The first time I heard about the HTBS the ticket prices started at around $400 for a general admission ticket, however on Black Friday they sent out a promotion for $200. It seemed like a great deal, but I noticed days later the price remained at $200 which indicated to me that attendance was going to be very low for the event. I was right in my thinking. If I had to estimate, I'd say no more than 200-250 people attended the event and the exhibition floor was in a rather large room making the Summit seem empty as you walked it. I felt bad for the vendors, many of whom came from California, a long trip for such a paltry turnout. I'm guessing this explains why High Times events are typically focused in the West Coast and Colorado. The East Coast is quite simply still not ready for events of this scale unless major promotion is involved. It made me really appreciate the New York City trade shows by the International Cannabis Association which had strong attendance and the Washington D.C. show from ComfyTree which brought in a strong 900 people or more into a small Holiday Inn in the district.
For the small amount of attendees who reported the quality of the event itself was well done. High Times had strong seminar sessions which included panels with industry mainstays and a keynote speech from none other than Mr. Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center. Some of the other noteworthy speakers were Rhory Ghould, Danny Danko, Adam Dunn, Keith Stroup, Charlo Greene, Natalie and Ata Gonzalez, Nic Easley, and Charles Oster. The hero of our drug war Ethan Nadelmann was also a keynote speaker, polished and continued to drop the hammer on legalization.
This was the conference you wanted to be at if you wanted to make connections to some of the most influential in the industry because they were not being bombarded with fan boys, they were mostly all accessible. I am a big fan of shows where the attendance bombs, but the speakers are awesome, because you can actually get in a full conversation and perhaps even make a few deals happen. The CHA certainly did the most of that. I came to the conference with the intent on finding a chapter leader for the D.C. market, a venue, and some local speakers to get the branch kicked off. I wanted to meet potential sponsors for our NYC chapter and meet some really great thought leaders to speak at our NYC events. I interviewed a few companies and was excited by some of the things I was hearing in the market.
I think that High Times Business Summit has great potential, but they need to spend more time promoting it and make it a bigger deal. The production was well done and interesting. I hope that next year they hold this again and it would be nice to see more attendees come out. More than a few booths had been assigned to vendors who no-showed and attendance had to be low. That said, when I talked to the vendors that were there, they like me, came across with the same feeling, that the networking was excellent. HTBS put a lot of heavy hitters in the same place and I feel that those who couldn't make it, missed an opportunity to have some very engaging conversations with the movers and shakers in the cannabis business. Then again, I drove a have 3.5 hours from New York to get here. There were people who travelled across country. If I were them, I'm not sure if I'd have felt the same.
As far legalization in D.C. and how that is going, it's clear no one has yet figured out how to leverage the laws to build a thriving enterprise. People are overjoyed at the right to cultivate, but the pop-up events, such as $75 edible parties for example have been a disappointment. Last year when I came to ComfyTree, Corey Jack spoke, a consultant from Colorado and taught people how to set up collectives in a packed seminar. It seems the collectives have started, but have not taken off the way they have in California. It seems people are still figuring out what to do here. Perhaps they should ask Charlo Greene. She did a heck of a job exploiting the loop holes in Alaska to launch her cannabis club. It takes courage and balls to be a maverick in cannabis, something that seems to be sorely lacking in the Nation's capital at this point.