Cannabis expositions are eclectic events. There is always a little bit of everything.
For 2017, everything indicates the now hundreds of local, state, regional, and national events will keep a low profile as President Trump’s Washington finds its way.
Some believe Trump will leave marijuana issues to the states as he suggested during the campaign. But, his Attorney General Jeff Sessions swears he will enforce the law.
In addition, federal budget fights may leverage compliance with restrictions on federal aid to state infrastructure and law enforcement. So, some cannabis industry powers-that-be fears making waves with too much celebration or too loud activism.
First things first
As yet, there is no definitive Expo. People of like mind have gathered for generations in one location or another to smoke, share, listen, eat, talk, and beat drums. Certainly since, the Summer of Love (1967) and Woodstock (1969), folks have been less shy and more willing to use in public.
Those mega events continue in places like festivals at Coachella, Burning Man, and Oregon Country Fair. Cannabis industry leaders and advocacy groups host now annual expos in multiple locations. And, citizen users in states newly legalized will be testing freedom and limits throughout the next 24 months.
Full-fledged expositions are costly operations. And, capital hungry cannabis businesses are still finding their footing. So, you won’t find anything consistent yet.
9 Things you can (likely) expect to see at an Expo.
If you go by recent years, you’ll likely find similarities from one expo to another:
1. Food Sales:Expos have rather uninspiring food courts. You’ll find 2nd-rate pizza, caramel popcorn, and perhaps some local favorites. But, businesses like Cheeto’s and BBQ chips are likely to give away samples.
Depending on the size of the exhibit area, there will be one or more bars selling coffee, wine, beer, cocktails, and soft drinks. Other exhibitors may offer free beverages and snacks as promotions in booths on the exhibit floor.
2. Food Demonstration: Most expos have a test kitchen where a chef prepares recipes using cannabis or hemp ingredients. The chef works with a microphone and describes process. The demonstration may promote packaged ingredients available for sale where legal.
If you’re lucky, the chef may hand out samples for tasting as the food is made.
3. Advocacy Campaigns: Pro-marijuana advocates will staff many of the exhibit booths. They provide significant information about marijuana, its benefits, and the reasons to liberalize laws. They also seek to recruit members and donations to continue their work.
Advocates will also conduct informative workshops and seminars and deliver speeches on the social and medical values of cannabis, the parameters of upcoming legislative efforts, and the strategies to follow in the grass roots (no pun intended).
4. Vaping Supplies: Vaping represents a significant block of marijuana users. It attracts a large cross-demographic market, and many of the customers see it socially preferable to smoking habits.
Providers of vaping devices, oils, and other paraphernalia compete heavily with presentations and product display. Customers can legally buy most of those products because depending on cannabis content and local law.
5. Medical Aid: Medical marijuana patients take part in health tests, educational workshops, and expert lectures on application and dosage.
Visitors, who are unsure about how medical marijuana might serve their needs, have chances to learn and comparison shop. Where regulations permit, they may even taste or take home samples of edibles.
For example, at last year’s Lift Canadian Expo, “Attendees can expect several panels looking at issues as diverse as legalization models around the world, parent’s experience with using medical cannabis with children, cannabis and cancer, the future of medical cannabis in a post-legalization world, and much more.”
6. Music: Some expositions run simultaneously with music festivals. With or without the festival, the expo provides incidental live music to contribute to the theme or mood.
But, it’s also true that enterprising vendors will see music related to marijuana. They sell CDs or vinyl recorded by famed artists of yesterday identified with the subculture, and they will promote music perceived as going well with a toke. Some booths may focus on the music of the Marleys, The Grateful Dead, Snoop Dogg and other Rap musicians, Louis Armstrong and famous Jazz musician users, and more.
7. Clothing and Souvenirs: Bob Marley introduced the great sound of smoke, but he also indirectly defined the color scheme of the culture. So, visitors can browse among thousands of Jamaican themed shirts, hats, and other clothing lines.
If you want something different, there are always the colorful tie-dyed looks in shirts, dresses, skirts, and more. Still other shoppers go for anything green in clothing, accessories, and collectables.
8. Vendor Booths: Cannabis businesses are making their presence felt in bigger and more dramatic ways. Expos are fundamentally trade shows, so you’ll find every aspect of the industry represented.
Booths will promote their farms and seeds. Distributors and dispensaries will trade information. Lighting and irrigation contractors will demonstrate products. As the businesses pocket more revenue, they will invest more in their inventive and attractive marketing presentations.
The huge variety of goods will open your eyes to plant heritage, breeding, cultivation, storage, smoking, marketing, tools, processing, organics, and a great deal more. For instance, exhibitors at CannaGrow Expothis year include Grotech Systems, Sylvania Lighting Solutions, Hydrobuilder, Mad Farmer, and many others.
9. Smoking Marijuana: In most cases, you won’t find guests smoking because the facility is nonsmoking and/or because the law forbids. What you will find are a lot of amiable people willing to chat, compare notes, and create social circles for the evening. Where weather invites as it will in California, you’ll find smokers and drum circles in any nearby green space.
Those states that recently approved marijuana possession and use will celebrate their freedoms this year. That presents concerns that some attendees will abuse the rights. So, you may see self-policing. After all, in some cases, the legalization passed by slim margins, and no one is game for upsetting the status quo.
You may also be surprised at hangers on. While the business interests seek to throw entertaining and informative events, you’ll find representatives of every fringe interest group piggybacking on the cannabis culture.
Marijuana expos as the bomb, more interesting than you think. They’re popping up everywhere, so check one out soon and bring home a bag of swag.