Washington state

Upscale cannabis convention aims to take state industry to the next level

Your budtender might well be among the first to enjoy the refurbished Tacoma Dome.

After weeks of removing and replacing seats and doing other upgrades totaling $30 million, the Dome is heading into fall with expos and trade shows as it eases into the return of headlining concerts.

The Cannabis and Comedy Convention, presented by marijuana data website Lemonhaze, is set for Oct. 25-26, a week after the Tacoma Holiday Food and Gift Festival.

The convention is billed as “the first true I-502 convention, with an expected audience of 5,000 industry members ranging from producers to processors and retailers as well as ancillary support businesses.” (Initiative 502 is the measure voters approved in 2012 legalizing recreational marijuana for those 21 and older.)

The goal of October’s gathering is to provide a broader networking opportunity for those attending and participating.

“I was tired of going to conventions, buying a booth and the only visitors were the other booth buyers,” said organizer Brian Yauger, president and co-founder of Lemonhaze.com.

The event will host meetings of the Cannabis Organization of Retail Establishments (C.O.R.E.), the Cannabis Alliance, the Washington Sungrowers Industry Association and NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).

“This is a convention where people in the industry come together for decisions that need to get made for the industry,” Yauger said. “All of these groups are coming to have their meetings and set agendas for 2019 at convention.”

Some of the panel topics at the convention will include creating your brand, confessions of a budtender, investing, banking, women’s leadership in the cannabis industry and vaping technology.

Some of the continuing education workshops (which can allow attendees to complete hours that count toward medical certification credits) include pain and cannabis, distinguishing folklore from science, budtending 101 and a forum on terpenes, the oils that give pot its aroma.

As for the comedy part of the convention, organizers have announced comic Doug Benson as a headliner. Others include Donnell Rawlings of “The Chappelle Show,” Judah Friedlander of “30 Rock,” and Jessimae Peluso from “Girl Code.”

This will be the third cannabis event presented at the Dome. A business expo was held in 2016 and CannaCon came to the venue in 2014.

General admission is $299 for two days. However, admission is free to those working in the state industry (with proof of employment) and cannabis workers’ guests get in for $20. Tickets go on sale July 24. More information is available at lemonhaze.com.

Debbie Cockrell: 253-597-8364, @Debbie_Cockrell