“What an amazing event! It’s so civilized!”
This sentiment was offered by a vendor at LA’s recently held, first ever Infused Expo. The daylong edibles centric event was indeed calmer and more laid back than what Southern Californians have come to expect from marijuana events. Absent were pounding hip-hop beats, bikini clad girls, and electric dab nails permanently set to the on position. Instead attendees spent the day tasting cannabis infused samples while interacting with chefs and vendors, attending panels, seminars, and cooking demonstrations, and listening to compelling speakers.
Set in downtown LA’s historic Casa Vertigo building, Infused Expo activities took place on 3 different floors. Navigating it all took a little getting used to, as so many things were going on in different places, but it also presented the opportunity to explore this fascinating old building. Little hidden gems were mixed among the exhibit space, such as the Women Grow lounge that offered a comfortable place to relax, sip a drink or enjoy some food, listen to live guitar music, and chill before going back for more.
The Mezzanine level provided some vendor space along with a bird’s eye view of the main event floor below. Those who ventured to the top floor encountered the Chef’s Expo Room, where Mary Jane University’s Frances Shauwecker moderated cooking demonstrations and educational panels throughout the day. Weedmaps TV’s Keira Fae Sumimoto demonstrated making medicated pastries; yours truly showed how to use your cannabis oil to make medicated vinaigrettes; Renee Smaldino of Dr. Raw Organics talked about organic non-GMO edibles; and Donna Collins, of The Jelly Shamans, lead a discussion of gourmet medicated jellies.
Infused Expo Edible Highlights
Of all the edibles featured on the vendor floor, The Jelly Shaman’s jellies and jams were among my favorites. Collins, a former Master Chef contestant, has created a line of organic infused jams, jellies and sauces with innovative creative flavors like Blood Orange Lavender, and Mango Habanero. These are not your grandmother’s preserves, even without the addition of cannabis.
The raw THC or CBD infused cacao from Whoopi and Maya was another notable favorite. “Savor” is raw, organic, vegan, healthy, and best of all delicious. This versatile product can be spooned from jar to mouth, or used as a spread. You can even stir it into hot milk or coffee for cocoa or medicated mocha.
One of the more modern and cutting edge products came from one of the industry’s oldest purveyors, Ed Rosenthal, AKA the Guru of Ganja. Stardust is a nitrogen stabilized powdered THC that can be mixed into most any food or drink. Available in 15 mg packets, flavor neutral Stardust makes it easy and discreet to medicate foods like coffee and tea (or anything else you can figure) on the go.
There were far too many products and vendors to talk about each one, but with favorite brands like Incredibles, Kushy Punch, and Bhang on hand, consumers were treated to a nice mixture of both the familiar and the new.
Infused Expo Speakers and Entertainment
Keynote speakers combined edibles and business experts with activists. Elvy Musikka, one of only two federally legal medical marijuana patients, kicked off the main room’s presentations, and actor and activist Eric Roberts, who is developing his own line of cannabis products, wrapped things up at day’s end. In between, those curious about entering the edible cannabis business arena were treated to insights from some of the industry’s leading experts. Bob Eschino, founder of Incredibles Handcrafted infused edibles spoke on compliance issues while Maya Elisabeth Lapid of Whoopi and Maya addressed the importance of branding. Ed Rosenthal had something to say about introducing new products with the launch of his edible innovation Stardust.
Kudos go to Infused Expo hosts for creating a warm and inviting event that made attendees feel like guests. A catered lunch on site kept everyone energized without having to go out.
Even when the event officially ended, there was more! DAMA Tequila and Pharm Aid Pharms sponsored an after party that featured some enticing appetizers from Chef Viet Boi of Veez on the Beach, who also made the incredible smoked turkey enjoyed at lunch. The danceable rocking sounds of Keaton Simons and BACKBONE kept the party energized.
For me the highlight of the day was the opportunity to explore the many new infused products coming to market in this burgeoning industry. I met so many passionate chefs and culinary professionals who are serious about the quality of their products. The level of creativity and innovation in the edibles industry, even at this early stage of its history, bodes well for the future.
Hope you’re hungry!