Jared Combs peered through thick clouds of marijuana smoke Sunday afternoon, searching for a cure for the munchies.
He saw hash brownies, pot-laced cookies and an array of smile-inducing doughnuts. But the thing that caught his eye as temperatures in Santa Rosa rose beyond 90 degrees was cannabis ice cream.
Combs grabbed a cup of mint chip, infused with just enough of the drug to get you high.
"Oh, this is amazing," said the Redding resident as he swallowed a free sample from San Francisco-based Cannabis Creamery. "When they start selling it at Safeway, I'm buying stock in it."
Combs was among an estimated 5,000 people to attend High Times magazine's Cannabis Cup, a two-day celebration of all things marijuana at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. It was the second event of its kind at the venue since December's Emerald Cup.
Like the previous pot trade show, aficionados strolled among exhibits showing off the latest growing equipment and techniques. Attendees received medical marijuana evaluations, heard from experts on how to break into the burgeoning cannabis industry, listened to talks on legalization and attended classes for making food or "edibles" with THC.
A competition proclaimed the best buds.
Most of the action was inside the so-called medication area, where those with medical marijuana cards sampled high-end buds and hash oil from dozens of suppliers.
Phylicia Avila of Pleasant Hill toked a glass pipe and exhaled a thick cloud of smoke. She said she'd recently attended a similar event in San Jose but Santa Rosa's cup was bigger, not to mention warmer.
"There's a lot more going on," she said.
Bikini-clad women from GFarmaLabs of Anaheim Hills also passed out free dabs of hash oil to passers-by. Sales associate Chris Herrera said the Bay Area crowd seemed much more savvy than others across the state.
"Consumers here are up-to-date," Herrera said. "There's not as much education needed. In many ways they are the pioneers."
High Times editorial director Dan Skye agreed California would have an edge if it voted to legalize. A larger population than most states and growing capacity in the Central Valley would make it a force.
"If California legalized, it would show Colorado what the industry is all about," he said.
A number of local dispensaries turned out.
Morgan Manlopig of Santa Rosa-based Peace in Medicine said he was struck by the number of families. He said it was a sign that negative stigmas about marijuana were wearing off.
About the only improvement organizers could have made to the sun-drenched event, Manlopig said, was to bring more food and drink. He said vendors appeared under-prepared for the hearty appetites.
"They are under siege," Manlopig said. "It's 95 degrees at the Cannabis Cup. They should have brought more lemons."
Read all of the PD's fire coverage here