SAN DIEGO, March 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- 10 Supermodels were giving out hugs and 10,000 marijuana joints at a cannabis convention ending last Wednesday at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.
But according to San Diego's Brad McLaughlin, CEO of the online medical marijuana marketplace BudTrader.com and the man behind the "pop-up" promotion, some of the hundreds of vendors at the expo needed the hugs the most.
"Some of the biggest players in the marijuana industry pulled out of this event," said McLaughlin of BudTrader.com, citing worries about their legal future in light of recent comments by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a White House spokesman.
"There's confusion and uncertainty in our industry," he said Tuesday. "President Trump made some promises during his campaign that he's going to allow the states to decide on recreational marijuana and he would support medical marijuana."
Anti-marijuana sentiment in the Trump administration "kind of took the wind out of the sails" of the third annual California Cannabis Business Expo, which began Sunday and ended Wednesday with a business and investor summit.
"They're afraid to make any noise or be seen right now," McLaughlin said.
That's one reason BudTrader decided to give away hugs and joints of a variety called Purple Train Wreck.
"Listen, everything's going to be all right" was his message. "Eventually, we'll get clarification on what the federal government stance is on medical and recreational [marijuana]," he said.
Noting "a lot of negativity in American politics lately, especially towards medicinal marijuana, we at BudTrader are all about positive energy," McLaughlin said in a statement. "It's impossible to be angry when you are smoking a joint and hugging a supermodel."
"This idea could change the world! Imagine if peace talks in the Middle East were moderated by supermodels giving out blunts — we would have peace in no time."
McLaughlin said social media — and some of the thousands of expo-goers — were concerned about police presence. But all was well after inquiries to local law enforcement. "They were extremely helpful," he said.
"Before the giveaway, we were advised that non-patients may only possess less than 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational/personal use and that recreational users may gift or donate less than 1 ounce of marijuana legally," he told local San Diego news outlets.
Models were advised to ask for ID if someone wanting a joint looked younger then 35 or to ask for ID if they were unsure of someone's age.
"One model did ask for a gentleman's ID and he laughed and said she made his day," McLaughlin said. "He was 36 years old and showed her his ID."
Costing between $2.50 and $10 apiece, the pre-rolled joints were donated by a local dispensary who is an advertising partner, McLaughlin said.
At least four Sheraton staffers took advantage of the free hugs, he said, but "I don't think any of them took the free joint."
One accidental hug-getter was a San Diego police officer patrolling the event outside.
"She was in the middle of the hug, when she realized he was a police officer but she had already committed to it," McLaughlin said. "He was cool about it."
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