MJBizCon: Still No THC, Still Alcohol Sales

The biggest cannabis business convention happened in November, and it gave us some great insights into the current trends in the world of weed. It also emphasized where there is still some funky discombobulation in cannabis laws. Once again at 2022’s MJBizcon, there was still no THC on the floor, while alcohol was still openly sold.

Why it matters – reason #1 – it’s literally a convention for weed

There are three main reasons why it matters that MJBizCon didn’t allow THC, but did allow alcohol. The first is basic logic. What’s the point of going to a convention, where you can’t sample real products? And therefore, what’s the point of being an exhibitor, if you can’t really get consumers, or potential business partners, to really know what you’re making. This doesn’t apply to every company, or every part of the industry, but it applies to many.

This is a business convention that revolves around making consumer products in some form, and as a business that revolves around THC, not having that main ingredient, means making it difficult for a lot of companies.

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Can you imagine going to a wine festival, or a whiskey festival, or a cheese festival, and being told that you couldn’t try any of the respective products. Imagine a wine festival with fake wine, or a cheese festival where you could eat the product, but without that specific ingredient. Whether you’re a consumer, or looking to make business connections, not getting a good idea of a product, stymies the entire process.

Functionally, as a convention about weed, in a state where weed is legal for recreational use, it becomes absurd that actual weed products, couldn’t be sampled or sold. As in, the entire purpose for many people to be there, was hindered by not getting a good idea of what the specific offering was. And that also meant ruling out a lot of companies from even showing, as not being able to preview their actual products, would make attending such a convention unnecessary.

Plenty of what was there didn’t technically need weed. Apparatus for mass growing or packaging, branding companies, insurance… But even those selling rolling papers or vapes had no way for their specific products to be tested, and therefore separated in any way from everything on either side. Realistically, when having a convention for something, its best to have that something there. In places without legalization measures its more understandable when this doesn’t happen, but in Las Vegas…?

Cannabis convention with no THC

Why it matters – reason #2 – it means weed is treated as more dangerous than alcohol

Maybe the bigger reason it matters that MJBizCon said no to THC, and yes to alcohol, is simply in the comparison it makes to a much more dangerous drug; which was openly sold and used, when weed products couldn’t be. Yup, I’m talking about alcohol. According to the CDC, in the US alone, alcohol kills about 140,000 people a year, while also being said to take as many as 26 years off a person’s life. While most of these deaths are not direct, they still make alcohol the #2 death-toll drug behind smoking.

Considering there is no death toll associated with cannabis, its odd that cannabis regulation often makes it harder to get to, than it is to get to the much more deadly alcohol. While real cannabis (and anything related to THC) was not allowed on the floor of MJBizCon, alcohol was openly sold and drank, sometimes right next to stalls where cannabis products were swapped out for fake plant material.

And while so much of the business industry focused on packaging (specifically child-proof packaging), a can or bottle of beer is still just as easy to open as a can of soda, and high proof alcohol requires nothing more than twisting a cap.

If you didn’t know better, and you saw this scene, you’d probably think cannabis actually is dangerous. And certainly way more dangerous than alcohol. In a scenario like this, without knowing more, it would appear that cannabis proposes incredible danger, while alcohol does not. Let’s remember, no one lives at that convention center, and everyone had to drive in if they didn’t get a ride, meaning plenty of people having drinks and driving back out. Seems like the convention organizers, and the state in general, were fine with that, but not with a person smoking a joint.

No THC, yes alcohol
No THC, yes alcohol

Why it matters – reason #3 – it means inconsistency and misunderstanding in cannabis regulation

Let’s be honest, I complained about this last year. This problem has existed for as long as the legal weed industry has been around. And pretty much every place with a legalization, follows these same crazy guidelines, wherein cannabis use must follow weirdly strict regulation, whereas alcohol, doesn’t. From where its sold, to who can use it, to where its legal to use. All these favor alcohol consumption over cannabis consumption, yet alcohol has only medical detractions, while cannabis is also used as a medicine.

That’s right, it’s not just that its consistently shown to be way less dangerous than alcohol for recreational use (like, not even in the same category), but it also helms a massive and growing world of medical use. People depend on it to live. We have study after study talking of the benefits for both medical issues, and general health, and yet its still easier to buy and use alcohol.

How long does it take for logic to set in? Why haven’t these laws been updated at all in a place like Nevada that has recreational use? And for that matter, how is it still federally illegal, while alcohol is one of the most ubiquitous drugs around? How can we ever expect this industry to function better, when we can’t even get regulators to regulate the industry honestly? It’s been years since many states passed measures, yet this inconsistency in regulation, never seems to go away. And when the biggest business convention, MJBizCon, says no to THC, while allowing alcohol, we know there really is a problem.

