CannaCon: Marijuana industry’s largest national convention opens in Tacoma

TACOMA — Vendors at Tacoma’s first ever cannabis convention say they are not just growing marijuana, they are trying to grow some respect for their industry.

CannaCon started Thursday and will open to the public this weekend. The point of the convention is to clear the air about the serious side of the state’s marijuana industry.

More than 400 vendors are selling everything from grow lights to childproof weed containers to high-temperature hemp oil extractors.

“There’s so much innovation in this industry it’s amazing,” said Bob Smart who started CannaCon.

Smart is not allowing any marijuana to be consumed at this event to set a serious tone with the public and legislators. He hopes politicians will declassify pot from its status as a federally banned “Schedule I” drug.

“So if all we ever get to see… the public ever gets to see is us smoking pot somewhere — that’s not going to get us anywhere,” said Smart.

But public perception isn’t the only roadblock for Washington’s growing marijuana industry which pulled in nearly $4 million in the first month of operation.

Ed Stremlow runs a marijuana testing lab called Analytical 360. He says medical pot — which is not regulated by the state — presents a big problem. It is cheaper than recreational pot and generally of higher quality.

Stremlow says putting medical and recreational pot in competition is simply feeding the illegal weed market that I-502 was supposed to stop.

“That’s exactly what we’re going to have,” Stremlow said. “We’re going to have a black market that will benefit more than medical or legalization does from the legalization of marijuana.”

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