It was hot.
It was real hot.
My weather app told me it was 104 degrees outside. A heat advisory warning had been issued. The app also showed me a big triangle with an exclamation mark inside of it, so you know it meant business.
I should probably go home, I thought.
But I’d never been to a Hemp Fest before. Plus, Snoop was supposed to perform that day.
I wanted to see Snoop.
The Third Annual Las Vegas Hemp Fest, which took place on June 4th at Craig Ranch Regional Park, was an assault on the senses, a melting pot of hip-hop, reggae, and hippie culture, yet transcending all of these and centering on the one plant after which the whole shebang is named.
Hemp. Cannabis. Mary Jane. Marijuana.
People of all ages and ethnicities were there, and many of them were sitting on the grass, smoking pot out in the open. This surprised me, but maybe it shouldn’t have. After all, it was a Hemp Fest. What did I think people were going to do? Have relay races?
It was a reminder, though, of how fluid the whole notion of “the law” can be. With recreational marijuana legalization coming up on the November ballot in Nevada, watching people smoke cannabis in public felt prophetic and inevitable. A sign of things to come.
I visited the Vegas Cannabis Magazine tent and got the latest issue. I learned who the 420 Nurses are (here’s a hint: they’re not actually nurses). Essence Cannabis Dispensary, who was handing out free, non-infused brownie samples, DOES have an actual on-site registered nurse at their locations. Jennifer Shepherd (“Nurse Jenn”) provides patients with free 30-minute consultations to help them determine the best marijuana products and strains for their aches and pains.
Hanson’s Water Treatment was there, raising money for veterans suffering from PTSD. And at the Medizen dispensary tent, one of their reps spoke to me with the passion of an evangelist. He preached the gospel of “Chloe”, an award-winning cannabis strain that’s being offered exclusively at Medizin. I was told it would be unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
Overall, the vendors were having a tough time. One woman complained that the heat was driving the crowds away. It was also difficult to rally her own team members to promote the business because nobody wanted to leave the shade. Who could blame them?
Obviously, more people would show up as the temperature got cooler, but would those people even want to walk through the vendor areas? Wouldn’t they rather just listen to music and get high?
If you were a cannabis patient /consumer, the Las Vegas Hemp Fest was worth the trip. Craig Ranch Regional Park was a beautiful place to walk around. You could eat relatively good food, learn about new products and businesses, meet like-minded people, listen to live music, and just chill.
But if you were a business owner who wanted to network, generate leads, and sell products, you were facing an uphill battle. Perhaps those attending the 2016 CannaCon in September will have better luck, temperature-wise.
Two recommendations for the 2017 Las Vegas Hemp Fest:
- Do it earlier in the season, when it will be cooler. The high that day was 107 degrees. Last year, on that same day, the temperature was 91 degrees, and that was a record high. I’m not a meteorologist, but the current climate trend suggests that each year will be hotter than the previous one. Why not have the Hemp Fest on the 20th of April (4/20) next year? Sure, it’s a little on the nose, but it’s an easy date to remember, and there’ll be less chance of people passing out from heat exhaustion.
- Give every ticket buyer all-day access. Festival tickets were $50, but you had to buy a $200 V.I.P. ticket if you wanted to leave and come back later. It’s hard not to feel like you’re being penalized for having a life outside of the festival. All-day access would allow people who have jobs, family obligations, or unexpected emergencies to enjoy the Hemp Fest during the day and evening.
As I was in line to get my obligatory plate of chili cheese fries, a guy leaned over to me and said, “They advertised on the website that their water slide would be three blocks long.” He pointed to a nearby water slide and snorted. “That’s not even close to three blocks long. That’s, like, half a block, if that.”
I shrugged. Maybe the longer slide was somewhere else, but that was the least of my worries. I’d been there for about five hours, and the heat was making my brain sizzle. It was time to go home. If there was a three-block long water slide somewhere, I wasn’t going to get to see it. Or Snoop, for that matter.