“Besides the concert and consumer aspects of the event, the B2B side allows growers and brands to show their products, in legally acceptable quantities, to curators, dispensary owners, and management, to start conversations”
THE MASS CANNABIS CONVENTION WHERE YOU CAN CONSUME
WRITTEN BY CITIZEN STRAIN
POSTED TO digboston.com AUGUST 16, 2022
FILED UNDER: CANNABIS, TALKING JOINTS MEMO
The tens of thousands or perhaps even millions of people who know Gary Sohmers know that he throws a good party. The renowned vintage toy guru and 12-season Antiques Roadshow vet has hosted comic cons and collectible festivals for decades, always mining local musical talent as well as film and TV stars from then and now to ice the cake.
As one might speculate based on his chill demeanor, healthy mane, and animated outfits, Sohmers is also a fan of cannabis. His unapologetic advocacy traces all the way back to 50 years ago in Wisconsin, where he lived that ’70s show in real life, booking concerts and publishing indie and underground publications like this one.
Variegated experience considered, the upcoming HighLifeStyleShow in Boxborough (Oct. 7-9) was several generations in the making. As Sohmers describes the joint effort with NECANN, the event “will be a gathering of brands, dispensaries, distributors, growers, artists, performers, and consumers to converge in the HighLifeStyle of B2B and B2C in a resort hotel conference setting with exhibitors, vendors, concerts, comedy, education, celebrities, socializing and networking.”
Plus the Wailers. And yes, you can actually consume cannabis on-site. Imagine that.
We’ll be there as a sponsor as well. But first, we spoke with Sohmers about the upcoming festivities and the long road leading up to parties like the HighLifeStyleShow.
CITIZEN STRAIN: The first and most important question is obviously—how will consumption work? People want to know.
GARY SOHMERS: We are presenting an event at a hotel on private property, with a 21-plus admittance policy, so no one will be allowed on property under 21. We bought out the entire hotel, and control all of the rooms, so all bookings will also be handled by event management. Cannabis activities allowed on property Oct. 7-9 will be anything legal by Massachusetts laws. Attendees are allowed to carry a quantity that is legally allowed in Mass, and consume combustible cannabis on property outdoors. No THC products will be sold on premises although CBD and non-infused products will be.
Besides the concert and consumer aspects of the event, the B2B side allows growers and brands to show their products, in legally acceptable quantities, to curators, dispensary owners, and management, to start conversations about a business that takes place off the property. Making the connection and showing products, knowledge, and skills will allow next-generation and legacy growers to find new paths to success.
CITIZEN STRAIN: So this event was originally planned for a few months ago, then rescheduled. What kinks had to be worked out?
GARY: The original holiday date around Independence day was not as conducive to exhibitors and participants as the October holiday. Perfect for leaf and bud peeping.
CITIZEN STRAIN: How did you go about building the event around this initial concept? What was important to incorporate? Music and food, for sure, but how are you specifically going about it?
GARY: The concept was initiated following the craft wine and craft beer movements, both regulated in a similar manner as cannabis. That model where brands are allowed (by law) to allow people to “taste” their products to build brand loyalty and let people try something prior to buying it, allowed smaller businesses to succeed in stores, bars, and restaurants because of consumer demand. We hope that the cannabis business can evolve in that direction and allow safe tasting events by law.
The theme of the event really is highly-functional people, an attempt to chip away at the stigma that people who use cannabis are all “Spicolli” or “Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers” stoners, but we are not. It takes highly-functional people to operate a cannabis business, or any business, to do math, science, art, music, sports, medicine, philosophy, and even physics. People have been doing these jobs for years while using cannabis, but could not say it out loud, as it might get them fired, demoted, shamed, or ridiculed needlessly.
I am currently putting together the programming panels for the weekend around that theme of highly-functional people and looking to connect with anyone who may feel “closeted” about their successes due to their cannabis use in their profession and would like to speak as part of a panel on any of these tracks. Science, medicine, sports, botany, the written word, graphic arts, music, theater, film, TV, comedy, mathematics, philosophy, the law, physics, finance, space, and/or climate. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
CITIZEN STRAIN: You do a lot of events every year. What is particularly different about this one?
GARY: This event is different for the most part by being 21-plus while my other shows are family-friendly comic cons and collectibles shows. The Boxboro Regency Hotel is especially suited for this type of event because of its location, management team, and owners. The location is near the intersection of route 495 and route two in Boxborough, Mass, which makes it about a half hour from the Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville areas. It’s only a half hour from Worcester, and only 45 minutes from Providence and Manchester, New Hampshire.
