Seed to Sale conventions and product showcases, like the High Times Cannabis Cup, have set the bar for cultivators and manufacturers of cannabis; but for the average consumer, the competitive awards and pricey admission fees only stand in the way of what they’re really after– to gather in celebration of cannabis (and lower prices.)
Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday the Arrowhead Elk Lodge in San Bernardino hosts the Taco Sesh; which includes free admission, a raffle-happy DJ on stage, a medicated taco truck outside, and over thirty vendor booths dispersed throughout. Tradeshows like this offer both patients and vendors a chance to celebrate legalization together, but they also provide crucial networking opportunities for small-time business’ looking to establish themselves in a popular industry.
While the legalization of recreational cannabis was passed in California last November, the Taco Sesh only admits patrons over 18, and still requires a valid medical cannabis card to enter. Once I cleared the security check, a hallway of blue and purple UV lighting lead me into a loop of booths displaying a multitude of cannabis products; flower, concentrates, distillates, and edible treats neatly packaged in glass display cases. A wide variety of people showed up, vendors buying wholesale, patients, curious walk-ins, veterans, and entrepreneurs. Above it all, the head of a taxidermized 6-point buck perched on the wall- I couldn’t tell whose eyes were more glazed over, the crowd or the Elk. At any rate, he seemed to watch over approvingly.
Bobbing throughout the crowd were cotton candy and bright pink smoothies, piled high with candy, whipped cream, and sprinkles. The DJ continued to play music and raffle off free samples. There might not have been a Ferris wheel, but events like the Taco Sesh are the closest thing to a cannabis county fair that the industry has, so far.
In the back corner of the scuffed lodge, a crowd eagerly awaits Sour Cherry and Pineapple slushies swirling in unison. Medicated syrup is the key ingredient to Terp Slerp’s success. Steven and their mascot, a Yeti holding straws, welcome curious customers; “We’re here to spread smiles and encourage you to live the life you see fit for yourself.”
Around one hundred guests meandered around the booths, some looking for natural alternatives to minor aches and pain, most concerned about what they’re ingesting. Owners and employees all wanted to please, even trading samples between other vendors and offering supportive advice to newcomers. Due to a welcoming atmosphere of ease and patience, a group conversing in American Sign Language could work with each vendor to find exactly what they were looking for.
The encouraging atmosphere spread onto the patio, where Pilot Edibles served medicated tacos for 4$ each- burritos, quesadillas, or nachos for 10$. All included a non-medicated option for those sufficiently stoned. The cook, Brandon, mentioned enjoying the freedom of creation at events like this, and he’ll whip up whatever you’re craving. “They got the munchies, I got your munchies. You want pizza? Cheesy fries? I got you.” Pilot Edibles has been coming back to the Taco Sesh for a year now, but every week it gets bigger.
Two months ago, they added The Dons Kitchen to their list of vendors. Based out of Riverside, California, Xavier explained how he began serving medicated wings every week; “I got ahold of some infused syrup and added it my wing marinade one night. When I started making it for others, I got an overnight success, mostly on tips.” Discovering new and exciting cannabis products is what draws customers to tradeshows like the Taco Sesh.
Kieroglyphics, one of four DJs that alternate at the Taco Sesh, mentioned how rewarding it’s been “to see how far everyone has come in two years, and whose still here, patients, vendors.” So far, the Taco Sesh has been to San Bernardino and Las Vegas, but now they’re expanding to Northern California, Detroit, and Denver. “I want to make an impact and impression through my career, to instruct and interact, and at events like this I can give a lot back to my community.”
Large gauges and tied back dreads contrasted with medical grade gloves and isopropyl alcohol wipes; every surface and jar was sanitized and LED lamps were set out to properly display the flower’s THC trichomes, or “crystals.” Iguana Collective based out of Cathedral City even provided coffee beans in shakers, used to clear the scent palate before testing the next strain’s aroma. One of the budtenders explained, “This is an evolving craft, and we care about getting the very best quality out of our product.”
Every vendor’s goal was to put forth a product that’s up to the customers highest standard, and plenty of it. Unlike the average dispensary, tradeshows like the Taco Sesh piled clear bags of wholesale flower on top of each other, often plastic turkey bags holding a pound of cannabis each. There was even a service that would confirm the amount of THC in your purchased flower, and have a print out of numbers ready for you the same day.
Jake from Flower Potency Testing explained that, “You can also submit your flower at a later date and have your Certificate of Analysis sent straight from our lab in the Inland Empire.” With a turn-around time of two days max, Flower Potency Testing upholds a goal of professional standard in all tests; “You’ll find that our customer service is second to none, honesty is our policy, and the best practices are being undertaken to carefully perform each test with precision.”
Every other booth offered free dabs, a hit of cannabis concentrate heated on a surface between 300 °F and 400 °F. One of these booths, Canna Connection Collective, had an alcohol prep pad ready for each customer. The owner, Ray, proudly showed off their E-Nail vaporizer, a large glass beehive perched between two branches. Their honeycomb design was a well-branded touch, decorating the table banner, t-shirts, stickers, and product labels. A large wood and glass humidifier took center stage though, displaying Thai Sticks and King Palms; “We use 100% organic Northern California flower to make a variety of our products, including King Palm, a cigar-sized wrap made with 1.2 grams of flower, 4 grams of wax and hash, a corn husk filter and a king palm leaf.”
While the Taco Sesh may not have the prestige of Cannabis Cup, it has its charm that keeps vendors and customers coming back.
Originally posted 2017-10-16 16:20:38.