hempcon san bernardino 2020

L.A.’s DJ HeavyGrinder to light it up at HempCon in San Bernardino

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DJ HeavyGrinder is one of the headliners for HempCon, which is boasted as America’s largest medical marijuana mega show, next weekend. and she literally has nothing planned.

“My sets are all free-styled, meaning that nothing is pre-mixed or picked before the show,” said the DJ, whose real name is Bobbie Merveille “I look at the crowd, get feedback from their reactions and let my set list reflect the energy I get from people.”

The 30-year-old, who blends together metal and electronic music, is one of 26 diverse acts taking part in the marijuana-centric event, which takes place April 18-20 at the National Orange Show in San Bernardino. Other acts include hip-hop and R&B star Ty Dolla $ign, hip-hop’s Problem and Badd Lucc.

In addition to the San Bernardino stop, which is the first on HempCon’s tour, the show is scheduled to head to San Francisco on Aug. 22-24 and back down to an undisclosed location in Southern California on Oct. 17-19.

There is expected to be more than 50 medical marijuana collectives, a 4/20 medicating area, on site evaluations, glassware, seminars from cannabis experts and more, according to officials.

This will be HeavyGrinder’s first time at the event and she’s “curious on how HempCon visitors will react to Metalectro,” she said.

In the past, metal fans have given her criticism about blending the genre with dance music in her sets.

“I’ve heard nothing bad from the actual artists,” she said. “From the fans, however, I’ll get criticism from those who can’t open up to the original version being touched, because with metal or rock music they have more hardcore fans so they do not really understand the other forms of music. Or they might but don’t want it mixed together, so they can’t understand crossing over very well.”

Compared to when she first started playing for crowds in 2001, HeavyGrinder said she has seen an influx of women into the electronic music genre.

“When I first started, there was really no women,” she said. “I think as the industry as become open and accepting to women over the years it’s expanding. There’s a reasonable amount of women compared to when I started. I took a lot of criticism. It was very hard being a woman DJ, now it’s easier. People are more respecting of women being a DJ.”

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Hempcon brings money, shame into San Bernardino National Orange Show

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Word is spreading that San Bernardino and the National Orange Show is a platform for pot-related events and the push toward legalizing marijuana.

And San Bernardino’s William Cioci, 44, is among those who believes it. The venue — known for years as a community gathering place for big events, from The Rolling Stones performing to auto racing — is becoming known statewide for its friendliness toward marijuana events.

“It most definitely is the case,” said Cioci, who is president of the Brownie Mary Democratic Club of San Bernardino County and a medical marijuana user. “Anywhere in Southern California, if you have a cannabis-themed event, the best place to have it is at the Orange Show. They’re accommodating to patients, to vendors, to the promoter of the show. I’ve been to shows in Anaheim and Los Angeles that just aren’t as welcoming.”

With Hempcon happening this weekend, and thousands expected to attend the three-day event, yet another marijuana-themed event will take place at National Orange Show Events Center.

Self-described in past event posters as “America’s largest medical marijuana convention,” a similar Hempcon event called Seed To Smoke Tour happened in April at the NOS Events Center and another event is set for March next year.

Among the items sold at the event are glassware used to smoke marijuana, as well as more than 100 vendors. There’s even a consumption area for people with medical marijuana cards to use the pot if they have a valid recommendation card.

Some say the reason for these pot-friendly events at the NOS center in San Bernardino is simple – they bring greenbacks.

“It’s the same reason Cathedral City and Desert Hot Springs are allowing medical marijuana collectives to open up there,” said Inland Empire marijuana activist Lanny Swerdlow, who lives in Whitewater and has attended some of the events in the past. “They make a lot of money off them.”

Cioci, who plans to enter a marijuana competition at Hempcon in the category of ice water extracted hash, said he attended with Swerdlow the marijuana-themed Chalice California event in July at the National Orange Show.

San Bernardino Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Judi Penman conceded the center is known for being friendly to marijuana but she’s not happy about it.

