Wednesday June 3, 2020
By Erin Hiatt
As the coronavirus took hold of the world in early March, governments, scientists, and doctors around the globe began the unrolling of policies to help slow the transmission of COVID-19. Included in those recommendations: wash your hands, try to stay at least six feet away from people, and don’t gather in large groups. In fact, some large gatherings have been dubbed “super spreader” events because of mass transmission during the event. Under day-to-day circumstances, one infected person is likely to infect two other people. However, indoor events that invite people together to eat, sing, or talk loudly appear to be high-risk.
Take, for example, the Chicago funeral where the virus transmitted from one person sickened 16 people and killed three. Or the choir practice in Washington, where one infected person unknowingly transmitted the virus to 52 people, two of whom died.
The cancellation of SXSW (not technically a cannabis event, but one that is very cannabis-friendly), one of the first large scale events to postpone their annual gathering began a domino effect, as event after event said that they, too, would cancel or postpone.
Luckily, cannabis event planners moved quickly to help stop the spread by cancelling 4/20 events and creating virtual events.
Some events, like Colorado’s NOCO Hemp Expo originally scheduled for March 26-28, is slated to take place August 6-8, though that too may be up in the air as coronavirus hot spots continue to pop up across the country.
Canceled Cannabis Events Due to COVID-19
Here’s a look at some of the events either canceled or in flux due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
Canceled Cannabis Events:
- 2020 Cannabis Conference
- 420 Vancouver
- American Herbal Products Association
- Baltimore Cannabis Relief Festival
- California Cannabis Industry Association Policy Conference
- Cannabis Business Summit & Expo
- Cannabis Conference 2020
- Cannabis Wedding Expo
- Cannabis World Congress & Business Expo
- CannaCon Detroit
- Emerald Cup
- Hall of Flowers
- High Times Cannabis Cup Central Valley
- MedCan Summit 2020
- Michigan Hash Bash
- Mile High 420 Festival
- National Cannabis Festival
- National Cannabis Industry Association summit
- National Cannabis Risk Management Association (NCRMA) conference
- NeCann Boston
- Ohio Cannabis Health and Business Summit
- Southern Hemp Expo
- Women in Cannabis Summit
If there’s one piece of good news, all these cancellations and postponements that happened just before the 4/20 holiday provided an opportunity for creative pivots toward virtual events. For now, the simplest way to get in on all the virtual happenings is to visit the website of the gathering you are interested in attending to see if it has been canceled or postponed.
When Will In-Person Cannabis Events Happen Again?
As for when it will be safe for us to gather together again, whether at an expo, conference, festival, or concert is yet to be determined. Like cannabis legalization, coronavirus-era policies vary from state-to-state. The Centers for Disease Control has provided interim guidance for organizations wishing to have mass gatherings, but the prevailing thought here is basically to not have them.
Peter Bach, director of the Center for Health Policy and Outcomes told CNBC, “Concerts, sports, conferences, and festivals may be entertaining, but they’re not essential to life. It’s certainly not very high on my list of concerns as far as a return to normalcy…” He goes on to predict that large group events will probably be one of the last things to return to normal, barring a vaccine. Scientists and researchers are indeed racing to find a cure, but a vaccine release date is still undetermined.
As the pandemic unfolds around us in real time, there is little for us to do but be patient and practice the recommendations offered by the CDC to minimize exposure: wash hands frequently, wear face coverings in public, avoid close contact with others, and stay home if you think you could be sick. Not only does this protect you, but it also protects others, so we can all get back to cannabis business as usual.