About 1,500 attended the New England Cannabis Convention’s inaugural show in South Burlington, Vermont, meeting the expectations of organizers and setting the stage for an event next year – when cannabis use and possession will be legal for adults in the state.

“The hype is real,” said Eli Harrington, co-founder of Heady Vermont and one of the event organizers, Saturday on the show floor. Harrington, who also led the panel discussions over two days, noted the event’s variety of attendees – shirts, ties, camo, and flannel – and called the event “hugely important” for the state’s existing hemp producers.

“Everyone has a chance to showcase in a more conventional tradeshow space,” he remarked as the afternoon crowd bustled behind him. “This is phase one – hemp and legal CBD – and phase two is everyone getting ramped up for July 1 and ready to grow.”

Harrington, and his Heady Vermont partner Monica Donovan, laid the groundwork for the convention two years ago – in the meantime organizing a Hemp Fest last September and a series of hemp and CBD farmer’s markets throughout the state – and eyed a relationship with NECANN, who have successfully held conventions in, now, six markets.

Organizer Marc Shephard stands behind the NECANN inaugural Vermont show’s ticket booth.

NECANN CEO and co-founder Marc Shepard called the turnout “fantastic,” noting that vendor space had long been sold out. He compared the interest from the public and vendors as to that of their maiden Massachusetts and Rhode Island shows.

“We try to create a locally-focused conference and one of the main goals is to get that critical mass in a room,” Shepard said between ticket sales. “When we can do an event like this … you get the people on the outside saying ‘this is an industry convention –

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