Advertised as “the largest cannabis business event in Rhode Island,” the Providence show of the Boston-based New England Cannabis Convention is scheduled for two days, Saturday and Sunday (May 16-17) at the Rhode Island Convention Center. The organizers promised over 60 vendors and two dozen speakers in hourly panels. They also hold similar shows in Boston and in Portland, Maine.
Although there has been much recent focus on efforts toward legalizing recreational use of marijuana in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, following the example of other states such as Colorado and Washington, the convention is focused almost exclusively on the medical marijuana (MMJ) infrastructure that grows and distributes the herb subject to state laws that allow use by patients who have a need certified by their doctor or other health care professional. Currently, RI patients have three officially sanctioned ways to obtain MMJ: they can grow it themselves, designate caregivers to grow it for them or purchase it from one of the designated non-profit “compassion centers” that operate on a commercial-scale basis.
The convention is oriented to patients, their families and their caregivers, but is open to anyone at least 18 years old. In part because it is open to the public, convention rules prohibit any cannabis at the site.
Topics of panel discussions and experts scheduled for Saturday include plant cultivation (1pm), entrepreneurship and employment opportunities in the MMJ industry (2pm), genomics and science of cannabis (3pm), marijuana as medicine (4pm) and a debate about indica versus sativa strains (5pm). Sunday events include two panels on politics and activism (noon and 2pm), a second panel on entrepreneurship and employment opportunities in the MMJ industry (1pm) and an expert on chemical testing and quality assurance (4pm). The de facto keynote panel at 4pm Saturday features, among others, celebrity broadcaster and now MMJ patient Bob Lobel, known for his long career at Boston radio and television station WBZ where he covered almost every major sports event from 1979 until his retirement in 2008.
RI law authorizes MMJ use for a list of conditions and treatments: cancer, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS and hepatitis-C. It also authorizes MMJ use for any chronic or debilitating condition that produces cachexia or wasting syndrome, severe nausea, seizures including epilepsy, severe and persistent muscle spasms including from multiple sclerosis or Chron’s disease, agitation from Alzheimer’s disease, or severe, debilitating, and chronic pain. The process in RI is to obtain the necessary form from the state website, have them filled out by the patient’s doctor or other acceptable health care professional and submit the completed form with the required fee to the Department of Health. Patients on disability are entitled to a reduced fee.
New England Cannabis Convention, at the Rhode Island Convention Center, 1 Sabin St, PVD. Sat (5/16) noon – 6pm and Sun (5/17), 11am – 5pm. Official website: http://www.newenglandcannabisconventions.com/providence-show Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/805145089566185/ Tickets: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/new-england-cannabis-convention-tickets-16168272739
Rhode Island Department of Health official MMJ information web site: http://www.health.ri.gov/healthcare/medicalmarijuana/index.php
“Sports final: Legendary Lobel signs off,” by Dan Shaughnessy, The Boston Globe, April 30, 2008: