2013 Treating Yourself Expo best yet
By Al Graham
Cannabis is a plant that many governments claim is dangerous and should not be consumed, but we are seeing something different. Unfortunately, this fear-mongering message, which is almost 100 years old, is one that leaves many unanswered questions, and the feeling that we have been mislead the whole time.
Many of the answers to questions that people have about cannabis today could be found during the weekend of May 24 to 26, at the fourth Annual Treating Yourself Expo in Toronto. This one-of-a-kind event is held every year at the Metro Toronto Convention Center in the heart of the city’s downtown. With the facility being a barrier-free location, it the perfect place to hold an event that involves people with disabilities. Not only is the place accessible for the disabled, but it also has access to many forms of public transportation, which allows people to get there without driving or fighting for a parking spot.
One has to ask, if cannabis is so dangerous that it has to be illegal, then how can there be a show as large as the Treating Yourself Expo? Why would one hundred vendors travel from Europe, Africa, the U.S. and all across Canada for something that is apparently so harmful to us? The answer: to promote the health benefits of cannabis, as well as their businesses, to thousands of people. These are businesspeople who believe the law is wrong and that people do want legal access to this extraordinary plant.
During the four years that Treating Yourself publisher and editor Marco Renda has run this show, it has done nothing but grow. Every year, he makes sure there are lots of vendors and some speakers to help educate the masses, while also giving the public the information and knowledge that they seek. This year, there were the usual compassion centres in attendance, but there were also new businesses that are getting prepared for when the new Canadian medical marijuana program begins in Apr. 2014. For those who wanted to know more about the legalization of cannabis, there were large advocacy groups such as <NORML.ca>, Dads 4 Marijuana, as well as many other smaller groups, in attendance. Also there to talk about legalization were the Young Liberals of Canada, who had Resolution 117 to legalize cannabis pass at the party’s policy convention last year by a resounding 77 percent. It was good to see them out explaining what their federal political party will be doing if elected.
Along with education, there were also businesses that provided people with everything from plant food to information on how to grow. Companies such as Advance Nutrients and Super Natural, as well as smaller companies such as Better World and the Cyclorganic Fertilizer Company were present. When it came to glass products, low-end glass could be bought, or you could get high-end products from places such as RooR, High Society Glass, and Borohouse Originals. If you didn’t find something in one of these places, you could have visited the numerous glass artists who had handmade products available. The printed magazine businesses that help educate the public were also on hand. While you might expect Treating Yourself Magazine to be there, others such as Hot Breath, Glass Culture Magazine, and Cannabis Digest also had booths. Cannabis Digest’s publisher and Hempology 101 author Ted Smith, who made his way in from Vancouver, told me he looked forward to the weekend when he could spend some time meeting and talking to people from around the world. This I can verify, as all weekend long I spotted Ted talking to the vendors about his book and about Cannabis Digest.
This year saw some of our international travelling friends, such as Arjan and Franco from Greenhouse, as well as Luke from Paradise Seeds, attending the Expo as they have in the past. But there were also new local vendors, such as Jacquiewith Dunnette Landing Cottage and Campground, as well as Jacob from Utopia Therapy. These two, along with others such as The Massage Lady, who was busy all weekend long, are allowing the event to open up to people outside of the cannabis business community.
The Expo had guest speakers such as California Doctor William Courtney, who spoke about the benefits of juicing raw cannabis. Dr. Courtney also talked to everyone the plant’s medicinal benefits, and how important it was to consume the raw plant material to get everything. This is one subject that is close to the doctor’s heart, as it was how he has treated his wife, Kristen. Dr. Courtney has discovered that humans can consume the plant raw through juicing, and get much more medicinal benefit than from smoking it. During the heating of the plant material, natural chemicals in it change, and an example of this is THC. When you consume the raw, unheated plant material, it is known as THCA (acid) but when you heat it up, it becomes THCV, which is the THC that gives people the euphoric high. Not only does this change, but its medical benefits do as well, as it goes from being helpful as an anti-spasmodic medicine, to an anti-epileptic one.
During the talk with Dr. Courtney, his wife Kristen also took the stage, where she talked about how her husband’s research has benefited her both in the past and today. While she talked about this, she also touched on the fear of knowing that at any time, the U.S. government could walk into their home and take their young children away from them. With tears in her eyes and a crack in her voice, she spoke of the devastation that her and her family would go through if the DEA showed up at their door.
