The Next Issue Outdoor Retailer Could Tackle? Cannabis. | AspenTimes.com

The Next Issue Outdoor Retailer Could Tackle? Cannabis.

by Katie Shapiro

When Outdoor Retailer relocated what it touts as "North America's largest trade show in the outdoor industry" to Denver, the driving issue for the decision was public lands. After 20 years in Salt Lake City, organizers felt Utah politicians no longer valued exactly what the industry so heavily depends upon.

Now after its first successful Snow Show in Denver in January, O.R. (its more common moniker) has settled perfectly into its new home city. And with the annual Summer Market ahead (July 22-26), the next issue the conference could tackle is cannabis.

Similar to the scene at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, where cannabis brands are only involved beyond the tents at unaffiliated, private pop-up parties, we have yet to see any official sponsors or activations on the O.R. floor. But this year, Zeal Optics, Osprey Packs, Outdoor Research and Be Hippy have joined forces with some of Colorado's leading cannabis companies for the inaugural Green Industry Affair on Tuesday, July 24.

The groundbreaking eco-event's mission is to "push the environmental movement forward with an unprecedented union of the cannabis and outdoor communities," which will feature a performance by the electronic duo BoomBox and an educational presentation by Hunter Lovins, president of Natural Capitalism Solutions, and a Time magazine "Hero of the Planet."

Proceeds from the evening will directly support the Colorado Carbon Fund — an environmental nonprofit that measures, reduces and offsets carbon emissions in the state. Attendees will also be encouraged to partake in the Carbon Neutral License Plate program, which generates revenue and awareness through specialized Colorado license plates to support climate change mitigation.

The Green Industry Affair is the brainchild of the Denver-based marketing agency Cannabrand, whose founder and CEO Olivia Mannix says, "The cannabis, outdoor and environmental industries work very well together because they all, by default, elevate each other. Hemp alone can cut down carbon emissions and energy by a substantial amount."

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"In an effort to reduce our carbon footprint, Lightshade just completed construction of a 40,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art greenhouse which will reduce our water and power consumption by more than 50 percent," says Shannon Brooks, partner of Lightshade dispensaries, an event sponsor.

As far as bridging the gap between cultural acceptance and brands promoting the actual usage of cannabis in the great outdoors?

"Five years into legalization, cannabis is still considered new to some. For a lot of outdoor companies, they are just now realizing that cannabis has gone mainstream, so feel more comfortable openly talking about it," says Adam Dickey, director of marketing for Lucy Sky Cannabis Boutique, another event sponsor. "And the average cannabis consumer is becoming much more educated. Colorado is an outdoor playground with endless activities in beautiful places — some more exhausting than others — that affect your body more than others. Rather than turning to pharmaceuticals during their recovery time, people are using cannabis products that are high in cannabinoids like CBD for quicker overall body recovery."

The big name outdoor brands involved have already made a bold statement just by participating in the Green Industry Affair, which hopefully will only inspire more gear companies to have the long overdue cannabis conversation back in their offices after O.R.

Katie Shapiro can be reached at katie@katieshapiromedia.com and followed around high country @kshapiromedia