Monday, May 15, 2017

Nightlife Industry Learns to Party with Cannabis at the Nightclub & Bar Convention

Monetizing Cannabis, Once a Taboo Topic, Was the most talked about convention theme.

Edible Skinny has taken note that as cannabis steps into the world of legal respectability with recreational sales commencing in Las Vegas as of July 1st (as long as everything goes according to plan...) more "reputable" vice industries are starting to take note. Especially considering the state of Colorado made a Billion dollars on this "illicit" industry last year alone!

Such was the case at last month's Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show, which was attended by over 30,000 international nightspot owners, operators, and industry professionals. Held March 27-29 at the Las Vegas Convention, the 32nd annual convention set an unprecedented tone embracing this once taboo industry as one of the most talked about keynote panel discussions was "Monetizing Cannabis."

The recent legalization of marijuana use in Nevada and other states reflects the growing development of more states following suit and even changes at the federal level. Audience members at "Monetizing Cannabis" gained insight on the emerging marijuana trends, as the commercial potential is huge but the legal, regulatory, and operational landscape is complex. Questions such as how to recognize money-making opportunities, cannabis mixology, new concept ventures and current regulatory and operational landscape were volleyed around by the green wisdom of multiple successful ganja-preneurers.

Moderated by Ricardo Baca, contributing editor of the Denver Post.  Baca was appointed The Denver Post's first marijuana editor in November 2013 and spearheaded the formation of The Cannabist, a division of the Post. Fortune magazine ranked Baca as one of the most powerful people in American cannabis.

His panel included Sheriff Joe DiSalvo, infamous in Colorado for going from "Ski Bum to Sheriff." DiSalvo joined the Aspen Police in 1985, three years later the Pitkin County Sheriff's office, of which he is now a 29 year veteran of the force he overseas.  In 2013 Sheriff DiSalvo founded the Valley Marijuana Council, which consisted of community stakeholders from law enforcement, health care professionals, schools, dispensary owners, hotel operators, and others.

Another person of interest onstage was Tripp Keber, CEO of Dixie Brands, Colorado's premiere license marijuana infused products manufacturer (MIPS). Tripp Keber now serves as the Chief Executive Office of Dixie Brands Inc. He is also a founder member and current Board Member of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

Rounding out the panel was Freddie Wyatt, an event marketing, promotions, and business development expert with more than 30 years' experience in event management, event production, branding, marketing, entertainment, and nightlife.  Founder of Munch & Co., Wyatt has been instrumental in directing the cannabis business development thru event programming nationally and now moving it into hospitality sector.

The session explored from the unique bar and nightclub perspective, how to capitalize on the opportunities while mitigating the risks. Almost all the panel agreed that cannabis and alcohol were not the best of drinking buddies, at least not directly at the same location. It was recommended that "crossfading," the act of combing alcohol and cannabis, is a market concept not best pursued by Las Vegas bar and nightclub owners.

Denver, Colorado, where weed has been recreationally legal for years now, passed a first-of-its-kind limited social use initiate last year. Initiative 300 is in the process of creating a pilot program that will let Denver bar and restaurant owners and other business owners to apply for permits allowing for "bring-your-own" social marijuana use at their establishments. The permit would require neighborhood approval, by a city-registered group or a business district.

Almost all the panel agreed that cannabis and alcohol were not the best of drinking buddies, at least not directly at the same location. It was recommended that "crossfading," the act of combing alcohol and cannabis, is a market concept not best pursued by Las Vegas bar and nightclub owners.

Separate but equal was highlighted numerous times by these pioneers of the Green Rush. This is true for both the guests attending cannabis events, but also those not present at these Maryjane related parties. Wyatt noted that a large portion of the security hired at Munch & Co. events end up protecting their cannabis patrons from the bar crowd when the local bars close at 2am."The different between these two patrons is night and day; the more time you spend at a bar, the better the chances you might get into a fight... the more time you spend at a cannabis event, the better the chances you might end up in a cuddle puddle."

But with more and more states approving recreational use with every ballot measure, the chances of alcohol and weed crossing paths is becoming more commonplace. It's a brave new world for both the nightclub and cannabis industry, and somehow they'll find a way to be green bedfellows!
Here's to life being delicious and the green wisdom of ganja-preneurers.

Kat Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Edible Skinny, a site dedicated to making your life postcard worthy. She is also the CEO of the creative media company This Way Adventures. You can find more about both brands at


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