HempCon 2011: What do fake orgasms have to do with medical marijuana?

What does a skeezy beauty pageant, and "hot ass" and "best orgasm" contests have to do with medical marijuana? Nothing. But for some reason all three are events were listed as contests as recently as Tuesday afternoon for the upcoming HempCon convention.

On Monday, I spoke with California-based Bob Reynolds, coordinator for the event, which is set to run September 30 through October 2 at the Denver Merchandise Mart. When I asked about the contests, he sheepishly downplayed the T&A events, saying they were just to amuse people at the show. He noted that they were a hit with the crowds at past HempCon events in Cali. "I do realize that it has nothing to do with medical marijuana," he said. "It's something we can add as entertainment."

But since my conversation with Reynolds, the hot ass and best orgasm contests have been pulled from the event's website, leaving only the Miss HempCon contest. Don't worry, though: Just to make sure you still get your share of skin, the site is still displaying what look like photos from past Best Ass and Miss HempCon contests.

HempCon is yet another pot convention, not much different from the handful we've had in town over the last year and a half. Expect to see the same type of vendors that appeared at the Colorado Cannabis Convention and KushConII (neither of which claimed to be solely about medical marijuana) -- entrepreneurs selling weed-themed T-shirts, dispensary staffers handing out coupons for free joints, and employees from edible companies offering THC-free samples.

Essentially: if you've been to one, you've been to them all.

The people running the show know this, which is why they also feature bands, speakers and other entertainment in an effort to make the $20 entry more worthwhile. But turning a supposed "medical" marijuana convention into MTV Spring Break 1994?

I guess that's entertainment, assuming everyone in this scene is a male with the brain function of a nineteen-year-old Boulder frat boy. But the average patient age on the registry in Colorado is 41, and almost a third of the patients are women.

This isn't the first time this issues has been raised in regard to marijuana conventions in Colorado. The majority of the comments on our coverage of the Colorado Cannabis Convention were from readers offended by the blatant sexualizing and commercialization of the industry. Because of that, promoters of KushCon II, held in December of last year, reportedly asked vendors to avoid using bikini models at their booths.

Simply taking down the contests doesn't really change my take. If this convention were really geared toward medical-marijuana patients, why alienate such a large percentage of them by pimping women-objectifying sex contests?

Because clearly it's not about medical marijuana.

Yes, sex sells. The alcohol industry has proven that time and time again. But does the medical marijuana industry really need to use the same approach? We already face enough problems getting the general public in this state and around the country to take medical marijuana seriously without events that clearly appeal to the lowest common denominator.

More from our Marijuana archive: "KushConII to take medical marijuana seriously, says MMJ user/cancer patient Cheryl Shuman."

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William Breathes
Contact: William Breathes