Weed brands, celebs converged at Hall of Flowers pot expo. Here’s what we saw.

hall of flowers ventura

The gentle crashing of ocean waves, palm trees swaying in a cool breeze, a mini-vac blowing weed smoke at folks waiting to get on a carnival ride—must be Hall of Flowers time in SoCal.

The storied cannabis expo, which puts cannabis brands in front of retail buyers and press for two jam-packed days, held its inaugural Ventura soiree last week. It was the first time a weed event was held at the Ventura County Fairgrounds, a surprise given how perfect the venue seemed for a show like this. 

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Walking through the gates, I felt like I was back in Santa Rosa, the typical home of HOF; the only difference was the weather—and the giant Ferris wheel protruding behind the Hall of Flowers sign.

The Hall of Flowers app was another 2024 addition, providing the point-of-sale for the event’s buyer samples. Previously, exhibitors were given vouchers to distribute among attendees, which were then cashed in at the on-site dispensary. This time, guests scanned QR codes to place orders, which led to a few minor tech hiccups, including long waits for product and issues with payment (a small price to pay to save a tree).

Despite a scheduling conflict with Spannabis, the turnout was decent enough, giving quality over quantity. And while the show was seemingly geared toward LA and Santa Barbara brands, there were plenty of NorCal players in the mix (not to mention a bevy of celebs). Between the four unique halls filled with brands, ancillary providers, and nonprofits, the open-air courtyard with non-stop seshes, and the Iconoclast speaker area, I had plenty to do, see, and smoke.

Admittedly, nothing overtly revolutionary was on display at this Hall of Flowers. Some brands continued to rely on women’s bodies for marketing to draw attention, while others leaned into activations primed for social sharing. No shade here—it’s what you do at events like this. But that’s not to say there weren’t intriguing products this year—far from it. You just had to know where to look.

Hella Jesus, Happy Chance stand out among HOF crowd

Walking around Hall of Flowers on day one, my goal was to find new and exciting brands and products. At first glance, it was a lot of the same: Lemon Cherry Gelato mixed light buds, gummies in brightly colored packaging, and plenty of random vapes. The contrast between companies with marketing budgets and those just trying to survive was stark. The sprawling Gelato booth featured a fully functional Ferris wheel, while smaller operators were relegated to tiny tables in the back of the larger expo halls (spoiler alert: I found the best weed at the latter).

Brands deploying no-till cultivation methods seemed to be on the uptick, as were terpene-specific SKUs. Extract experts GoldDrop, who introduced a line of terpene-forward carts some time back, brought disposable vapes and pre-rolls into the mix. This is the brand’s first flower product.

Collabs also continued their rise, showing that brands are often even better together. Representatives from Sonoma Hills Farm were on hand at the Halara booth to promote the debut of a Hella Jesus vape cart. The cross of Hella Jelly and Sonoma’s storied Pink Jesus strain was definitely one of my top picks from the event.

halara x sonoma hills farm hall of flowers
Halara x Sonoma Hills Farm vape cart collab was a hot item. Photo: Rachelle Gordon

One new brand I was excited about was the health-conscious edibles company Happy Chance. Led by chef Katherine Knowlton, the fruit-forward chews are made from real fruit, are low-sugar, and contain blends of minor cannabinoids to suit any occasion. 

I was initially introduced to the brand at the Budist pre-Hall of Flowers gala at Sunstone Winery, where Knowlton had arranged a stunning grazing table next to her brand display (talk about a captive audience). Her non-medicated samples were delectable, so I knew I wanted to try the real thing at the main event. I selected a pack of Mango Lime solventless rosin THCV:THC bites made from Medjool dates, pumpkin seeds, and, of course, mango (full review to come).

Friends with weed are friends indeed

Navigating the sea of weed at Hall of Flowers is overwhelming, to say the least, and one thing I’ve come to realize is that word-of-mouth is often the best way to go. I asked my fellow Budists at Sunstone what they were most excited about.

Both Lindsay MaHarry and Caleb Chen mentioned LAX Packs, a traditional market brand that secured a license in 2018. Unfortunately, I was unable to secure a jar, but upon inspecting MaHarry’s selections, I’ll admit the FOMO was real. Luckily, all three of us were able to try a selection from Team Elite Genetics at their Terps & Pizza after-party, where four strains were matched with small bites like focaccia and tiramisu.

