HEMPCON- San Jose: NOT IMPRESSED

August 8, 2010 in Miscellaneous

I never thought I would see the day when a cannabis convention would fail to impress me, or even make me relish in the accomplishments of the movement; HempCon at the San Jose Convention Center was pretty weak. I mean of the 3 major conventions that have taken place in CA over the past year, this was by far the poorest managed, least friendly staffed, ill-informed convention that has happened yet. It was an obvious money grab, as NO people who were involved with the cannabis industry were involved in the set up or production aspects. MEGA productions was very disorganized from what vendors were saying and many were unhappy that they had invested in the show. One person had to pay extra for the employees that were working their booth. Most of the chaos was simply that the event was organized and operated by amateurs.

Apparently all of the cool kids knew it was going to be a dud because most of them were no-shows. I must have missed the memo. Even some key players in San Jose did not show up, which I found to be odd. Every time I went out to the smoking area I hoped to see a familiar face, but alas, there were none. Except for the friend I brought with me (who was assaulted by their staff for going out of the wrong exit, even though their were no signs…). I have never been to a cannabis event where I looked around the smoking section and there were not several smiling faces enjoying some “fun in the sun.” Yes, Ed Rosenthal was there; Chris Conrad and Mikki Norris were there- but they were hard at work. It just seemed that the normal “backbone” of the industry had found something better to do, and I do not blame them. If you wanted to participate in organized chaos in a sweltering airplane hangar tent thingy, then you would just have to be nuts. Which I suppose I am a bit because I had the unfortunate duty of going twice because my pictures from day one were all blown out.

Ed Rosenthal gave a great rousing speech on why people should be voting YES on Prop 19. That was the highlight of the too many hours I spent in that venue waiting for something exciting to happen. In the 215 area it was mostly local dispensing collectives that were “owned” by a wide range of people, most who had just gotten into the business. Many were very friendly and excited to be a part of the movement. Some were arrogant losers that had a false sense of security and chose to puff their egos up to make their organization seem cool or something. The 215 area (if you want to call it that because the was NO consumption allowed.) The funny part is that there was a security check in, but the “wall” to the area was basically a bunch of sheets hung that people could walk right through. The security was extremely poor for the event, but the ones that were coherent simply harassed event-goers and tried to unnecessarily assert their authority. It was mostly comical. Obviously they learned something the first day because they tried to address some of the basics, like having a real will call. They still did not have press passes. In fact, I got denied coverage because I was passing out some flyers the day before and some whiny collective complained that it was unfair that I did not have a booth and was marketing. DUH. I am marketing to the people in the booths. Why would I have one? It was ridiculous. The entire place was handing out cards, networking, and marketing their wares, but some HATER decided to cry to the dude from MEGA and he wanted to single me out. There were no press allowances or passes created. The event was secured by colored bracelets that you can buy in any party store. You could have stood in the parking lot and made a mint.

The event showed how incredibly removed the industry was becoming from its roots. Not that that is a bad thing, but when poorly managed and when those involved are basically clueless about the industry, it makes for a run of the mill event. I wouldn’t waste my $20 if you haven’t already. Go catch a movie and wait for the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo at the Cow Palace September 26th. Their event in April was by far done better and made HempCon look like it was held in someone’s garage whose mom didn’t want you smoking cannabis. It was very boring and it was so muggy in the tent that even a $3.50 water could not quench my thirst. It was not even in the real convention center; you know, the air conditioned and carpeted one where most trade conventions take place. No. It was at the kid’s sweaty circus tent out back that they politely referred to as the “South Hall.” What they should have called it was the South Forty or something. It was literally a big framed tent, like they use for church revivals. Call it what you want- I call it a shitty venue…

While it was pretty lame with one grow ho trying to out-ass the next, there were some bright spots. A company called Dragon Chewer was displaying some great cannabis containers that were like pill bottles, but the lid and bottom of the bottle created a grinder for herb. That was cool. The Shaman Healer edibles guys were cool, as we chopped it up about the past and the future.  A dude had “Dope on a Rope” scented soaps in the shape of cannabis leaves that smelled awesome and were a good addition to any bathroom. Doc Green’s lotion was in the house, which is always cool and a well liked product. Vapir was showing of a new portable vape device that looked sweet, and they had a $150 fan powered one that filled up special bags designed for the module. Watch out Volcano. Here comes a nicely priced alternative. BOLDT BAGS were in the house with their awesome hash bags. These durable and heavy duty bags were going quick and for good reason.

Overall- IMO- the event was a bust. It seemed like whomever organized this did not do very much planing or consult with the industry leaders in the area. I imagine many were at Reggae Rising, or else maybe after the event was so poorly planned and executed in LA, many in the industry decided to wait for a better show to spend their marketing budget. Couldn’t say I would blame them. It does seem like they did a good job of getting the word out. There was a steady stream of people who came to check it out. Unfortunately this just added to the misery of holding the event in a big blue greenhouse. All of the oxygen was dissipating, and people were fanning themselves with flyers. The $50 Doctors seemed to be getting the most traffic, which is understandable. Not sure if all of them were doctors, but the notes got people into the “215″ area, which is what really mattered; until you got back there and realized it was kind of weak and that many of the flagship organizations that normally anchor these events were absent. There was not going to be a hash bar and there was no sex in the champagne room.

I did meet a lot of interesting people from the San Jose movement, which is an evolving beast of its own. There were collectives that had been there for some time and others that were just opening their doors. It was interesting to hear the drama that existed just in the small group of collective operators. I would imagine that everyone can sense the EVERY MAN FOR THEMSELVES competitive process that most likely looms in their futures. It was almost uncomfortable talking to some of them. Most were pretty cool people. The doctors groups were also very competitive. It was interesting to hear their sales pitch start off with why their competitor sucks. That always turns me off.

Ah, times they are a changing. For better or worse there is a whole new era of hucksters and charlatans organizing events in the name of Hemp and Cannabis and an emerging industry of hard working and ingenious entrepreneurs to fill the hall and give the people what they want- cool cannabis stuff. Well the stuff was there. Hopefully next time it will be in a more user friendly venue and staffed by a more professional production company. Mega just seemed to drop the ball. Maybe they are spreading it too thin, and doing too much too fast, trying to rake in the bucks while cannabis conventions are relatively new. Seems like some of the regulars have already began to make the decision to look elsewhere, and so will I.

To add insult to injury these losers were outside registering people to vote, complete with their “Legalize It” sign and cool Vote Cannabis Leaf signs. I had not registered in my new county and was going to, but the dudes were like “Hey man- help us out and check Republican.”I immediately dropped the pen and moved on down the road. I came back today and confronted the. They confirmed they were with the Republican Party and that they were gathering signatures for the Republican Party. Only problem, check out their table. NO SIGN that even hints they are from the RNC or wherever. It was amazing. I had heard about this in reports earlier in the year when they were gathering signatures and how many people were inadvertently registered Republican without their knowledge. These scammers were at the right place. The whole event felt kind of dirty and slimey like this. It was quite disturbing.

From me to you, if you were planning on going tomorrow, DON”T. Buy yourself something nice with the $20 instead. You deserve it. Mega Retarded Productions does not for this half-assed event. Quite a disappointment after all of the billing they put out. Good thing there are like a dozen conventions to go to this year. YAY. These are the unfortunate circumstances that come with progress. Unfortunately there is no magic ball to decide who is an who is not dedicated to cannabis freedom.

The best we can do is try to prop up those that are good people with good intentions, and leave all of the slicksters behind. This could have really been a better opportunity for everyone had it been done better. I am sure some people loved it. I will pass. To me it was just another long and boring day at the office.