For some, the Ohio Marijuana Expo at the Summit County Fairgrounds in Tallmadge was a painfully serious event, offering a chance to alleviate chronic health issues from cancer to post-traumatic stress disorder.
For others, the exhibit was almost festive, where 86 vendors featured products directly or indirectly related to Ohio’s medical marijuana industry.
Nothing was more fun than the two cannabis fairies parading among the thousands of participants.
Mikayla Chacalos and Nicole Esson, owners of Primitive Aura Design Studio in Cleveland, donned handmade tie-dye costumes for the exhibit, using many of their products to transform themselves from entrepreneurs into creatures of European folklore.
âWe make handmade glitter, body paint, face paint and tie-dye t-shirts,â Chacalos said.
She said she and Esson started the business last year after the coronavirus pandemic began and have been busy every weekend since.
âWe’re best friends and started going to festivals just for fun,â she said. “And we said, maybe we can do something about it.”
Esson said the affairs had not affected their five-year friendship.
âI don’t know who else would be willing to dress like this,â she said.
The women said they were promoting their business on social media like Facebook and Instagram under the name Primitive Aura Design.
Vendors sell cannabis-related items
Many vendors offered cannabis-related clothing, including t-shirts, jackets, and socks. There were also chocolates, stickers, magnets, cookies, and candy – none with marijuana included. Food and drinks were available on the second floor of the arena for those with a sweet tooth.
Rhiannon Adkins helped endow her father, Ray Adkins’ Heady Hips Boutique booth. The Lakewood Company had a large selection of marijuana-themed t-shirts and water pipes designed by regional and local artists.
Ray Adkins started the business in July 2020 and it has grown rapidly, said Rhiannon Adkins.
âWe love to teach people, instead of taking your money and walking out of our store [approach],” she said.
Glassblowers Aaron James of Cleveland and Durin Klingemier of Painesville demonstrated their skills in making water pipes at the entrance to the exhibit.
James said he sells his products through Fuji Fumeworks, and said interest and appreciation in the art of glass has grown since he started the practice seven years ago. Some items can be quite expensive.
âUp to $ 1,000, easily,â he said.
Klingemier said he learned how to make water pipes during Operation Pipe Dreams, when the federal Drug Enforcement Administration cracked down on companies selling drug paraphernalia. Times have improved for practitioners like him, he said.
âThe pipe scene has gotten really underground,â he said.
Klingemier said he was making more than just water pipes, including a glass boat he recently completed. He said he learned the skill because it created a challenge that continues 15 years later.
âI don’t think glassblowing will ever be one of those things that I have mastered,â he said.
Marni Task was at the show to promote his Cleveland business, Indu Aromatherapy.
She uses three oils to create her signature scent and has added a CBD product to her lotions, soaps, and sprays. A selection of her products are sold in Mustard Seed stores and yoga companies like Yoga Bliss, Namaste Yoga in Northfield and Release Yoga in Akron, she said.
âIt’s like bottled yoga,â she says.
“Trying to eliminate the stigma”
Cassandra Brooks, director of operations for the show’s host, Ohio Marijuana Card, said she expected nearly 1,000 people to sign up for marijuana card reviews during the show.
âI was a little surprised to see how many people want to be assessed today,â she said.
Brooks said people have become more willing to consider marijuana for pain relief than they have been in the past.
âIt’s not like it’s in the 70s,â she said. âWe are trying here to eliminate the stigma. ”
Statistics from the Ohio Department of Commerce demonstrate the rapid growth of the state’s medical marijuana program.
As of August 26, 2019, 2,599 pounds of product had been produced, with 162,759 purchases amounting to $ 21.97 million. Two years later, 59,376 pounds of product were produced under the program, with 3,847,330 purchases totaling $ 523.34 million.
Find relief from pain, anxiety
Kyra Wakefield of Canton was one of those looking for a marijuana card. She said she suffered from PTSD, anxiety and depression.
Wakefield said she had been considering applying for a few years, but the high cost of getting a card stopped her.
“I’ve been thinking about it since I was 18,” said the 20-year-old. âIt was around $ 300, and I didn’t want to spend that much. “
Aurora’s Cindy Winfield said the program had helped her relieve chronic pain caused by myelofibrosis, a rare blood cancer that she’s been battling since 1992. For many years, opioid products have helped relieve pain. , but doctors have become reluctant to prescribe them.
âRight now I’m getting 90 Vicodins for six months,â she said. “One doctor sends you to the other doctor because he can no longer prescribe them.”
She said her pain may be over 10 on the 1-10 scale, but medical marijuana helps when other pain relievers aren’t available.
âIt allows you to function and do things – to be normal,â she said. âIt doesn’t make all the pain go away, but it makes it tolerable. “
Keona Stewart of Cleveland also stood in line for her assessment. She suffers from fibromyalgia and has said that marijuana-based foods reduce the frequency of severe painful incidents to two or three times per month.
âAs for the pain on a daily basis, I don’t feel it anymore,â she said.
Stewart said the relief offered is a lifeline and less harmful than other pain relief options.
âIt’s the best thing since the ice cream cake,â she said.
Sarah Holycross of Springfield Township said she uses medical marijuana for her PTSD and hepatitis C.
âIt helps me tremendously,â she says. “I don’t know what I would do without it.”
Leave a message to Alan Ashworth at 330-996-3859 or email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @newsalanbeaconj.