Cannabis industry takes center stage at Detroit techno festival
Detroit — Those in the know might say the marijuana scene at the Movement Electronic Music Festival is excellent.
In addition to artists and techno fans attending the event, which returned this weekend after the COVID-19 pandemic silenced it for two years, the cannabis industry is also to give a kick.
Marijuana-related businesses were highly visible at the international dance music celebration, a sign of the drug’s growing mainstream acceptance.
One, Troy-based JARS Cannabis is the first cannabis retailer to sponsor the event.
JARS has 14 dispensaries in the Detroit metro area and four in Arizona. Their space at Movement Festival included adult coloring under a canopy, temporary tattoos and an “Instagramable” area designed by artist Kylie Hight.
The festival, which had five stages for artists in the past, added a sixth – the Detroit stage presented by JARS – for this year’s event and it featured Detroit-based artists. He also sponsored the official opening party of the festival on Friday and the official closing party on Sunday.
Other cannabis companies that have sponsored this year’s techno music festival include Weedmaps, Breeze Dispensary and Ooze.
Sam Fotias, the Movement Festival’s director of operations since 2006, said cannabis companies accounted for 25% of sponsorships for the event. Other sponsors included Budweiser, Tito’s Handmade Vodka and Michigan CAT.
“I think it’s a great example of what’s happened in this industry over the last couple of years when things weren’t happening,” Fotias said at the festival on Sunday. “We were approached by a multitude of brands and we were lucky enough to have the time to review them all and see who suited us best and how easy it was to work with their teams.”
The presence of cannabis sellers does not seem to bother festival-goers.
Mary Dynis, 25, of Las Vegas, said she came to Detroit just for the move. She attended the festival for the first time in 2019 and was delighted with her triumphant return. She said she was at the festival all weekend.
“The movement is monumental and life changing,” she said. “Detroit brings techno. The music breaks the ground. It’s crazy.”
Dynis said she didn’t notice if there was more or less smoking or cannabis use at the festival than in 2019.
“I think it was as much as before,” she said. “People are always going to smoke weed no matter where you go.”
She also said she doesn’t mind if cannabis companies sponsor the event.
“It’s legal here,” Dynis said. “Smells good too.”
Ally Galanty, a spokeswoman for JARS, said at the festival on Sunday that the company has not received any negative feedback.
“Nobody comes to us upset,” Galany said. “On the contrary, it is more curiosity (and) excitement that we see as the main sponsor, which speaks to the progressiveness of what has happened during the pandemic.
“Three years ago, I don’t believe that would have been the case.”
Galanty added that the company will also be sponsoring the Breakaway Festival in Grand Rapids in late August.
Tristan Blackett, chief marketing officer of Ooze, an Oak Park-based cannabis hardware company, said cannabis brands can’t do traditional social media or TV marketing because if the drug is legal locally , it’s not federally legal, prompting the company to focus on events – until the pandemic hits in March 2020.
“We realized we needed to spend our marketing dollars wisely by focusing on experiences,” said Blackett, 46. people are finally coming out of the green closet.”
James Sesi, 36, remembers attending Movement in his twenties when the event was just a few steps across the river. Sesi is one of five owner partners of Ooze.
“Last night felt crazy with thousands of people here to see 2 Chainz,” he said on Sunday. “It’s pretty much the same as it’s always been, but the main difference is you see these weed brands gaining a foothold and confidence in marketing their products. We held 46 trade shows in 2019 before the pandemic hit and now we’re trying to make a comeback. It’s crazy to think about where we started.
“I used to sneak weed into this festival and now we walk in with a joint in our mouths,” he said.
Around 5 p.m. Sunday, friends Sylvia Cisczek, 26, of San Francisco, Ben Barteau, 31, of Reno, Nevada, and Brooke Spruit, 27, also of San Francisco, lay on the grass near the tent festival ticket sales near Huntington. Square. They were waiting for another member of their group, Brooke Ritter, 27, from Royal Oak, to join them before heading to Hart Plaza.
Like Dynis, they all said they didn’t mind the cannabis industry’s sponsorship of the event.
In fact, they pointed out that there was even a place at the festival where revelers could have everything they consumed tested for fentanyl for free.
“They have stations around and I think it was pretty cool to see that,” Cisczek said.
Barteau added, “We’ve all lost friends who died of fentanyl overdoses. It’s peace of mind.”