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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Friday, March 27, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Resources for your canna-education

If you want to learn more about cannabis, perhaps a visit to a cannabis farm is in your future. (Getty Images)
If you want to learn more about cannabis, perhaps a visit to a cannabis farm is in your future. (Getty Images)
By Joe Butler EVERCANNABIS Writer

If this is the year you’ve decided you want to learn more about cannabis, you’re in luck!

One of this publication’s goals is to create ways to make the whole cannabis world interesting, un-scary, and accessible. Many stories normalize the topic by showing that people working in the cannabis industry are far from the past stereotypes of marijuana enthusiasts.

Some of them don’t even partake of the plant – in the big picture it’s really not a necessary ingredient to running a successful business other than general product knowledge. And for those that do indulge, it’s as typical as having a having a beer or glass of wine at the end of the workday.

As we say in our legal statement, we don’t advocate for or against cannabis for recreational or medical use. But we do prefer information and education. But if you want to learn more in 2020, no matter your previous knowledge, we encourage you to look into some of these resources.

VISIT A SHOP. As of September, there were 540 licensed cannabis retailers throughout Washington. The bigger population centers have more: Spokane County has 41, Pierce County has 42, Snohomish County has 56 and King County has 118. That means you don’t have to go far to check out new products.

What you’ll experience: A variety of products to smoke, vape, eat, or drink. Browsing is encouraged, and all budtenders welcome questions about what they’re selling. They may also ask you questions about you to get an idea of what products would suit your needs or tastes; part of training for this position includes “it’s not about what you like; it’s what the customers want or need.” There’s no sampling, however, or on-site consumption.

What you need: Valid ID showing you’re at least age 21. If you plan on buying anything, you’ll need cash, or a debit card for the ATM.

VISIT A PRODUCER/PROCESSOR. Indoor or outdoor farms aren’t open to the public, but many operators give private tours upon request, especially to those who want to learn about the process. All visitors are required to sign in on an official state logbook and wear a guest nametag. Some growers may ask that guests don a lab coat, scrubs, booties or hair nets to avoid contamination of the plants.

What you’ll see: Plants in various stages of growth. (In Washington, producers grow the plants, and processors turn them into other products, such as extracting oil or making them into edibles.)

What you need: Valid ID showing you’re at least age 21. Curiosity.

GO TO AN EXPO. Networking is big in this world, so trade shows are always popular. Some people like interacting with peers, some like attending seminars and learning new best practices and techniques, and some like talking to vendors to learn about new products and services. Most are non-smoking due to venue restrictions, although you can often buy food and alcohol.

There are also a few business-to-consumer events that focus on education, including Seattle Hempfest in late August and Bellingham Budfest in July. Members of the Spokane cannabis community are also collaborating to organize “Cannabis Curious,” a free private consumer event July 11 in Spokane Valley that features on-site consumption as well as speakers.

What you’ll see: Most cannabis conventions in Washington are business-to-business. Vendors range from cannabis-specific to traditional businesses that want to offer their services to the industry, such as packaging, branding, employee benefits and security. Some exhibitors may offer promotional items to members of the industry, but giving anything to the public, including cannabis samples, is prohibited.

FIND INDUSTRY GROUPS. Two of the more active in Washington are The Cannabis Alliance and Washington Canna Business Association. These provide advocacy support, lobby for legislative changes and offer networking opportunities.

Joe Butler is a longtime marketing writer and editor at The Spokesman-Review. He’s an enthusiast of Star Wars, commemorative spoon collecting, and the Oxford comma.

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