Why it REALLY matters at MJBizCon

This harks back to the first reason, but its an incredibly important point to make. MJBizCon is for the promotion of the weed industry, and all the businesses therein. It’s not a school, or a playground, or a bingo game. It’s a convention set up by industry insiders to help empower those in the industry by setting up a way for them to make new connections, and learn more about the industry.

In that sense, MJBizCon comes to represent the industry. And it’s not put on by parent groups, or teachers, or politicians. It’s put on by a weed-centered publication, and weed-centered businesses. Which makes me wonder how these proponents of weed, are okay with having this scenario. Why didn’t it come up as a major point of conversation?

Why didn’t we all sign a petition to get things to change? Why are we so complacent with having logic ignored in the face of nonsensical federal law? Am I the only person it occurs to that this inconsistency, when not focused on and fixed, just leads to more future inconsistencies?

Inconsistent cannabis regulation
Inconsistent cannabis regulation

It’s important for those within the industry, to stand up for it appropriately. That this issue has never been brought up at the convention, is sad to me. That there seems to still be a misunderstanding about these dangers in government regulation and statements, is sad to me. It means organizers are more interested in making a buck off alcohol sales, than working to make sure the public at their events is understanding of the regulation issue.

As long as nonsensical laws aren’t challenged, it means they’ll just continue on. Weed prices might have gone down in some places despite ridiculously high taxes, but that has more to do with overproduction driving down prices, than a realization that such heavy taxation, particularly sin taxes, make the industry less appealing than the black market. In the case of alcohol vs weed, we already have plenty showing us the danger of one, and the benefits of the other, yet the lack of consistent regulation, is constantly ignored, even though it too, hurts the industry.


MJBizCon was a great time, but it still represents through its barring of THC and allowance of alcohol sales, that the weed industry is very unevenly regulated, especially compared to the alcohol industry. Will this ever change in the future? We’ll have to wait and see.

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Alcohol Yes, THC No? MJBizCon Highlights Inconsistent Cannabis Regulation

Yup, you read that correctly, at this year’s largest cannabis event, MJBizCon, the alcohol was flowing for guests and operators, but no THC was allowed on the floor. Why would this be the case? And at a weed convention specifically? Alcohol, but no THC at MJBizCon highlights the inconsistent nature of cannabis regulation, and how THC is still being treated as more dangerous than alcohol.

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What happened?

This year’s MJBizCon took place from October 20-22, 2021 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Nevada. The convention area was filled with all kinds of cannabis operators from product vendors, to extraction equipment producers, to insurance providers, and so on. Samples were being given out all around, some even containing CBD, but what should have been the main star of the show, especially in a legalized state, wasn’t there.

According to its rules, MJBizCon, the biggest cannabis convention in the US, did not allow vendors to give samples containing THC. While this might have been okay, and actually a decent measure to keep people from getting as stoned while conducting business (alright, let’s be honest, everyone was just smoking up right outside the doors anyway), it did come with an interesting and opposing factor.

Alcohol was being openly sold on the convention floor, while no THC was allowed. Perhaps if it hadn’t been a cannabis convention, this inconsistent cannabis regulation might have been overlooked, but that’s exactly where we were. A convention set-up and designed for cannabis-related products and businesses, and those businesses were not even allowed to give samples of any products containing THC, while alcohol was being sold right next to them.


Does it have to do with the fact that the THC would have been given out and not bought? Does it have to do with the fact that the alcohol wasn’t a sample, but paid for? Was there a thought that an under-ager might access THC if provisions weren’t in place for vendors to check IDs (even though it was an adults-only event)? What exactly was the reason that at MJBizCon, THC was treated like a scary uncle who shouldn’t be invited, and alcohol got a free pass in?

Why was there no THC?

To start with, why was there no THC? One would think that one of the main benefits to holding a convention such as this in a legalized state would be the ability for a full range of products to be on display, and given as samples. After all, when going to a wine tasting, it’s not standard policy to not serve alcohol (and certainly not to deny this while allowing people to toke on joints next to booths with fake wine). If this were happening in Indiana, no THC would make sense, but this is Vegas, the city where anything goes, and a city in Nevada, which legalized the recreational use of cannabis in 2016, starting a market in 2017.

