When planning the first Emerald Exchange in the summer of 2016, the last thing organizers wanted was a sea of “pop-up tents in a parking lot” or “a conference held in a sterile office building.”
Aiming to connect Northern California’s finest sun-grown cannabis cultivators with Southern California’s cannabis-friendly community, they knew the stuffy sites typically reserved for such affairs simply wouldn’t do. This vision brought them to a private, 17-acre ranch in Malibu.
“Why do we have to a business conference in a building when our lifestyles are really all about nature?’” event producer Jessica Cure told Civilized of the organizers' venue choice.
“It’s such a magical place and there’s so much positive energy. You’re really connecting with nature.”
While only about 150 people and roughly a dozen vendors came out to that first event, word spread fast.
Now, on the cusp of the event’s fourth edition – slated for Aug. 12 and 13 – organizers say they’re expecting more than 50 brands and over 1,000 people. The two-day event will feature a farmer’s market, a speaker series, yoga, spa treatments, music, infused cuisine and more.
“We wanted to create this platform that allowed both the [Northern California] cultivators and brands that use those cultivators’ products to showcase to the Southern California market... because getting down to SoCal and getting market share there can be really tough for them,” said co-founder Michael Katz.
“[Our goal] was for people to be able experience cannabis in a higher-end, more sophisticated way than traditional cannabis events... the kinds where you can’t consume and can’t really connect with the products themselves.
“We’ve grown at every event and it’s been so exciting to see... people wanting to come out and show their support and learn.”
The number of outdoorsy and fitness-focused cannabis consumers drawn to the Emerald Exchange has grown with each instalment, say organizers. With this in mind, they’ve opted to include a ‘Wellness Village’ in this August’s edition.
“Welcoming both cannabis curious patrons and seasoned cannabis patients alike, the [Emerald Exchange] Wellness Village will become a staple component... featuring top educators, workshops and healthy lifestyle brands,” reads a press release.
“The Wellness Village encourages cannabis and non-cannabis industry collaboration and aims to support immersion of cannabis use into everyday healthy wellness practices.”
Also new to this month’s edition is a cannabis pop-up restaurant by The Herbal Chef, Christopher Sayegh.
In a series of dinner and brunch services over the course of the Emerald Exchange, guests will be treated to a five-course meal featuring “fresh produce, outstanding culinary talent and a full sensory experience for the canna-curious foodie.” The offering will serve as a sneak preview for HERB, the first-ever brick and mortar cannabis restaurant slated to open in the Los Angeles area in late 2018.
“There are terpene (plant) extracts in my centerpieces creating tantalizing aromas, guests are surrounded by art stimulating thoughtful conversation, so now it becomes an immersive experience where you are present in the dining experience," says Sayegh in a press release.
“You're eating with a different perception with each bite, with each course. You're literally changing your brain chemistry and you are viewing this food differently than you did five minutes ago, and then 10 minutes ago, it’s a journey of sensory pleasures."
No matter what attendees get up to over the course of the two-day festival, head of NorCal Cultivator Relations Brooke Horowitz hopes to see everyone come away with a greater sense of community.
“One of the great things about this event, besides the education and business connections, is the chance to build a community amongst the farmers,” Horowitz told Civilized. “Coming from the black market, we’re used to not talking about what we do. Now we can come together and create this platform... where we can come out of the closet together and create support among our community.”
Tickets for the Emerald Exchange can be purchased here and are available for a discounted price with our code, “Civilized10”.