In a land where heaps of cannabis have been continually cultivated since at least the 1970s, it's interesting to think new legalization and recreational cannabis laws will have any actual effect on the Oregon scene. At this year's first CannaGrow Expo, a two-day educational event dedicated to the art and science of growing cannabis, it was inherently obvious that two distinct industries are merging and so are all the people and personalities from which Growers and Consumers are comprised.
While walking from booth to booth, I could feel a sense of comradery amongst the exhibitors. Friendly faces answered an array of questions, offering up advice to interested parties. There was an excitement in the air mixed with possibilities of what’s to come. The room’s collective conscious was buzzing. Growers with over 25 years of experience stood beaming.
Take Forever Green Indoors, for example, whose 'horticultural technology solutions' (LED growhouse lights) offer razor sharp computer controlled variable spectrum lighting to commercial growers. And while their products aren't marketed specifically to consumers at a retail level, customer service manager Pamela Lemon exclaimed, “Multitudes of people have been ordering our commercial lighting sets for their home grows.” With LED drawing less power and offering increased yields over traditional lighting rigs, this is an obvious choice for home growers. But perhaps not so obvious were solutions for the humble home grower at the CannaGrow Expo.
Despite its leanings toward large-scale cannabis production (think 300lb CO2 tanks, greenhouse construction materials, nutrient solutions by the barrel), there were distinct purveyors of more modest applications such as Grass Roots Fabric Pots. Through bypassing typical plastic flower beds, their soft-sided bags encourage the growth of stronger root systems. They manufacture fabric planters in sizes from 5 to 600 gallons. Grass Roots were generous enough to offer plenty of free five gallon samples to take - a perfect compliment for the young clones I plan to nurture now that growing up to four plants per household is legal in Oregon. And while I didn't see any of their 600 gallon bags, my imagination went wild at the thought of sifting through the field of sweet strong rooted cheeba trees that vessel could contain.
Others like Mike McCulley of MasterPlans talked to attendees with confidence and brevity as he sees the future in both medical and recreational legalization. His business consulting enterprise is poised to offer insight and guidance to those seeking assistance and possibly funding with cannabis startups. Attorney Paul Loney was on hand to discuss marijuana law. Green Leaf Lab and Cascadia Labs were in attendance, boasting their abilities to test flowers and concentrates for purity and terpene profiles.
Over the course of the two days, lectures and seminars ensued in two rooms attached to the back of the exhibit hall. Talks of terpenes and cannabinoids peppered conversations. The most obvious of themes were recited a few times over; any savvy connoisseur could exit this expo with enough knowledge to yield strong hearty plants and access all the tools to grow them.
Lectures covered a variety of topics, focusing on the art of soil ecology, understanding growing laws, the science of lighting, cultivation using aquaponics, advanced vacuum oven extraction techniques, and branding cannabis business ventures. One of my favorite takeaways of the weekend was a talk by Zacariah L. Hildenbrand, Ph.D. who stood determined in his research to deliver dependable medication to patients, stressing the importance of consistency, “A patient deserves to know how their medication will affect them, and to expect those same results time and time again, just like with pharmaceutical prescriptions.“
There was a commanding presence by the Grow for Vets organization who seek to help the increasing number of Oregon veterans obtain free medical marijuana - helping vets find relief from ailments such as PTSD, chronic pain, anxiety - a common range of illnesses suffered among those who serve the armed forces. The CannaGrow Expo was exactly what any great expo should be; a place for movers and shakers in a given field to meet and exchange ideas, a place to experience a variety of emerging products, innovations, and personalities. A place to grow.