KC rolls up first Major Cannabis Expo

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Major Cannabis Expo. // Photo by Kristen Thomas

Expectations among Big Green industry people were fairly low for the first Major Cannabis Expo. One contributor for The Evolution Magazine said it all seemed a bit thrown together, and he wondered if attendance would be worth it. Beyond that, it was challenging for anyone to find solid information about who or what would be there in person.

Being their first event in the Metro area, I was prepared for something small, but hoped that scaling down would also be informational. Even small trade shows can create local businesses growth and help the community learn more about the vast options and the people available in the World of Chill. 

We wound up facing something much larger, and much better organized, than the slapdash con I’d set my bar for. Whether attendees were consumers or producers, there was something for everyone at Hy-Vee Arena on March 19, 2022.

There was a wide array of businesses including vendors for glass, green, and gummies. Dispensaries and extract makers that are both out of state and locally-owned were representing their brands, some better than others. Some people had a well-designed booth, some assembled gorgeous displays, and then others have a giveaway fishbowl filled with slips of paper and a canvas bag you can take. 

Well done, but still the sorta samsies set-up as you would expect for an expo in any field. Did you want cheap swag? It was there in droves. But who would complain about free swag? Not I!

Cannabis farmers who attended were sure to meet companies that could help in their supply chain—increasing their yields and bottom lines. 

A solar panel company present was also a nice addition, since growers should be green while they grow green. And purifiers for clean water make better weed, after all.

Good Day Farm brought the World’s Largest Gummy Edible with them. This 100,000mg THC monster was created by their head chef in February, weighing in at 135 pounds. When asked why one would usher such a thing into the universe, their rep just said, “Because we can.” Fair enough.

I walked up to locally owned Fresh Karma, and let them know that I had just applied for my medical card less than a week prior. They are the dispensary closest to my house, so I wanted to give them a heads up they’ll be seeing a lot of me.

“Have you ever smoked hash?” Fresh Karma’s director of manufacturing asked me. I had not, so she walked me through what differentiates its experience from what I’m used to, and their enthusiasm alone sold me on the decision to get a vape for trying it out. 

A few booths had different cannabis-related ballot initiatives to sign, including Canna Convict Project—an organization working to get nonviolent cannabis records expunged, and get those who are still in prison/jail released. It was important that the political side of things be represented. This plant and its brethren are what brought us all together in a large, public expo center, to have a fun weekend. But innumerable people are still incarcerated for the crime of doing exactly what we were doing under bright lights and large crowds.

The expo reflected a growing number of women representing parts of the industry, at least in comparison to any cannabis-related expo I’ve ever attended. I asked one gal at a vape manufacturer how she got into the foot in the door for this kind of work. Earlier in life, she’d been an illegal dealer and had been busted twice for it. Her mom encouraged her to then move to Oklahoma when it was first legalized to learn the industry and stay out of trouble. She was able to spin that job into then returning to work for a Missouri dispensary in 2020. She’s now happily working on the supplier side rather than retail.

One of the most exciting collaborations I learned about was Franklin’s Stash House’s upcoming project with KC’s own Guy’s Potato Chips. Weed and potato chips are two of my favorite things on this planet. Plus, this crossover event will be supporting Missouri’s first Black-owned cannabis brand. 

In general vibes for the show, I was appreciative of the DJ that kept hip-hop flowing. It made it easier to ignore some of the empty booths. Occasionally, an announcer jumped on to say that the next class or educational panel would be kicking off else in the building. I did not end up attending any, nor did I see a class schedule in any of the promotional materials. Maybe I missed a flier? Or maybe it’s just first year details slipping through the cracks.

Tickets ran $35 a pop, which felt a little pricey for a first year’s experiment in running a show, and having to turn a blind eye to that smaller (and medium-sized) issues stemming from a group learning the ropes.

I didn’t walk out with any THC products, but I did buy my first kief moonrock pre-rolled CBD joint. I’ve avoided combustible CBD products until now in lieu of edible or tincture forms, so these are either going make for some tasty pain relief or a smokey letdown. 

Disappointingly, all of the gummies I got to taste here had no psychoactives in them (which I understand why for legal purposes.) My biggest hangup with gummies is that I want them to taste like real fruit, not Jolly Ranchers. I now know that a few brands who were present match the criteria, and I look forward to finding them at local dispensaries—perhaps in stronger forms.

Overall, the Major Cannabis Expo was a rather pleasant surprise, and one I look forward to hitting up again next year. With their feet under them and a great track record from this year, it would be great to see it double in size in 2023. Not just for the attendees, but for the businesses and normal folks from the industry that are sure to benefit from it.

Categories: Culture