Chen also pointed out White Rabbit Cannabis, saying they had a legit Trainwreck on display. I made a beeline for the booth, not wanting to miss out on the classic cultivar, and clearly, I wasn’t the only one. I practically had to elbow my way in to secure the bag. 

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Other recommendations included Mendocino-based Redwood Remedies, whose living soil-grown Cadillac Rainbows looked particularly stunning. However, the ultimate IYKYK was found at the Farming First booth, where containers of top-shelf strawberries won the HOF swag contest.

On another note, it was awesome to see the Respect My Region clan out in full force. In addition to a popping podcast booth, the media company turned weed brand had its pre-rolls and Legacy Smalls available for the masses. Celebrating their 13th anniversary at a raucous pre-HOF party, the boys from Washington made weed writers everywhere proud with their showing.

respect my region hall of flowers
Shelbie Vasquez of Respect My Region dons a flower crown filled with joints. Photo: Rachelle Gordon

Legacy brands reigned supreme

There was no shortage of social equity, legacy, and Emerald Triangle representation at Hall of Flowers, a welcome sight considering the cost of showcasing at a tradeshow. 

In Hall D, Judi Nelson from Sol Spirit Farm displayed her latest and greatest. The terps on Candied Grapefruit were out of this world, and with my personal favorites Tangie and MAC in the genetic line, the jar was my holy grail for this Hall of Flowers.

Across the way was an art activation from Freedom Grow, a non-profit supporting cannabis prisoners. Luke Scarmazzo was on hand, signing copies of his memoir High Price, written during his time in prison for charges related to running a legal medical marijuana dispensary in the early 2000s. Similar sentiments could be found at the 40Tons booth, along with their ongoing letter-writing campaign for incarcerated individuals.

Adjacent to the cannabis courtyard was the Equity Trade Network, led by Ramon Garcia and Nina Parks. The cooperative booth featured several social equity and legacy brands, including Queen Mary, Sanctuary Farms, and Saffy THC. The prime location saw steady traffic streaming in and out, and the infused ghee-covered popcorn samples courtesy of Clarified were the icing on the cake.

Next door at Proper Wellness Center, HOF attendees queued up for a chance to hit a custom Snail Nail dab nail. The sweat-inducing dabs were among the headiest at the show, thanks in part to samples from Punch Extracts. A Grape Gas rosin collab between Ridgeline Farms and Arcata Fire was easily one of the most sought-after products of the week.

Beast Mode, Big Ticket, and C. Breezy 

Hall of Flowers has attracted celebrities in the past (Seth Rogen was spotted smelling jars at an early show), and the Ventura debut was no different. On day one, former NFL running back and weed investor Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch perused the booths alongside NBA legends Kevin Garnett and Glen Davis. There were whispers throughout the crowd that Wiz Khalifa was also in attendance, but the reports are unconfirmed.

marshawn lynch hall of flowers
Marshawn Lynch chats with legacy weed brands at the Equity Trade Network booth. Photo: Rachelle Gordon

Over in the speaker hall, R&B star Chris Brown discussed his partnership with LA-based brand Originals. The next day, former racing phenomenon and legendary drug smuggler Randy Lanier shared his story with Bill and Jeff Levers of Beard Bros Pharms. It was easily the most star-studded Hall of Flowers in some time.

Even with the Hollywood flair, the real star of the show was the weed itself. The chance for brands to secure distribution in one of California’s many pot shops was clearly the main goal, especially as cannabis companies struggle to survive. Overall, the energy was hopeful throughout the show; despite an edited crowd, most people I spoke to felt satisfied with the event and the discussions they had. Hopefully the week leads to deals signed and checks cashed for all before the next Hall of Flowers rolls around later this year.


Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a cannabis journalist and Editor of GreenState.com. She began her weed writing journey in 2015 and has been featured in High Times, CannabisNow, Beard Bros, MG, Skunk, Cannabis and Tech Today, and many others. Rachelle currently splits her time between Minneapolis and Oakland; her favorite cannabis cultivars include Silver Haze and Tangie. Follow Rachelle on Instagram @rachellethewriter