On November 18, NoCo Hemp Expo organizers announced that the eighth annual hemp-industry event would take place at the Crowne Plaza Denver Convention Center from Wednesday, March 23, to Friday, March 25, 2022.
The expo will return to the Crowne Plaza for the first time in three years. After attendance increased in 2018 and 2019, organizers planned to move it to the National Western Complex for 2020. The event was forced to go virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic that year, though, while the 2021 expo was eventually held at the National Western earlier this year. However, lead organizer Morris Beegle expects smaller attendance and more of a business-to-business atmosphere in 2022.
"With the Crowne Plaze, the hotel and event center are all under one roof, and we're not going after 20,000 people anymore. We were in 2020, when things were still rocking, but COVID impacted the industry, a CBD oversupply hit, and the FDA isn't doing their job by regulating CBD products yet," Beegle says. "All of that has impacted hemp, including the fiber and grain side."
The three-day conference will still include hundreds of vendors and a series of discussions, keynote speakers and presentations, Beegle explains, and portions of the expo will be dedicated to other health foods, such as non-intoxicating mushrooms, and alternative building materials. Delta-8 THC, an intoxicating form of THC that can be derived from hemp and currently exists in a legal gray area around the country, will also be a topic of discussion.
"We want to get the industry back together with this expo. We want to get out of this COVID funk and get the industry back on track again. It'll be a more focused B2B show," Morris adds.
Governor Jared Polis, a speaker at the expo in previous years, has been asked to appear again, Beegle says, as have several other state policymakers.
Despite a few recent bumps in the road, Beegle says that hemp is still very much a growing industry, and he has high hopes for North American hemp. With Canada and the United States both legalizing industrial hemp production and Mexico not far behind, he believes a continental supply chain is on the horizon — so much so that he's planning a hemp and cannabis expo in Mexico City later this year.
"Between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, over the course of the next five to ten years, you'll see the hemp supply chain fill out and become more robust," he says. "They're really interested in it down in Mexico, and I think they could do really well with industrial hemp."
General admission tickets to the 2022 NoCo Hemp Expo will go on sale within the next few weeks. Vendor and speaker registration is still open.