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High Spirits at Hemp and Cannabis Fair in Salem
Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Spirits were high at The Hemp and Cannabis Fair (cleverly nicknamed THC Fair) Saturday as hundreds of people perused the Oregon State Fairgrounds' Expo Center.

Local dispensaries, smoke shops, hemp-based producers and all things cannabis made the event a bustling adventure for vendors, users and anyone curious about hemp or cannabis in general.

"Being able to get our name out there to the public is a big thing," said Aaron Brown, co-owner of Green Cuisine, a company making edible products from Portland. "We're a brand-new company and this is actually our first fair; for budding entrepreneurs and what we're trying to do, this is the best way to get our name out there."

"We see the social aspect, first of all," Brown said. "For example, a couple veterans came by a little bit ago and they were telling us that they just started using cannabis for the first time in their lives recently and that it's better than prescriptions, and that — right there — just sings my heart."

Brown said that in addition to being able to provide that helpful outlet to people, there is also the opportunity to make a profit.

"From the other side of this, we can make a business out of it; I come from a restaurant background, my brothers and father were all restaurant people who also used cannabis," Brown said. "And so it just became a natural combination when we started seeing the industry bud, and we can start to make some different style edibles."

That different style includes nontraditional types of edibles that diverge from the typical brownies, cookies and candies.

"We want to offer a better diversity of edibles to people, not just cookies and cakes and chocolates, but savory snacks as well," Brown said.

Brown said he hopes the rest of the country will legalize cannabis products for use.

"One of the guys I talked to said he's been using cannabis for seven months and it's changed his life, and I know that story is everywhere," Brown said. "If we can get it out of schedule I, we'll finally be able to do some tests and realize just how useful this stuff is."

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I "drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse." Those drugs include heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone and peyote.

"It's so encouraging to see the acceptance behind this. I'm 34, I can remember the time when I had to smoke a joint in the shadows," Brown said. "To be in something like this is personally and professionally great."

The fair continues through 5 p.m. Sunday and offers about 70 different vendors, as well as information sessions that include legal Q & As. There is no consumption of cannabis products allowed at the fair, and samples must be taken and consumed off the location.

Josh Cook, of Salem, said this THC Fair is his first cannabis-related fair he has been to.

"It's pretty cool, you get to see all the variety out there," Cook said. "Everybody's taking samples and just all the culture around it is nice."

Cook said he smokes for recreation and sometimes for pain relief.

"If I have a headache or something like that, I'd rather go smoke a bowl than take an Aspirin or something, it works just the same," Cook said.

Rick McDonough, co-owner of Gaia Bounty out of Salem, reiterated the notion that fairs like this one help businesses get their products into the public eye. He also said that despite the enactment of Measure 91 last July, there are still many hoops that businesses like his have to jump through to create and sell their products.

"The state changes the laws on a whim, so we have to be on our toes and very quick to react and adapt," McDonough said. "Politicians are at a great disadvantage having to make all these rules and regulations for an industry for which they have no understanding and very little knowledge of the medicine."

McDonough said that for those interested in trying cannabis products for the first time, it is important to start out slowly.

"Always start out slow; a good dosage for edibles is five to 10 milligrams, and everything else is by however much you consume, but just start slowly and gradually and base it off of how you feel," McDonough said.

"It's different for everybody. It's such a subtle medicine that one dose would work for somebody, be way too much for somebody else, and way too little for another."


Where: Oregon State Fairgrounds Expo Hall; 2330 17th St NE; Salem, OR

When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: $15 general admission, $10 for veterans

Restrictions: ages 21 and up

​Email, call (503) 399-6719, or follow on Twitter @connerjwilliams

Hemp & Cannabis Fair hits Redmond
Thursday, April 14, 2016

Small business owners show off their paraphernalia and goods

In the still-evolving world of weed in Oregon, people with cannabis, hemp and marijuana businesses have to stay up on legislation.

Mackenzie Maier, 29, owner of Miss Mack’s Medibles out of Salem, is a mother of two. Her son has grown up around marijuana like many kids grow up around alcohol; it’s OK for adults, she says to him, but not for kids.

While the 11-year-old has seen the changing attitudes on marijuana in Oregon (through a child’s eyes), Maier is more confident her 2-year-old daughter will grow up not knowing anything different from weed being perfectly legal.

Saturday, people crowded around Miss Mack’s table at The Hemp & Cannabis Fair, also known as THC Fair, to check out the edibles she makes in an Oregon Department of Agriculture-certified kitchen. Dozens of booths were set up inside the Deschutes County Fair & Expo center, where hundreds of people were in attendance.

Jarod Opperman / The Bulletin

To get around the sometimes confusing and quickly changing laws, Maier played it safe Saturday by selling T-shirts and stickers. As of last week, edibles are legal for recreational use, but regulations are still being worked out for sale. Miss Mack’s edibles came as a “free gift” with those items.

Maier’s edibles include “krispy treats,” cookies, taffies and peanut butter cups in a variety of flavors. In clear clamshells like any other bakery treat, the treats have oils baked in. Some of her products have THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis that induces a high, while others have only the compound cannabidiol, or CBD, believed by some people to help in treating cancer and other ailments.

At the more than 20 dispensaries where her treats are sold, each package goes for $15.

Maier recommends one-tenth of a treat as a “serving size,” at least to start.

“It definitely depends on your tolerance,” Maier said, adding that people should consider why they are eating the treat, whether it’s to help them sleep, to relieve pain or to get stoned.

Her motto with edibles: “Start low, go slow and then you’re gonna know.”

Like any small business, starting Miss Mack’s Medibles has taken a lot of work. On Saturday, her boyfriend, Donovan Spidell, 28, of Salem, helped at her booth while her mom, Kathleen Walker, stayed with her children in Salem.

