I’m sitting with Tyson Lewis, the proprietor of High Noon Cultivation Company. We’re at the mezzanine bar of Portland’s Grand Central Bowl for Canna Bowl, an event that bills itself as the world’s first cannabis industry bowling tournament produced by Fore Twenty Sports.
The DJ’s selections weave from Kendrick to Bone Thugs to Marley, both Bob and Damian. Below us, dispensary logos dot each black-lit bowling lane as Portland dispensary workers compete for the coveted $1,000 prize.
As we watch the lanes, Lewis is gushing over the plant-based, vegan, organic nutrient lines and probiotic soil that he uses for his crop.
“You get a different flavor profile altogether,” he shared. Like most of the cannabis industry members at Canna Bowl, he’s excited, eager to talk about what makes his product different.
“You ever get that burning in your throat?” he asked. “Properly cured, plant-based veganic nutrient is smooth. You don’t get any of that.”
This kind of enthusiasm to share and connect is what motivated Andy Yashar—Fore Twenty Sports co-owner and co-owner of The Daily Leaf, a Portland cannabis deals listing platform—to launch the event.
“I hate conventions and trade shows,” he said. “Canna Bowl is a great way to have the same experience, but to have more fun doing it.”
And although bowling and networking are at the top of the agenda, this isn’t the Cannabis Collaborative Conference, the annual Portland cannabis conclave that attracts a more suit and tie type of crowd.
Participants come to Canna Bowl ready to bake.
But because state regulations prohibit any consumption of cannabis at an establishment that serves alcohol, Canna Bowl has a dab bus sponsored by Truly Pure, a Portland-based concentrates and extracts company that is one of Canna Bowl’s main sponsors.
Standing outside of Grand Central Bowl, I’m waiting for the Truly Pure dab bus to arrive. Our chariot is a repurposed party bus outfitted with a reggae blasting speaker system, extra black lights and a couple of bongs equipped with e-nails for torch-free dabbing.
Aaron, standing next to me in line, wouldn’t look out of place at a Phish concert. A former participant in the black market, he’s only recently moved from Iowa to join the legal industry. He now works at Jayne, a high-end dispensary in central Portland. For many of Canna Bowl’s attendees, a cannabis event is old hat. But Aaron is blown away.
And as we board the dab bus, between sample cartridges of Truly Pure oil being passed around and a jar of beeswax THC capsules that found its way into our hands, Aaron bubbles over with enthusiasm.
“I moved here to get into this… a world where this is a fucking job. I’m not just a fucking stoner. This is what I want to retire off of. And,” offering up an unintentional yet apt pun, Aaron continued, “this is one of the budding industries.”
Our conversation comes to a halt when the bus stops in front of the Truly Pure processing facilities and Matt Buker, founder of Truly Pure, launches into his elevator pitch:
“We’re the only [concentrate] in Oregon that uses 100 percent all-natural steam distilled citrus terpenes for added flavor,” Buker explained. “The molecular structure of limonene found in citrus fruits is the exact same structure that’s going to be in your cannabis. So when we mix those together, not only are they combined, but they’re actually bound together on a molecular level.”
As the 10 of us on the dab bus “ooh and ahhh-ed” at his presentation, I’m struck by how unusual all of this is, enamored by the newness of it all. Sure, strain selections and concentrate availability are starting to expand outside of legal states, but this was something unique.
Buker didn’t stop for a second to wonder whether the crowd would understand when he dropped references to terpene extraction methods and limonene. He knew that everyone was on the same page. Creating a venue for savvy market professionals, who also want to have a good time, is what Canna Bowl is all about.
Back at Grand Central Bowl, the finals have begun.
“I’m blown away by the amount of people that showed up,” he said. “It was more than we had expected, 250 to 300 people. We scheduled 150, but attendance went way beyond the registrations.”
It’s hard to doubt his estimates. Grand Central Bowl was packed from start to finish.
The day wasn’t over, but Yashar was already looking ahead to the next event.
Canna Bowl is a spin off of Fore Twenty Sports’ successful golf tournaments. As soon as the weather warms up, the tournament will return to Portland greens.
“Golf is our next focus,” Yashar told me. “We want to bring in people who aren’t involved in the Oregon market who want to branch out, so we can have brand new vendors no one’s ever seen before.”
In Oregon, business is booming. And in a state—and an industry—that’s always done things a little differently, it’s no surprise that Fore Twenty Sports has flipped the networking script with their latest event, Canna Bowl. So far, it’s throwing nothing but strikes.