The first Cannabis Products Exchange event took many forms before its virtual debut July 30-31, but as cannabis professionals know, adaptability is the key to success in this ever-changing industry.

Originally set for April 21-22 at the Hilton Denver City Center, the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the in-person event to July. Then organizers planned a hybrid event that would allow some to attend in person and others to tune in from home. It became fully virtual in June.

“Needless to say we’ve had to pivot quite a bit with this inaugural Cannabis Products Exchange,” Michael Leonard, publisher of Cannabis Products Magazine, said at the start of the first day of sessions. “That doesn’t mean, however, that the concept of Cannabis Products Exchange has changed. We remain totally dedicated to that intersection of food and beverage and cannabis, and this event in particular is designed to help further that cause.”

Leonard said he’s heard the personal stories of developers and consumers and their association with cannabis-infused food and beverages. He also pointed to four of his family members who use medical cannabis to alleviate a variety of symptoms.

“My family and others have extraordinary success with this,” he says. “They all would tell you it helps mitigate their pain and improves their lives significantly. But they all have one thing in common, despite their different needs, is that each and every one of them prefers edibles or drinkables.”

Leonard says they all seek “the sweet spot” in edible products, which is a balance between dose, length of impact, transparency, good taste and safety. Eight virtual presentations, hosted across two days, covered all of those aspects, from product development and use of ingredients to branding, food safety and legal insights.

Eric Schnell, founder of Beyond Brands and co-founder of mood33, kicked off the event with his keynote presentation. He discussed challenges the hemp-infused tea brand faced as it first launched as a THC beverage and shifted to CBD not long after its founding.

Mike Hennesy, director of innovation at Wana Brands, presented the second keynote. While offering a roadmap for developing a cannabis-infused food or beverage, he emphasized cannabis oil isn’t just a typical ingredient — it requires much more thought, planning and consideration for the consumer.

Cannabis Products Exchange’s other speakers and their presentations included:

  • Pete Feurtado Jr., CEO of Big Pete’s Treats, “Strategies for Success in the Cannabis Industry”
  • Carl Edstrom, Sr. Vice President & Principal, Survey Solutions, IRI; and Jessica Lukas, Sr. Vice President, Commerical Development, BDSA, “The Cannabis Opportunity: Understanding Consumer Need States and Preferences”
  • Matthew Anderson, CEO, Vanguard Scientific Systems
  • Tom Newmaster, partner, FORCEpkg, “What Can Be Carried Over from Traditional CPD to Cannabis?”
  • Lezli Engelking, founder, FOCUS: The International Cannabis & Health & Safety Organization, “Creating Unified Cannabis Food & Beverage Food Safety Production Protocols”
  • Steven Schain, Esq., senior attorney, Hoban Law Group; and Justin J. Prochnow, shareholder, Greenburg, Traurig, LLP; “Legal Insights into the Cannabis Edibles & Beverage Industry”

The ViViD Team also offered a virtual tour of its new Epi-Center facility, based in Denver. A one-stop shop for all aspects of the product development process, its mission is to offer a high level of professional expertise and resources to the cannabis industry. In addition to partnering with production plant design firm E. A. Bonelli, the group is collaborating with Gold Coast Ingredients, Inc. and IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group to offer a breadth of services.

Sponsors for Cannabis Products Exchange included Unibloc Pump and The ViViD Team. Exhibitors included AFCO; Brother Mobile Solutions; Bundy Baking Solutions; Dennis Group; ESHA Research; Flavor Dynamics, Inc.; Hansen-Rice, Inc.; Klikok LLC, A Syntegon Company; Rytec High Performance Doors; SōRSE Technology; Sweegen; The Vivid Team; Unibloc Pump, Inc.; and Yamato.

Cannabis Products Magazine will provide more in-depth coverage of each session over the coming weeks. Viewers who missed the live broadcasts can register to view the recordings on demand through March 2021.

Cannabis Products Exchange 2021 is scheduled for April 27-28 in Denver.