicine,” she said. “Not everyone will understand that, but the ones whose lives I helped change by giving them an alternative form of medication will back me up every day, and that’s who I fight for.”

Benzinga Cannabis version 16 marked the first time a combat veteran-operated non-profit organization had a meaningful presence.

“Participating at Benzinga was a great opportunity to share Warriors Choice Foundation’s mission to assist combat veterans in need. Actualizing how effective treatments with cannabis and psychedelics have been on my life’s journey was emphasized during Benzinga,” said WCF Executive Director Anthony Longo. “I’m grateful to Benzinga for boosting my local organization.”

Longo’s accompanying service dog, Bourbon, was playfully provided an expo badge, highlighting the fun atmosphere, albeit a serious investor conference.

Monsoon Leads to Boon in Deal-Making

Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference occurred during a Miami monsoon that flooded the Fort Lauderdale airport, which was so severe that fish were swimming on the runway while airplane tires were underwater.

However, the inclement weather turned out to be a networking boon for Benzinga, as more attendees stayed longer at the venue while waiting for the airport to reopen rather than venture out to separate events or risk flying home in potentially dangerous conditions via different airports. Some guests decided to stay for the weekend, providing time to facilitate more deals and meetings. People were networking poolside at the Fontainebleau once the weather finally cleared up.

With Benzinga 16 done and dusted, expectations are already building for the next Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference at the Chicago Downtown Marriott Magnificent Mile on September 27 and 28, 2023.


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