The cannabis “medible” industry is gaining more traction every day (for people who eat their weed) and I was curious to see what creators in the space were up to. A convention is the perfect place to see industry connoisseurs, and 420 tends to have gatherings forming across the states. I chose to go to Hempcon 2015, a large cannabis exhibition event held at Cow Palace in San Jose, six miles south of San Francisco. The three-day event took place from the 17th-19th April 2015, the dedicated 4/20 weekend (naturally) and I attended on the Sunday.
California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana – almost two decades ago, in 1996 – and as a new resident, I was intrigued as to what Hempcon would offer me. It’s not the most famous expo ( I’d wager The High Times Cannabis Cup has that that honor) but it has been running since 2010, and holds events across the country.
Cannabis is currently legal for medicinal use in 23 states, plus the District of Columbia, and it’s available for recreational use in 4: Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Other states have varying laws regarding marijuana usage, which consist of a mix of decriminalization, allowing it in certain zones, and lowering sanctions. Cannabis reform is a hot topic on different states ballots and the green economy is set to grow larger. Rob Rusher of cannabis analytic company GrowBuddy recently said that it made $2.4 billion in 2014, and estimates it will be $100 billion within five years. Legal weed means government taxes, investment, entrepreneurs, and, – hopefully – an end to some criminal cartels.
Entry to Hempcon was $30, and their website said that if you didn’t have a cannabis card you couldn’t enter the “Prop 215 area.”
“Proof of medical need (valid doctors recommendation) REQUIRED to enter the prop 215 area.”
Fine, I thought. I’m sure there’ll still be a lot to see and enjoy, expecting to encounter cool glasswork, attend panels about weed laws, and look at artistic endeavours.
I was wrong.
After queuing for 45 minutes and paying the admission fee, I found there were two separate lines into the convention. The line for card holders led into a smoky room, the other into the back area of the center, a long room with grey cement walls, and a few chairs. And another long line snaking up the room. This led to a doctor writing marijuana prescriptions. You could get one and enter the convention.. or you could sit in the grey room for a few hours and think you’d got your $30 worth. At this point, a card was inevitable.
I filled in a form with previous medical history (cancer/ spine surgery) and tried to remember all my doctors phone numbers. I asked one of the cashiers what I should do and she shrugged, smiling. “Doesn’t matter” she said. OK then. At the front of the line, I paid $60 and was ushered into a small hastily erected office, framed by white curtains. Here I met the doctor, a smiling man from The San Jose 420 doctors office. He asked if I had any conditions that marijuana might help. I told him I had back pain and he asked if cannabis would help (yes, he did repeat this question). I said yes, he smiled, stamped a piece of paper and I left with full access to as much cannabis as I desired.
Let me show you some of the unusual things I encountered. We’ll start with edibles. Ice cream, coffee and BBQ shatter sauce.
Mary Jane’s coffee and creamers for those who want a nice Keurig high.
Strippers from the Crazy Horse strip club sell T-shirts and hand out free passes.
Glass pipes made to look like lollipops.
Now we get to the hipster part. Notice the design, the beards, the artisanal weed.
This looks refreshing.
This was weed pesto on French bread. SERIOUSLY.
So. Much. Honey. Who knew?
The stoner version of Dunkin Donuts are theses cannabis “Sugar High” treats.
These are cannabis cigarettes, pre rolled and in a carton.
Weed granola and protein bars for health conscious stoner.
And weed for dogs. Though please note this is CBD, so it’s about the health benefits, not the high.
Not for me, but for those guacamole lovers, avocado and cannabis could be great.
More dog treats.
Plus the game, where you can spin the wheel of weed.. for weed.
Overall, I was surprised by how many options there were.. and how similar they all were. After the initial wow, the stalls started to blend into eachother, distinguished only by interesting products or designs. I was amazed at how popular cannabis honey is and the many different sugary desserts, but liked how there seems to be a growing culture of health minded stoners who snack on their weed granola. There was also a limited amount of booth babes, which I appreciate, as the mix of customers was roughly 60-40 men/women, which is pretty positive.
In future, I’d hope to see some actual discussion taking place around marijuana usage, as this was basically an all you can smoke buffet with samples, but it was 420, so…
Final advice: You will need a card to enjoy this expo, so in future have one, or be prepared to buy one. And carry cash – many places can’t take cards due to restrictions placed by credit companies.
All images Ⓒ copyright Zara Stone