By Bob Strauss, Staff Writer
It wasn't the highest old time you could imagine at the inaugural THC
Expo held at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend.
But even though actual consumption of marijuana was strictly
forbidden at the two-day trade show, the capacity crowd seemed to
enjoy the contact high of checking out booths full of everything from
hemp-oil massage lotions to Marley Brand Jamaican coffee to brochures
from groups like Law Enforcement Against Prohibition - active and
retired cops who want to, well, legalize everything.
"We're gonna do this constantly," said West Hills-based Expo
co-producer Todd McCormick, a legalization advocate who says
marijuana helped him survive a cancer-ridden childhood of severe
chemotherapy side effects.
"It took 11 months of work and a lot of money and organization, but
I'm really happy with how all this is working out. We're real pleased
with the phenomenal turnout."
Bail bondsmen, hawkers of very scary-looking hydroponic growth
accelerator devices and women in gold bikinis packed the convention
hall floor. An over-18-only area had seed packets, many
representatives of Amsterdam-based businesses and a whole alley of
bongs and other smoking paraphernalia that, at retail stores
throughout California if not at this particular venue, must legally
be sold "for tobacco use only."
Even at a place like Daddy's Pipe and Collective, a Sherman Oaks
smoke shop that recently added a medical marijuana dispensary.
"We carry everything from small little glass pipes to 24-inch bongs
and percolator chambers," said Daddy's manager Adam Powers. "We also
give free doctor referrals and have free deals when you sign up as a
Delta 9 is the Sun Valley-based glass company that makes many of the
elaborate pipes sold at Daddy's; a smoked gray water job with a
detailed etching of Jimi Hendrix was a particularly impressive work.
"We specialize, pretty much, in glass water tubes," explained Dennis
Belloso, a Delta 9 sales rep. "We do our own sand-blasting, our own
frosting, and we like to make our designs a little more deep-etched
than anybody else, so you can not only see it, you can feel it."
Chatsworth resident Ashley Gold, 22, was visiting the Expo with a
bunch of her girlfriends and enjoying its general good vibes.
"I'm very much interested in the subject matter," she said. "We're
just here to check out what everybody has to offer. It is a great
turnout. There are a lot of people and a lot of nice people too,
surprisingly. We're about to go over to the other convention; it
might be a little bit different there."
The "other convention" was the EroticaLA porn show held at the same
time in the hall right next door. It's no coincidence that McCormick
and his co-producer, Brian Roberts, scheduled their show on the same weekend.
But not everybody was mellow about a pro-hemp convention taking place
at a city-run facility.
"Our biggest issue with the THC Expo is that their Web site
encouraged kids of all ages to attend," said Paul Howarth, CEO of A
Better Tomorrow Treatment Center, a Murrieta rehab facility. "I'm
embarrassed for the city of Los Angeles, that our city is hosting
such a show."
Howarth asked City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo to shut down the
convention for that reason. The City Attorney's Office declined to do so.