Cannabis industry experts from around the world gathered in Montego Bay, Jamaica, last week for the fourth installment of CanEx, a business conference and expo initially founded in 2016. More than 60 speakers from over 30 countries gathered to provide the hundreds of attendees with insights into the fast-growing, global cannabis industry and its current course.
Notable cannabis industry leaders in attendance included Steve DeAngelo, famed activist and founder of Harborside Inc. in Oakland; Bruce Linton, founder of Canopy Growth Corp; and Robert Hoban, president and founder of Hoban Law cannabis firm.
“We are delighted that we were able to attract and host delegates from so many different countries," Douglas K. Gordon, organizer of the event, told Civilized. "Our keynotes were brilliant and we are also incredibly pleased at the caliber of discussion that emanated from our panels and workshops."
CanEx Jamaica has always emphasized valuable content and networking, he noted.
This year’s agenda was very diverse, featuring activists, financial experts, cannabis media reporters, scientists, and entrepreneurs.
The first day started with keynotes from Gordon, Montego Bay Mayor Homer Davis; Minister Saboto S. Caesar to represent St. Vincent and the Grenadines; and, of course, a blessing from Edward Wray, from the Rastafari Indigenous Village.
The opening panel, “The Global Cannabis Movement,” served as an introduction to both the global and local standing grounds of the cannabis industry.
“It’s important for everyone in (or seeking to enter) the cannabis industry to remember they are also part of a community and movement," panel moderator Javier Hasse told Civilized. "This means we all have a responsibility to build mindful businesses that give back to the world, and especially to those most impacted by decades of prohibition. There is no industry without a movement to support it; there is no movement without an industry to back it. That was the focus of the opening panel.”
Later that same day, Cam Battley, chief corporate officer of Aurora Cannabis, delivered his own keynote on global affairs; Robert Hoban and a group of experts discussed innovation, compliance, and standards for an ethical industry; LA Weekly journalist and attorney Michael Miller led a conversation on strategic options for financing; and MJ Biz Daily’s Chris Walsh hosted a chat on hurdles and solutions for the cannabis industry.
Same as every other night of the four-day meet-up, the day topped off with a cannabis themed party, which, as any conference attendee knows, is fundamental to a fully productive (networking) event.
We woke up Friday, excited about another day full of impactful keynotes, including one discussion led by Steve DeAngelo on restorative justice and expungement programs, like the Last Prisoner Project, as well as a fireside chat with Bruce Linton, who detailed his trials and tribulations working in cannabis.
“I will start another company, I'm pretty sure that I will do that, but it’s gotta be something serious that I’m in the deep end on,” Linton said, explaining that, no matter how hard he had tried to avoid getting back into cannabis, a dive into climate change related ventures brought him right back to CBD.
“If you’re producing pork in Denmark, I’ve got bad news. [Due to climate change], heat is going to be much hotter, and that stresses out your pigs,” he said. It was the quest to calm these pigs down to get them to eat again that brought him right back to CBD, he declared.
The day finished with panels on female leadership in cannabis, raising money, and sports and CBD.
In the evening, speakers and attendees re-gathered for Eyes Wide Shut, an all-white masquerade party that took place at the Rose Hall estate, a mansion that is said to be haunted by ghosts.
Saturday was a workshop day, focused on education, with sessions on cannabis medicine, investment, and cultivation.
The Gossip and Tips for Next Year
Even though everyone looked stunning in the haze of colorless garments and weed smoke that was the all-white party, former NBA star and cannabis entrepreneur John Salley took the gold. A two-piece white suit on a white shirt, topped by a rose in his front pocket, were the most eye-catching sight of the evening.
If you’re coming back for Canex Jamaica 2020, make sure to set some time aside to visit other parts of Jamaica; you don’t even have to go far. Coral Cove in Homer’s bay is an absolutely fantastic, cannabis-infused all-inclusive experience. Also, try to visit Banana Shout in Negril, which is as laidback and beautiful as it gets. Finally, for a chill, cannabis-friendly experience, check out HotBox Jamaica, a hostel-style pace by the beach owned by Canadian Abi Roach.