An unconventional convention hit the scene in the Bay area to a menagerie of attendees and products alike.
Picture barrels of bud, full size hemp plants, and industry leaders educating and sharing personal experiences to thousands of participants. This scene didn’t take place in the more cannabis friendly locales of California or Colorado, but instead, smack dab in the middle of the commercial hub of Tampa Bay Florida. This gathering kicked off Saturday, August 6, 2022, to an energized crowd of merchants, activists, and partakers alike, culminating in an atmosphere of merry product testers and inquisitive vendors dispersed throughout the venue, snaked between displays of sweets, smokables, and so much more. Here are Baked in Florida’s thoughts and observations of Kushcon 2022, Tampa Bay.
At face value, a convention centered on THC and cannabis plants would seem like a stoners pipe dream, perhaps something only found in Los Angeles or Denver, or something out right illegal; but Kushcon popped up and featured more hemp-derived products than you can shake a grinder at. Although it’s an easy pun to make, the hemp-derived business atmosphere can be largely described as cloudy at best. Although marijuana remains federally illegal, Kushcon laid bare the culture that surrounds THC and the legal routes available for the public to revel in the perceived benefits and by-products of the cannabis plant. Even in a state like Florida where recreational, adult-use of THC remains illegal, consumer appetite for the effects of THC remains strong and are currently served by way of legally produced, hemp-derived THC products.
The convention featured hundreds of exhibits consisting mostly of product vendors, activist groups, and educational experiences. In our discussions with the inhabitants of these booths we found extreme diversity from minority and veteran owned businesses like Sunbaked Goods and D’z B’z, Inc. to groups that have advocated for the legalization of cannabis for the past 20 years, namely NormL and FLCAN. The back stories of how these people found themselves involved in the industry vary, but their goals are almost always the same; allow people to decide with what and how to medicate themselves for whatever ailment they find THC is helpful for. I’m not sure I’ve seen a convention that was so obviously overflowing with comradery and jubilation. Let’s just say that the jacuzzi convention that was also happening nearby was lacking in the excitement and joy Kushcon had to offer. That being said, I think there’s a real partnership opportunity to pair a hemp-derived THC experience to a nice jacuzzi soak…
Among the speakers giving educational and anecdotal presentations, I was surprised at the attendance of licensed doctors, government officials, and most notably, a candidate for Governor of Florida. Nikki Fried took the stage alongside representatives of Florida’s Division of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FLDACS) to help assure the public as to the State’s involvement in the budding industry and her plans to lead the adult-use, recreational legalization effort as Governor. Her tenure as the Florida Commissioner of Agriculture has been largely marked by her involvement in the legalization of hemp and hemp-derived products, so it would come as no surprise to me that she would continue the cannabis fight at the next level. As an emerging business ourselves, I was quite pleased to see FLDACS present, energized, and motivated to inform and assist the public with their cannabis endeavors. It’s always great to see one’s government making positive strides to serve the public’s needs.
By Sunday afternoon, this room full of strangers quickly evolved, turning into a gathering of friends who may have just met, but certainly connected over a commonly held affinity for cannabis. It may be expected though, given the relaxing effects of THC and the friendly nature of all those present. It’s not yet known where the next Kushcon will be held but Baked in Florida will make every effort to attend once more as it’s truly an experience that can’t be missed. We certainly encourage you to attend next time too!