NEVADA: There’s no tie-dye, no free samples and no stereotypical stoners: marijuana is going mainstream and nowhere is that more evident than what’s being billed as the world’s largest marijuana convention.
The conference here has drawn close to 3,000 people, many of them middle-aged men in suits eagerly discussing the latest legalization efforts, trading tips on distilling pot into hash-infused oil, and debating the finer points of child-resistant packaging.
But even though nearly half of the states have legalized some form of marijuana, the cannabis industry still struggles with both its identity and reputation. One example: The casino hosting the event has asked reporters not to mention its name. And this is an industry experts say will be worth $8 billion annually within five years.
“I’m seeing a definite skew toward the legitimate businesses and less and less of that weird factor,” said Joe Hodas, a spokesman for the Colorado-based edibles manufacturer Dixie Elixrs. “These are real, valid business opportunities.”