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ISSUE 6The Cannabis Expo Experienced & EnjoyedAmmon RighiniGood Morning Evolvers! Walking into this year’s Cannabis Expo at the Grand West Casino I felt blown away. It was not due to the infamous Cape Town wind but the sheer experience from point of entry being a well thought out tunnel of green leaves and welcoming ushers. On entrance the palette of quilted green sent you straight into the vibe of JuicyFields and the possibilities that lay beyond.
The high-end feel and well thought out floor plan made it easy to navigate the stands compared to 3 years ago. I was greeted by a top notch large stand of The Green Side, whose product lines were no doubt of high quality combining imported and locally made goods.
That, coupled with friendly and knowledgeable consultants made it a more pleasurable experience when making a purchase. With so many various products my interest was piqued.
Then it was time to venture into the sprawling buzzing hub of motivation and creativity.
On doing my first round inside I was immediately aware of the focus of this Expo compared to the previous one. At the previous expo there were so many stands baring products including CBD Vaginal Lube, edibles, muffins, chocolates and jellybeans, cold drink, water and stands so loaded with smoking paraphernalia, vapes and a great selection of THC Strains up for grabs, all about getting your BUZZ on or coping with the anxiety, in my case CBD delivery systems.
This year the focus had shifted with Licenses being issued locally and the gatekeepers of SAPHRA certification, the focus was definitely on cultivation and how not to lose your crop, how best to control your growing conditions and avoid losing your investment in this very lucrative industry. From Seed vendors, Indoor Climate control, new tech to monitor your grow, predict your yield. So many different lighting systems, fans, watering drip systems, independent testing labs, legal and off take companies … It all shouted GROW !!!
The Glossy counter tops and snazzy display units gave the grow side a definite glamorous corporate appearance and lent itself to the European styled displays. Imagery and beautifully coloured banners gave this space a nice clean fresh feel with a touch of clinical pizazz. Again, friendly enthusiastic brand ambassadors were keen to explain why their specific systems were better or why this was the best tech, soil, building material or Genetics to use when taking the leap into the industry.
This is when I realised how the focus had shifted. The Gold Rush is on and the ever-growing numbers of people starting to grow what was once a demonised and completely illegal Plant are using cutting edge technology and systems to hopefully ensure their investment. It was hot inside and pumping with Cannabis enthusiasts, so I ventured outside, here I was met with the most inviting Relaxing area in the shade where delicious food and beverages were on display, with cues lining up to eat healthy meals, drink KOMBUCHA and I have to mentioned Ice cream to Die for infused with CBD. The VIP Seating Area could have been bigger with more seating, but it was classy and had a great view of the stage. Varied forms of entertainment which created a fantastic vibe due to the level of talented performers including, DJ’s, Beatboxers, and live bands who blew my socks off. NO, it was not the weed. Obviously, it was great to bump into my old mates such as Tony Budden, partner in Hemporium, South Africa’s original Hemp and CBD Brand Pioneer. He was smiling from ear to ear which was great to see.
His comments were “The conference was really well organised and it was great to see the sign of a maturing industry which is choice driven, the range of different brands was really inspiring to see. Being a pioneer you often open the doors and its quite overwhelming to see those who follow through, the most you can hope for is that those that follow create good quality products and are well intentioned to create a thriving industry with a lot of collaboration going on and everyone being informed and services being of the highest quality and in general that was what I witnessed, it will be interesting to see where the industry goes next”. We later congregated outside, where I chatted to Myrtle Clarke, Managing Director of Fields of Green for All, also a huge pioneer on many levels. She was in good spirits and was suitably impressed.
She commented that her overall impression is that it was very well supported, but from a non-profit company point of view there were very few activists in the room. She was very pleased to see the acknowledgement that Fields of Green for All got for all the work they had done over the many years which had opened the doors for others to come in. I also chatted to Simon from Strain Hunters while we gathered to discuss the Expo and had a brief catch up, always nice to see his beaming face.
There were definitely a few people missing from this Cannabis Expo in Cape Town, Trailblazers in the Industry like Jules Stobbs and Sandro Righini both recently passed but not forgotten.
Sandro Righini who spearheaded the medical cannabis and CBD industry with the Brand Icharos Oils in South Africa. Also the founder and original funder of Ikaros Malawi. A licensed project doing medical trials in conjunction with the Government and the seed company Dina Fem. Charl Henning, Victim Support from Fields of Green for All commented “Looking back at the first expo in 2018, we have come a long way. There is now Live entertainment and a smoking section, which should be obvious, but as long as the HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION 1992 drugs and trafficking act prohibits all sale of Cannabis for responsible adult use in South Africa, it will remain an open invitation for the SAPS to BULLY the public with unconstitutional arrests on a daily basis. So “it is a cart before the horse expo” as JULES STOBBS used to call it.” I also chatted briefly with Arjan Roskam of Green House Seeds who seemed as usual “Very Busy and Important”. He definitely seemed more impressed with this year’s Expo. In his opinion Cannabis Clubs are the way to go to normalise responsible adult cannabis use, as he spoke about later in the evening and encouraged South Africans to open as many Cannabis Clubs as possible, this seems logical, and has worked well in Holland. In my humble opinion having been founding partner in a cultivation project and now a post extraction product developer, my gut tells me that the Cannabis Expo should have two separate spaces in future, one being focussed on Post Extraction Product Development and responsible adult usage and a separate space set aside purely for Cultivation to streamline the experience for the targeted demographic. This will increase creativity and visibility in the development market and create new revenue streams in the industry as this market grows exponentially every year. That being said, Kudos to the amazing organisers of The Cannabis Expo 2022 as they BLAZED the trail for future Expos.