As many as 10 “supermodels” are handing out hugs and 10,000 free marijuana joints at a cannabis convention ending Wednesday at the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina.
But according to San Diego’s Brad McLaughlin, CEO of an online medical marijuana marketplace behind the “pop-up” promotion, some of the hundreds of vendors need 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 a confusion in our industry,” he said Tuesday. “The president made some promises in the campaign that he’s going to allow the states to decide on recreational and he would support some 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 ends 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 hand out free 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].”
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. “I asked myself ‘What would Jesus do?’ and that is when the idea for Blunts & Babes first came to me. 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 nonpatients may only possess less then 1 ounce of marijuana for recreational/personal use and that recreational users may gift or donate less then 1 ounce of marijuana legally,” he told Times of San Diego.
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 someones age.
“One model did ask for a gentlemen’s ID and he laughed and said she made his day,” McLaughlin said. “He was 36 years old and showed her his ID.”
McLaughlin thinks the man tried to give the model his phone number, “but she didn’t take it.”
Costing between $2.50 and $10 apiece, the pre-rolled joints were donated by a local advertising partner, he said.
At least four Sheraton staffers took advantage of the free hugs, he said, but “I am not sure if they took the free joint.”
One accidental hug-getter was a San Diego police officer patrolling the event outside.
“She was in the middle of a hug, so she committed to it,” McLaughlin said. “He was cool about it. His face got a little red.”
The crowd cheered and the officer and his partner walked away smiling, he said.