Pubdate: Fri, 21 Apr 2017
Source: Calgary Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network
Author: Bill Kaufmann
Page: A11


Upcoming weed expo at Stampede Park expected to match Edmonton trade

Taboos over marijuana are going up in smoke, supercharging cannabis
expos in Alberta, including one taking seed in Calgary next month, say

Fuelled by a buzz over impending national legalization and eight U.S.
states that have dropped pot prohibition, an Edmonton trade show held
in early April exceeded attendance expectations, said Kevin Blackburn
of organizer Canwest Productions.

"We were hoping for 3,000 to 5,000 people and we doubled that," he

"We expect the same, if not better, in Calgary."

There's no question the momentum in marijuana's mainstreaming is
drawing both exhibitors and the curious out of the weeds for events
such as the Calgary Cannabis and Hemp Expo at Stampede Park's Big Four
Building May 6-7, said Blackburn.

"The stigma's constantly melting away - you're talking about
multi-million dollar companies and mom and pop outfits being
represented," he said, adding the May event's growth forced it to
expand its footprint at the Big Four to 33,000 sq. ft.

He compared the acceptance to that experienced by another yearly event
held by his company, the Taboo Naughty but Nice Sex Show.

"Fifty Shades of Grey came out and more people came out," said

When attendees arrive at the show featuring 110 exhibitors sponsored
by medical marijuana specialists Lift Resource Centre, they still
won't find jarred buds or skunky smoke drifting to the ceiling.

Those are still violations of the law but show-goers will find
glassblowers crafting bongs and a beer garden serving a uniquely
topical product, said the organizer.

"There'll be organic hemp ale," he said.

On April 13, Ottawa announced legislation to legalize recreational
marijuana use by the middle of 2018, leaving many of the logistical
details for the provinces to determine.

Momentum for Bill C-45 and a wider societal embrace has seen an
astonishing traction felt by Alberta's cannabis community, said Keith
Fagin of Calgary 420.

"Oh, big-time, we're having five expos here this year compared to just
one last year," said Fagin, who attended the April 1-2 Edmonton event
and will have a booth at the Big Four show in May.

The Hempfest Cannabis show at the Big Four last October was the first
of its kind in Alberta and a harbinger of things to come, said Fagin,
who's toiled in the pro-marijuana trenches since it was barely on the
cultural fringe.

Compared to B.C.'s Lower Mainland, which has long been a fantasyland
of pot dispensaries, Alberta's seen as a marijuana backwater, with
Calgary known as the city where cannabis crusaders are still rousted
by police, acknowledged Fagin.

"We're looked on as a bunch of backwards, inbred hillbillies," said

While tens of thousands gather annually in Vancouver for brazenly hazy
420 celebrations, Fagin still counsels the hundreds who mingle in
Calgary to act gingerly with their joints and pipes.

"We've avoided getting arrested, having police wade in and everybody
scatter," he said.

But Fagin said times are changing, and fast. "It's about time," he
said. Canwest's Blackburn doesn't have much doubt, either.

"The next time around, we'll be in a larger hall - it'll double," he
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