According to MJBizCon itself, the decision to not allow THC had to do with an agreement made between MJBizCon and the Convention Center where the event was hosted. The official language used states that “in accordance with the professional nature of the event, the use, distribution or sale of any products containing THC is strictly prohibited at the event, in the exhibit hall, conference sessions, or any other function space where the event is conducted. Any individual who possesses, transports or consumes any THC-based products is solely responsible for his/her compliance with local and state regulations.”

There’s something I find interesting about this statement. It cites the professional nature of the event as a reason not to have THC. This is funny because it’s a professional event concerning cannabis, which makes THC an actually necessary component. It also makes the designation, therefore, that while THC would be unprofessional, alcohol, is not. The more important factor, however, is that it mentioned compliance with state and local laws.

So, if someone was caught illegally dispensing THC at the convention, does that mean that they’d have to answer to Nevada state law about the use of cannabis? And does Nevada state law actually state that cannabis is more dangerous than alcohol?

Nevada cannabis law

As stated, Nevada passed its recreational cannabis bill on November 17th, 2017, which came through ballot measure Question 2 on the 2016 ballot. This opened an adult-use market for those 21 and above, and put in place a set of regulations for how cannabis can be used. These regulations include many things, from how a dispensary can sell its products, to taxation, to how cannabis can be used by the masses. And its here that a couple provisions come up, that back-up why MJBizCon really couldn’t legally allow THC.

cannabis Nevada

For one, according to Nevada cannabis law, it’s illegal to consume cannabis outside a private residence. Since the Convention Center is not a private residence, it technically does not fit the requirement of where a person can legally use cannabis. Though this last stipulation is true of Nevada in general, Las Vegas did, in fact, legalize the use of cannabis for public consumption in ‘social use’ venues, as a part of Assembly Bill No. 341. I can’t say whether the law technically has gone into effect yet, but it’s certainly due to.

However, even this wouldn’t make it automatically okay to smoke up in the Convention Center. In order for a location to be legal for public consumption, the establishment must apply for and receive an on-site consumption license. Even if the new law is in effect, it could not be expected that this was already done. Without such a license, smoking cannabis publicly in Nevada can incur a misdemeanor penalty of $600. In this way, the Convention Center indeed had no legal right to allow THC consumption on the property during the convention.

Yes alcohol, no THC, isn’t this inconsistent for cannabis regulation?

So, now the question becomes, how is it that Nevada legally defines it as okay to drink alcohol in public, but not okay to ingest cannabis in the same public places? Nevada has no issue allowing alcohol anywhere, and it can be found in any place a bar can be set up, or any place a shelf can be put in place to hold bottles. This inconsistent cannabis regulation standard implies that alcohol is somehow okay – or less dangerous, and that THC is not okay, and more dangerous.

To be clear. No matter how many government smear campaigns there are, this will never be the case. While cannabis has no actual death toll related to it (save for cases where other ingredients were added for whatever purpose which made users sick), alcohol has one of the biggest death tolls worldwide.

Not only have studies come out showing absolutely no safe level of alcohol (and this in contrast to cannabis which has a wide-ranging medical market), but alcohol was found to be the 7th leading risk factor world-wide in 2016 for the disability-adjusted life year (DALY), a metric which measures the overall burden of disease in reference to numbers of years lost because of sickness, disability, and death.

Further to this, in the age group 15-49, alcohol was the primary risk factor for 2016 for death and disability. And further to this, according to the NIH, about 95,000 deaths a year are attributable to alcohol-related causes in the US. In the year 2014 alone, drunk-driving related deaths reached 9,967 in the US, which accounted for an entire 31% of all deaths related to driving for the year. 3.3 million deaths were attributed to alcohol globally in 2012. As of 2019, it was established that approximately 14.1 million adults in the US have a drinking problem, and nearly half a million children aged 12-17 do as well.

cannabis vs alcohol

In terms of damage, since the most that can be said for cannabis is that it might impair driving, and since no death count is related to it, and since it is widely used as a medicine whereas alcohol has never been found to have medical value, the comparison between them is almost ridiculous. And this begs the question, why is cannabis being more harshly regulated than alcohol?


Unfortunately, I can’t offer any answer to these questions. MJBizCon was legally correct in not allowing THC during the event, but the regulation measure they were forced to abide by highlights the inconsistent nature of cannabis regulation, especially when compared to alcohol. Hopefully, this crazy discrepancy will be noticed by more people, and hopefully with time, more logical regulations can be set. For now, we’re in a world where you can go to a convention specifically for cannabis, and yet not be able to access it, while a much more damaging substance is on-sale in the very same place.

At the moment, we’ll just have to deal with these legal and logical inconsistencies, and be glad that at least the laws of prohibition are changing, even if it takes time to really get it right.

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