The Cannabis Congress is in town and, no, that smell is not in the air.
Organizers of the Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition say they expect more than 2,000 people at the event Thursday and Friday at the John B. Hynes Convention Center in Boston.
It’s the first time this particular exposition has come to town. The organizers also held events this year in New York and Los Angeles.
“We are planting our flag here,” said Dan Humiston, an organizer of the show.
“We anticipate the New England area is going to be the next big market for the industry. All the tea leaves say this part of the country will take off.”
The event included more than 100 educational sessions with 150 speakers, Humiston said.
Humiston said there were already 150,000 jobs in the industry, mostly on the West Coast, but “they’re coming this way.”
The exposition hall floor included a wide range of booths for businesses related to the marijuana industry.
One company offered shiny science fiction-looking devices that turn marijuana into oil. Another was a staffing agency for marijuana industry jobs. Another booth was set up with microphones for Cannabis Talk 101 FM radio.
“For every dispensary, there are probably four or five ancillary businesses,” Humiston said.
Massachusetts voters legalized the recreational use of marijuana in a ballot referendum in November.
“One reason why we do a show is so we can demonstrate to people that this is just like your next-door neighbor could be in this industry right now,” Humiston said. “It’s a legitimate industry and there are people that are really benefiting from this.”
“It has changed from being in the shadows . . . to a very professional industry. This is mainstream now,” said Humiston, a slim, balding man in blazer and loafers who wouldn’t look out of place in a financial firm’s office.
Steve Johnson, Eastern Seaboard representative for Advanced Nutrients, a company that specializes in fertilizer for the marijuana industry, said Cannabis World Congress is one of many marijuana expositions that are being held around the country as the industry grows. So far this year he’s been to 50 or 60, he said.
“This is more of a suit-and-tie atmosphere,” he said. “It’s one of the more professional ones.”
Still, some conference attendees didn’t give their names. One explained, “That’s the thing. It’s illegitimate going legitimate. . . . It’s still kind of shady.”
Matthew Andrus was attending because he works as a horticultural specialist for Arborjet, a company that offers organic pest management products to the marijuana industry, among other clients.
“The more growers there are, the more problems come up with the crops, and the more poor decisions people make to fix that,” he said. “The value of the crop is so high that people don’t want to let it succumb to insects.”
Will Read, founder of CannaPlanners, a design and Web development firm that works with people in the marijuana industry, spiced up his booth by showing off and offering tastes of hemp honey, made by one of his clients, Luce Farm of Stockbridge, Vt.
The honey contained CBD, not THC, he said. CBD is also found in marijuana but it is not psychoactive and some claim it has health benefits.
While there may have been no strange smell in the air in the convention hall, the taste was definitely there — in a dab of the sweet goo.