After a year off during the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 CBD Expo tour returned to Colorado over the weekend at the Gaylord Rockies Resort and Convention Center in Aurora.
An annual conference for the hemp-derived CBD industry, the CBD Expo partnered with the Psychedelic Science Conference held just down the hall, with researchers and experts discussing hemp, CBD, psychedelics and the future of the ’shroom boom.
Turnout reached about half the capacity compared to the pre-COVID average, but event organizer Celeste Miranda says both conventions drew in an engaged crowd.
“This year we combined it with our first psychedelics conference, so this was the place to do it, if any," Miranda says, pointing to when Denver became the first city in the U.S. to decriminalize psilocybin mushrooms. "There's a ton of interest there, and that's been going great."
For Miranda, however, the expo still centers on CBD. The CEO of Mace Media Group, a CBD trade publication network and industry event organizer, was introduced to the benefits of CBD after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis a decade ago. After waking up with the inability to feel anything from her waist down, an eighteen-hour trip to the emergency room and three lesions on her brain and spine, Miranda began using muscle relaxers, but those left her frequently feeling unable to function. She tried CBD per a friend's recommendation, and the spasms virtually went away.
“This is all very personal to myself and my team. We do it for a reason. I know it’s not a miracle cure for anything, but I want to disseminate the education for it to help people that it can like it helped me, and that’s why we’ve been doing this for so long,” explains Miranda, who's nearing her twentieth CBD expo in the country.
Infused into products ranging from food to cosmetics to pet food, CBD is now capable of filling conference halls with interesting vendors. The CBD Expo was sponsored by CBD cosmetic brand HempHera Kosmetikos, which created a Parthenon-esque exhibit of CBD beauty and wellness products scattered around foliage; it was the first thing attendees saw before mandatory temperature checks upon entry.
Visitors could check out CBD-infused novelties, such as sodas and lubricants, as well as CBD products with a faith-based background. Halal-certified gummies, made in accordance with Islamic rites, were on display from Las-Vegas based HalalCBD, while Grand Junction local Dan Yoder with Amish Reserve showed up with loaded bags of hemp flower, pre-rolled hemp joints, CBD and CBG capsules, and hemp-infused edibles. (Delta-8 THC products, a growing gray market of hemp-derived products that become intoxicating after a chemical alteration, were prohibited from the event, but Yoder said the company plans to launch a hemp-flower line sprayed with Delta-8 THC concentrate.)
Panels at the conference discussed topics such as medical research, CBD extraction technology, proper personal dosage and industry trends. At the Psychedelic Science Conference, keynote speakers tackled the long, prohibition-centered history of psychedelics, evolving spore cultivation practices and future decriminalization efforts as psychedelics emerge as a potential treatment for mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.
The CBD Expo still has stops in Orlando and Los Angeles on the schedule in 2021, and will continue operating in 2022, with plans to return to metro Denver next year, according to Miranda.
“We’re glad to be back in Denver,” she says. “The mountain region, it’s always been very good to us, and we’ll continue to return here to Denver with the CBD Expo as much as we can.”
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