The Emerald Triangle of Northern California is known for the forest, scenic coastline and cannabis. For generations, people have been cultivating the plant in the region. Now, with the trade show Emerald Exchange, those in Los Angeles have access to the near-mythical cannabis of Northern California and a chance to meet the cultivators who grow it.
Farmers, including Justin Calvino, have built a livelihood cultivating cannabis within the Emerald Triangle. With the passage of Proposition 215, which legalized cannabis for medicinal use in California, business in the region boomed, with more people across the state wanting and needing to medicate. However, larger agricultural businesses also demanded a share of the profits being made in the thriving industry. The small, independent farmer that had provided the region with homegrown cannabis for decades was, in a sense, overshadowed.
Calvino saw people who had virtually no history in the industry entering the cannabis market to make a profit. That’s when he decided to team up with Michael Katz of EVOXE Laboratories and event producer Jessica Cure to create the Emerald Exchange.
The Emerald Exchange is a destination for cannabis connoisseurs across California. It is part tradeshow, part outdoor market, with a focus on small-scale, sun-grown cannabis farms.
“We saw this as a great way to give small farmers direct access to the market, in the largest consumer market in California, which is L.A.,” says Calvino.
The idea was successful, and the third Emerald Exchange is scheduled for March 18. They are expected to host 40 vendors and have approximately 500 guests. Attendees are invited to interact with the farmers providing sun-grown cannabis, learn about holistic health, visit a spa and interact with people of similar interests. There is a centralized focus on business, wellness and education.
“Whether they’re a business insider or consumer, they’re coming to learn about the product,” says Cure. “At the end of the day, people feel like they’re part of a bigger community.”
The event brings small farms back into the light—both literally and symbolically. The event is scheduled on the Saturday before the spring equinox, the tipping point between the dark winter months toward the journey until summer. Appropriately, the event is held outdoors in the fresh seaside air, creating a relaxed and positive setting for attendees. Symbolically, it is reminding small famers that they are needed, they are appreciated, and people are interested in what they’re doing. It’s a bold statement about protecting the livelihood of long-time cultivators who have recently been shut out of the industry.
“What we are doing, in large part, is to protect the way of life,” Calvino says. “The protection of the small farm and that way of life is paramount.
A tasting panel will also be present at the event, with professionals who have a background in classifying cannabis varietals. The goal is to identify the specific characteristics of various strains so there is a more reliable guide to strains and their flavors and effects.
“Basically the tasting panel was born as a necessity as we need to start identifying characteristics of each strain across industry lines,” Justin says. “So there will be a Blue Dream in Arizona that is the same as in Northern California. We want to know how the phenotype expresses itself in different geographic locations.
Furthermore, the panel will focus on topics like laws, taxation and cultivation—all prevalent issues for people consuming or growing cannabis.
“The data collection is a point that will be useful for the industry moving forward,” says Katz. “But we are also supporting the needs of the community . . . so people take away more than just meeting other people.”
Justin expressed many of the farmers he works with, and will be present at the Exchange, focus in on the Entourage Effect found when ingesting cannabis. This means there is more attention given to the overall effects of the plant—how the cannabinoids and terpenes interact—rather than just potency.
“Part of the soulmate relationship between Justin, Jessica and myself, is we all believe in wellness and healing and wholeness,” Katz says. “There is a sort of Entourage Effect that [we] bring to the Emerald Exchange.”
The Emerald Exchange is a unique event for dispensary owners, wholesalers, growers and cannabis consumers to interact, learn and support small farms; this is all accomplished in a classy and comfortable environment. The event is not limited to one topic, but brings together many interacting aspects as necessary to a true holistic lifestyle. Ultimately, the Emerald Exchange promotes the empowerment of the individual in the context of supportive communities.