Expo on marijuana and the budding industry coming to Fort Worth

By Sierra Tuthill

A marijuana convention is coming to Fort Worth, but don’t expect any free samples.
The Southwest Cannabis Conference and Expo is a two-day event on Feb. 27 and 28 with the purpose of educating Texans on the growing billion-dollar industry.
The event will showcase the industry’s most innovative products and provide seminars and presentations by industry business leaders and experts, according to the website.
The event will also include an in-depth look at cannabis from professional athletes. Ex-NFL All-Stars Ricky Williams, Kyle Turley and Jim McMahon will be giving special presentations.
Shaun McAlister, Executive Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), said he thinks most Texans support ending cannabis prohibition, but are afraid of the word “legalization” because it can mean different things to different people.
“Most people instantly start hearing Bob Marley when the word comes up,” McAlister said.
McAlister said he wants people to become more educated about cannabis at the convention. He explained he believes that marijuana is illegal not because it is a drug, but because of what a marketable product it could be, especially as an oil.
“These oils can do some miraculous stuff, such as fighting cancer and reducing seizures in epilepsy patients, to powering vehicles and reducing our reliance on natural gas and lumber,” McAlister said. “This is a major threat to major industries.”
Marijuana reform has passed in states such as Colorado and Washington where weed is legal. However, changes in Texas law must be pushed through Texas legislature, McAlister said.
“Texas legislature is notoriously impotent when it comes to reforming marijuana laws effectively or efficiently,” McAlister said. “The truth is, it’s our elected representatives that are holding up our progress. They are afraid to be courageous on this topic, because they still think that citizens believe marijuana is bad, or at least still taboo.”
The website states there will be no cannabis on site or used at the expo because it is illegal to possess any amount of marijuana in the state of Texas.
Danielle Paine, the national sales manager for the Fort Worth Convention Center, said the convention center is a public facility so they can’t decide what to book and what not to book.
“Before we booked the expo we called the previous event, which took place in Phoenix, to see if there were any issues,” Paine said. “They followed the rules, there was no cannabis on site, and they paid the fees and signed the waivers.”
The event will feature lectures covering “Growing Hemp/Cannabis in Texas,” “The Future of Cannabis in Texas” and “Veterans PTSD Research Presented by Grow for Vets.”
Tickets are on sale and can be purchased on their website.
Members of the Fort Worth City Council and Fort Worth Police Department did not return requests for comment.