DON’T SMOKE THE MESSENGER: The THC Fair – Four Years In
On the 1st day of August, 2015—exactly one month after cannabis became legal in Oregon—The THC Fair (The Hemp and Cannabis Fair) held its first cannabis industry expo here in Southern Oregon. There was a buzz about town. Especially if you were a consumer who wanted a glimpse into the elusive industry.
For both days of that first show in 2015, the line of people to get in before doors opened stretched the length of the big Expo building and rounded the corner out of sight. Rumors circulated—and were confirmed—about free samples joints and cartridges. Real life cannabis companies were coming out and showing their faces to the public, many for the first time ever. Medical dispensaries advertised their upcoming plans for recreational sales. A few companies with new products and technologies piqued the interest of curious consumers or those with hopes of joining the thrill of the “green rush”. Education was heavy on the minds of those involved. Making a good impression in the community was important.
Fast forward to February 2019. The hemp and cannabis industries here in Oregon have changed quite a bit. While the picture of what the “green rush” looks like has drastically shifted, the THC Fair kept it fresh and, as usual, excelled at showcasing the new face of hemp and cannabis.
Technologies and product demonstrations expanded and were more advanced. Some familiar companies are indeed surviving and thriving in the midst of flux. I saw community faces like Emerald Triangle Dispensary, Smokin’ Deals Glass, Trim Camp, Southern Oregon Bokashi and Vic’s Sticks just to name a few. Part of me is nostalgic for the excitement surrounding OLCC regulated cannabis in Oregon that was showcased at the first Hemp and Cannabis Fair. But something else was commanding all the attention this year at The Hemp and Cannabis Fair.
The source of all the buzz—and it reflects the shift in the industry—was around hemp. Hemp is low-THC cannabis: all varieties of the cannabis plant that test below .3% THC. And not only has the ODA (Oregon Department of Agriculture) hemp licensing program been fully operational for a couple years now, but the U.S. 2018 Farm Bill officially legalized hemp nationwide. Now, in what is a struggling industry for some, many are finding a natural shift into a new sector: hemp & CBD (cannabidiol) products.
Companies focused on the hemp & CBD side of the market were easily the most common booth at the show. From hemp genetics and flowers to finished consumer products like tinctures and lip balm, it was a new kind of THC Fair. The vibe was great, and still reflects the excitement that surrounds cannabis. It was an opportunity to see some new faces in the community who feel comfortable enough to come out and check out what cannabis has to offer. Medically minded companies like Focus Hemp and unique marketing-driven companies like Hemp is the New Gold Rush all got the chance to showcase America’s newest legal commodity.
It was the year of hemp for the THC Fair, and it looks as though hemp is looking to be a front-runner for the foreseeable future.