by Laurel Andrews | Alaska Dispatch News
At a glance, Alaska’s first marijuana trade show suggested a slow march forward on the path toward regulated, commercial weed.
After fighting to be allowed to display marijuana at the Northwest Cannabis Classic in mid-May, organizer Cory Wray was given the OK just days before the event. Vendors could display marijuana at the show, legally and with the blessing of the city.
Thousands of cannabis enthusiasts and entrepreneurs flocked to the Dena’ina Center for the event. They congregated around bushy marijuana plants, lingered on the third-floor deck — where it was easy to catch a whiff of pot smoke — and listened to seminars by some of the major players in the emerging industry.
According to Wray, the state’s first — though likely not last — trade show went off without a hitch.
But beyond the displays of glass pipes and shiny metal butane hash extraction equipment, beyond the green brochure declaring the event as the “most exciting thing to happen to weed in Alaska ever,” another reality simmered: Alaska’s marijuana market is one defined by uncertainty and conflicts, where the so-called illegal and legal markets swirl together, and businesses are vying for access to a legal industry that hasn’t yet been developed.