The MJ Unpacked cannabis business conference was held in Midtown Manhattan last week. It featured many vendors and those from established legal cannabis markets in the New Jersey and New York markets that are heating up.
It had a significant New Jersey presence and contingent.
The main feature of the cannabis business conference was the two-level show floor with its many booths. They varied widely in scope and quality. Some had interesting products.
MJ Unpacked Cannabis Convention Panels
Many of the panels discussed issues in the cannabis industry that are becoming familiar in New Jersey like the nuances of opening and finding financing were discussed at the conference.
The issues of money, land, hesitant towns, and protecting small cannabis companies that New Jersey is contending with while expanding the adult-use cannabis market have been seen in other states. They are, in fact, common.
The cannabis convention panels varied and were filled with insight from more developed state cannabis markets that experience the great nuances New Jersey could learn from.
One panel at the cannabis convention was about opening a dispensary and the issues with location and cash flow. Inventory and issues with product shelf life were discussed. Like all other plants, cannabis shrivels as it ages.
Panelists, of course, lamented Section 280-E of the IRS Tax Code. It says drug dealers cannot deduct their expenses from their taxes. As long as cannabis is federally illegal, that includes cannabis-touching companies. This leaves many lamenting their much smaller profit margins.
LPP and Justus Foundation on Social Equity
The Last Prisoner Project (LPP) and the Justus Foundation held a panel on the nature of those with cannabis convictions coming home after time served and the legacy market in the legal cannabis industry.
Noted attorney Scheril Murray Powell argued the lucrative legal markets were made possible by legacy operators and those who were caught.
Legacy cannabis advocate and businesswoman Mary Bailey of LPP explained they help connect lawyers to cannabis prisoners.
“If it wasn’t for their bravest, we wouldn’t be here today with this legal industry,” she said. “There’s thousands upon thousands of people locked up.”
Bailey noted they help them get money for prisoners who must pay for necessities while in jail.
She explained many states that legalized cannabis before New Jersey did not include great expungement laws.
“It’s more expensive to buy from the commissary than it is outside,” Powell said
She explained they want to help legacy operators who served time to succeed in the industry. One way they have found that helps is a grant to those returning home.
New Jersey at NYC Cannabis Business Conference
The NJ CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA) was exhibiting in the main hall. They featured a flyer showing NJCBA President Ed DeVeaux speaking during the Heady NJ cannabis gathering in January 2022.
DeVeaux is stepping down from his position as NJCBA President to take a position in government. Former NJCBA President Scott Rudder has taken his place.
“I have been fortunate to be at NJCBA during the most transitional period of growth in the state’s cannabis history,” said DeVeaux. “What we have been able to achieve together, while by no means the end of the road, is still remarkable.”
Rudder is a former Republican Assemblyman for 16 years who was NJCBA President during the referendum and saw the need for social equity. He is in the process of opening his own dispensary now.
Noted cannabis attorney Lou Magazzu who spoke at our Working in South Jersey Cannabis convention, was a noted sponsor.
A private party hosted by the consulting firm Longview Strategic featured many NJ cannabis leaders like leading cannabis lobbyist Bill Caruso and NJCannabis Insider/NJAdvanced Media’s Enrique Laven.
We took a picture they featured in their newsletter.
Media Mixtape After Party
Heady NJ was part of an effort to promote a part of independent cannabis media outlets at the Media Mixtape Party after-party in the middle of MJ Unpacked. The Bluntnes hosted the party along with Respect My Region, whose podcast I was on, the Emerald Media Group, and others.
The other media companies were similar efforts that have arisen in legalized markets with cannabis legalization.
Parties at conferences are good places to network which is usually the main point of going to a conference along with practical education and industry updates.
It was an outstanding event with a free dab bar.
The party was held in a New York City club that has previously hosted cannabis convention gatherings.
The first MJ Unpacked cannabis business conference in New York City was held last year. MJ Unpacked held its first conference in Las Vegas.