There were cannabis creams and THC soda, doctor green thumbs, hemp nurses, and even a marijuana chef all taking part in the green festivities at HempCon 2010.
Thousands of medical marijuana consumers, advocates and vendors crowded the Los Angeles Convention Center Saturday for the three-day event.
Sporting an artificial marijuana leaf lei, Pomona resident Lastarr Lang said the convention is a chance for medical marijuana patients to learn about new products while vendors promote their gadgets - but for smokers like her it's also about building community.
"There's a lot of people who benefit so much from marijuana...it's good to see them all here enjoying the great atmosphere."
A lupus patient, Lang said marijuana helps her control chronic pain.
"If I wasn't smoking I would be on Vicodin, Naproxin or some other narcotic," Lang said. "I'd become a zombie."
For medical marijuana smokers, the convention offered a massive selection of rainbow-colored glass pipes in every size and price range imaginable. There were also vaporizers on display, for those who prefer inhaling cannabis rather than smoking it, and reusable pot containers for those interested in going green.
Tucked between a hydroponic water system vendor and hemp retailer was also Chef "Herb."
Herb Seisel III by birth, the 25-year cooking vet said that after cooking in restaurants and hospitals for more than two decades he realized that he wanted his food to help people.
By coming up with a line of THC cooking oil and butter, Seisel said he can help patients get their daily dose of cannabis while savoring delicious meals.
"The THC lingers a lot longer when you eat it...it creates a better body high."
Convention attendees had to take his word for it. No marijuana consumption of any kind was allowed at HempCon, even in edible form. Even garden specialists had to use rosemary plants or fakes to simulate the plant.
The irony of hemp not being allowed at a hemp convention reflects the controversy over conflicting laws about marijuana use in California.
Since 1996 medical marijuana has been legal under California state law thanks to Proposition 215 and the Compassionate Use Act. In recent years, the number of dispensaries has exploded, with an estimated 800 to 1,000 in Los Angeles alone.
But marijuana - medical or otherwise - continues to be illegal under federal law. And Los Angeles city officials have launched new efforts to reduce the number of dispensaries.
Some convention attendees still felt nervous speaking publicly about their drug usage.
"There are still people who will harass you if they find out you're a smoker," said Debbie, a 54-year-old woman who refused to give her last name.
The Palm Springs resident said she was pleased to see the marijuana community out in full force, and she hoped that smoking would be legal soon. But until then she still felt she had to hide her marijuana use, even though she's been smoking more than 40 years.
"So many people are still ignorant," Debbie said.
"They believe it's reefer madness...and that may never change."
By Connie Llanos
February 20, 2010
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All things marijuana bloom at convention center