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EXCLUSIVE: Lessons Learned At The Benzinga 2022 Psychedelics And Cannabis Capital Conferences

Benzinga, a large content provider to brokerages and news outlets, hosts live conferences to recognize disruptive innovation in finance and technology, trading, and emerging assets.

Two of those events – Benzinga’s Psychedelics and Cannabis Capital conferences – happened last week, in person at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.

In attendance were the likes of investors Kevin O’Leary and Tim Seymour, NBA player Lamar Odom, Tyson 2.0’s Mike Tyson and Ric Flair, among many more.

Here’s the scoop on what the event had to offer.

The Lessons Learned: Benzinga founder and CEO Jason Raznick, who just sold a majority stake in Benzinga to Beringer Capital, which he launched in his basement in 2010 and is backed by Dan Gilbert, kicked off the event with a keynote featuring Kevin O’Leary.

“This sector is medicine: FDA-approved, non-recreational use,” Benzinga’s Dustin Blitchok quoted O’Leary saying during a speech on psychedelics in mental health treatment.

O’Leary is a staunch proponent of the medicine and an early backer of MindMed Inc (NASDAQ: MNMD) which he thinks is a leader given the number of trials it is engaged in.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, ... [and] I think Big Pharma’s starting to look at it.”

Graphic: Benzinga CEO Jason Raznick, left, and "Shark Tank" judge Kevin O'Leary at the Benzinga Psychedelics Capital Conference Tuesday at the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach, Florida. Photo by Dez Smith.

Attendees also learned that the cannabis industry is ripe for an acceleration in consolidation as a result of cost and regulatory burdens, Benzinga’s Renato Leonard Capelj reported.

Cannabis companies “are buying to continue to grow,” Jushi Holdings Inc’s (OTC: JUSHF) Olivier Blechner said on the likelihood of the industry shrinking to a few dominant players.

“A preferred approach is to seek existing license holders with successful operations and, then, ‘try to roll them in,’” MariMed’s CFO Jon Levine said.

Surprise Afterparty: Each evening ended with a cocktail networking event.

Raznick, alongside Benzinga’s operations director Luke Jacobi, thought they could do better. In the days leading up to the end of the conferences, Benzinga worked diligently to secure Groot Hospitality’s LIV Nightclub, the premier after-hours attraction inside of the Fontainebleau.

The 18,000 square foot facility is often visited by celebrities of the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Calvin Harris, Deadmau5, Jay-Z and beyond. Billionaire entrepreneur, investor, and television personality Mark Cuban, who owns the Dallas Mavericks, was said to have spent hundreds of thousands at the club after a championship win.

“We weren’t sure it was going to happen but the speed at which Groot worked with us speaks to its commitment to unparalleled hospitality,” Raznick said. “Groot made our company look better.”

The Best Night Ever: Raznick kicked off the afterparty chatting up with Flair, Tyson, as well as rap artist, investor and entrepreneur Rick Ross who later sang live.

Tyson walked on stage and Raznick shouted: “Let’s hear it for Iron Mike!”

Tyson, Flair and Raznick then discussed Tyson 2.0, a premium cannabis line offering flowers, concentrates, beverages, pre-rolls, and edibles. The brand is partnered with Columbia Care Inc (OTC: CCHWF), a large cultivator, manufacturer, and distributor of cannabis.

As Tyson and Flair explained, cannabis helps with mental clarity, calmness and health.

“I can’t speak highly enough for what the cannabis effect can be for health and relaxation,” Flair, who sold a majority stake in Ric Flair Drop to Tyson 2.0, said. Tyson added that his brand is a market leader.

“My family likes me better when I’m smoking,” he chuckled.

Graphic: Left, Rick Ross. Middle, Mike Tyson. Right, Ric Flair. Photo via Benzinga.

Ross, who is an owner of Wingstop Inc (NASDAQ: WING) restaurants, the founder of music label Warner Music Group Corp’s (NASDAQ: WMG) Maybach Music Group, and host of the Rick Ross Car & Bike Show happening May 21, 2022, went on to sing fan favorites, including “Hustlin.”

“Jason’s going to drop some bars,” Ross at one point said, prompting bystanders to turn their cameras on during a freestyle with Raznick.

“Let’s go!”

Graphic: Benzinga’s Jason Raznick, left, freestyles with Rick Ross, right. Photo via Benzinga.

“Absolutely unbelievable – never have I experienced something like this at one of our events,” Raznick said. “I couldn’t be more excited for our next event.”

Interested in attending other events with an atmosphere similar to the Benzinga Psychedelics and Cannabis Capital conferences? If so, Benzinga’s next major in-person event is the Global Fintech Awards on December 8, 2022, in New York City. Click here to learn more.

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