Cannabis Curious Find New Strains, Edibles And More At Cannabis Expo


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Cannabis Curious Find New Strains, Edibles And More At Cannabis Expo
Cannabis Curious Find New Strains, Edibles And More At Cannabis Expo

More than 2,000 people attended the Arkansas Times Cannabis and Wellness Expo at Simmons Bank Arena Saturday where they found an exhibit hall of cannabis businesses, new products, doctors and cooking demonstrations. 

The two-day event began on Friday with Industry Day in which many of the state’s cultivators, dispensaries and processors gathered to learn about one another’s products and discuss an industry that has exceeded $1 billion in sales since the first legal sale in 2019. 

At about 10:30 Saturday morning, the line to enter the event stretched out of the lower-level entrance onto the sidewalk along Washington Street in North Little Rock where dozens braved the 20-degree weather for a chance to learn about the state’s dispensaries, products and more. 

Good Day Farm, which operates six dispensaries in the state, had a variety of booths in the lobby area where visitors could spin a wheel for prizes, including water bottles, tote bags, and can koozies. 

In the arena, exhibit booths lined the wall and the center of the floor where Dark Horse Medicinals, a Little Rock cannabis processor, offered information on its products, including Big Pete’s Cannabutter. Sean Stokes, Dark Horse’s lab director, explained that most edibles on the market are sugary chocolates and gummies and that cannabis-infused butter allows patients to add butter to savory foods and to use it in the amounts that they desire. 

Brian Chilson
ON THE WAY: Keef Sodas should be on the market in 3-4 months, according to Conor McNally (left).

Conor McNally manned another table for Dark Horse with information on Keef cannabis-infused beverages. The products, which will be manufactured at Dark Horse’s Little Rock facility, should be available in 3-4 months, he said. The sodas will come with 100mg of THC but they will have a “dosing cap” and a resealable lid, so patients won’t have to drink the entire can at once. The sodas from Keef, which started in Boulder, Colorado in 2010, will be available in Orange Kush, Bubba Kush Root Beer, Purple Passion grape flavor and Original Cola. McNally said the non-medicated orange and grape flavors were popular with visitors on Saturday, although he said the root beer flavor is popular in Colorado, especially for root beer floats. 

The Dark Horse display also featured a sign that said “Dark Horse Dispensary Coming Soon.” The state Medical Marijuana Commission recently voted to allow Dark Horse CEO Casey Flippo to purchase Hash and Co. dispensary in Pine Bluff. 

Brian Chilson
NEW STRAINS: Hot Springs cultivator Leafology used the expo to promote three new strains.

Meagan Chris, director of operations at Hot Springs cultivator Leafology, used the expo to promote new strains and products. Three new strains – Citradelic Sunset, Pez Mints and Garlic Cake — will initially be sold exclusively at Custom Cannabis dispensary in Alexander. Leafology also promoted on Saturday its cannabis-infused food seasonings, which include garlic, nacho cheese and taco flavors. The three flavors will be released soon, Leafology President Brent McCord said. 

Custom Cannabis used the expo as an opportunity to teach visitors about terpenes, which are aromatic non-psychoactive compounds found in cannabis plants. Lonny Chris, the store’s general manager, said he wanted to help people find terpenes they like to help them shop for products based on the terpene profile. 

Pete Steppach, known as Chef Pete the Cannachef, demonstrated with hemp how to prepare cannabis for cooking. Steppach, who performs in-home cooking courses for medical marijuana patients, described a careful process that included using a sous vide method to heat the cannabis, or decarboxylate it, before cooking. 

MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS: Sound Extractions uses sound vibrations to create medicinal mushrooms extracts, Lab Director Garrett Collums said.

Several non-cannnabis businesses also set up booths, including Sound Extractions, a Conway company that creates medicinal products derived from mushrooms. Garrett Collums, a registered dietitian and the company’s lab director and chief holistic officer, said the business uses sound vibrations to extract certain components from the mushrooms and described the medicinal qualities of each. 

Dozens of people lined up at the back of the exhibit hall to visit the eight doctors who were on hand to perform certifications, which are required for patients to become eligible for Arkansas’s medical marijuana program. The state has about 97,000 cardholders, according to recent reports from the state Department of Health. 

Brian Chilson
STATE REGULATION: Chip Leibovich (center) and Christy Bjornson (second from right) of the state Alcoholic Beverage Control division participated in a discussion about state regulation on Friday.

On Friday, industry professionals attended a variety of panel discussions on topics including women in cannabis, state regulations and lab testing. Annie Iselin of Cotton Plant cultivator BOLD Team and Ryan Kenaga of Fort Smith cultivator River Valley Relief discussed their new collaboration called Ask Ethel, which will seek to educate the public about cannabis and reduce the stigma surrounding it. The first Ask Ethel events will be held next Saturday.

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