The second annual Black CannaConference & Expo is coming up on November 18-20 in New Orleans, Louisiana. It’s the only B2B conference specifically for Black people in the cannabis industry and will feature big names like keynote speaker Wanda James, one of the biggest pioneers in the cannabis game.
The Black CannaConference & Expo is a three-day expo for Black and Brown companies to come together and discuss the workings of the cannabis industry in a safe and comfortable environment. It is advertised as the only national conference for cannabis founders, professionals, and consumers of color. Conference programming is geared towards all types of businesses, including plant-touching and ancillary.
Cannabis business models 101
To gain some information about the prestigious event, I spoke with Black CannaBusiness Magazine founder Kristi Price about why Black CannaCon, and events like it, are so important for the cannabis industry.
“I’m an advocate for inspiring us, with us. We’re not new to this, we’re true to this. Building an industry and business is what Black people have done since forever.”
The mind behind Black CannaCon
The Black CannaConference is put on by KRMA Media Inc., which owns Black CannaBusiness Magazine. KRMA was founded in February 2019 by Kristi Price, who comes from other highly regulated industries like alcohol, tobacco, and energy drinks.
With her professional background, Price always had an interest in the cannabis industry and ideas about how to get involved. KRMA Media Inc. and Black CannaBusiness Magazine were the answers.
“Since launching KRMA, I had begun to collect email addresses because I knew at some point I was going to be a publisher. A year later we had 12,000 subscribers. I knew I had this group of people, and I really hadn’t done anything to put the brand out there. So I said I would do a webinar and I would introduce the brand. That webinar got so much feedback from a lot of the speakers that are speaking this year. They said you need to put together a whole conference,” says Price.
Six weeks later, in 2020, the first virtual Black CannaConference was born. It had over 800 registrants and over forty speakers – an incredible feat for something put together on a short timeline in the middle of a global pandemic.
“Coming out of that conference, the resounding sentiment was ‘when are we going to be in the same place again, at the same time?”
2021’s Black CannaConference in New Orleans will grant everyone’s wish. This year, Kristi expects to see over 2,000 attendees.
The importance of Black CannaCon in the modern cannabis industry
As someone who just came back from a very suity, very homogenous MJBizCon in Las Vegas, I’ll tell you this industry desperately needs more diversity in its conventions.
Hopefully, you knew that already, but as legalization continues to swarm states without social equity, it’s looking even more like we’ll have to find our own ways to accomplish it.
When you walk through the MJBiz floor, it feels like a place where true cannabis culture isn’t even welcome.
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Kristi Price saw the same. After attending other big industry events, she started recognizing the only time she saw Black people was if they were in a minority-specific topic, like a minority luncheon, or at session breakouts.
“Those quick exchanges in the breakout session were just not enough.” Black CannaCon plans to change and correct that. “We’re really anticipating the conference growing to become a premier professional event in the industry.”
Additionally, this year’s Black CannaCon will honor the 100-year anniversary of the Tulsa race massacre, where mobs of white racists burned down Tulsa, Oklahoma’s thriving Greenwood District aka Black Wall Street.
“I think sometimes we need to remind ourselves of where we’re from and what we can go back to. With this year being the 100th year of the Massacre of Black Wallstreet, I thought it was an appropriate time to reflect on the positive that was the Greenwood District: what they accomplished, and how we can draw on those inspirations as we take on the cannabis industry the same way.”
– Kristi Price
Louisiana’s role in Black cannabis
On why she chose New Orleans, LA as the location for the 2021 location, Kristi says, “I am a native of Louisiana, I was born in a little town called Houma. New Orleans is a convention place in The South.”
“I felt like one, I wanted to bring something of this magnitude to my home state, and create opportunities there; (and) two, when you think about the impacts of the War on Drugs, Louisiana is the most incarcerated state in the country. Many of those incarcerations are due to marijuana convictions.”
Kristi saw Black CannaCon as an opportunity to shed positive light on the connection between Black people and cannabis, and create a new narrative that empowers Black people to succeed in this thriving billion-dollar industry.
Get into Black CannaCon
The conference will feature a floor full of brand booths, seminars, and speakers like Jesce Horton of LOWD; Al Harrington from Viola; Dr. Chanda Macias of Ilera Holistic Healthcare, and many more pivotal Black figures in cannabis.
In addition to the convention and seminars, there is also a Hot Box pitch competition, presented by the Minority Cannabis Business Association.
It has a $5,000 grand prize for the winner that also includes a trip to Massachusetts, a tour of NETA dispensaries, cultivation, and processing facilities. The winner gets a bag of startup cash and a tour of the plant-touching business to get some real deal, in-person experience on how the cannabis game works.
Black CannaCon is already off to a compelling start and it hasn’t even started yet. Tickets are on sale until Thursday, November 18.