At Denver marijuana trade show, green is the new gold – MarketWatch
DENVER (MarketWatch) — At first glance, the scene at the Denver Mart expo center this past weekend would have looked familiar to anyone who’s attended a trade show. Exhibitors were promoting a variety of goods and services. Industry leaders were gathering for panels devoted to the particulars of their business.
But if you headed to the periphery of the vast expo hall, a different scene emerged. In one corner, a glass blower was demonstrating how to craft the perfect bong. In another, a DJ was spinning tunes and talking up his preferred strain of marijuana.
Then again, what else would you expect at a cannabis conference?
And the Denver event, Indo Expo 2014, was very much that — a trade show connecting the expanding ranks of marijuana professionals (think owners of dispensaries and grow houses) with the businesses that supply them with what they need to run their shops or keep them fully stocked (think producers and distributors of everything from fertilizer to, yes, glass pipes). In short, the show proved that pot isn’t just about getting high. It’s a multibillion-dollar business — and one that can operate legally in some form in more than 23 states, including Colorado, which was the first state to approve recreational marijuana and remains something of the industry’s epicenter. Legal marijuanasales in the U.S. are expected to hit at least $2.2 billion in 2014, according to one report; total sales, including illegal transactions, could easily top $10 billion, according to many estimates.
Or to quote the show’s motto: “Green is the new gold.”
Indeed, around the same time as the Indo Expo, another series of cannabis events — a banquet organized by the NCIA and a conference hosted by Marijuana Business Daily, a trade publication — was taking place in Las Vegas.
Still, the producers of Indo Expo considered theirs a different event in that it was pretty much a pure trade show. Exhibitors came with the expectation of “writing paper” — trade-show parlance for taking orders. And while panels did delve into some of the industry’s hot-button issues — one seminar was titled “Making the case to the public and politicians that legalization is a success” — the focus remained on the show floor, where attendees could purchase everything from $10 glass pipes (with discounts on bulk orders, naturally) to $10,000 soil mixers.
Exhibitors of all kinds, from agricultural lighting companies to distributors of hemp clothing, said they were doing solid business, with many adding that they easily covered their costs for renting a booth at the show (up to $1,800). And some said the show was likely to result in bigger long-term deals for them.
“I had a $500,000 conversation,” said Richard Stalbaum, president of TrimWiz, a company that manufactures a low-cost, handheld trimming machine that retails for approximately $150. (To quote from the product’s website: “We’d all much rather spend less time trimming our plants, …read more