Cannabis convention first of its kind in state

Cassie Coble of the Lakewood Patient Resource Center, a medical marijuana dispensary, sells doobtubes Friday at the Colorado Cannabis Convention In Denver. The product is a vial that holds the weed.

DENVER — It seemed like a convention much like any other except there were no Shriners donning their tasseled hats or “Hi, I’m Joe” name tags to be seen anywhere.

There were, however, lots of paraphernalia adorned with marijuana leaves, cannabis T-shirts and booth after booth of medical marijuana dispensaries, some even handing out coupons offering free samples.

Oh, and of course there were several vendors selling pipes and hemp products everywhere at the first-ever Colorado Cannabis Convention.

“Would you ever have expected to see something like this five years ago?” asked Henry Kyle, a longtime lobbyist from the Colorado Capitol. “This is definitely a growth industry.”

Thousands of people paid the $15 entry fee at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver for what event organizers called the largest marijuana convention in U.S. history.

Not only is it featuring discussions on medical marijuana in Colorado and elsewhere in the nation, but various other aspects of what many convention-goers hope eventually will lead to legalizing the herb.

“That’s where we’re going to end up,” said Don Pope, volunteer patient coordinator for Sensible Colorado, a Denver-based advocacy group that’s pushing for state regulations that favor medical marijuana dispensaries.

People such as Pope, Kyle and Denver attorney Mike Selinfreund have been finding lots of work in recent months related to the emerging industry.

For Pope, it’s all about helping patients get the marijuana he says they need to cope with pain.

For Kyle, it’s about helping people in that business and the larger industry of legalized pot get it done right.

And for Selinfreund, it’s a new specialty in the law that he’s using to expand his client base.

“People ask me lots of questions about how the regulations are going in the (Colorado) Legislature,” Selinfreund said. “There’s a lot of interest not only here in Colorado, but other states, too.”

Kyle said two measures now working their way through the Legislature favor the dispensary system, but that won’t come about if people already working in the industry don’t realize they can’t get everything they want.

Legitimacy is what the industry lacks, and new regulations on how dispensaries should be operated is the fastest way to get there, he said.

“There are a lot of uneducated people in this industry who need to know how things get legitimized,” Kyle said. “They don’t know how to do it, and I want to help.”

Pope said he has heard from plenty of people who believe those regulations are going to put many smaller dispensaries out of business.

While he agreed with Kyle that new regulations on how they operate are necessary, he fears lawmakers might lose sight of the real goal, to make sure patients such as himself can get the marijuana they need.

The convention, which continues today, will provide an update on how those regulations are proceeding and what it will mean toward the potential goal of legalizing marijuana for everyone.

The event is sponsored by and Kush, a Colorado magazine that focuses on the “cannabis lifestyle.”

During today’s sessions, convention-goers not only can learn about state and federal laws surrounding marijuana and how they interact, but what to do with it, including cooking and growing it at home.

Chefs and master gardeners are standing by.


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