The Kushstock Festival will win the race to be the first major cannabis event to return post-lockdown. California’s biggest free-entry cannabis spectacle will hit Adelanto for its tenth rendition on July 3rd.
Kushstock was founded in 2016. Founder Kadan ‘Dr. K” Borg argued that he felt in the moments ahead of legalization that there was a lot of money grabbing, but was nothing was being produced with a “for the people” ethos enshrined at its core.
“We need to give something back to the consumer, to the patient, the medical people. And so Kushstock, what it was really based off of is the Woodstock vibe, if we build it, they come, and it’s gonna happen. We don’t charge people to get in,” Borg told L.A. Weekly.
Over the years, Borg has used the platform to help brands get their foot in the door. Kushstock started a few months after the social equity debate started in cannabis. Now, five years later, Borg is well-positioned to help social equity brands put their product in front of consumers even if they’re having trouble in the brutal battle for dispensary shelf space. Borg pointed to the fact there was no set vendor price as evidence of Kushstock’s efforts to try and make it work for everyone. This year, Kushstock is getting larger and more established companies to donate to the social equity section, which they are then matching with booth space for social equity brands.
“This is going to be our most minority and social equity-focused event with Kushstock yet and we’re specifically hiring locals and minorities that can work in this industry, we’re specifically educating social equity people with our team of lawyers, how they can get these permits,” Borg said. He also expects Jet Room to partner with some social equity after noting the wider Kushstock umbrella is the only legal seed-to-sesh entity in the state.
We asked Borg what the bigger challenge was for Kushstock between transitioning to the legal market and dealing with the pandemic. After conferring with his partners at Medicated Barbies – who were in the room while he took our call – he pointed to the fact that the pandemic came out of nowhere, as opposed to the implementation of the legal market they could see coming for a long time.
“At NOS center we had 65,000 people in 2018. That was our last traditional event; we had 65,000 people and over 700 vendors. And so now when we’re getting into Adelanto, thanks the legal market, we’re down to about 150 vendors and we’re seeing about 15,000 people,” Borg said. “What we’re seeing is the backlash of people saying, ‘how come I can’t buy a certain amount, I’m from out of state,” I can’t do that. Before in the traditional market I was able to be a medical patient and get a doctor’s recommendation. I could get 99 plants.”
We asked Borg how much the planning had changed due to the pandemic after getting dialed in over the previous nine Kushstocks?
“I think that it helped us really get on the track and the path that we needed to because I feel like it kept circling to a trade show swap me and Kushstock really never wanted to be like that. We wanted to really expand into oases and attractions and lifestyles and accept all people, no matter color, race, gender, they’re welcome to be at Kushstock. That’s why it’s a free show, so anyone can come.”
Eventually, as Borg saw the state’s plans to open on June 15, he beckoned officials to let him get the ball rolling on the next installment of Kushstock. It was easy to sell the idea to officials in the cannabis community (that’s been desperate for an event the last 15 months) that the event would bring big money.
“That was one thing that we stress is that this is, this is economics at its finest, we’re generating revenue for the city, we’re generating taxes for the state, we’re creating jobs we are selling out hotels, restaurants are full, you know this is a huge big picture,” Borg said.
We asked Borg how excited he was to quench the thirst of all these people that are just so desperate for the culture after all these months.
“I shed tears. I did backflips. I’m almost yelling to you over the phone right now in the middle of a lunch that I’m having,” Borg replied, “I’m so ecstatic and happy, because not only am I a businessman and Kushstock was a business, but I am a consumer. I was born into the marijuana industry. My father had me growing when I was a child. I’ve been to Amsterdam, I’ve been through California. I’ve gone around the nation and educating people. I believe marijuana, cannabis, is the answer. And I know that if we can break down these walls of gender and race and any prejudiced thought or preconceived misconceptions, of even cannabis itself, then we will all be just fine.”
We’ll see you all at Kushstock.