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Friday, February 23, 2024

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CulturePuffPuff: Notes from a serious (and seriously interesting) cannabis...

Puff: Notes from a serious (and seriously interesting) cannabis expo

The Cannabis Business Summit and Expo in San Jose showcased the industrial backend of the trade—plus Jim Belushi sang.

PUFF Last week in San Jose, the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) held its yearly Cannabis Business Summit and Expo at the convention center for three days to upsell everything cannabis.

If you get the idea I was going to a stoned-out party full of hippies, weed and tie dye—you’re wrong. There was no actual pot anywhere except in everyone’s bag going into the event. Even in the showrooms, fake weed plants or just potted plant stand-ins took the place of actual cannabis. 

Getting stoned was for socializing outside of the venue during breaks. At that point, all kinds of cannabis and smoking devices popped up everywhere. It was nice seeing it as the normal thing it is, a bunch of people legally smoking pot. There was a time when I couldn’t fathom that happening. It was an uplifting moment, especially with the weed.

All the cannabis terpenes you desire, aah the Floraplex Terp Bar.

I myself had some handy pre-rolls from Pacific Stone, which I love. I can usually get a 14-pack for around $40, and they are handy to take out with me. I saw a number of awesome pipes, vaping devices, and portable rigs at the event—including a handy rig from Puffco Peaks. Very cool, and still on my holiday wish list.

Back inside, there was a whole showroom of booths appealing to a large variety of interests. This expo wasn’t so much about selling cannabis and smoking devices, as it was selling all the things that lead up to selling those products. There were companies hawking everything from how your product will taste, look, and smell to how it will be packaged, manufactured, shipped, shelved, lit, stored, and more. 

I was there to cover the event and promote my queer cannabis party PUFF (August 8 at the Stud), since we are offering new sponsorship opportunities (hint, hint). I saw lots of friends in the industry and handed out plenty of cards. It felt good getting out there and meeting new people and seeing all the cool devices and products on display.

A complex looking extraction set-up from Biohazard, Inc.

There were conferences and workshops on licensing, regulations, compliance, cultivation, advocacy, community, processing, distribution, retail, business services, and more with many fantastic panel members and moderators. I sat in on a couple and enjoyed listening in. The one I made a point of attending was Social Media + Digital Marketing: The Secret Sauce. I was hoping to snag a few new tricks of the trade, but ended up realizing I was already on the right path. I did enjoy listening to the stories from the panel because I always learn something from other people relating their experiences.

A plethora of products on display

At the end of the day (I was there on Tuesday), there was a lovely happy hour party sponsored by Khyrsos Industries, Inc with a drink ticket and appetizers. (If you are hungry, always locate the entry/exit door for the waiters with trays of hors d’oeuvres, and set up nearby. You are guaranteed plenty of fresh noshes all night long.)

We even had Jim Belushi and his band there to perform for us. Yes, John’s brother Jim of television and movie fame. He bought land in Oregon and is growing cannabis. He came on with his spiel about being a farmer and part of the land. He doesn’t smoke much weed but enjoys microdosing. He said if his brother had been a pothead, he would still be alive today. 

Jim Belushi sings!

I don’t know if everyone bought his authenticity (I didn’t), but it was nice to have a celebrity in attendance, and his band featuring performers from San Francisco was excellent. Belushi joins Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog and Bob Marley’s estate to create the first celebrity brands on the emerging market. It will be interesting to see how they fare. Sadly, no free samples were handed out.

Afterwards, as I left the building, I ran into a reporter friend of mine, and he told me the best part of the conference was the after-parties, which I guess is the truth about all these kinds of things. I went to a nice party nearby with were free tacos, an open bar, cupcakes and plenty of friendly people to eat with and meet. I always love stoner events because they never forget to have good food.

CBD and THC Processing solutions at the Tractor Depot booth

It was a fascinating day experiencing and exploring the cannabis expo—not only the cool gadgets on display and the discussions about all things cannabis but also the ordinariness of it all. We are still in the beginning stages of creating (or recreating) one of the biggest businesses in the state, eventually the country, and this is where all the building blocks are being laid… or smoked.

Now it’s time to light up!

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Dan Karkoska
Dan Karkoska
Dan Karkoska is an independent producer, promoter, film critic, and DJ on the San Francisco scene. He also works with Maria Konner at Under the Golden Gate and is currently producing and hosting PUFF, the first queer marijuana rock-and-roll drag party every first Thursday at The Stud. He is a big stoner. Photo by Sari Staver.

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