HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - More than 70 vendors and several thousand people were expected to attend Hawaii's first convention about pot.
Vendors began setting up the cannabis expo Friday. The two-day event features local and national marijuana experts, who teach participants everything they need to know about medical marijuana.
"We're expecting several thousand people to show up. It's hard to say, it's the first event. There's still a lot of resistance. But at the end of the day, hopefully people are coming to learn about what the industry is about," said event promoter Kyle Paredes.
The deadline for entrepreneurs interested in running one of Hawaii's future medical marijuana dispensaries was Friday.
A selection panel will help to choose the eight licensees. The state Health Department won't release any information about who is on that panel until the process is over.
State Sen. Will Espero has introduced nine medical marijuana-related bills this session. He says a secret panel is the best way.
"I think at this point it is important that we don't know who is in that process because we don't want them influenced in any way," Espero said.
Dru West is a consultant for dispensaries in Oregon and flew in to be a vendor for the convention. He says this marks a new era for Hawaii.
"It's gonna be a huge market here in Hawaii. I can't think of a better destination to come and be able to have what you guys will have available here soon. I'm a medical patient back in Oregon. I would love to be able to consume my medicine here on the beach," West said.
Event coordinators hope to make this an annual event.
Officials plan to announce the licensees by April 15.
For more information about the expo, visit www.hawaiicannabisexpo.com