This week's MN Hemp Conference & Expo was an amazing event highlighting a growing and thriving industry. Taking place in St. Cloud, it was a packed day featuring a bevy of industry experts, an expo area showcasing the many businesses in and supporting hemp, and great opportunities to network with people from every corner of Minnesota and beyond.
Previously hosted by the MN Department of Agriculture, the event was run this year by the Minnesota Hemp Association, an organization supporting and advocating for those working in the hemp industry. The team at Blunt Strategies has been working with MHA since it was formed earlier this year and we were proud to play an instrumental role in planning and executing the conference.
Some highlights from the day: #1 The room was electric. It's one thing to objectively know that the hemp industry is growing quickly and with a lot of excitement. It's another to be in a room of 500+ people and feel the energy of everyone who was able to take a day away from their jobs and lives to come learn together.
#2 People are ready and willing to dig into the tough questions. As anyone working in the hemp/cannabusiness space knows, there's plenty of gray area when it comes to the rules and regulations governing the growth, cultivation, distribution, selling, marketing, etc. of any part of the cannabis plant. Harold and Riley with AURI started the day with a great overview of the hemp value chain and later in the morning was a stakeholder panel discussing the USDA and MN rules and rule making. The panel included the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Public Safety, Blunt Strategies' Leili Fatehi, and two business owners. Although there may not be easy and clear resolution, there was lively audience participation and good questions that will help inform the Department's next steps.
#3 Smart businesses want to get smarter. According to the Department of Agriculture, there were 540 license holders in the 2019 hemp program -- a big jump from the 38 participants just two years prior. That's a lot of business growth! Many of the breakout sessions dug into the nuts and bolts of building a successful business, including topics like key services hemp companies need (banking, insurance, testing), compliance with labeling and manufacturing best practices, growing new varieties of hemp, raising capital, finding buyers, etc.
Blunt Strategies led a breakout session on effectively marketing in this space and there were great questions about effectively using everything from traditional to social to sophisticated digital media to attract and convert customers.
#4 There's more to learn. The biggest highlight for the team at Blunt was the excitement to keep growing and learning together. There's a unique collaborative spirit in the hemp space and it's been fun to be part of the momentum. We're sure 2020's hemp conference will be even better!