Also speaking throughout the weekend were Dr. Paul Hornby, who comes every year to talk about advances in cannabis medicine and the work that he has done and continues to do. The ladies from the NORML Women’s Alliance of Canada also took to the stage, as many of them spoke up about the effects of prohibition on their families and how this will effect them down the road.
The seminar stage was also used to announce some very deserving awards. This year, Marco Renda presented Julia Rose, who is with the Peter McWilliams Organization, with an Angel Activist Award for her tireless efforts to tell Peter’s story. Even as a non-consuming person, Julia has seen the many benefits of the plant, and wants to keep Peter’s work alive. Peter, who was a poet and an author who had a book appear on the New York Times Best Sellers Book List, passed away on June 14, 2000. Also winning an award this weekend was Michael D. Jensen, who was presented the Humanitarian Award by Michael Thomas, the founder of Dads 4 Marijuana. Michael was presented this award for his efforts and hard work within the cannabis community. I’m told that the group is looking forward to making this an annual award, and look forward to bringing light to those who are making a difference.
Last year, Marco introduced glass-blowing to the Expo, and this year he brought it back with a bang. Last year, it was held in a corner, while this year it was the main attraction across the back of the hall. Compared to last year, the contest location was larger, which provided more room for the contestants. Also new was the addition of three large TV monitors set up around the seating area, allowing show goers a close-up view. The teams were also formed differently this year. Instead of just having three teams, Marco changed things up to have Canadian glass blowers competing against teams from the U.S. and Japan. Many of those who attended stood by or watched as the teams worked their magic.
Once the glass-blowing competition was complete, the team’s final products were put on display for everyone to see. The team known as “The Canadian EH Team” placed third with their “Skeleton Bird” pipe, with the U.S. team finishing second for their design of the “Emerald Castle” from The Wizard of Oz. Coming in first place was the team from Japan. These guys created a piece called “Donchan,” that featured a drinking cup for dabbing, that had internal artwork that was out of this world. They also created a dab tray and tool to go along with it.
Along with the awards for the advocates and the glass-blowing, there were also awards for the vendors who took part in the Expo. Once again the crew from Advance Nutrients went home the happy winners with the Best Booth Award, partly because of their double-deck platform setup that doubled as a meeting place and a location where people could get a view from above. The company also holds a matching number contest that allows those attending the show a chance at winning a thousand dollars’ worth of food products. Marco announced that for their efforts, they would be getting a free booth for next year’s show.
Also happening this weekend was the TY Medicinal Cup, which is a contest of cannabis growers and seed companies vying for the best cannabis available. A select number of speciality picked judges join Marco at a location in order to judge the seed company categories. During this process, they test different company strains for things such as smell, appearance, burn ability, and medicinal benefits. They go through this testing in order to determine who has the best indica and sativa genetics available on the market today. The big winner over the weekend was Med Man Genetics (Pain Killer, Rockstar West, Coast Diesel) who took home three of the six cups available to the seed companies. Also winning on this day were Dinefem (Blue Widow), The CBD Crew, (Skunk Haze) and Paradise Seeds (White Berry). Meanwhile the VIP judges tested and evaluated strains that were supplied by private growers and from compassion clubs across Canada. Congratulations go out to both the Urban Grower (Chemo Kush and Blue Cheese) as well as to Imedicate (Chocolope, Kosher Kush) for being multiple winners in this contest. A big congratulation goes out to all those who won, and a big thank you to all who competed in these contests.
Everyone knows how important this event has become to the cannabis community. It’s a location that allows educated and uneducated people to learn more about this plant, and it allows people to network and set plans in place for the next year. Because of this, and for many other reasons, a big thank you goes out to Marco and everyone who was involved in making this Expo a reality. This includes everyone from the vendors, the glass blowers, the volunteers, and the security staff who were hired to keep everything safe. But a special thank you has to go out to all the people who attend the show, because without them, the show would not continue.
As with any event, there were some hiccoughs, but for a young event, these are becoming fewer every year. This not only shows that things are getting better but the event on a whole is maturing and becoming more mainstream.
Every day that the Expo was held, it broke attendance records, as people want to learn something that those in authority have kept from them. Not only was attendance up, but it was also announced that over a dozen new vendors want into next year’s show. To me, this says that the event was nothing but a success.
See you next year, when we do it all again, from May 23 to 25, 2014.
Check out Al’s website <pace-online.ca>