A vendor at Hempcon 2013
Despite federal raids and local land-use fights plaguing marijuana dispensaries, the industry will soon go from medicinal to outright legal, says Freddy Sayegh, an activist and criminal defense attorney. California will join the ranks of Colorado and Washington, he says, and it’s only a matter of time before the federal government reclassifies the drug from a Schedule I controlled substance, deemed to have no medical benefit, to a Schedule II, which recognizes clinical properties and allows researchers to legally study the plant.
“That’s a future we should all prepare for,” says Sayegh, the keynote speaker at HempCon in San Jose this week. “Things will change drastically. This will move from a non-profit to a for-profit market, a competitive market opened up to recreational uses. I believe 2014 is the year to talk about what future distribution models will look like and look back at what we can learn from other states that have legalized it already.”
Sayegh will join a host of other speakers and about 10,000 attendees at the fifth annual HempCon, which kicks off a four-city tour Friday at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.
The convention runs through Sunday, and it is both festival and educational event, showcasing the latest in smoking accessories and hydroponics.
On the educational side, there are workshops and lectures on topics ranging from starting a delivery business to making THC-based lotions and elixirs. On Friday, cannabis consultant Ralf Rainer will talk about patient dispensary management, Cannabis Career Institute’s Robert Calkin will discuss legal compliance in California and hemp historian Gary Maciel will explore the weird past of the psychoactive plant. Weekend workshops include Sayegh’s keynote speech and more lectures from the Cannabis Career Institute on advanced cultivation, dispensary management, growing opportunities and investing in the marijuana industry.
Sayegh encourages attendees to learn about the laws surrounding THC wax, the super-concentrated butane hash oil, which is legal to possess with a cannabis card but illegal to manufacture.
“There have been a lot of new cases and arrests from people trying to make wax out of butane,” he says. “There’s so much vagueness in the law around concentrates in terms of what’s lawful to possess. But I’m fighting some big cases where people are facing up to six years in state prison for manufacturing butane-based concentrated cannabis. A lot of people don’t know the risk.”
Among the 90-plus vendors registered for the event, physicians from San Jose 420 Evaluations will conduct cannabis consultations on site. Attendees can find options for local treatment, learn about new ways to ingest the plant and ask for legal advice from several attorneys on hand.
Of course, HempCon is as much a haven for medicinal users as it is a celebration of marijuana culture, with clothing, souvenirs, scantily clad booth babes and live performances. Entertainment will range from a standup comedy lineup and THC oil cooking demo to a variety show and musical acts starring Addey Lance and Sour Diesel.