Today I had an opportunity to drop in on the second day of the 2nd annual Seattle CannaCon held at Pier 91 (near the Magnolia neighborhood). Though I didn’t table at the event nor did I purchase a seminar pass which allows entry to a number of industry-related workshops, I enjoyed walking around the expo floor and meeting a number fellow entrepreneurs (mostly local Seattleites) participating in the rapidly expanding Cannabusiness community.
The expo pass is only $10 per day and gives one access to 168 vendor tables covering two floors of a large structure the size of a jet plane hangar. The organizations tabling at the event represented a dizzying array entrepreneurs, investors, professionals, advocacy and non-profit groups all connected to cannabis in varying degrees. The majority of tables were for ancillary businesses ranging from growing supplies, and smoking devices/accessories to services such as cannabis business lawyers, insurance, security systems and lab specialists as well as products and services for those involved in processing plants for concentrates and edibles. Those with medical cannabis cards were offered free samples from a few infused food manufacturers.
Shortly after I reached the second floor of tables I happened to walk towards a large canopy for Futurola smoking supplies and walking right past me in the opposite direction was Tommy Chong, who was apparently just finishing a promotional appearance. It happened too quickly for me to get a photo but I wasn’t too disappointed since it was the second time in less than a year we’ve crossed paths in Seattle and we had a good amount of time to chat the last time we met.
Another highlight of the event was learning about a couple of new cannabis-related private clubs. Private club membership is a way to get around restrictive regulatory requirements for cannabis retailers. It’s rarely mentioned in the media possibly because of fears that it may increase the popularity of the trend while organizers of such clubs may not want too much attention which could compel legislators to draft new and even more restrictive laws. Having tried out a membership to such a club a few months ago, I can attest to their effectiveness and am looking forward to applying to others.
The club table I noticed first had a cryptic black sign above it that just had the word “Zero”, a bold logo, and the url zeroseattle.com. My curiosity led to an interesting conversation with the friendly couple behind the organization who compared their club to speakeasies of the prohibition era. I understood what they meant but would argue that unlike speakeasies, what they’re doing is legal and the substance they promote is in many ways healthier than alcohol. Incidentally, to comply with the law they’re not allowed to serve alcohol at events but given the potency of new strains and concentrates, smart attendees would probably prefer water, coffee, or tea over liquor.
Speaking of tea, another new club is called High Tea, which I discovered at the table for NORML Woman of Washington, who were holding a raffle contest for a High Tea event. Judging from my conversation with the NORML representative connected to High Tea, they offer a spin on a classic English tea time with an emphasis on organic and locally sourced ingredients interacting with the qualities of infused cannabis. They also serve non-cannabis tarts, scones and other appetizers.
An aspect of CannaCon that I particularly appreciated were the tables dedicated to non-profit and advocacy groups. Besides the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, other great organizations represented such as the Fully Informed Jury Association, who advocate for educating potential jurors of their authority to resist unjust laws for victimless crimes, and the Human Solution International, who work on similar issues including those related to cannabis decriminalization and prisoners’ rights. While at their table I made a donation in the form of raffle tickets to win a bundle of prizes donated by numerous vendors at the expo. Though I probably won’t win the raffle, I definitely got back my $10 entry fee in the form of networking, education, entertainment, and of course various cannabis-related schwag including free issues of Kurple, Northwest Leaf, Marijuana Venture, and Culture magazines, and useful odds and ends such as bags, pens, lighters, papers, grinders, hemp wicks, storage containers, lip balm, etc.
As I made my way home I stopped for lunch at one of the many food trucks lined up in front of the CannaCon building. The one I chose was called Peasant Food Manifesto, which turned out to be a great choice since they served up a delicious Algerian-inspired plate with tomato sauce, peppers, eggs, cilantro, and lots of spices.
By all accounts, this year’s CannaCon was much larger than the first and will likely continue to grow through the foreseeable future. I’ll be there next year and may even purchase a seminar pass to listen in on the talks. Though this year’s convention started yesterday, those in the Seattle area still have tomorrow (2/20) from 10am to 6pm to enjoy the final day of CannaCon. If one is in the industry, thinking about it, or just interested in cannabis and related issues, it’s definitely worth a visit.