CITIZEN STRAIN: You’ve also done a lot of events over the past several decades, many of which cannabis has no doubt played a big role in. But not by way of the promoters. What’s it like to operate in this interesting new world? Did you ever think this day would come?
GARY: Back in the mid-1970s, when I lived in Madison, Wisconsin, I was a cannabis consumer and businessman. I operated a record store, booked bands, produced and performed concerts, and was a founding member of the American Cannabis Society, producing numerous rallies in the Wisconsin state capital. While producing the Madcity Music Sheet magazine, in 1978, I met with High Times founder Tom Forcade and his Trans High Media was to become our new publisher and we would become his music magazine for national distribution. Two months later he had passed, and the shake-up at Trans High left us in the dust. I have operated in this world for almost 50 years, and the fact it’s become like the tax-driven alcohol business does not surprise me.
READ THE FULL ARTICLE AS POSTED IN DIG BOSTON HERE:
CITIZEN STRAIN Citizen Strain/Grain is an amalgamation of a bunch of us who, in addition to the hard and oftentimes depressing journalism we report for the Dig, also enjoy sampling and writing about the various beers, spirits, and cannabis products that vendors from near and far send our way. If you want us to check out your product, please contact us at email@example.com.
A Dig Boston interview with event producer Gary Sohmers.
About the show
You must be at least 21 years of age to enter the private property.
There will be over 30,000 sq ft indoor and outdoor gathering of brands, dispensaries, distributors, growers, artists, performers, and consumers to converge in the HighLifeStyle of B2B and B2C in a resort hotel conference setting with exhibitors, vendors, concerts, comedy, education, celebrities, socializing and networking.
Offering exhibitors and vendors a fun environment to meet qualified customers who are interested in canna-related products, services, and creative arts.
As a business conference, one of The HighLifeStyle Show’s goals is to have businesses, entrepreneurs, and brands will be able to meet the distributors, retailers, and consumers in an entertaining, safe environment. Retail distributors can promote their products and retail locations in order to compete to attract new customers. Artists can find new fans. Craft growers can network to find supplies they may need to be an at-home botanist, or find outlets or job opportunities.
As a LifeStyle conference, we will be showcasing all aspects of the canna-inspired culture including health, wellness, music, art, clothing, literature, food, cultivation, supplies, medical, educational, and ancillary aspects including cannabis weddings and travel.
There will be two levels of participation involving access to indoor and outdoor activities. All attendees will be able to access all of the Exhibitors indoors and out.
Live Music On The Main Stage Outdoors All Weekend Long Includes
The Wailers, Roots of Creation, Jon Butcher Axis, Brett Wilson, Mikaela Davis, Barrence Whitfield, Walter Sickert & The Army of Broken Toys, Tsunami of Sound, Justine’s Black Threads, and more.
About the Venue
Boxboro Regency Hotel (978) 263-8701 Located in a rural area near several corporate offices, this conference hotel is 1 mi (1.6 km) from I- 95 and within 1 mi (2 km) of Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. A 20-minute drive from downtown Boston. The warm, traditionally furnished rooms feature free Wi-Fi access, a flat-screen TV, a coffee maker, and a seating area. Higher classrooms have mini-fridges and/or a balcony or terrace overlooking the pool. Suites also include sofa beds and microwaves, while higher-end suites have separate living rooms. The on-site full-service restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and serves modern American fare. Guests can unwind on the indoor pool deck. Additional amenities include an exercise facility and an indoor pool. The hotel provides free parking and is pet friendly.
While there are many pleasant restaurants close to our hotel, we are happy to offer guests delicious on-site dining options. Enjoy breakfast, lunch, or dinner at our casual restaurant Minuteman Grille American Pub. You can also enjoy a delicious meal served directly in your room.
Amenities consist of a tropical atrium with a fountain, free Wi-Fi, free parking, disabled access, an indoor pool, a restaurant, a bar, room service, and air conditioning. Refrigeration, Airport Shuttle, Pets Allowed, Dogs Allowed (please call hotel for more information 978-263-8701). In addition, for hotel guests, we provide a fully equipped fitness center that includes changing rooms and showers, treadmills, ellipticals, stationary bikes, and free weights. Stay in control of your business with our on-site business center, which offers computer, printer, and fax services.