We went to one of the largest marijuana business conferences in the world — here’s what it was like

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Cannabis edibles.
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Courtney Verrill

Cannabis is a serious business.

Currently, medical marijuana is legal in 25 states, with several more considering bills. The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan research group, estimates that it’s a $45 billion industry in the US alone.

This year, the International Cannabis Association hosted the second-annual Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition in New York City, where cannabis businesses from around the world can network, show off their products, and attend seminars and panel discussions about the burgeoning industry.

Take a look at what went down inside the three-day conference.


The event took place at the Jacob K. Javits convention center in midtown Manhattan. Huge signs with the words “Cannabis means businesses” showed the attendees they were in the right place.

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Courtney Verrill

A range of products made from cannabis plants were scattered across the exposition floor. Businesses that directly served the marijuana industry — everything from grow lights to product packaging and financial services — also set up shop.

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Courtney Verrill

Because recreational marijuana remains illegal in New York State, none of the products on the expo floor contained THC, a psychoactive ingredient in the plant. Instead, products were made from other chemical extracts, like cannabidiol, also known as CBD. It’s often used for both therapeutic and medicinal purposes but doesn’t actually get people high. Under certain restrictions, CBD is legal in all 50 states.

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Courtney Verrill

Source: Kight On Cannabis


The conference itself was business-focused. Most, if not all, of the attendees were either directly involved in the marijuana industry or looking to invest. The entrance fee was steep: $195 or $95 for early birds. Naturally, people wanted the most bang for their buck.

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Courtney Verrill

These aromatherapy sprays are made from cannabis plants. Shira Adler, the creator of Synergy Sprays, mixes all of them by hand. “This one is designed to center you, especially if you’re stressed,” Adler said. The sprays cost around $40.

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Edibles also represented a decent portion of the expo. Below is a range of gummy worms containing CBD.

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If recreational marijuana becomes legal, companies will likely add THC to edible products, like these CBD gummy bears. In states like Colorado, where recreational marijuana is already legal, edibles have seen massive success.

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Source: Denver Post


The exposition showcased more than just consumer products though. Here’s an ethanol extraction machine, which manufacturers use to separate the desired chemical — in this case, CBD — from the raw plant for use in consumer products like gummy bears.

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“This is one of our smaller machines,” one the Genius reps told us. “Our other machines go all the way up to the ceiling.”

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Here’s another complex-looking extraction device.

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These are hemp seeds, which some proponents claim is a “superfood” with a range of supposed health benefits. These particular seeds were grown in Kentucky, where the climate and soil is perfect for growing cannabis plants outdoors.

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There’s a variety of different types of seeds for eating, as well as for growing your own plants.

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This is CBD oil or “wax.” It can be vaporized, inhaled, or mixed into tinctures. It’s supposed to have a range of uses, from beauty to medicine.

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These CBD extract capsules offer specific dosages. CBD has been known to help a variety of brain-related issues, such as epilepsy. More research, however, needs to be done. As many proponents claim, it could be especially helpful to football players, who often experience traumatic brain injuries during their careers.

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This is Elixinol, a CBD extract taken orally or mixed in with your food. The company is based out of Colorado and sells these bottles, which contain 900 milligrams of CBD, for $99.

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Incredibles is an edibles manufacturer from Colorado.

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The company sells these chocolate bars, which cost between $20 and $30 depending on potency, in multiple flavors.

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Cannakorp’s CannaCloud is a vaporizer aimed at the recreational market. It’s billed as the “Keurig of vaporizers” for its ease of use. The company’s chairman is actually a former SVP at Keurig.

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Small packets of cannabis — in this case, only containing CBD — are inserted into the bottom of the vaporizer. It’s just like brewing a cup of coffee with a K-cup. A CannaCloud will set customers back around $150.

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Some more eccentric products also made an appearance on the expo floor. This is Roll-A-Bong, a “rolling and smoking game for the whole joint.” It’s like “Candyland for adults,” the game’s creator and a former high school science teacher Gary Schwartz told us.

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“I created the game for people who worked in the back rooms of marijuana dispensaries, when they were sitting around with nothing to do,” Schwartz said.

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Many financial services companies that work with the cannabis industry also showed up at the expo. This is a JANE terminal, which handles and tracks cash payments for marijuana dispensaries. Federal laws force marijuana companies to operate mostly on an all cash basis. JANE is trying to add the legitimacy and data dispensaries need to keep track of their finances.

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Cannabis plants take a lot of hardware to grow. It’s a big opportunity for light manufacturers, who took advantage of the expo. These are LED grow lights, which claims to be more environmentally friendly than traditional halogen or fluorescent bulbs.

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These are some grow lights in action. They’re supposed to be extremely efficient — and bright. Note that these aren’t actual marijuana plants.

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Cannabis journalism is also becoming a big business. There were a range of consumer-focused and business-to-business magazines on the floor.

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Even dogs can get in on the cannabis craze. True Hemp manufactures dog treats using hemp seeds. It’s based in British Columbia, Canada.

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These particular treats are meant to calm your dog. “Don’t worry, they won’t actually get your puppy high,” Alison Ruks, the marketing director for True Hemp, assured us. A bag of treats costs $11.99.

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The conference also included speakers and panel discussions, where attendees could sit and learn about everything from the economics of the marijuana industry to the history of cannabis regulation.

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Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party’s 2016 candidate for president and a former CEO of Cannabis Sativa Inc., also made an appearance. He discussed his platform of legalizing recreational marijuana use if elected president. “Amazingly, in this country, 56% of Americans support legalization of marijuana,” Johnson said. “And not one elected official at the gubernatorial, congressional, or senatorial level supports legalizing marijuana.”

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Courtney Verrill