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Pot unites businesspeople and hippies at cannabis conference

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 11:44 PMAP

Men and women in business suits mixed with hippies sporting blazers printed with marijuana leaves Friday during the last day of the Cannabis World Congress and Business Exposition.

The three-day conference at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center was a gathering of professionals and advocates from nearly every facet of the emerging marijuana industry. Even though restrictions on the drug remain tight in New York, the community gathered to exchange ideas and explore business opportunities.

"We are here showcasing the cannabis industry and showing what they do," said Dan Humiston, president of the International Cannabis Association, which organised the conference. "It all comes back to: How do we get information into the hands of the business community?"

Marketing booths lined the aisles of the exhibition hall, and seminars were held throughout the day on topics including edibles, extraction methods, labour laws and tax challenges.

Customised lighters and mini packets of gummy bears sat next to pens, stickers and mints at booths adorned with marijuana-themed backdrops. No one was openly smoking marijuana, though the occasional conference-goer gave off the distinctive smell.

Some exhibitors promoted lighting systems, greenhouses and various cannabis-based products while others offered vacuum-sealing machines or legal firms with expertise in marijuana issues.

Several businesses were selling laboratory equipment, including testing and analysis machines and expensive carbon dioxide extraction apparatuses.

At one table, a woman promoted a headhunting service for people with cannabis-oriented skill sets.

Former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party presidential nominee and longtime advocate for marijuana legalisation, delivered a short address to the attendees on Thursday. Keith Stroup, the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, and Leonard Marshall, a former NFL defensive lineman, also spoke.

The conference was open to the public, and organisers said attendees were mostly people looking to get into the marijuana business at some level.

"People come here to learn, and they leave with new ideas," Humiston said.