LAS VEGAS — More than 35,000 attendees explored more than 1,300 booths during Marijuana Business Daily’s eighth annual MJBizCon expo in Las Vegas in December. While much of the attention was on marijuana products and services, extensive growth in hemp and CBD products in the past year meant there were ample booths and products focused on the nonintoxicating aspects of the cannabis plant.
Here are four CBD and hemp trends and takeaways from the event …
1. Beverages are big
Nielsen recently reported that hemp and CBD-infused beverages are already playing a big role in convenience retail, representing 13% of the total hemp/CBD category in convenience. The New York-based data company predicts beverages will ultimately account for as much as 28% of the hemp and CBD category overall.
Manufacturers at MJBizCon clearly agree, offering a slew of teas, waters, coffees, juices and alcohol-free “cocktails” infused with CBD, THC or both on display and available to sample. Booth personnel touted advancements in technology that have allowed for cannabis to be added to beverages without a “hemp-y” aftertaste.
2. Merchandising solutions get ‘smart’
One of the greatest challenges for convenience retailers entering the CBD space has been merchandising (given theft and age-verification concerns) and education.
While there were numerous solutions on the show floor, one intriguing option leveraged technology to solve a slew of challenges. A vending machine allows customers to unlock the door by inserting a credit card, with the option for retailers to also require age verification to unlock. When a customer pulls out a given product, the screen shows the price and provides product information videos. If the customer puts the product back on the shelf, the charge is removed from their cart total. If the customer wants to buy the product, their card is charged right there at the machine. This particular model even offered an interactive Q&A in which the customer could ask a number of frequent questions about CBD and hemp.
3. Going beyond CBD
In recreational cannabis dispensaries, products are increasingly being labeled with not just the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, and CBD, but other cannabinoids as well. With a list of alleged health benefits that include stimulating bone growth, stimulating brain cells, stimulating appetite, sedative, anti-seizure and anti-inflammatory, CBG (cannabigerol) is being dubbed “the holy grail” of cannabinoids by some. It is starting to garner a lot of attention at dispensaries, and it did so on the MJBizCon expo floor. One booth showcased cannabis plants that boast 18% CBG and 0% THC, meaning products made from the plants would be legal for convenience to sell as well.
4. Going beyond cannabinoids
In addition to labeling other cannabinoids, dispensaries have also begun to label the terpenes in a given product. These scented molecules are responsible for the taste and aroma of both marijuana and hemp. Interest in terpenes has gotten so big that several booths were dedicated to isolated terpene tinctures, offering attendees the chance to smell the various options. While most of these products were aimed at product manufacturers looking to add taste and aroma to products such as vaping cartridges, terpenes can also be used like essential oils in diffusers or as a supplement. And because they’re 100% THC, terpenes are also a legal (albeit niche) option for convenience retailers.