DENVER: 20 April, 2015– What Mardi Gras is to New Orleans, the High Times Cannabis Cup is to Denver. At least that’s how tourists like Molly Baker see it. Baker and her boyfriend Chris Orton made the trip from York, Great Britain, visiting the U.S, for the first time because “We just had to be part of history. ”
Now in its fourth year, the Cannabis Cup is open to all adults over 21 for the first time (in previous years, before full legalization, only medical marijuana patients were admitted). The shift to include recreational cannabis attracted record numbers of local and foreign attendees, over twice last year’s figure.
“We saved up all year,” Baker said. “While we’re in Colorado, we’re going to tour around and see the sights.” She and Orton intend to spend ten days and thousands of dollars in Colorado, doing their bit to boost the economic impact of the state’s newest cash crop.
The Bakers joined almost forty thousand locals and tourists who swarmed Denver Mart this weekend to catch up on the hottest trends and products in the cannabis industry. At times the wait to get inside the building was more than three hours in unusually cool spring weather. Anyone needing a bathroom break had to cross their legs for another hour as progress slowed to a crawl once you got indoors–the ID and bag check took an inexplicable amount of time, and no one was handing out samples.
Fortunately for the overwhelmed event organizers, the massive crowd was not drinking beer so we didn’t work ourselves into a loud, frustrated frenzy. We had better things to do. Like smoke and share food. Hanging out with the crowd, Potcha reporters attempted an interview, but the buzz took over and a pen was lost, a notebook was dropped, pictures were not taken. But we enjoyed the buzz from the folks taking full advantage of legal rights in Colorado.
When we finally got into the show, we found state of the art growing equipment, smoking accessories, samples of edibles (without pot), new CBD products and oil extraction equipment, and a ton of information about strains and innovations. Officially the event did not permit sales of marijuana but some out-of-state vendors slipped through a loophole, frustrating Colorado business owners, who saw long lines at vendors that don’t hold state licenses and chose to distribute products and pot.
“Out-of-state vendors are not licensed by the state of Colorado, thus they are not bound by Colorado business regulations,” Sgt. Aaron Pataluna, public information officer at the Adams County Sheriff’s Office explained in a Denver Post report. “It is the understanding of the sheriff’s office that samples provided by an out-of-state vendor would not be a violation of Colorado criminal law…”
Exhibitors like Marcus Lentz, owner of Oregon-based Medi Brothers, respected the rules. Lentz opted to leave 25,000 edibles – at $20 per sample – back home in Portland when he heard sales would not be allowed after all. Lentz brought cannabis-free samples to the show instead.
While many attendees come for the weed, Saturday’s speakers were a big draw, including the Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann. The band will be inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame during the event’s award ceremony on Sunday night.