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MJ Unpacked, Unpacked

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MJ Unpacked CBA Booth

MJ Unpacked, Unpacked

October 1, 2022 | Jim Baudino | Blog, Business, Industry News

October 3, 2022, by Diana Eberlein, VP of Marketing and Sales at SōRSE Technology

First, I’ll start by saying I still haven’t fully unpacked my bag from MJ Unpacked, and that’s not because some of it (namely my heels) will be making the trip to Hall of Flowers this week – It’s because I’m exhausted from all the phenomenal conversations during the countless meetings, happy hours, dinners, parties, awards ceremony, and of course the MJ Unpacked show working the Cannabis Beverage Association booth!

I look at the cannabis beverage sector as “small, but mighty!”  Why?  Because we’re small at only 5%* of the current market, yet we show the fastest growth of any other segment and have grown by over 60%* since 2020, and we house some of the most “famous” brands in cannabis, like celebrity-backed social tonic, Cann, that took home 14 Clio Awards (no big deal).  The Cannabis Beverage Association is, too, “small, but national” – donating time and resources for change.  In just a few short years we’ve had some major victories in California. Most recently: AB 2155, identifying a specific category for cannabis beverages (to adjust testing requirements unique to low-dose beverage platforms) and AB 1646, permitting common sense and less restrictive packaging forms for beverages.  The goal is to duplicate these processes and regulations for other legal markets for consistency across the US.

It was such an honor to represent the Cannabis Beverage Association and my fellow members who come together to bring awareness to the organization’s initiatives that will make cannabis beverages more accessible and safer for consumers.  For me, there were 4 key takeaways from MJ Unpacked:

Beverage brands are looking for more co-packers, in more markets

A number of brands expressed bottle necks with either licensing delays in new markets or a general lack of co-packers in major markets.  This organization is all about supporting the best in the industry so we can grow the market and do it right.  We would love to get in touch with more co-packers so we can help beverage brands expand!

Big beverage has entered the chat

Jones Soda and Pabst are already in, and the sharks have been circling for years.  We’re seeing some large players walk showroom floors, and they’ve started formulation.  We can only hope that these same brands support the CBA and our efforts to regulate this space effectively, in a way that will make safe, high quality infused beverages accessible to consumers.

Quality > Quantity

This is nothing new, we’ve been saying this for years about various aspects of our lives.  Don’t get me wrong, MJBizCon draws a great crowd, but the common theme and feedback from others was that they spend most of “cannabis week” running up and down the strip to meet with clients, strategic partners, investors, etc. That said, a smaller event doesn’t mean a smaller reward. Where the right people are in the right place together, quality conversations are had– And that’s what MJ Unpacked delivered.  

I lost my voice and never took a break from the booth because I was constantly engaged in conversation with others excited about the infused beverage market.  I left feeling empowered, with more connections and opportunities for the beverage market than when I arrived.  What could be better than that?

Cannabis beverages and alcohol can co-exist in peace

The CBA hosted a “speak-easy” happy hour event where both cannabis beverages and alcohol options were served.  The line for cannabis beverages was twice as long as the line for alcohol (but you could argue this is a cannabis crowd so of course that was the case, ok ok).  The best part, it felt like any other party because the cannabis beverages blend into the social scene – just as they are intended.

photo: CBA Happy Hour balcony view

We know we’re in the right place, and it’s the right time – and you could feel it at MJ Unpacked –from the literally packed CBA “speak-easy” on night one featuring our members’ infused beverages to the enthusiasm shared by attendees who approached the booth with a “This is going to be the future of cannabis.” The momentum was palpable and carried over from last month’s interview during Benzinga 2022 with Curaleaf’s founder Boris Jordan, who stated that he believed cannabis beverage would be 50% of the market in the next 5 – 10 years.  This sparked a lot of conversation online and within the cannabis industry as a whole, some in agreement and some not.  However, one thing everyone agreed on is that the cannabis beverage category is on the rise – it’s just a matter of how much and by when.

But we need to do it together.

The Cannabis Beverage Association truly is about rising tides to lift all boats.  We work together to make the infused beverage sector approachable, safe, and enjoyable for consumers because at the end of the day, we all got into this space to make people’s lives better – and why not do it with tasty, refreshing infused drinks!

Drink it in – and contact the Cannabis Beverage Association about how you and your company can get involved and support a safer, more enjoyable infused beverage market!
Thank you to all Cannabis Beverage Association members and sponsors for supporting these events and making it possible to educate and entertain thought leaders, consumers, and influence proper regulation and standardization of the infused beverage market.  Special shoutout goes to all of our sponsoring brands for both CBA events during MJ Unpacked Las Vegas 2022:

*Data provided by BDSA