Log In


Reset Password
  • MENU
    Local News
    Sunday, April 21, 2024

    Mohegan Sun cannabis expo draws large crowd

    Josh Souza, with Forest City Glassworks out of Middletown, works on a piece during the glass blowing competition at the Connecticut Cannabis Expo at Mohegan Sun on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Analia Dilone, left, and her partner, Jeffrey Marrero, both of Stamford, dance as they take their turn in the Wahoo live 360 photo booth during the Connecticut Cannabis Expo at Mohegan Sun on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. The couple are both social equity applicants working to license Jefe’s Jardin as a retailer. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Kevin Walls, a glass artist based out of East Haddam, demonstrates how to use a bong he made as he sets up his display at the Connecticut Cannabis Expo at Mohegan Sun on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Visitors look at glass pieces for sale from Blazin’ J’s booth during the Connecticut Cannabis Expo at Mohegan Sun on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Visitors walk past booths during the Connecticut Cannabis Expo at Mohegan Sun on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints
    Jimmi Glass, of Bridgeport, works on a piece during the glass blowing competition at the Connecticut Cannabis Expo at Mohegan Sun on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. (Sarah Gordon/The Day)
    Buy Photo Reprints

    Mohegan ― Angelo DiMatteo of New Britain and Rob Carbonell of Bristol were in high spirits as they exited the gates of a cannabis convention at Mohegan Sun on Sunday.

    Before they did, DiMatteo stopped to place his CBD-spiked beverage on the carpet and pry open up his tote bag.

    “We got everything. Rolling trays, pens, hand sanitizer, lighters, a lot of candy...” he gloated. “Booze! You name it.”

    The two were among hundreds of other attendees at Xpocanna’s third annual Cannabis Expo, held in the casino’s spacious Sky Convention Center. Xpocanna is a production company that unites businesses from around the country whose similarity is they have some skin in the cannabis game.

    Over 50 booths on Sunday showcased art, clothing, snacks, grinders for crushing up marijuana plants, pipes and bowls for smoking, giveaways and live glass-blowing demonstrations.

    “It’s bringing people together,” Carbonell said. “But it’s funny, I would have gotten discharged from the military for smoking. Now I get 30% off at the dispensary.”

    The two differed in their preferences on how they consume their cannabis. Carbonell, a user of edibles, said he no longer smokes marijuana because it hurts his throat, while DiMatteo said edible weed “doesn’t do anything for him.”

    Meanwhile at a nearby booth, Rob Coscia and Mike Caldarella, co-founders of a product known as the “Dispoze-a-Bowl,” a disposable cardboard pipe that can be used multiple times and then recycled, were keeping no secrets about their preferred method of consumption.

    “I invented it because of wanting a clean pipe to smoke out of,” Coscia said.

    “He’s been inventing stuff since he was a kid,” Caldarella said, adding that the two met in high school friends around 1985 or ‘86 and have been friends ever since.

    Coscia said the product, which he invented in the summer of 2019 and released the next year, got a boost in sales from the COVID-19 pandemic because no one wanted to share a pipe to smoke out of. But he wasn’t the only entrepreneur whose business had capitalized on the pandemic.

    So too had former restaurateur Jack Cochran, who sold his New London Italian place the Recovery Room and last summer entered the marijuana delivery business. He said since the pandemic, many people’s lifestyles have shifted to staying home and spending more time with family, an idea his delivery service, Green Coach Delivery, capitalized on.

    “And why not cannabis, you know? Everything else is getting delivered,” he said.

    Green Coach delivers to 75% of the state, he said, and makes deliveries from local dispensary the Botanist in Montville and other places. Montville Finance Director Barbara Griffin said Thursday the town has collected $81,962 from the Botanist since it reopened as the town’s sole hybrid retail cannabis establishment in January of last year.

    Two other towns submitted their cannabis tax information to The Day; Groton and Norwich, who have one store each. Both opened retail sales in July of last year. Groton Town Manager John Burt said the town has collected $51,059.66, while Norwich Comptroller Joshua Pothier said it has received $46,012.67.

    “People are coming out of the cannabis closet,” said John Newton, co-founder of Cannacticut, referring to the multiple towns opening cannabis stores that have helped push the product into the mainstream and make for a diverse convention crowd.

    He and friend Kevin Cranford co-founded “Cannacticut, the first cannabis lifestyle brand and social club.” They said their table full of T-shirts ― whose designs included weed-themed twists on the Hartford Yard Goats and University of Connecticut Huskies logos, and state flag ― celebrated “the Nug-meg state’s” legalization of cannabis last year.“

    “Nug,” an abbreviation for nugget, refers to a piece of cannabis flower that can be crushed up and put into a joint or pipe.

    Based in Hartford, Cannacticut also organizes meetups where folks can go on hikes or to restaurants while high, and also holds parties throughout the year.

    “I think a lot of people expected a lot of marijuana products,” said Shariffah Mason, a DJ and photographer from Hartford. “It’s a nice mix of everything.”

    She said she thought people were surprised by how many different things the convention had to offer.

    Zach Beckwith, who manages the Gales Ferry wellness center Path 2 Self, said marijuana had helped him recover from an addiction to painkillers. He and his mother, Amy Beckwith, who began the company’s Norwich branch, have made it their mission to promote health and using natural, holistic alternatives to traditional medications.

    As DiMatteo and Carbonell left, the two said they’d really enjoyed the festival, adding that it had felt welcoming.

    “There’s no hate here,” said DiMatteo.

    d.drainville@theday.com

    Comment threads are monitored for 48 hours after publication and then closed.