Angela Grelle: The Future of Cannabis Trade Shows

Angela Grelle is the VP of Marketing for CannaCon, one of the country’s largest, oldest, and most successful cannabis trade shows.

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CannaCon was among the first events to step forward and provide a space for cannabis entrepreneurs, professionals, enthusiasts, and investors to come together to network, learn about, and celebrate the cannabis industry. We recently invited Angela for an interview to discuss CannaCon, the event’s continued journey into recently legalized markets, and more. Check out the full interview below!


Ganjapreneur: CannaCon is one of the few cannabis industry events that has existed since the days before adult-use legalization. How has the event evolved over the years?

Angela Grelle: CannaCon has evolved a lot over the years along with the industry. I think the biggest change has come from moving into new and emerging markets where we feel we can do the most good to help connect the ancillary businesses that exhibit at CannaCon with the new farms, processors, and retail store owners. It has also been very interesting to see how many more businesses are exhibiting with us that come from outside the cannabis industry, we have had everyone from Sprint to ADT security, I think that really helps to mainstream the industry.

What is your personal background with cannabis? What did you do before your work with CannaCon?

I am going to age myself a bit here, I started smoking way back in the early ’80s and have always been a proponent of legalization. I have grown children now who suffer from Crohn’s disease who swear by cannabis to relieve the pain and nausea the disease causes. Before I came to work for CannaCon I worked for Zales the jewelry store and as a realtor selling and flipping houses so this job was a huge career change for me.

How many people make up the staff of CannaCon? Does the home team in Washington plan and execute the events around the country or hire local staff?

We are a pretty small family run business, we have seven full-time and two part-time employees and six of us out of that nine are related. There are four of us that travel to all of the locations to execute the events. We use staffing services for registration and security but we are very hands-on. You will always be able to find someone on site from CannaCon.

What is CannaCon’s driving philosophy? Who is the event for?

CannaCon’s driving philosophy is simple: we want to help grow the industry, we want to see everyone succeed in their business and by doing that show everyone that the business of cannabis is here to stay. Our event is focused on providing connections with our exhibitors and the growers, processors and retail store owners as well as bring in investors who are looking at cannabis as an investment opportunity. We are however open to everyone. We love seeing people from outside of the industry walk through the expo floor and be blown away by what our exhibitors are doing.

As legalization has played out in the ballot box and government committees, diverse markets have developed. With varying interests and needs in each state, how do you cater to regional businesses & regulations with event programming?

One of the main things we try to do in each new market is connecting with the local community and ask questions, that helps us determine what they need. When a market is brand new we focus on the basics, tax laws, genetics, lighting, packaging, etc. as the market matures we find there is more interest in things like SEO, marketing, etc.

How do you determine which speakers to invite? What have been some of the most popular topics of focus in speaking sessions?

We try to choose speakers who are experts in their field. We have topics ranging from genetics to accounting, so from choosing the right seed to doing your taxes, there is something for everyone to learn. Some of the most popular topics have been licensing and legislation. I always try to get someone from the local licensing agency to come in and answer questions and that seminar room is always full.

What types of businesses should exhibit at CannaCon?

We like to say you can find everything you need for your business from seed to sale. From soil, seeds, and lighting companies, to extraction, packaging, accountants, and software if you have something a grower, processor, or retail store needs you should be exhibiting at CannaCon. Having the opportunity to talk to thousands of people face to face is invaluable when it comes to marketing your brand.

How did CannaCon decide which cities to bring the convention to after branching out from Washington state?

We have been following the market, we watch for what states are legalizing and go there, that is where we feel we are the most beneficial.

What’s next for CannaCon? Does the convention have plans to expand internationally?

For now, CannaCon plans to continue to grow with the US market, we are looking at what states we think will legalize in 2020 and 2021 and making plans to grow in those areas.

What advice do you have for someone looking to host or throw a cannabis event?

I think the best advice I can give someone hosting a cannabis event is to know that no matter how much you plan ahead you will have some hiccups so you just have to smile and make it work. We have had floor plans change last minute, fire marshals come in the day of wanting extra fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors, speakers who got snowed in at their airports and couldn’t make it. Things like this will happen so it’s important to be able to stay calm and work things out.


Thanks, Angela, for taking the time from your busy events schedule to talk to us! Visit CannaCon.org to learn more about their latest and upcoming events.

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