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Review: Inside the Haze at HempCon

In Culture
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The aroma was noticeable about two blocks before walking through the doors of the San Jose Convention Center, where HempCon was held this past weekend.

Attendees were presented the immediate option of a medical marijuana card evaluation for the price of $60. For folks willing to wait in line—sometimes more than 100 people long—and pay the fee, there was the unavoidable yet strangely endearing presence of Henry Hemp.

No, Henry Hemp is not a new strain or nickname for a piece of paraphernalia. Henry Hemp has become an icon at medical marijuana expos due to the large marijuana plant-shaped foam hat he wears that says “HEMP” on the back. The spray-painted leafy details of his hat stand out even against the vibrant green of the foam.

“There are countries that want to cut my head off; there are people that support what I do,” said Hemp, whose real name is Magic Ellingson. “I’m just trying to spread peace, love and harmony.”

Ellingson’s energy was high Saturday, and it needed to be considering he had an hour on stage, which turned into a talent show and motivational talk for those who were listening.

When asked why he thinks events like HempCon are important to attend, Ellingson said that “it brings out the truth and education, and brings people together.”

There is some truth to this claim, as HempCon’s diversity was fairly apparent in its patrons and vendors, which included everything from pipes, bongs and vaporizers to artwork and clothing brands affiliated with legalizing and/or enjoying marijuana. There were bail bonds companies as well, for those who might enjoy themselves a little too much.

Most booths outside of the area restricted to people with medical marijuana prescriptions were centered on the contributions of hemp, such as oils and clothing. There was also a booth from THCFinder, a company that works to help patients find dispensaries either online or through the app they have created.

But on the other side of the HempCon wall, a large partition that separates an area for people with a medical card, the landscape is entirely different. Vendors aggressively pushed special deals on grams and eighths, while others more leisurely offered samples of pot-infused sugar cookies.

Mixed in the mesh of models and megaphones advertising “Purple Martian Kush, bro!” was the overwhelming feeling that everything must go, and everyone must get stoned. And people did, just 50 feet from the side entrance of the Convention Center’s South Hall.

But the overall vibe was somewhere between mellow and joyful. Everywhere Henry Hemp went, people wanted a picture or autograph, or they just wanted to step outside and medicate with him.

“How many cops do you see surrounding this place?” Ellingson asked. “Oh wait, I don’t see any.” And he was right. There was security for the building but no added presence by the San Jose Police Department, or girls volleyball players for that matter, who had an event of their own in the same building.

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