Pot Expo Draws Smaller-Than-Expected Crowd, But Still Creates Good Buzz
A well-publicized medical marijuana expo at University of Phoenix Stadium over the weekend attracted fewer people than some disappointed vendors expected.
Others, however, called the Green Relief Convention and Expo, which took place Thursday, Friday and Saturday, a success.
A few thousand people showed up to check out the dozens of vendor booths lining part of the circular walkway around the stadium. Sellers of smoking paraphernalia, hemp soap, grow-room equipment, insurance, security and data-tracking software and other pot-related stuff got a chance to promote their wares. People interested in running dispensaries chatted with lawyers and funding companies.
And, perhaps most important, dozens -- if not hundreds of people -- consulted with physicians at the expo and received recommendations they can use to apply for a state medical marijuana card.
Somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 people came to the expo, estimates promoter Lisa Wolfe.
A Green Relief Expo Facebook promo page states, " Booth space will fill quickly, and we are expecting a dynamic line-up of speakers and vendors for more than 10,000 registered attendees."
When reminded of her news release, Wolfe states that she meant 3,000 to 5,000 per day, which gets her to the 10,000.
Wolfe says exhibitors were "overwhelmingly satisfied."
Several exhibitors told New Times the turnout was good enough, that booking space at the event had been worthwhile.
"It was what we expected, maybe better than what we hoped for," says Doug Banfelder of Premier Southwest Insurance Group, who specializes in insurance for marijuana-related businesses.
We went on Saturday and snapped the pictures you see here. It wasn't as big of an event as we'd expected; the booths didn't go all the way around the stadium's interior, but ended abruptly at either end. Judging by both the appearance of the attendees and the type of products and services offered, the event seemed to be more about marijuana than medical marijuana. Some may view this as a problem, but we don't: Perhaps the neatest thing about the expo was simply to see so many different vendors and people interested in all things weed. Prop 203 signaled the dawn of a new and much higher day in Arizona, and it all came together at the expo.
Despite the marijuana theme and the ability of out-of-state medical card holders to possess pot legally, no one was arrested at the expo for any reason, Glendale police confirm. Someone smelled dope smoke drifting around at one point, Wolfe says, but the secret smoker wasn't found. Signs at the entrance warned participants that using medical weed wasn't allowed.
"The only eviction we had was one vendor who tried to sneak out the back door without paying their bills," Wolfe says.
One of the biggest successes at the expo, Wolfe says: Kip Anderson of the California-based SuperCloset sold six of his automated, ready-to-roll grow rooms for $77,000 apiece.
Bill Fitzgerald of the Tempe-based Qualified Patient Centers estimates that only about 4,000 people total showed up to the expo during the event's two main days, Friday and Saturday.
"I had a really, really bad show," Fitzgerald says, adding that fewer people consulted with the center's doctor than expected.
Bummer. But then, with medical marijuana card applications accepted by the state only as of last week, the big party's still just getting started.
Images: Ray Stern
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