Champs Canada 2014: Country’s Largest Marijuana Expo Under New Management

CANNABIS CULTURE – A good act is hard to follow, but Champs did a decent job in its first year taking the reins of Canada’s largest marijuana-related expo from Treating Yourself Magazine.

It wasn’t an easy task to accomplish: unofficially taking over a major trade show based on a still-somewhat-illegal substance at one of the country’s largest – and government-run – convention centres. It would prove to be a difficult undertaking, even for the folks who claim the title of “world’s largest and most popular convention” for the counter-culture industry.

But pleasing the authorities was the easy part. It was the participants attending the show from across Canada, the United States, and Europe, many who had come to all four of the previous TY Expos, who organizers struggled to accommodate and satisfy, with mixed results.

VENDORS

Marijuana-related vendors from far and wide filled the Metro Toronto Convention Center for the three-day event, with two of those days open to the public and a third designated for business-to-business transactions. Many vendors I spoke with preferred having one day closed to the public, but others complained that it was bad for business.

Champs organizers reported the attendance of over 80 exhibitors that including nutrient suppliers, retail distributors, hopeful LPs, established dispensaries, Dutch seed companies, fledgling upstart businesses, media and activist entities, and other various elements of the cannabis culture.

Saturday was by far the busiest day, and things got packed though the afternoon, but crowds were sparse through much of the weekend. The people I talked to in the crowd reported having a good time, though several who had attend TY in earlier years mentioned this year’s absence of carpeting and metal booth framing.

The vendors I talked to said they weren’t overly impressed with some of the changes and felt the expo lacked the polished and professional vibe attained by Treating Yourself publisher Marco Renda in previous years. Most expected that the Champs team will step it up in future years as interest grows.

NORML CONFERENCE

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Canada held their first-annual speakers conference as part of this year’s Champs Canada event.

Speakers panels addressing various aspects of marijuana legalization included high-profile members of Canada’s cannabis community, and a few big names from the United States.

Pot lawyers like Alan Young, John Conroy and Kirk Tousaw shared the stage with activists like Jodie Emery and Rielle Capler to discuss some of the latest details of Canada’s fight to reform pot laws.

A special appearance and song by 8-year-old Brave Mykayla, who is currently using cannabis in her fight against leukemia, wet the eyes of many in attendance.

Olympic Gold-winning snowboarder turned marijuana dealer Ross Rebagliati informed the crowd of the specifics of his new medical marijuana business, which will take advantage of Canada’s new privatized commercial medial marijuana program. Watch the video about Ross’ Gold:

GLASSBLOWING

This year, a glassblowing collaboration replaced the competitive and popular Treating Yourself flame-offs of yesteryear.

Rather than battling for a title, artists worked together to design an incredible Ontario-themed train set, complete with a glass CN Tower, Niagara Falls, and crack-smoking Rob Ford.

See the glassblowers at work in this video and the finished product here:

SMOKING AREAS

Probably the most contentious issue of the entire weekend was the lack of our traditional outdoor smoking spot. Expo attendees were denied access to the smoking platform in the back area of the Convention Centre due to new in-house rules.

Champs organizer Michael Czerhoniak (picture above with Herb) and this reporter both attempted to convince the Convention Centre brass to change their minds, to no avail.

This situation led to problems on the first day when a smoker who claimed to be a med-patient (but couldn’t produce papers) was hauled away in handcuffs by bicycle police.

It seemed to be an isolated incident and everyone smoked right outside of the front doors of the Convention Centre with no problem for the rest of the weekend.

Attendees were also able to medicate and test the latest vaporizers in the indoor Vapor Lounge, as long as they could produce a Health Canada medical marijuana licence (or Media Pass – hehe).

TREATING YOURSELF CUP

No self-respecting cannabis trade show would be complete without a marijuana strain-judging competition, and the Champs Canada expo did not disappoint in this regard.

Marco Renda took the stage again this year for the Treating Yourself Cup, and gave away some fine glass trophies designed by Redbeard – most of them to Med-man, who promised to auction them off to raise money for the MMAR Coalition Against Repeal.

Here’s the full list of strains and winners of the 5th Annual Treating Yourself Cup

Edibles:

1st : Juice Box
2nd : Laura Sensicord
3rd : Sweet Freak

Bud:

1st: Lemon Thai – Med Man
2nd: Rock Star – Remo
3rd: Honey Boo Boo – Rocky

Extracts:

Solventless
1st – Barbara Bud – House of the great gardener
2nd – Heisenberg – Pedro
3rd – Rock Star Kush – Med Man

Solvent
1st – Wappa – Lafumo Pipe Canada
2nd – Pandoras Box – THE DAB BAR
3rd – Chocolope – Pharma Bee

Seed Company:

Indica
1st – Conkushion – Med Man Brand
2nd – Critical + – Dinafem
3rd – Haoma – House of the great gardener

Sativa
1st – Bubble Haze – Med Man Brand
2nd – Original Amnesia – Dinafem
3rd – Super Lemon Haze – Greenhouse Seed Company

Hybrid
1st – No Name – Medical Seeds
2nd – Silver Skunk – Med Man Brand
3rd – Purple Thai – Med Man Brand

CANNABIS CULTURE & POT TV COVERAGE

Cannabis Culture and Pot TV were in the house providing LIVE video coverage and taking tons of photos.

Watch Pot TV’s coverage and check out the Champs Canada photo gallery by me, Cannabis Culture & Pot TV Editor Jeremiah Vandermeer:

See Champs Canada organizer Michael Czerhoniak in a pre-event appearance on Cannabis Culture News LIVE.

Watch an episode of Cannabis Culture News LIVE filmed on-location at Vapor Central in Toronto during the expo weekend.

Jeremiah Vandermeer is editor of Cannabis Culture. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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