Pubdate: Fri, 17 Dec 2010
Source: Denver Post (CO)
Copyright: 2010 The Denver Post Corp
Author: John Ingold
Note: Staff writer Margaret Jackson contributed to this report.


The high temperature in Steve Lach's hometown in Hawaii on Thursday
was 80 degrees, which is to say he had better have a darn good reason
for spending the weekend in chilly Denver.

Starting today, Lach will be hunkered in a booth at KushCon, where he
will be showing off and autographing his handmade smoking pipes, some
of which are plated in 22-karat gold. If ever there were an example of
the gravitational pull KushCon has had on the marijuana industry, Lach
is it.

"The (trade shows) in California pale in comparison," said Lach, who
owns Celebration Pipes. "Colorado is the geographic center of the
universe for this industry."

This edition of KushCon - a "cannabis lifestyle" convention that runs
until Sunday at the Colorado Convention Center - underscores the
state's growing reputation within the pot community.

While Colorado may not yet be the center of marijuana culture, it is
the hub of marijuana business. KushCon organizers and exhibitors say
Colorado's for-profit model - legitimized by laws passed in the
legislature and rules soon to be adopted by state agencies - is the
envy of canna-business owners across the country.

"Denver is the leader in the world," said Michael Lerner, a marijuana
media mogul who is putting on the show. "Colorado is light-years ahead
of the rest of the world in how it regulates and taxes cannabis."

Speaking astronomically about KushCon seems fitting. This second
version of the trade show - the first was in April - stretches over a
cavernous 300,000 square feet in the convention center. More than 500
exhibitors will have booths at the show. Organizers have planned
concerts, cooking classes, glass-blowing demonstrations, skateboarding
exhibitions, panel discussions, speeches and thousands of dollars in

But it is the breadth of the show that makes it significant in the
cannabis world. Lerner, who owns Kush Magazine and, said
exhibitors from Maine to Hawaii and from eight countries are attending.

"This is the first time ever in the cannabis industry that everybody
is under one roof," Lerner said.

That the convention is taking place in Denver is not an accident.
Lerner said the state's booming medical-marijuana industry attracted
him - his media company is based in California - and he said many of
the exhibitors committed to the show because they wanted to see what
is happening in Denver firsthand.

The leaders of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a newly
formed trade group, also chose this week to hold their first meeting.
With a third of the group's members already living in Colorado - and a
number of others coming for the convention - it just made sense, said
Aaron Smith, the group's executive director.

Staff writer Margaret Jackson contributed to this report.
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