Jon R. – PNW CannaReviews
The stage is set, booths are up, and the noise of the crowd gets louder and louder. Hundreds of people gathered in Portland, Oregon on March 28th and 29th this year for the second Oregon Hemp Convention at the Portland Expo Center. I had the opportunity to attend this event, make some connections, and find plenty of items to follow up on for reviews! That’s me there at the Leafly booth, earning a cool beanie that we’ll be giving away soon!
The event was in support of the Oregon Food Bank, an agency whose mission states: “To eliminate hunger and its root causes … because no one should be hungry. “ Giant white bins stood near the entrance for attendees to bring in canned food for donation.
Taken from Oregon Hemp Convention’s website, their mission was “to provide a global venue for Consumers, growers, CannaBusinesses, entrepreneurs, investors, and community partners to showcase industry products and make valuable business to business connections. Cultivating business values within the cannabis industry through education and responsible community involvement. The Oregon Hemp convention is an outlet for creating and strengthening lifelong partnerships within the emerging cannabis industry. We are dedicated to creating the premier environment in Oregon for CannaBusiness relationships to grow.”
Just like their mission stated, this was more of a trade expo than a public convention. This was mainly for businesses, growers, investors, and their partners to mix and network rather than a public event to educate them on the many canna-businesses that exist in Oregon today.
Crowds gathered around booths with swag and concentrates
The event began at 11 am each day, and the crowds were slow to trickle in until around 1 pm or so. We were there early both days and filming for a time lapse was easy at first, and then we had to extend the camera above the crowd to get good footage with the size of the crowds. The attendance was about twice what it was the first time this event ran, and it showed when you were trying to get to that booth to see a demo or grab some swag!
Let’s talk about the exhibits first shall we? There were 103 exhibitors listed and we hit them all! We did a lot of talking, made a lot of contacts, and had a lot of good impressions.
There were very little in the way of hemp specific booths and education that we were able to find. This was a HEMP convention, but we only found 2-3 booths out of 103 that were hemp focused and one of them only focused on providing a hemp museum, their products weren’t primarily hemp based. They were cannabis products, yes, but they weren’t hemp based but derived from cannabis with THC in it.
We saw everything from trimming machines to packaging and everything in between. Everything from seed to sale was represented, with seed banks showing off their genetics to enterprise companies showing off their cannabis specific Customer Relationship Management systems, like the one from BioTrack THC, which track everything from seed to sale with all of the correct regulations in place. There were clothing companies galore, and a few shops showing off their glassware.
Extraction companies were there to show off their stuff too! Golden Xtrx, Pop Naturals, Co2 Company and Mad Farma were there to show off what they can do. Some of the cleanest extractions in the state were represented, and we have to give a big thanks to Pop Naturals for the cool swag bag and t-shirts!
Education abounded during the event. Companies like Leafly, Certified Kind, and Cause-M were there to promote their causes and to educate us on strains, organic growing and certifications, and legal issues that are happening in Oregon and Washington. The guys at Cause-M even gave us a couple of shirts for a giveaway, stay tuned for that to come soon!
There were plenty of guest speakers as well. Doug Fine, Jeff Foster, Colby Woodall, and Neil Juneja were the keynote speakers and there were plenty of other speakers there as well with educational information regarding legal issues, growing, making concentrates, and a slew of other things to learn in the realm of cannabis. It quickly became apparent that the sound system was unable to keep up with the growth the festival experienced and it was difficult to hear what was being said. At one point, we took time from our wandering to sit dead center in front of the stage and we were STILL unable to make out what was being said.
We were also unable to pin down a list of where we could find the speakers after the fact, nor was there a green room. Due to those factors, I really don’t have much to report on the speakers beyond the fact that the people in charge need better sound equipment.
The after party was held at Bossanova Ballroom, in downtown Portland, about 20 minutes away from the Expo Center. We decided that fashionably late was the way to go, and although it ran from 8 pm to 1 am, we didn’t arrive until about 10 pm. We should have skipped the thing and enjoyed our Jacuzzi instead! There was a decent band playing (forgive us for not knowing the name), but there was less than 20 people there and NOTHING was going on. We left right away and ended back at the hotel room.
In the end, this wasn’t the cannabis celebration I expected it to be. This was the industry coming together to show their legitimacy and the hard work they are all doing as legalization gains footholds all over the country. Hopefully more hemp companies join in next time, but we look forward to the 3rd annual event in 2016 after recreational has legalized cannabis in Oregon and the event can grow and be much more inclusive!
See everyone there next time……stay irie!