There was cannabis artwork, representatives from Cannabis State University, and assorted oils and clothing on hand at the Southeast Cannabis Conference and Expo.
But no cannabis, notwithstanding the faint scent emanating from a few attendees.
The three-day event at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Broward County Convention Center, which runs through Sunday, had the look and feel of a typical trade show or exhibition, with vendors selling vaping devices, a machine that makes oils and butter from herbs, and a cruise company touting “networking on the high seas.”
Cannabis as a growth industry in Florida continues to take shape through the legislature, which on Friday passed the Medical Marijuana Bill, expanding the list of authorized growers in the state from seven to 17 and also expanding the list of conditions for which it can be prescribed by doctors. But the ban on smoking remained in effect; those prescriptions would be for pills, oils, vape pens or edibles.
The latest news out of Tallahassee drew applause at the convention.
While obtaining a dispensing license may be beyond reach for most Floridians without the proper connections and cash on hand, some people are looking to capitalize on the market.
“A lot of people are gearing up for when it happens, when people can start growing at home possibly, and can start smoking in their homes,” said Rich Andrews, who was selling a $750-$800 hydroponic growing unit that resembles a movie theater popcorn maker, but about a quarter of the size.
“This machine is not only for the cannabis industry, but you can grow lettuce inside, micrograins, you can grow your basil.”
“This is great, a lot of people and a lot of fun. My bag is loaded. I’m trying to learn about what is going on so that one day I can do businesses here,” said Bodden, who lives in Jamaica and makes herbal wines. He often visits his sons and grandchildren in South Florida.
The booths weren’t the only draw. On the second and third floors of the building, speakers talked about a wide range of topics, such as “The Economics of Marijuana in 2025” and “Diversity in Cannabis.”
Talk-show host Montell Williams was among the speakers; he uses cannabis as treatment for his multiple sclerosis.
Uma Dhanabalan, a family physican from Massachusetts, gave a presentation on the history and medical benefits of the plant.
“It was fuel, food, fiber, paper and medicine. If we bring it back we can make this world a better place,” she said.