A convention Saturday in Portland devoted to the production of medical marijuana offered a glimpse at the business potential that could result if Mainers legalize marijuana next month.

The Portland Cannabis Convention, in its second year, sold out its exhibition space at the Sullivan Recreation Complex at the University of Southern Maine to 80 vendors. Sponsored by the New England Cannabis Network, the event was expected to draw 1,500 visitors in six hours, said Marc Shepard, co-founder of the network and a former publisher of the Portland Phoenix.

He said the success of the event shows the business potential of moving beyond allowing medical marijuana use and legalizing it for recreational use, a referendum that will appear as Question 1 on the Nov. 8 ballot.

“This shows the width and the breadth of the industry. These are all ancillary businesses that will thrive with this,” said Shepard.

Maine is one of five states, including Massachusetts, considering ballot measures to legalize cannabis.

Four others are deciding whether to allow marijuana for medical use.

The cannabis convention featured sessions on industry careers, medical marijuana education and live demonstrations, such as how to make cannabis-infused lotions, edibles and tinctures.

A special vaping tent for licensed patients to medicate during the show was set up at the Marriott at Sable Oaks with hourly bus shuttles from USM to the South Portland hotel.

Many of the vendors, from Maine and out of state, peddled products to make marijuana production easier. Several companies offered soil enhancers made from earthworm casings. The Coast of Maine showed off its line of fertilizers just for marijuana production. Other vendors offered services to extract oils from the cannabis stalks and leaves that may otherwise be thrown out.

But the vendors with products and services designed to make the laborious chore of hand-trimming cannabis buds from the plants faster and easier attracted some of the largest audiences at the convention.

Lisa Keyser, sales manager for GreenBroz of San Diego, California, demonstrated the company’s mechanized day trimmer, a soundless threshing machine with a retail price of $5,250.

“You wind up with trim looking like you did it by hand with scissors,” said Lisa Keyser, sales manager.

Some vendors who missed out on nabbing exhibition space at the show improvised.

Brian Ritchie, founder of Ergrow Systems of Kennebunk, and his team walked around demonstrating a line of ergonomically designed marijuana production tools, such as trimming scissors. Ritchie, who said he was an ergonomic designer for 15 years in corporate America, is a licensed grower who knows firsthand the tribulations of trimming marijuana flowers.

Danielle and Rob Smith of Augusta said the hours they spend trimming buds as medical marijuana caregivers gave her the idea for a side business: a mobile branch-to-bag service. The Smiths will come to a marijuana grower and use a mechanical trimmer and bag up the product.

“It would cost us $500 per pound to hand-trim. With this machine, it costs $15 an hour,” said Danielle Smith.

The Smiths said they also plan to sell and rent mechanized trimmers.

Attendees said they were there to learn.

Anthony Caiazzo, director of cannabis for the Wellington Group – a New York firm that specializes in business, personal, entertainment and employee benefits insurance – was there to get the word out about the company, which provides insurance services to those in the cannabis industry.

“I am interested in connecting with growers, dispensers and owners,” Caiazzo said.

Beth Quimby can be contacted at 791-6363 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: QuimbyBeth

This story was changed from its original version to provide the correct first name of Brian Ritchie.


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