Mile High Kush Expo, held this past weekend at the Colorado Convention Center in Denver, was summed up for me in the ticket line before I went in. "You're charging people $20 to basically go to a big head shop," the dreadlocked dude in front of me told the ticket office manager. "That's horrible, man. You guys are ripping people off." Kush Expo billed itself as "Denver's best Medical Marijuana Expo" and promised hundreds of booths and thousands of giveaways for $20 a day. Maybe I missed something, because the Kush Expo I attended on Saturday seemingly had none of those things. (See photos from Kush Expo here.)
Instead, the tiny event couldn't have had more than 75 booths set up and a few hundred attendees. Several of the booths were empty and the vendors on hand were generally the same folks you've seen at any of the other cannabis festivals that have popped up over the last few years. There were the gimmicky grow light salesmen, cheap bong outlets and plenty of clothing shops selling stonerware. Steve Horowitz from Ganja Gourmet had a small cooking demo set up, but I never saw anyone in the seats watching him. DirecTV also had a booth set up, no doubt trying to capitalize on the stoner stereotype that we all get high on our couch and watch TV for hours.
A few dispensaries had booths, several with games or raffles for discount coupons. There wasn't any herb displayed on site, though -- and you never know how good or bad the shops products are from talk and photos. I was also surprised at how few coupons dispensaries were handing out and the lack of freebies in general.
Those issues aside, the event was destined to be a flop when compared to the (completely unrelated) KushCon II last December and the High Times Cannabis Cup a few months ago. The former packed the entire convention center with booths full of people offering freebies and the latter allowed shops to display their herb and even gave attendees a medication lounge to puff in.
Story and photos continue after the jump.
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Granted, not everything was a letdown. It's always good to see the MMAPR folks out helping people connect with affordable healthcare and spreading the message of medical cannabis. John Doe Radio and several cannabis community activist groups were on hand, including the Women's Marijuana Movement and SAFER. I also ran into several community activists, including Robert Chase, who caught me up to speed on the state of affairs concerning legalization in 2012. As for products: I spent much of my time checking out the Illusion Glass table, which was stacked with some pretty impressive tubes. A board game based on the pot boom in Colorado, aptly named Colorado Cannabis Craze, jumped out, too. And I was impressed by the really stylee (and spendy) hemp clothing from HoodLamb, plus the shop with "I Love Pot" shirts supporting breast cancer research.
But after an hour, I realized I'd had enough. The dreadlie dude was right: This was a ripoff. There wasn't enough to keep me around between speakers and definitely not enough stuff to do to keep someone there until the event shut down at 9 p.m. Call me spoiled, but If I'm going to spend $20 to get into something like this, I want to get $20 worth of stuff in return or be able to test out other people's meds on site. At the very least, I should be able to leave to get stoned and come back, thereby making the event tolerable.
Otherwise, I can see the same stuff for free by walking in and out of a few grow stores and head shops on South Broadway and then go home and puff in my back yard. Page down for more pictures from Kush Expo. (See more photos from Kush Expo here.) (See more photos from Kush Expo here.) (See more photos from Kush Expo here.) (See more photos from Kush Expo here.) (See more photos from Kush Expo here.)
Visit Mile Highs and Lows for more from our medical marijuana critic, William Breathes.