Some of the world’s greatest and most passionate medical marijuana advocates will be in Burlingame this weekend at the International Cannabis and Hemp Expo — a first-of-its-kind event to take place in the heart of San Mateo County.
Intche by the Bay, based in Burlingame, has rented the old Hyatt Cinema on Bayshore Highway and secured the proper permits from the city to host the festival, which will feature a Proposition 215 room, where medical marijuana users can light up legally.
Speakers include Dennis Peron, the man who co-authored Proposition 215; Ed Rosenthal, perhaps the world’s greatest marijuana grower; and Terence Hallinan, the former district attorney of San Francisco, who now advises the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Intche has hosted a few pot expositions in previous years, including one at the Cow Palace, but this will be the first one held in the middle of the county, where attendees can get doctor evaluations and sample various products such as hash. Native Elements, Jazz Mafia, Afrolicious and other bands will also provide live music.
“This is unprecedented for the mid-Peninsula,” said Melinda Neal, Intche’s chief operating officer.
There are no medical marijuana dispensaries between San Francisco and Santa Clara counties, she said, making San Mateo County an underserved community.
The event is also not about recreational use, she said, but purely about patients’ rights.
About 20,000 people attended a previous Intche event at the Cow Palace but only about 5,000 tickets are available for the Hyatt event this Saturday and Sunday.
Intche secured its special-event permit for the private property festival after working with Burlingame police, fire and public works officials, said police Sgt. Don Shepley.
Temporary fencing will be put up around the old movie theater and Intche will pay the overtime for a couple of Burlingame police, Shepley said.
Neal is pleased with the response she has gotten from the city so far.
“The city has been a gracious host and has taken a non-biased position,” Neal said. “There is an understanding of the evolution of this social issue.”
Intche will allow no children at the event, a fact that pleases police. Someone 18, however, will be able to smoke their own marijuana at the event if they have a valid identification card.
Shepley said the police department does “not condone” the festival but that the organizers have the right to hold it on private property. They Hyatt is a 125,000-square-foot facility and has a parking area that faces the water.
“It cannot be restricted,” Shepley said.
The festival is about highlighting the medical benefits of marijuana and hemp products, Neal said.
“Some of the most conservative people I know have changed their views after getting sick who then feel better after using marijuana,” Neal said. “It’s about replacing toxic drugs with natural hemp products.”
Marijuana was once a leading medicine, she said.
One of the event’s sponsors, Be Legally Green, will be at the Hyatt for those patients who would like to renew an expired recommendation or obtain a new one.
It will also feature “Ed Rosenthal’s Wonders of Cannabis Rolling Contest” to see who is the “best joint roller.”
Some of the event’s major sponsors are the Berkeley Patients Group, Bhang Medicinal Chocolate, Sonoma Patient Group and Be Legally Green.
Vendors include San Mateo’s The Cave, Totally Baked Ladies, Purple Lotus, Lava Trap and Hempteeness. Food vendors will also be on site including Ben & Jerry’s and Calafia Taqueria.
The Intche by the Bay Festival is 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday, May 18 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 19. Tickets are $15 for one day and $20 for two days. Special VIP tickets are also available. For more information and to purchase tickets go to www.intche.net.
(650) 344-5200 ext. 106