“You have to have good support,” Maier said. “I do try to stay involved in the politics, know what’s going on.”

Just as Maier offered edibles as “a free gift,” Ben Garbellano, store manager of Portland Hydroponics and Organics, said that his business also used to have to “play the game” before marijuana was legalized for recreational use in Oregon in July.

“It used to be, ‘Oh, you want to grow big tomatoes?’” Garbellano said. The store provides growing materials that include essentially everything but the weed itself: dirt, containers, lighting components and even lab equipment for medicinal use.

Reid Rodgers, owner of Portland Hydroponics and Organics, said there has been a bit of a steady increase in customers since legalization. Oregon law allows a person 21 or older to use weed recreationally and grow up to four plants per residence.

Chris Hardy, 42, of Eugene, decided to drive over to check out the event. He moved from South Carolina a year ago, so it’s been interesting, he said, to arrive during the state’s legalization process.

Hardy said he smokes, but “not very often.”

Another attendee, Brian Pagan, 39, of Westfir, is a medical marijuana provider. He said he sometimes comes to events like these to seek out CBD oils, which he said can help soothe pain.

Kevin Simmons, founder of Coboo Creations, which offers pipes and bongs, said this is his fourth THC fair. He’s based out of Livermore, California, but has been traveling over the past year to events out of state to find the best markets for his products.

He took his business to full time three years ago, but he’s been making and selling the pieces for 10 years. It all started when he was living in the Virgin Islands and saw bongs made out of coconuts.

“This is what the Rastafarians use,” Simmons said, placing a hand on the $120 bong, made from a coconut shell and bamboo, with beeswax on the inside for coating. Some of the pipes he makes he throws on his own pottery wheel; the bowls in the pipes (where a user packs in the weed) are 22-karat gold.

“Before 10 years ago I had never done a craft in my life,” Simmons, 46, said. He laughed, adding the woman he learned how to make ceramics from probably thought he’d go on to make plates and mugs.

As customers approached, impressed by his unusual products, Simmons started chatting with them.

“You ever smoke out of a coconut before?” he said. “They found a coconut bong in the pyramids.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325,

Local entrepreneurs cash in at Cannabis Fair
Tuesday, November 17, 2015

For many industries, trade shows are a normal part of doing business. For the budding cannabis industry, it's a new way for entrepreneurs to get the word out about their businesses.

The Hemp and Cannabis Fair came to the Oregon State Fairgrounds this weekend. It's the first time the fair has come to Salem and the fourth festival since the Ashland-based company started them in August.

The trade shows themselves are so new that the rules are still being refined.

Naomi Forkash, director, said she's been working the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Liquor Control Commission since March. There weren't rules in place at the time for trade shows, but the organizations helped her make sure she was complying to the law and she was able to be a part of creating some of the regulations.

The THC Fairs put an emphasis on local businesses, which sets them apart from many fairs, Forkash said. About 60 percent of vendors at her shows are local, she said.

At Salem's expo, there were a dozen vendors from the Mid-Valley. About half of the 55 vendors were from the Interstate 5 corridor between Portland and Eugene.

The fair featured everything from edibles to plants to legal help.

"We have everything you need to grow, process and enjoy. From dirt to the end result," Forkash said.

Trade shows allow businesses to grow their brands. THC Fair attendees are able to take home sample products, talk with the people who made them and learn about marijuana in a safe environment.
Mike Morlock, of Salem, talks about his business Kronic Korn, that is a cannabis infused caramel corn, during The Hemp and Cannabis Fair, Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore.

Mike Morlack, of Salem, started selling marijuana-infused popcorn a few weeks ago after winning first place in the Oregon Medical Marijuana Cup for edibles.

So far, he only has two dispensaries in town selling his popcorn (which come in a dozen flavors like caramel, blue raspberry and bacon cheddar) and was hoping to make connections with more dispensary owners.

Soon after winning the cup, he spent a whole day delivering 300 bags of samples to different dispensaries but didn't get any calls back.

"We just got to get recognized," he said. "That's why we're doing this."

Mackenzie Maier, owner and baker at Miss Mack's Medibles, has attended lots of shows, but they've always been in Portland. Being constantly on the road is difficult for the mother of two, so she was thrilled to be able to attend a show just 10 minutes from her home.

Maier said that since so many edibles are inconsistent qualities, she wanted to show locals that they can buy professional-grade edibles in Salem.

Several booths gave out free samples of their wares, but attendees couldn't sample them on site.

Maier's products are sold at 24 dispensaries, including five in Salem and one in Independence and Stayton, so if people liked her treats, they could check her menu and know where to go to get more within driving distance.

On Saturday, Maier sold out of all her products and gave away a thousand menus.

"This one was definitely one of the busiest booths I've ever had," she said.
David Allen, left, speaks with Jason Overhaul, right, and Monique White with Sweet Leaf Starts talk about the plants they have on display during The Hemp and Cannabis Fair, Sunday, November 15, 2015, at the Oregon State Fairgrounds in Salem, Ore. (Photo: BRENT DRINKUT/Statesman Journal)

Duane Zitek, one of the partners behind Salem-based Sweet Leaf Starts, also came to the show to get the word out about his budding business.

Zitek said that all he's heard since Measure 91 passed is "how do I get a plant?" He wanted to let people know there are clones out there.

"I wanted to get my name out there, exposure," he said.

His strategy for his first trade show was to show off his plants and let them speak for themselves. Growers can tell that he's got healthy plants, he said.

Zitek said he's been taking orders for plants and given out hundreds of business cards for future orders. He said he worries he might get overwhelmed with orders since the law only allows him to grow so many plants, but he's excited at the same time.

Email, call (503) 399-6743 or follow on Twitter @KaellenHessel