The Hemp and CBD Expo Birmingham: 2019 Review
If you’re unsure about the future of cannabis, welcome to the club. This journey has already been a long and unpredictable one. On my side of things, I’ve been prioritising my time to the American cannabis market. We’ve seen massive changes happening across the sea, from cannabis legalisation to CBD shop raids — we’re never short of news. Where the European market is considered, it’s evident that we still have a lot to learn. The Hemp & CBD Expo allowed me to peak into things to come.
It was a fantastic opportunity to travel to the U.K for this. Truthfully, the European market is in its adolescent stages with cannabis. I like to compare it to the awkward age of 17; not yet legal to do anything, but pushing boundaries nonetheless. In other words, we still have a while to go to match the monster in the U.S.A.
I spent the 14th of September at the Hemp & CBD Expo and relished in my time among the experts. It was held at the NEC Birmingham U.K. Given the size of the venue, it promised to be brimming with wide eyed entrepreneurs. Right now, CBD companies truly feel like they are on the on the edge of something huge — and visitors are happy to be in the middle of it.
The Hemp & CBD expo had every CBD product you could think of: CBD oil, bath bombs, makeup, hundreds of different CBD vape juices and pens, pain management products, hemp clothes, manufacturers, CBD edibles and, to everyone’s surprise, half naked women and a bear.
The Do’s and Don’ts of Dabbing: Lit Element
I travelled to Birmingham with my colleagues who were representing their own brand, online UK CBD shop, Bloom Botanics. After running a few laps and determining who stood out among the crowd, we were first drawn to the Lit Element stall. Their advertising naturally pulls you in. Think comics, psychedelic mind control, the 1930s, and aliens combined together, because that sums it up in my head.
An enthusiastic man from Miami successfully tempted us to start our day with CBD dabbing — a form of CBD that comes in crystals or wax — which intimidated me. The word ‘crystal’ screams of its high potency.
CBD dabbing is not for the faint-hearted. After one hit, it left me coughing for an hour, gasping for air — and a chair. For the very first hour of the Hemp & CBD expo I was nursing a lemon and ginger tea, too relaxed to even begin reporting. My advice: don’t try dabbing if you have obligations throughout the day.
When it’s done right — and you know what to expect — patients can benefit hugely from CBD dabbing techniques. It delivers the medicinal effects of cannabidiol almost immediately, a saving grace for people suffering from chronic pain or anxiety.
A Cannabis Lounge: Exhale Harm Reduction Centre
Still unable to find the energy to talk to people, I pulled up a seat at the main stage — a great moment to improve your listening skills. Mr. Michael Fischer was taking to the stage just as I sat down. He was a last minute key speaker, so I had no prior knowledge of where this speech may go. As the founder and director of Teesside Cannabis Club, Fischer had no hold-backs.
To everyone’s amazement, the organisation is much like the cannabis clubs you may find in Spain. Fischer has created a safe space for people to come to use cannabis. Too often we see people on on the street smoking cannabis which can lead to more damage than it’s worth. The lounge is also supported by the Police, making it certifiably safe.
As described on Teesside Cannabis Club website: “Established in 2014 we have been working closely with Police, MPs and policymakers to put us in the unique position we are today. We are proud to introduce our flagship Harm Reduction Centre in Stockton-on-Tees.”
I didn’t quite understand how this could be possible. Cannabis is illegal for recreational use within the U.K, so hearing about a cannabis club caught my attention. It was even more intriguing to find out that the cannabis club is supported and protected by the authorities. I asked Mr. Fisher how he avoids his lounge from being raided. Turns out, if it were a thing that the Police showed up, it’d be more on the lines of a friendly inspection rather than a raid.
Advertising Amateur Hour: Ignite (Ignited Kingdom)
I don’t hold Dan Bilzerian in high regard, and neither do I approve of his cannabis brand, Ignite. To market to the U.K, they’ve oh-so-cleverly re-branded the name to suit. The idea of moulding the name into “Ignited Kingdom” has extended the brands reach in terms of marketing strategies. However cunning the name, it’s their campaign approach that doesn’t sit right in the world of CBD.
The Ignite stall sat like a sore thumb at the Hemp & CBD expo. It appeals more to a boys club rather than expanding to both genders. The Ignited Kingdom campaign showed half-naked women lounging in a pool, or walking up the stairs…with barely any CBD product in shot. Of course, when clad women are paraded in front of an (mostly male dominated) audience at an expo, people aren’t really looking at the product. Rather, the product is the woman.
Sex sells — it’s a harsh and unwelcoming truth — but does it belong in the cannabis community? We’re trying hard to move away from old ways of advertising using hyper-sexualisation. To see a health and wellness brand using half-naked women to sell a product that doesn’t need to be sexualised was out of place. In a space where we’re drifting away from the stereotypical lad stoner, using sex to promote a brand new market could send us back a decade.
Because the cannabis market is so new, I’m shocked to see companies still depending on sex as a marketing tool. Women are the fasting growing category of cannabis consumers, so know your audience.
I want to know what the idea is with this type of advertising? If you use their CBD products, will girls spontaneously appear on your lukewarm lap (I mean, for 80 euro, you’d almost hope so!)? It’s an outdated way of thinking, and only appeals to a certain group of people.