If you’ve ever been to a cannabis cup, you might think all cannabis events are noisy, crowded affairs, bursting at the seams with vendors, loud music and giant clouds of smoke. The Emerald Exchange offers a different kind of experience. Last month’s event featured a cannabis farmers market, organic food, live music and painting, massage, sound baths, a tea lounge, cannabis relevant talks and films and even a cannabis tasting competition. Held on a private ranch nestled in the hills of Malibu, California the Emerald Exchange is a sophisticated cannabis event, aimed at bringing cannabis products from Northern California to dispensaries and cannabis patients in Southern California.
In the cannabis farmers market, event goers mingled around the elegantly decorated vendor booths, listening to live music and sampling or purchasing cannabis products.Vendors offered a variety of cannabis experiences, like sampling cannabis infused wine from Know Label or cannabis concentrates paired with kombucha at the Terravida Farms booth.
Popular cannabis brands from Norcal like Green Goat, Arcanna, Mendocino Medicinals and Emerald Gate were there showing off their flowers, as well as other cannabis products such as concentrates, topicals and tinctures.
Justin Calvino is one of the events’ original founders and was responsible for bringing the Norcal cultivators to the table.
“I wanted to keep and maintain the purity of having northern California farmers,” Calvino said. “Northern California has been the epicenter for quality cannabis production… Our soil, our topography, our elevation, our environmental terroir is extremely strong, as is our cultural terroir.”
The inspiration behind the event was bringing together this strong base of cannabis producers with the strong consumer base in Southern California. The Emerald Exchange is not just an opportunity for industry networking, but also an elevated gathering geared towards a high-end and conscious demographic.
“Focusing on lifestyle and wellness was a really important thing for all of us,” Calivino said. “These are things that are very important to us in northern California. We were always attracted to the conscious vibe of Malibu and Southern California… It wasn’t just consciousness around wanting high-end refined cannabis, it was wellness, yoga meditation, things of beauty. If you put up a McDonald’s at Emerald Exchange, half the people would go hungry.”
The focus on wellness was certainly reflected in the event. Far from fast food, a variety of posh food options were available. Attendees could order organic meals cooked by the personal chef of rapper Ludacris, get a medicated smoothie, or even try cannabis-infused sushi. Throughout the event, there were beautifully decorated areas to relax or socialize. Spaces like the healing yurt, a floating bed, a tea lounge, and a massage teepee we set aside for those looking for a moment of rest. An open air lounge area offered live music and tequila tastings. Fanciful characters like a fairy, and a troupe of comical dancers wandered through the party, interacting with guests.
Even the cannabis competition reflected the refined and mindful feel of the event. Instead of a cannabis cup, which awards a prize to the most popular cannabis flower, the Emerald Exchange featured a tasting panel, a competition that judges the tasters themselves. Much like in contests for wine sommeliers, tasters were given a variety cannabis flowers and judged on how well they could identify the strain of cannabis and area in which the cannabis was grown. The winner got five out of the 10 strains correct, and was even able to correctly identify a few regions.
Luxury cannabis events like this one are increasing in popularity, with cannabis yoga, fancy dinners with cannabis-infused food, or private cannabis parties like LIT or the Flow Kana salons. As the Emerald Exchange evolves, Calvino hopes to see it stretch to multiple days and include more workshops, expanding it into an “exchange of information.”
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