LOS ANGELES — The marijuana industry, its outlook soaring with legalization in two states and changing attitudes nationally, is showing off the latest products and celebrating its good fortune at a trade exhibition this weekend.
The Los Angeles Cannabis Cup, an annual event sponsored by High Times, the magazine of stoner culture and business, is expected to see record attendance of more than 10,000 people this Saturday and Sunday. That's twice any previous turnout, managing editor and event coordinator Jen Bernstein says.
Voter approval of marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state, a growing list of states permitting marijuana for medical uses, polls showing for the first time that a majority of Americans support legalization, and President Obama's recent remark that pot is no worse than alcohol, all have created a buzz for marijuana consumers and an industry that was already on a roll.
"There's been a huge surge in interest,'' says Bernstein, who notes her magazine's recent issue was its biggest in 40 years of publishing.
"It's a huge growth industry right now.''
The show awards prizes, the Cannabis Cup, to strains of marijuana rated best by judges, with separate categories for sativa, indica and hybrid strains of the plant, as well as hashish and other forms of marijuana concentrates. Awards go to the best new marijuana-related products, like glass bongs, pipes, vaporizers and accessories.
"You could think of it as the Grammys or Oscars for the cannabis industry,'' says Seibo Shen, a Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur and CEO of VapeXhale. Its first product, a vaporizer selling for $450, won the best product award at the 2013 show when it was still a pre-production prototype.
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