The Cannabis Classic Strikes Again
By Whitney Branshaw
The Cannabis Classic came to Anchorage again. The event was held outside of the Sullivan Arena on May 19, 20 and 21 with a hope that attendees would feel more comfortable consuming marijuana products in public. One of the main frustrations surrounding events like this in our state is that there hasn’t been a safe opportunity to consume cannabis at a marijuana tradeshow, which is standard and expected at these gatherings. While there was still the possibility of being ticketed at the event by APD for public consumption, the space to consume was there and it was utilized.
The event kicked off Friday night with VIP cannabis infused dinner made by Michelle DelaPena, otherwise known as Chef Bombshell. She’s an award winning edible queen. The outdoor portion of the event started on Saturday and it featured thirty vendors from around the state and other cannabis related businesses from out of state. These vendors ranged from cultivator Pakalolo Supply Co. from Fairbanks, retailer Enlighten Alaska from Anchorage, Dab Stars of social media fame, The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association (AMIA) and many more. “Having this event outside was a great idea,” Brandon Emmett of AMIA says. “It had much more of an event feel to it. It was better than the dry tradeshows we’ve seen here in Alaska. I’m also happy to see the space that was formally Pot Luck Events being used for a cannabis-friendly event for the awards show.”
The outdoor event also featured seminars and industry leading speakers such as attorney Jana Weltzin of JDW, LLC and Mark Malagodi, CEO of Canntest LLC, Alaska’s first testing facility, as well as Justin Roland, who spoke about the extraction process for cannabis products. While overall attendance was lower than earlier years, the number of cannabis-related businesses that came together to support each other and promote the industry is what matters most to event organizer Cory Wray. “Our main mission is to build trust within the industry,” he says. “We want to hold our integrity, we want to do what we say we are going to do. Even if it doesn’t go the way we planned. We want to be inclusive and bring everyone together. I think we accomplished that with this event. We also learned a lot from this go around, and are really happy that we incorporated Strain RX to streamline the blind judging process for the grower’s portion of the award show. This being the first industry award show, I felt like it went really well. There are some loopholes in the voting process for the industry awards that I will tighten up for next year, and I expected that being that this is the first time we’ve done it this way. We just wanted people to feel like they were involved in the process, which they were. Overall I feel like the event has been a good representation of where the industry is right now.”
The award show for the Cannabis Classic was sponsored by Pakalolo Supply Co. It featured the first industry awards and was a chance for everyone to get together and celebrate each other’s success with a touch of friendly competition. Kennan Hollister of Pakalolo Supply Co. said it was a marketing opportunity he couldn’t pass up. “We have really strict regulations surrounding advertising the legal marijuana industry in Alaska. This was a perfect opportunity for us to promote our brand and get our name out there. It also gave us a chance to network with other business owners across the state and, to be honest, that was my favorite part. Meeting people face-to-face that we have only seen on social media or heard of through the industry as it has grown. All of us coming together is what this industry needs. I also can’t say enough about how proud I am of our team. They are what make us so successful.” Pakalolo Supply Co. took home a total of 7 awards, and it wasn’t for lack of trying. Industry awards were handed out to folks that had the most votes and the Pakalolo team made sure that they were active in getting folks to vote when they came to an event or their store. People could vote once a day through several mechanisms and that allowed a steady stream of votes to add up for one of the busiest retail stores in the state. So, salutes to the homies at Pakalolo Supply Co. for their perseverance in getting to the top. I’ve always been a fan, and always will be.
The continued tradition of honoring growers continued in a separate set of awards in conjunction with Strain Rx, based out of California and owned by Alec Perelman. Strain Rx is an online data tool that lets users find their perfect strain of cannabis that fits their medicinal or recreational needs. “We partnered with the Cannabis Classic to help them modernize the judging criteria, while utilizing technology to streamline this process in conjunction with laboratory-based testing. We then synthesize the data into a more coherent final product that can be utilized by other users looking for their perfect strain,” Alec says. “Strain Rx is the platform to find the perfect strain of cannabis, whether you are using it medicinally or recreationally. Trust is a huge factor in how you choose your medicine. One other element that we have worked into this system is the democratization of sharing information. So when you look at a strain profile, you have the power to adjust the values of that strain that you have experienced. We have a way to let the profile be altered by enough data that reflects the true effect of the strain. This has the possibility to change the landscape of choosing cannabis for everyone, based on user experience.” The result of including Strain Rx in this process not only helps legitimize these results, but it also benefits anyone that accesses the information when on the hunt for the perfect strain. A win-win in my book. You can access Strain Rx at www.strainrx.co.
The standout winner of the grower’s competition was without a doubt Evan Levinton, who took home the award for Best Sativa and Best Overall with his homegrown strain, Strawberry Fields. Evan is an owner and operator of Enlighten Alaska, a retail location in Anchorage. Their cultivation application that will supplement their retail is in the works, and it seems to be a move in the right direction after winning this high-ranking award. “It’s all about finding the right genetics,” Evan says. “I’ve always enjoyed pheno hunting, and while it’s incredibly time consuming it’s really fun and rewarding at the same time. I can’t tell you how many strains I have tried out that haven’t made the cut. The space and time required to narrow it down can be too much for some. I’m really proud of this award and can’t wait for our cultivation to come online so we can share it with the public.”