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When Cassandra Farrington decided to take on cannabis, she did so with one vision: lend the industry some business wings. Since helping Marijuana Business Daily take flight in 2010, Farrington has watched the platform – formed to help business professionals navigate the space – evolve to include one of the most popular business-to-business trade shows in the industry, the MJ Biz Conference. With popular events held in Las Vegas and New Orleans, the conference now has an international arm that calls Toronto home. We caught up with Farrington during her company’s first Canadian stop to discuss its recent successes, and the future of the MJ Biz Conference. 

How was MJ Business Daily conceived? 

There were about 10 or 12 medical states at the time and not a lot to work with. My partner and I have a business-to-business media background and we had a couple of other niche business strings going, where we told people who work in a niche-specific industry, ‘here’s what’s going on in the industry, here’s how you can run your company better,’ that sort of thing. And we brought that concept to cannabis.

What drew you to the space? 

Neither one of us came from a cannabis background. But we knew there were all these product people who really knew a lot about cannabis, but didn’t know a thing about business. We have a specific skillset in teaching people about business and industry, so it made sense for us to make the transition to cannabis.

How does Canada fit into the MJ Biz Conference?

Right now, we have three events in a calendar year – one in New Orleans that showcases the future of the industry; the international event in Toronto, which we consider the gathering point for the conversation about what’s happening on the international stage; and MJBizCon in Las Vegas, where that all comes together with tens of thousands of cannabis professionals from around the world to make a statement about what the industry is, and what we’re building together. 

Why did you choose Toronto as your international hub?

It is absolutely undeniable that Canada is the leading country on the international cannabis scene. For an international conference, Canada is the place that makes the most sense. And within Canada, Toronto was an obvious choice; it is a financial capital and hotbed of entrepreneurial development. 

What are the benefits of holding an almost-exclusively B2B event?

The price point [399-499] on the ticket precludes the casual observer and we’re well over expectations for attendees at this event. Everyone who attends is significantly invested in being here because they see it as an important element for their business. You’re not going to have people forking that over to walk out for free hand-outs. People who attend our events are looking for deal-flow, they’re looking for networking opportunities, and they’re looking for business partners. 

Will the conference continue to expand in future?

The industry is on full display at our events and I’d like to see that footprint grow. It is very difficult to be in this industry for very long and not let the very good reasons for legalizing this plant get under your skin – for the social justice and the patients. It’s important to get this done, and I’m very proud of what me and my team have done so far to make that happen.

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