Chef Reviews: MMJ Building Connections

I am a medical patient, and I work in the medical cannabis industry, but what is there to do to expand my network? This is a different answer as of the last five years than what it was; it used to be “grab some friends for a safety meeting” at an expo. Now we are starting to see the rise of industry-sponsored trade shows or parties, inclusive clubs, and public events that embrace the cannabis community. What I have always found with these events is that they can either be a hit, or a hard swing and miss. Thankfully, my recent experiences at events have been overwhelmingly positive, and I am seeing the trends change from simple hangouts or trade shows, to most recently, trendy venues for private parties, or public non-medicated events with a need for influencers. We are in a time in which industry leaders are providing a networking platform open to everyone in the industry.

A staple in Arizona has always been The Budtenders Ball, hosted by O.Pen/Organa Brands, and this last year at The Grand in downtown Phoenix was a good time for all. The standards of medicated samples from vendors, dab stations, and a modern ballroom with a full bar, made for great fun. It also established that those in the industry enjoy the effort of providing fine quality venues that are friendly and open to serving our industry. The attendance of several vendors and dispensaries was terrific, as it allowed dispensary agents from all over the state to meet in a fun setting. The comfort of knowing this was a space open to our lifestyle and respected us as people first, was a significant change. At past events under different hosts, it was uncomfortable to function with the high amounts of security or tension from the service staff. Living and working in this industry can distort the fact that a heavy stigma still exists concerning cannabis.

Local Events Embracing ALL Communities 

In time, the views of the public will shift and have already begun to move in the direction of acceptance. This is becoming more evident in the embrace of those in our community who take on new non-cannabis adventures, these social media or industry leaders are now sought by outside events and organizers. I was invited recently to an influencer night for the Electric Desert event. A festival of lights on the desert landscape made possible by artist Ricardo Rivera, this event will run from October 12, 2018, to May 12, 2019, at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden. I understood the appeal right away for myself, desert flora with brought to full psychedelic bliss with lights and sound made possible by KLIP Collective. Those in attendance were all in awe of the experience and visual art, but friends I attended with agreed it would be perfect with a few edibles beforehand. Just to smoke beforehand, which I did, and the mellow enjoyment of the occasional vape pen while navigating the electric desert trails was sublime. These events are not specifically for the cannabis community but see no issue with including us to partake within the law. Safety is always encouraged, as is the consideration of those around you, local laws, and venue rules.

Electric Desert Event

The cannabis community is valuable; we have a right to participate, as our taxes generate massive revenue that we have a voice in. We are organized enough to operate as we do under state law, in compliance with guidelines to provide a service to the public and our patients. The recognition of budtenders, inventory, and all roles in dispensaries grows, and vendor production matter as we all contribute. The companies we support and work for, are always doing their best to appreciate us, or recognize our hard work. An example of this was the Copperstate launch party recently held in Downtown Phoenix. Held at The Croft in Downtown Phoenix, this launch party worked hard to provide a great venue, experience, and atmosphere for all. Live glassblowing, live music from The Clint Stevens Band, food, drinks, vendor swag, and a theme of “down the rabbit hole” had images of Alice in wonderland projected to walls of the large ballrooms. The goal of this party was to connect those in the industry that support Copperstate and invite those new to the brand to join.

   The launch signified the release of the Jack-Rabbit brand of pre-packaged flower, Airo-vape brand battery, and cartridge, as well as the Good Things Coming edible brand. Representatives for all brands were present, giving away product, providing education, and tending to the buffets for medicated as well as unmedicated that were provided. Copperstate flower has been present on the Arizona cannabis scene and is known throughout Arizona for quality and unique strain selection. The expansion further into new cannabis brands will surely see them grow ever larger. The welcoming of these new products with a launch party is intended to make an impression on the community, with their brands working in time to gain our loyalty with quality and consistent product. The launch aimed to include all by having a non-medicated and medicated section to allow everyone to socialize. I feel as though Copperstate was working hard to provide the best experience possible for all the budtenders and guests in attendance with good reason.

Build Your Personal Brand with Networking 

The association of a good time with these brands and products motivate those promoting sales. It’s easy to feel a connection to the success of these new brands because they included me, and my dispensary in their new product launch. The amount of influence the event has on those in attendance can vary but will always be decided by the quality of the products. The role of industry events is to support and provide connections for those that work within it. The ability to make contacts and establish relationships at these events between yourself and others is always the goal. Never letting an opportunity to network pass you by, can define how future events affect your career. I always try to enjoy myself, have fun, but make my introductions and follow up with everyone I meet. It builds me as much as I build for the hosts of these events, and whatever the focus of the event might be. The influence you carry has worth, and someday might be worth more if you can establish long-lasting connections. Always work to build your personal success and brand, because having the ability to expand and communicate within the industry will become invaluable as you grow professionally.