“I respect the National Orange Show as a business and I understand they have to reach out to a venue who can bring in a lot of financial support toward the Orange Show,” Penman said. “It’s not easy to raise money for anything. I just don’t feel a drug-related event, or whatever you call this stuff, is necessarily helpful for the image of San Bernardino with its high crime rate and other things.”

That image is something officials have been mindful of in the recent past, as they’ve tried to crackdown on pot shops operating illegally in the city. In even more recent weeks, city officials have flirted with alternatives to the city’s current ban, which included allowing some highly regulated dispensaries.

Penman gets it. The money is the draw, she agreed.

“The business community, especially around there, does fill up hotels and motels absolutely,” Penman said. “But it also leaves a lot of chaos in the path of the businesses around there. They do call the chamber and they do complain about graffiti and broken windows and stuff like that.”

Orange Show officials couldn’t be reached for comment.

On the Orange Show Center’s website, a section says: “The center continues to carry out its mission to promote and preserve the citrus industry; manage and operate year-round recreational and cultural facilities to attract special events focusing on education and family entertainment; and support the community through charitable programs, scholarships, and active community involvement.”

The National Orange Show Events Center, according to its website, is a continuation of a nonprofit association formed in 1910. According to the website, the Orange Show was started to be a property for California’s citrus fruit industry and a permanent location was chose in 1923. .

Since then, the Orange Show has been a key community hub and draw, attracting people from far outside the city.

Marijuana-themed events have been running in the recent past at the NOS center in San Bernardino at least since the early 2000’s through 2012 with the Cypress Hill Smokeout, a concert featuring marijuana- friendly groups such as Cypress Hill, Kottonmouth Kings, Deadmau5 and more.

In February of last year, hip-hop artist B-Real from Cypress Hill took home High Times Magazine’s Stoner of the Year award at a Hempcon event as part of the Breath Freely Tour.

On its website, Hempcon is described as a medical marijuana show catering to people who may benefit from medical marijuana.

The Hacienda Heights-based Hempcon Inc. also has events in San Jose, San Francisco, Denver and Las Vegas.

Artists haven’t been bashful about using such events to push toward legalization of marijuana.

“We continue to do the work we do; to create awareness and get people educated and do what they can to push forward legalization,” B-Real said in an interview before the event.

Tony Zee, who is in charge of business relations for Hempcon, said the event has been successful for them despite local rules outlawing medical marijuana.

“(The National Orange Show) have invited the events back,” Zee said. “If you look in the overall picture, the event builds the local economy. With a major trade show like the Kush Cup/Hempcon, we build the economy over the three days. The hotel and the food industry and the gas industry they will reap the benefits of the revenue of attendees or exhibitors. It’s a pro-positive way to build the economy as well as the industry with our event.”

Zee said he expected an average of 10,000 people per day at the event, a “conservative” amount.

Amy Stewart, front office manager for the Hilton Garden Inn off Waterman Avenue near the venue, said about 90 percent of the rooms at the 115 room hotel have been sold for the event.

“It indicates we will be selling out that weekend,” Stewart said of the figure. “We have maybe 10 rooms to sell that weekend.”

San Bernardino Police Department Lt. Rich Lawhead, who has worked large events at the center for more than 20 years, said all events including the marijuana ones have been relatively safe.

“I can tell you most of the events at the National Orange Show do not create a policing issue, in general,” Lawhead said. “Other than vehicle burglary of cars parked in and around NOS that occur at any large event. But as far as creating a riot scene or scene where an innordinate amount of medical aid calls I can’t think of anything like that.”

Lawhead added that his department will “respond to incidents that we are requested … consumption in public is still technically illegal.”

Chris Lindsey, a legislative analyst with the Marijuana Policy Project based in Washington D.C., added even if local officials perceive marijuana-themed events as negative there is little they can do about it because the venue is privately owned.

“If it’s kept under control, I don’t know what they could say,” Lindsey said. “And to a certain extent, there’s got to be a sense that history is moving in a certain direction (toward marijuana legalization). You can embrace it and set up a set up a system that makes it functional. Clearly saying ‘we hate all this and it’s got to go’ has not worked. But if it’s a private venue that says they can handle it and contribute to the community, then why not?”

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