Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comedian, takes the edge off of the world and explains all those unexplained things in a way that will make you either laugh or cry.

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My thoughts on the Cannabis and Hemp Expo, San Francisco September 2010


I can now form complete sentences. It has been two days since I’ve packed my booth up at the 2nd Cannabis and Hemp Expo at the Cow Palace. After a weekend of ingesting basically anything that can be infused with WEED, starting off with the usual suspects; brownies, cupcakes, and cookies- and later downing the new and unusual, Marijuana-laced Beef Jerky, Funny Honey, Sativa-tinged lemonade, magic-granola, THC-dosed fruit juice and my favorite, the Dank Treats.

It’s been two days since I made it home, and now, the Pot hangover is finally lifting.

These are my thoughts in no particular order…stand back…I may need a spotter…


On Friday while I was setting up my booth for my spectacular, cool Marijuana-based coffee mugs; someone asked me if it was a good idea to be in the ‘Indoor 215 Area.’ That was the first time, I wondered if the weekend was going to be a blue-smoked-blunder. Y’know, the decisions you make while stoned.

For the uninitiated, the Cannabis and Hemp Expo at the Cow Palace, is, was, and segmented into four separate areas. The North Hall (where I was in April of this year, last time I did this) where it is all ages and they have speakers and lecturers intersperse with the more none-in-your-face booths selling pipes, papers, stash containers and a host of roach clips. Think family-friendly.

The second section was in the South Hall. That section was bigger than the North Hall, but not as rocking as the section I was in (the Indoor 215 area.) but nothing compared with the Outdoor 215 area. (More about that later.) Here you could find Norml, ASA, and other progressive thinkers, along with many other Pot-related booths like the great Doob-tube guy, Crazy Ray C., the comic-book guy who was selling underground comics from the Sixties, plus more of the pipe and papers people. There had to be about forty to seventy booths in this part of the Cow Palace.

Now walking through a pulled-curtain with security checking for wrist-bands was the section I was in-Indoor 215.

At first I thought I had made a complete stoner mistake. While setting up my booth, I realized that the only people, who were going to be allowed in this section, and the Outdoor 215, were people with Medical Marijuana cards.

There was talk that about 15,000 Pot enthusiasts were expected to show up for the weekend. How many would have cards to get into these areas? Did I just screw myself over by thinking that I wanted to be where I thought the cools kids were hanging out at?

I left after setting up my booth on Friday, after being filmed by CBS news, (da media luv da mugs) I thought I had made a huge mistake, financially, and if I may say so, egotistically. Yeah, I wanted to be where you could display Marijuana, like in my section. Also, I paid another five hundred to be with the cool kids, opposed to the two other less expensive areas where Marijuana is not allowed to be shown or touch or played with, like you could do where I was.

Yeah, there were booths in my section that if you could correctly SMELL the strain, they’d give you a bud. There were hash-give-aways and if you signed up on a dispensary’s mailing list, you’d get a bud. Yeah, there was a lot of free Marijuana that was being given away. I heard from my buddies at three different dispensaries, that each had given away two pounds EACH over the two days. I think there must have been about forty dispensaries handing out WEED. You do the fuzzy math and figure out how much was really given away…

From my section, the Indoor 215, there was a path that led to the Outdoor 215 area. Here, there was a DJ huffing on a major glass bong while he whips out some ganja-jamming beats.

There was a marked area where folks could light up and smoke, and light up and smoke they did. This area was blazing. This small area of forty-by-fifty seemed to be what the whole weekend was about. The freedom to blaze at your own will. Even though everyone had a card in the area, you couldn’t get in without one, it was a huge Pot Party. It was like everyone had left their homes to be with a larger group of people, that you could get stoned with.

If it wasn’t for the booth babes in bikinis, little school-girl outfits and nurses uniforms hawking flyers and giving away samples, you could have mistaken the Expo for a frat party with all the legacy members attending…

Make no mistake about it, the Cannabis and Hemp Expo was cool because, there’s really nothing like it…except there was…



The opening day, Saturday, was one of the hottest days of the year so far. Traffic was way down. People were out doing stuff after a summer of over-cast skies. On that opening day, I sold less than half of what I had done in April, at the last and FIRST Hemp Expo.

Vendors were nervous and apparently there were some logistical problems that were going on back of house that some of us got a whiff of, and that was hard with all the second-hand pot smoking going around.

It seems that nobody was going to the North section at all. It was ghost-town. Most people were beating cheeks to the Outdoor section. Again, most people smoked a joint before leaving the house. Blew a few bowls on the way over. Then once in the Cow Palace, hustled over to the Outdoor section, and continued smoking.

I’m no scientist, but I think people like to get high.

At this point I realized that being where I was, was a good thing, even if sales were down.

Leaving Saturday with my booth crew, I was bummed. If I didn’t have a better second day, I could stand to lose a couple of thousands of dollars…

On the way out, I asked a buddy of mine over at the Teahouse Collective, how did they do? He said, “Great, but when you’re giving away free Marijuana, it is hard to gauge.”

“Wonderful,” I thought.


Sunday was going to be different, I promised myself, and it was. There were many challenges on Saturday that I do not want to go over, but the Expo was slightly different this time. I think the biggest difference between the Expo I attended in April and the one over the past weekend was…the very first one, was the first one of its kind. This guy Bob Katzman had pulled off a WEED trade-show and no one thought he could have done it, plus, we were allowed to smoke. Legally.

But since those hallowed days of spring, there has been something like five Expos of this type here in the Bay Area. Not to mention L.A. and Orange County.

Seven months ago, an event like this was unheard of. Now, since someone has sold their email listings, I get hit on about once a week for a new trade show or Marijuana-oriented festival. The Green Rush is on…

 So Sunday was a much better day. The Expo-goers were cooler and for some reason, more folks were buying. In my area, a debate was staged between the ‘Know on Prop. 19’ Weedsters and the potheads who were for it. Very interesting talk.

Proposition 19 was the talk of the Expo. Will it pass? Won’t it? I’m for it and here’s why…

By Eleven AM Sunday, the North Hall was closed and the all the vendors from that area squeezed into the open booths in the South Hall, where Norml and other sellers that didn’t display real WEED.

Again, I am skipping over much that had happen, but the pistons in the membrane, still aren’t firing like they should…

Bottom line: I lost money but made many new friends. Most everyone who attended this event over the past weekend was friendly and nice. Yes, most people had a legal smile pasted on, but the vibes were very right-on. People said excuse me when they bumped someone. Joints and edibles were being passed around like it was Woodstock.

I feel a little sorry for the planners. I think Jen had a better time than Bob. My opinion…

It is different to have a trade show for something as so righteous and misaligned as Pot. In another couple of months, it might be legal here. There were insurance agents, convention service people, lawyers, and a host of others offering their services for a new industry.  

Along with the smell of rich Indicas and sweet Sativas, there was a smell of hope in the air. Deals were being made left and right. When people were told how much something would cost. They asked, how much would that be in WEED?

It was a small glimpse of how they do business up north in Mendo.

There is nothing like the Cannabis and Hemp Expo to compare it with? I haven’t been to others, so I don’t know.

I just know that there has been a paradigm shift in the last six months concerning WEED. It’s like watching a genius graduate from high school and having every major college out there begging for it to be part of its fellowship. Everyone’s pulling on the WEED like it is taffy for their own designs.

It is weird after losing some money over the weekend but not really being that bummed. It is too early to tell what I’ve lost. Because I had too much fun being there.

And after it is all said and done, can you really put a price on fun?

And isn’t that really what Marijuana is about? Or used to be…

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