Through a fortunate turn of events, Citizen LA found itself at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the THC EXPOSE. Three days of booths, buds and babes; a wet-dream for anybody in the ‘business’… and it was anyone’s for the taking.
This incredible gathering of entrepreneurs, activists and gurus was truly a sight to behold. Among the six hundred plus vendors that participated was everything from self-contained grow contraptions to iconic THC related apparel to ‘inspired’ pieces of art. Vendors and sponsors were poised to capitalize on the ever-nearing legalization of this miracle plant. As for the attendees, an army of devoted fans kept the place a-buzz with a spirit of hope. All this love methodically packed under the austere crown of the LA Convention Center and lit for all to indulge. The stigma of stoners too high to organize and mobilize themselves is now officially a thing of the past.
So what did I know about the multi-faceted world of cannabis, hemp or grow-lights before attending this event? Almost nothing. Ok… yes, many of our comrades have smoked weed. And yes, a few acquaintances have cultivated it. But thanks to my whirlwind course in higher-education, this unjustifiably demonized lifestyle choice has undoubtedly presented itself as a viable solution for many of our nation’s ailments.
It was after watching a documentary entitled “The Union: The Business Behind Getting High”, when it all began to gel. This documentary by filmmaker Adam Scorgie is a comprehensive look into the potential of a natural, resilient weed with a long and amazing history. On the whole, this film is a serious revelation. The biggest eye-opener was the incredible versatility of hemp and the Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) molecule. This quick growing, environmentally friendly, uber-versatile Swiss-army plant can be used to create thousands of products that include fuel, paper, food, textiles, biodegradable plastics and construction materials. Not to mention an entire industry that is convinced of this weed’s ability to offer health benefits for mental and physical disorders.
Throughout history, agriculturalists around the WORLD have successfully cultivated this plant INCLUDING the good ‘ol USofA. Not only was it perfectly legal but our government pressured many farmers into growing the wacky weed. In fact, Cannabis was at one time the most lucrative cash crop in our nation’s history. That’s right folks…marijuana.
So what happened? How did we get here? Well, it’s complicated.
At the beginning of the 19th century marijuana was systematically demonized as a substance which supposedly, when ingested by the ‘darker skinned’ of America, unleashed animalistic tendencies. (You don’t need pot to do that! The LAPD is much more effective.) This baloney was followed by the release of a film entitled “Reefer Madness” which added insult to injury by propagating an unwarranted fear towards marijuana use and unabashedly disseminated misinformation aimed to save an unsuspecting white ‘America’ from undesirables. Not cool. A few years later it was legalized for a short while to help the war effort. But due to its uncanny ability to invoke peace, it was once again made illegal.
Let’s get our vacillating legislature straight fellas!
THC’s biggest opponent? The US government and the ‘Weed Czars’ who actually benefit from Tetrahydrocannabinol’s Schedule I classification. Placing THC in this category means that pot has more in common with substances such as PCP and Heroine and less to do with Cocaine or raw opium. WTF? Who makes up these capricious definitions and labels? Probably the same corrupt system that arbitrarily assigns community service hours and court fees to a submissive public. And to top it off, the Community Service division ONLY ACCEPTS CASH? Who’s greasing who??? Ugh.
The US estimated spent $22 billion on their “War on Drugs” crusade in 2009; that’s roughly $700 per second! Of that over $9 billion is spent on marijuana offenses including incarceration expenditures and rehabilitation and prevention measures in ONE YEAR. Conversely The EPA will supposedly administer $7 billion by way of the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” on clean water initiatives throughout the US in the next FEW YEARS. Is it really more important to stop a nation from medicating itself with a relatively harmless substance (no more dangerous than alcohol) rather than to bring clean water to people who are DYING?
So how many people have died from a marijuana overdose and how many people die from lack of clean water? The fact is, not one university or medical facility has ever recorded a single death directly attributed to marijuana. Believe it.
The world is waking up to the fact that a multi-billion dollar illegal THC market is once again blossoming into a multi-billion dollar legal cash crop. Timber companies, fuel companies and uninformed textile companies may abhor the potential of such an easily grown, versatile weed (just like those things that overrun your garden), but we have thousands of level-headed entrepreneurs all over the country feverishly working on how to bring this country out of a recession.
And there were lots of those at the THC EXPOSE. It was extremely apparent that the vendors knew their stuff. One company had a 40 ft. self-contained stealth growing trailer that was truly a ‘Honey Wagon’; putting to shame anything that the movie industry could dream up to pamper their prima donnas. Another had an impressive apparel collection and a webisode named “Seed Hunter” wherein a professional camera crew followed a host throughout the world seeking the perfect ‘seed’. While another offered a wonderful selection of oils and lotions derived from hemp seed oil; this coming from a 15 year old family owned business whose staff was helpful and charming.
Were there a few vendors simply capitalizing on the lifestyle? Of course. But then people make t-shirts and other accessories that glorify alcohol, cocaine, ecstasy, tobacco, domestic abuse, murder and devil worship. Should we close down all the Spenser’s Gifts and Hot Topics in all the malls all over the US and confiscate all their merchandise too?
Important to note that no samples were allowed on the premises. No plants, oils or baked goods that contained any amounts of THC were tolerated; only photos, videos and literature were permitted. But try as they may, the smell of skunky weed managed to permeate the vast floor of the convention center. Oh my!
Quite possibly the worst atrocity committed during the three-day event was the closing of the bar in the VIP room. Rumor has it that the ABC, known for their impeccable timing, shut things down because of the potential of a lethal does of fun. God forbid anybody was to have a good time without greasing the vice squad! Sheesh! THAT pretty much put a kibosh on anyone paying the extra $10 for a VIP ticket.
Another unfortunate incident was the indescribable buzz-kill that happened when the gargantuan loading dock doors were opened at exactly 6pm on a sunny Sunday afternoon. On closing day, when business was wrapping up and the vendors could finally sit back and crack open a bottle of wine, in comes a blinding light and the unholy beeping of devil-driven forklifts. Oh the humanity! It was at that precise moment when everything good came to a screeching halt. It was ugly. There was nowhere to hide.
We desperately tried to round up an army big enough to overrun the union workers but the gears had been set in motion and the little wonderland filled with the hopes and dreams of thousands of little pot-smokers was OVER. Most vendors would have stayed and partied for a while. However, when one particular vendor was asked about the abrupt end, the party-pooper began whining that ‘he had to go home to his wife and kids.’ (I wonder if they knew he was out selling bongs.)
It’s absolutely amazing how much we don’t know about our world, the people in it and especially nature itself. Though the idea of smoking paralyzingly-potent government-grade pot has no allure personally, this little weed is undoubtedly underestimated and wrongly condemned. That’s more than we can say for tobacco and alcohol which kills on a daily basis. You want some clarity? Attend the THC EXPOSE, talk to some people and rent the movie “The Union.” Because ignorance can be the most dangerous enemy and the most addictive drug of all.