This is part one of a two-part recap
Ah, Palm Springs. A desert oasis filled with snowbirds, golf fanatics, and weekend warriors alike all yearning to enjoy the abundant sunshine and escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
It’s also the home of Hall of Flowers’ Southern California trade show, a two-day cannabis extravaganza featuring a bevy of brands, ancillary providers, and a plethora of product samples meant to intrigue and impress the retail buyers, journalists, and influencers in attendance. While considered by some to be aggressively boujee (standard industry tickets will set you back close to a bill), the B2B expo still attracts a good blend of old-school fam interspersed with the typical corporate Chads often seen flexing.
I stepped off the plane at the Palm Springs International Airport and was immediately struck by the not-quite-oppressive heat, the airline gate opening to a courtyard filled with lush fountains and swaying palm trees.
It wasn’t long before another familiar heat entered my nostrils.
The irresistible aroma of cannabis wafted past almost immediately upon arrival, refreshing and light like the desert breeze that provides occasional respite from the sun’s power.
I knew then and there that it was going to be a great week.
Summer Camp at the Saguaro
I rode to the Saguaro Hotel, the chic and eclectic boutique property known for its retro vibes and lassez-faire attitude. Stepping into the foyer, I was immediately greeted by David Tran, co-founder of Farechild Events, and unofficial host of the week’s after-hours festivities.
David was overseeing the transformation of the Saguaro for the following evening’s High on Life soiree, a Hall of Flowers after-party that would see the entire property taken over by the cannabis industry elite. He ran over, offering a giant hug and a warm welcome as we approached the check-in counter.
“It’s awesome to see everyone arriving,” he beamed. “This is like cannabis summer camp!”
We soon parted ways, as I needed to change into more weather-appropriate attire and he had plenty of work to do preparing for the event. I also needed to connect with Warren Bobrow, master mixologist, former cannabis writer at Forbes and the creator of the tasty Klaus cannabis-infused beverage.
Warren and I had been communicating via social media and wanted to be sure to meet up for a sesh at Hall of Flowers, having missed each other at the previous show in December. I also wanted an introduction to his companion and brand namesake Klaus, a fantastically friendly gnome with a penchant for good pot.
Right from the jump, Warren and Klaus offered humble and gracious energy, presenting two Talking Trees pre-rolls. The serendipity was almost unreal, as I just happened to be wearing the brand’s hat that day. My mind was blown by the coincidence, and we were quickly chatting and smoking as if we all had been friends for decades.
Compound Genetics Shows Up Big
After a delicious dinner of tacos in the hotel’s on-site restaurant, I stepped outside for another joint. Soon after, a man in a Team Elite Genetics shirt walked by.
It turned out to be award-winning brand’s founder, Steve Castillo. I excitedly told him the brand’s Pearadise sativa-dominant flower was among my favorites from the last HOF. He reached into his bag and gifted me with his demo jar, a truly high honor (no pun intended).
Still riding high (again, no pun intended) from Steve’s kindness, I rolled over to Curator’s Connect, a gathering presented by Compound Genetics, We Grow, and Cltvd Genetics. As speakers debated in the main room, guests were treated to tours of Compound’s finest flowers.
In the backroom, the results of the company’s recent pheno hunt were on full display. A group of certified Ganjiers (think sommeliers for weed) walked captivated spectators through the unique terpene profiles of each cultivar, encouraging us to smell the jars and truly absorb the rich aromas of the bud.
Nearly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of amazing pot in front of me, I decided to pick up the jar of Pineapple Faanta. I took a whiff, instantly taken aback by the fragrant, tropical essence.
As I stuck my nose deeper, one of the Ganjiers instructed me to open my mouth. He said by doing so, I would get a more accurate representation of the terps, mimicking a dry hit off a freshly rolled joint. The difference in experience was indeed noticeable, and I shared my newfound knowledge with anyone who would listen over the course of the next couple of days.
It was almost impossible to choose a favorite from Compound’s pheno hunt, but I ended up grabbing a few nugs of the Pineapple Faanta, as well as Rainbow Cheddar (I have always been a huge Cheese fan), and Red Bullz — a White Runtz x Grape Gas cross that Compound was particularly thrilled about.
All three strains were remarkable in their own right, but the Rainbow Cheddar truly stood out. Funky yet sweet, the bud offered a heady yet balanced high perfect for any occasion.
Back at the Saguaro, I bumped into Boveda Norcal sales rep Ryan Harner, who had brought with him some of his homegrown Canna Country #26. The iconic ocimene-heavy strain is one for the ages, and after sharing a joint with Ryan and some vacationers from New Zealand, it was time to rest up for the main event.