ITHACA, NY -- While the state continues to work on legislation for selling cannabis, some people have found a creative workaround in the meantime. On Feb. 26, the Ithaca CannaMarket is coming to The Cherry Arts. It will feature local exhibitors covering all parts of the cannabis culture and industry. Guests will pay $20 for advance tickets or $25 at the door and will be able to sample and obtain products from the state’s cannabis, CBD and hemp industry. Tompkins County Sheriff Derek Osborne said that because there’s no direct sale of cannabis, the event is legal and he does not plan on the Sheriff’s Office having any presence at the event.
According to event organizer Kenneth McLaurin, the CannaMarket is a “pop-up social experience” meant to “provide opportunity and space for people who enjoy cannabis to get together and have fun in a social setting.”
There have been two prior pop-ups already. In September they hosted the Finger Lakes Music, Comedy and Cannabis festival in Spencer, and in December there was a pop-up in Binghamton as a hotel. McLaurin said those were both a big success, and said it brought out the diversity of Tompkins County.
“There were people representing the city of Ithaca, the greater Ithaca area, the more rural areas,” he said. “It was a really good turnout with a diverse group of people.”
McLaurin noted that it’s no secret people have been using cannabis both medically and recreationally for years, but because of its prohibition, there hasn’t been a public space for people to get together and talk about it.
“They haven’t been able to have a conversation and educate themselves to learn all the therapeutic uses of marijuana,” he said. [The pop-ups] are a good way to educate yourself about different strains and effects. It’s a way that cannabis consumers can find out more, and it’s a good entry place for people who are curious but hesitant.”
The entry fee goes to support the event, and then inside businesses can gift or provide samples to people, including edibles, plants, flowers, extracts, glass and more.
“Once you get inside there are a lot of opportunities to get marijuana that are within the bounds of the law,” McLaurin said.
McLaurin also said he hopes that having events like this end the stigma around people who use cannabis.
“We want to end the misinformation about the plant. People are used to consuming it in secret at home and we’re looking over our shoulders,” he said. “We’re trying to end that stigma so we want to do everything really legally. We’re not selling. Nobody is going to be selling marijuana.”
He described the event as a farmers market where it’s just one crop.
“There are also going to be CBD vendors selling, and cannabis adjacent businesses,” McLaurin said. “There will be people selling glass and t-shirts and edibles and juices and creams and rubs. That’s the most interesting thing about it — all the other ways people use cannabis.”
McLaurin said he was thankful to have found a venue to make it accessible to many people in the area, and said he hopes it will have a positive impact on the region.
“We want to try to bring together like-minded people through having healthy and safe events, so they can learn more about cannabis and celebrate its legalization,” he said.
To attend the CannaMarket, you must be 18 years or older, and you must be 21 or older to accept samples of smokable products. For more information or to purchase a ticket, visit https://ithacacannamarket.bpt.me.