How Jason Bello Cultivated And Curated The Flower Expo In Mass

Pictured (L to R): Jason Bello & Eric Bello

“A one-stop shop … You’re going to see more dispensaries in two days than your team is probably going to see in a whole year.”

The summer is for weed events, that much is for sure. From dispensary pop-ups to the HighLifeStyle Show to the Terptown Throwdown to the Freedom Rally, stoners have a busy schedule.

But next week, at the Franklin County Fairgrounds, there’s a different kind of weed event in store—one that’s built for industry insiders, and that has consumption on site (more business-related than social consumption, but consumption nevertheless).

The Flower Expo, taking place on June 14 and 15, is billed as a “multi-day experience that brings together the best of cannabis brands and retailers through a unique event to bring the community together to responsibly discover, experience, and network with the brands behind the incredible products that Massachusetts has to offer.”

That’s hardly an exaggeration; with more than 150 brands signed up to exhibit and in excess of 200 dispensaries set to attend, the expo will be one of the largest cannabis congregations this year, complete with a block party in downtown Greenfield to start things off Wednesday night.

We asked CEO and organizer Jason Bello about his experience pulling everything together, the California show that his model was based on, and what attendees can expect next week.

Chris Faraone: Give us some background and tell us why you brought this show to Massachusetts … 

Jason Bello: The nature of what we do is a lot different than a lot of other trade shows in the cannabis industry. My dad [Eric Bello] founded Hall of Flowers in 2017 with two other partners and I was fortunate enough to work there under them for a few years; what really makes that show great is that it’s all based around connecting buyers and brands, that’s it. It’s not a consumer show, it’s not a big event, it’s a very small show.

I brought the concept over to Massachusetts just with a team that does outreach to dispensaries and an exhibitor sales team. We have about 150 brands signed up to exhibit at the show and we have 225 dispensaries attending.

Tell us more about the laws that allow this to happen and how you got the Cannabis Control Commission to sign off on this … 

It’s really just following Massachusetts gifting laws. It’s a private venue and we have a very sophisticated system of making sure that people are following personal possession limits and that companies are doing it. We’re tracking it from the point that you get into our show.

It’s not anything new, it’s something that probably could have been done, it just took someone to come in and build a structure around it. But of course there have been other events that have similar or the same guidelines.

I’ve also met with many members of the CCC and ran our entire plans by them. They have decided everything we are doing is compliant, but really what the show also does is set a precedent for how that social consumption license ends up being made.

What’s the setup like? How will it work once people are in there?

There are two indoor buildings and a large outdoor area. It’s a really fun vibe, and everybody has booth spaces. But really, being an exhibitor gives you the right to bring product into the show, so [companies] can bring in their product, show it off at their booth, hand out samples, and then decision makers who represent the dispensaries are able to come in and walk the show, check out the product, eat, and speak with the people, the cultivators, and the brands.

What will be going on besides the exhibitors?

There will be food trucks, of course, and we have three panels that are: a look into what it’s like to be a cannabis operator in Massachusetts, hearing some experiences for multi-state operators and how they’ve grown and scaled their brands, then about expungement and social equity. 

What kind of feedback have you been getting from exhibitors even ahead of the show?

If you’re a cannabis brand in Massachusetts, then what are you going after? It’s about, how do I go to speak to every retailer and dispensary in the state if I have product and want to sell it to them? It’s obviously very inefficient to just go out and send your rep out and pay for their mileage, do a demo for the bartenders … I’m making one place where it’s a one-stop shop. You’re going to see more dispensaries in two days than your team is probably going to see in a whole year. So it’s the most efficient way to see the most buyers in the least amount of time. That’s the core of it.