July 8, 2020

Marijuana smoke filled the air at Bingemans in Kitchener during the Ontario Cannabis Festival on Sept. 7. The crowd turned out to be smaller than expected.

“I was expecting it to fill up quicker,” Greg Thornton, 34, a cannabis activist from Kitchener, said about the size of the crowd.

This festival attracted a lot of businesses involved in the new cannabis marketplace, such as U-Bud Cannabis Services, which helps people grow their own marijuana plants.

“It looked like the first of its type in the area,” U-Bud president David Kurt said on why his company, based in Canfield, Ont., travelled to the festival.

Many food trucks showed up at the festival to satisfy the needs of hungry pot smokers.

Businesses at the festival could not legally sell marijuana due to the fact that they didn’t have the proper licence to do so, but people were still able to bring their own to smoke.

The festival was scheduled to start at 11 a.m. but security didn’t start letting people in until around 12:30 p.m. due to delays in setting up some of the booths.

Many smokers were in their 20s or 30s but there was a sizeable group of people who were older than that.

There was a VIP area at the festival with a stage filled with bongs and vapes with marijuana in them, but they couldn’t turn on the vapes right away due to technical difficulties. Thornton, who was in the VIP area checking people’s wristbands, said he got the job because a friend who helped organize the festival gave him a ticket.

“I’ve been showing up where I can to help out,” he said, describing his role at the festival.

Kiosks at the festival taught people about marijuana and its uses. “Information, education and resources,” is the slogan of Higher Quality, a local business that teaches people about the many uses of marijuana and how to use in a way that is legal.

Mike Murray, an employee of Higher Quality, thinks the stigma that some people have about marijuana is unjustified. “It should be just as normal as having a sip of water in the day,” he said.

Many people at the festival were hesitant to talk to Spoke or have their names published due to the stigma that marijuana still carries.

Ontario Cannabis Festival organizer Tony Millar did not return an email from Spoke seeking comment.

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