As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc globally, many cannabis companies were forced to shift towards virtual platforms.
In some instances, canna-businesses were blindsided, scrambling to throw together a virtual event to compensate for their inability to carry on with in-person trade conferences, consumer and client education, staff training and product launches.
But even during a pandemic, cannabis entrepreneurs and organizations find a way. Whether to share ideas, conduct business or engage with clients and consumers, much of the cannabis industry is using Instagram, Zoom and conference-specific virtual platforms.
While many canna-businesses have successfully hosted virtual events, others have faced challenges.
Joe Hodas, the chief marketing officer for Colorado-based cannabis-infused products manufacturer Wana Brands, told Marijuana Business Magazine, “There is a distraction issue. The challenge is you’re on your desktop and you catch up on emails.”
However, even with this apparent drawback, virtual events are likely to become the new norm.
Several major cannabis events have switched to virtual in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most notably, the International Cannabis Business Conference, Virtual Global Cannabis Symposium. During this virtual event, speakers covered cannabis policy with entrepreneurs and policymakers from over 80 nations in attendance.
Event registration management platform EventLeaf reported that the Cannabis Labs/Food Labs Conference happened virtually in June during the COVID-19 pandemic. Social distancing protocols and their concerns for attendees’ safety resulted in this event being converted from a 2-day conference in Rockville, MD to a virtual event that featured a webcast spanning over four days. The new format still allowed a Q&A between the attendees and speakers, contributing to its success.
“We made the tough decision to pivot this program to a virtual event months ago once the COVID-19 crisis emerged. Now, we’re offering attendees free access to the virtual program,” Editor/Publisher of the event’s organizer, Cannabis Industry Journal, told International CBC. “There are a lot of similarities in the food testing and cannabis testing markets. By bringing the Cannabis Labs and Food Labs Conferences together in one space, we are providing attendees with information on regulatory compliance, best practices and technology to both industries, all from the comfort of their home or office.”
Other notable virtual events have already successfully happened amidst the pandemic. These include five virtual stages on one digital platform hosted by Prohibition Partners LIVE, NCIA’s Cannabis Caucus Series, Emerge Virtual Cannabis Conference & Expo and others.
Between the benefits of being able to experience these events in our own homes–sometimes thousands of miles away–the way these events bypass travel restrictions and promote safety ensure they’ll become commonplace long after the pandemic ends.