A Look Into The 1st New England Cannabis Convention
By FoyeTwenty of MassCann/NORML
“I didn’t know what to expect,” seemed to be the reoccurring sentiments at this past weekends first-ever New England Cannabis Convention (NECC). At first glance it appeared to be like any other cannabis community gathering that are becoming more and more common all over the Country. Vendors were present selling the usual stoner starter kits; glass pieces, grinders, t-shirts, hats, dab accessories, vaporizers, etc. As well as grow supplies and gardening needs. But there was something more in the air this weekend in the historic Castle at Park Plaza, and it definitely wasn’t the weed because there was no smoking on premises.
What was noticeably different at the NECC was the full crowd of business minded individuals looking for the best way to get their foot in the door of the Massachusetts cannabis industry. Young attendees with their parents in tow, trying to sell them on the new legitimacy of this developing industry, and ganjapreneurs both veteran and hopefuls alike were all a refreshing sight. Instead of the usual questions of where the best place to cop some smoke was, attendees seemed more interested in getting their resumes to the right people, and all weekend long you really felt like you were in the right place to do just that.
It was a little intimidating at first diving into the packed house of gainful employment hopefuls, and it seemed everywhere you turned people were deep in conversation that was hard to interrupt. Every booth you came up to was packed, and I loved eavesdropping in on the knowledge and ideas that were being dispensed to the masses. It was almost like you had to just bite the bullet and get in there to be apart of the action.
My first stop off was at the MassCann/NORML booth to see how the team was doing. Of course our team was doing great and holding it down as usual. It seems that in just the few years since decriminalization, MassCann/NORML has really grown into a household name. Gone are the years and events when people simply knew us as, “The guys that do Hempfest” and our biggest chore was explaining to them how it was The Boston Freedom Rally.
MassCann partnered up with CBDplease.com to share a booth and it was a great joint effort. The crowd was very interested in learning about the benefits of the great CBD strains MassCann’s own Bill Downing has to offer from his Allston MA shop.
Venturing into the crowd it was a delight to see my Quincy hometown heroes of the New England Grassroots Institute holding it down and, as always, having a good time doing it. Not too far away were the new guys on the block at the Northeastern Institute of Cannabis booth which was hopping because of a giveaway prize wheel that had more “Free Class” prizes on it then stickers or buttons. And winners of the prize wheel were excited to be able to choose from the entire 12 course curriculum NIC has to offer when choosing their prize.
But it wasn’t just the patient and vocational training institutes that emphasized the moves towards legitimacy. There is now a diverse selection of testing labs in MA that are there not only for grower and extraction artist bragging rights, but for patient and product safety and quality assurances. MCR Labs out of Framingham has been around for a little bit now and are my go to guys for when I need some product testing, but ProVerde Laboratories and Medical Genomics were some new additions to the scene.
Before you can get your meds tested however you need to get that physician medical recommendation and the Uplifting Health and Wellness booth had you covered. The knowledge and understanding of the benefits of cannabis by owner and operator Dr. Uma Dhanabalan is unsurpassed. And if you happened to see her at the Saturday night VIP after party at the Emerald Lounge, she can dance her ass off too!
The weekend’s events were just filled with friends, family and familiar faces, from The Young Jurks Radio show, The Hempest, Greenleaf magazine, 1000Watts magazine, Greenside Up Gallery, Twisted Dreams Radio, Digboston, Parents4Pot, Massachusetts Patients Advocacy Alliance (MPAA), Mass Cannabis Consulting INC, and much more.
Education has always been key in changing the hearts and minds in any war, and the drug war has been no different. The NECC had plenty of opportunities to expand on your knowledge of the cannabis community. In depth panels and discussions on everything from activism, politics, grow methods, medicating methods, media perspectives, state and federal regulations, as well as patient’s rights and needs were held throughout the entire event. With a who’s who of cannabis community activists from Maine State Rep Diane Russel, WEEI’s Mikey Adams, DigBoston columnist Mike Cann and Chris Faraone, Rhode Island’s own extraction’s Head of State Bobby Nuggz, MPAA’s Niki Smokes, Newton native and Steep Hill Halent Labs co-founder Addison Demoura, PhillyNORML’s NA Poe, the Most Dangerous Stoner in America Dr. Keith Saunders, and many more. Even Boston sports anchor legend Bob Lobel was in attendance to show his support. The all encompassing combined knowledge of the activists, doctors, politicians, patients, and professionals that graced the stage of the NECC over this past weekend was impressive and inspiring to say the least.
The continued growth of the movement and the community has never been more evident than at events like the New England Cannabis Convention. We’ve come a long way since the days when cops would have triple figure arrests at the Boston Freedom Rally, that’s for sure. The status quo has definitely shifted and we must never forget how good we have it here in New England, specifically in Massachusetts, in relations to many other parts of the Country. But it’s sometimes hard to keep things in perspective at events like these, that we are still at war in our cause for cannabis freedom. People are still going to jail for a plant, patients are still unable to acquire the medicine they need through legal means, out of date CORI regulations are still hindering people’s livelihoods, and federal laws still trump state regulations. No matter how good we may think we have it, and no matter how much money can be made in this new industry, we must not lose focus of the ultimate goal of freedom for all. Not just the ones that can afford to invest and reap the benefits of a regulated industry.
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