Colorado Cannabis Convention seeks place in history |

Colorado Cannabis Convention seeks place in history

the denver post
The Denver Post/Joe Amon

Inside the Colorado Convention Center, a woman in a faded ball cap picks up a glass pipe – with its swirling shades of blue and elegant design curves – as if she were an archaeologist beholding a great treasure. Think Indiana Jones, but with marijuana paraphernalia.

“This is freaking sick!” she exclaims. “I think I’m in love. Like, seriously.”

Behind the counter, Noah Holland grins. Asked earlier whether anyone ever thought his creations – hand-blown items that cost as little as $20 or as much as $1,200 – are too pretty to light, he shrugged off the suggestion.

“It’s something,” said Holland, the owner of a shop called Head Space in Kansas City, that “you’re going to look at every day, right?”

Welcome to the first ever Colorado Cannabis Convention, a sprawling expanse of 300-plus canna-business booths competing for the attention of thousands of customers strolling by – the sick, the stoned and the merely curious.

There are dispensaries and cannabis-themed magazines, security companies and insurance firms. There are cooking displays, marijuana growing services and hemp fashion shows. Businesses with catchy names – The Dead Shed, the Mad Batter Baking Company – and others with, er, catchy visuals: seductive pitchwomen wearing tall boots, low tops and as little as possible in between.

In short, it’s marijuana Disneyland.

“Did you ever think you’d see the day,” event organizer Michael Lerner, a marijuana media magnate from California, shouted into a microphone, “when there would be a huge cannabis convention at the Colorado Convention Center?”

Indeed, convention organizers have touted the event as a seminal moment in pot history. The event’s 200,000 square feet of exhibition space makes it the largest such convention in the nation’s history, they say. And they are hoping it will attract more than 100,000 people by the time it closes at 10 tonight, a total that would more than double the annual turnout at such popular local expos as the Great American Beer Festival.

“It’s good to see,” said medical-marijuana patient Ken Rosenblum.

Cannabis entrepreneurs said they hoped the convention would raise awareness and spread information about medical marijuana, both to the converted and the uninitiated. None of the booths have any marijuana on hand, and some attendees Friday night brought their children along.

A few blocks away, a different kind of festival took place. Raymond Springsteel – a Boulder promoter who originally conceived of the idea for the convention before being forced out in a nasty legal fight – held a small gathering at The Farmacy, a Lower Downtown dispensary. He played music with buddies, brought in a few local bands and enjoyed the company of friends.

He vowed to keep fighting to clear his name.

“I feel like my art has been ripped away from me,” he said. “But if the cause is served and the community is served by the convention, then it’s worth it.”

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