This year was my first Cannabis Classic. I went into the experience excited, with an open mind. I’d heard both good and meh about the event, but I believe in forming our own opinions so I approached it as an exciting new experience, a chance to celebrate the Cannabis industry and the individuals involved in creating it.
Before the event I spoke with several friends in the industry. Everyone was excited to get together in one space and commune, and that we did. I saw many familiar faces, caught up with friends, met new people, networked, and overall enjoyed myself. And I want to say that’s where the story ends...except that would be a half truth. I’ve got this thing I do where I put everything through 5 million filters, and so was the case with Cannabis Classic.
I found myself the perfect platonic date for the night; my big brother, who also happens to be a fantastic photographer and agreed to take photos for me. The first bump we encountered was when we attempted to purchase tickets as members of the press. It’s cool if there’s no discount or special badge for press people; I don’t need people to know who I am. What’s not cool is to say you’ll give a discount and then give out a discount code that doesn’t work. It’s also weird to tell the press at check in that you didn’t bother to print off the press badges because you just didn’t feel like it. Slightly awkward, but whatever, that’s not going to ruin my fun.
We met up with my girl Margaret from Great Northern Cannabis when we entered. She’d gotten there earlier and gave us a quick rundown of what was going on. I was excited to check out the edibles competition, impressed with some of the offerings, especially the chocolate covered strawberries, cherries and peanut butter balls, offered my Mary’s Cherries. Pistachio macaroons? Yes please! With candies named Giggle Bursts being offered by a man in a purple suit and Hightalian Sodas flowing, it was like being inside WIlli Wonkas Candy Factory, stoner style. The vibe was nice, the mood mellow in the way that only a Cannabis crowd can be. Smiling, chill, relaxed.
The music was good, and while I appreciated the band, it seemed like more of a bar sound, loud and intense. Considering we were all here to gather and commune, it felt like a chill, ambient DJ would have been more appropriate. Again, this is no diss on the band. They were great! It’s more about knowing your audience. The band would have been fantastic at a bar, with a beer in hand. This wasn’t a bar though, this was Cannabis Classic and the majority of attendees were stoned.
After the music ended there was an announcement informing us that it would be about 15 minutes before the awards ceremony began. That’s cool. I took a bathroom break. And then another. And then another, because over 45 minutes went by without anything happening. No explanation, no, “Hey, we’re having technical difficulties over here. We’ll be getting started shortly.” Just silence from the organizers. When they did finally take the stage, it was unorganized. There appeared to be a disagreement as to who was in charge of the program, which led to a few awkward comments between the two gentlemen on stage. The lighting was terrible. I couldn’t see anybody’s faces as they accepted their awards and spoke.
All of this could have been overlooked. I could have seen the glory of an industry event and simply left it at that, but there’s something that happened that I can’t let go of. Maybe it’s my old school thinking; I can be a bit traditional at times and I’m aware of this. But I come from the school of thought that if one sponsors an event then they’re not eligible to compete in the event. I’m not referring to simple sponsorship, I’m referring to putting on the event. If I’m the major sponsor of an industry writing event and I’m promoting it with my name all over it, I’m not going to compete in it. Otherwise, if I win, it seems almost hallow, because I’m the one who threw the party and of course all of my friends are going to celebrate me, but that makes it more of a popularity contest than an industry awards event.
For sure, some of the industry’s best and brightest were recognized and honored. Steve Voth from House of Green certainly deserves recognition, as well as Evan Schlossberg of The Frost Frontier and Leah Levinton of Enlighten. In fact, everyone who won that night deserved recognition.
It just seemed weird to have Pakololo win a major award. Not because they don’t deserve it, but because it didn’t feel authentic; again, it felt like a popularity contest.
What also struck me was who wasn’t there. Many of us who were nominated for awards were in attendance, but many were not.
I saw a lot of talented cultivators, store owners, industry professionals, and manufacturers, generously representing themselves and sharing thier goods with all who attended. It was beautiful, a reminder that it’s the individuals who make up this community that make it the amazing network that it is. We don’t need an industry awards event to validate that we’re great. We’re great because we keep showing up, day after day, supporting each other and honoring our work and contributions.
I’m glad I attended and got a chance to experience the event and the community. Next year though...I may decide to hit up Mermaid Festival instead.