A steady crowd of thousands of marijuana enthusiasts lined up around the block to be the first to see the latest in growing, extraction and smoking accessories at the annual expo. Bill Stewart, 63, drove from Madison, Wis., to attend his first Cannabis Cup.
"I've been smoking for 40 years and just visited my first dispensary," said Stewart. "It's kind of unbelievable."
Others, including black-market dealer Mark Charton of Arkansas, were here to pick the brains of expert cultivators and equipment manufacturers.
"This is a business trip for me — I just can't write it off," quipped Charton. He said his customers a few states away now demand the same kind of products, including edibles and hash, that they see offered in legal Colorado shops.
"It's an inspiration" to see all of this in person, Charton said.
Some Colorado businesses were less enthused about the event, watching booths that don't hold state licenses freely distribute marijuana and amass large lines in the process.
Tiffany Goldman, director of operations at Colorado pot shop The Health Center, said: "It's really frustrating for dispensaries who are trying to be compliant. For us, it's our license on the line."
For Seattle-based edibles maker Cory Caudill, the event is an opportunity. Caudill brought 400 infused samples from Washington after winning an award last year. His major concern was running out of his s'mores-like samples, noting, "I have just the medicated marshmallows, if I need them."
Some vendors took further advantage of the regulatory ambiguity by haphazardly — and illegally — selling marijuana at the event, with cash coming in as fast as they could weigh bags.
Law enforcement seemed focused on public safety Saturday.
Marcus Lentz, owner of Oregon-based Medi Brothers, heard about the restrictions and opted to leave his samples in Portland: "I made 25,000 edibles that are sitting at home right now. At $20 a sample, that's a lot of money."
Instead of backing out of the event, Lentz created cannabis-free samples for his third visit.
While many come for the marijuana free-for-all, large crowds also flocked to hear Saturday's speakers, including the Grateful Dead's Bill Kreutzmann. The legendary jam band, via Kreutzmann, will be inducted into the Counterculture Hall of Fame during the event's award ceremony Sunday night, when the Cannabis Cup continues with a screening of the new CNN docu-series "High Profits."
The event will wrap on Monday, a.k.a. 4/20, with more samples at the expo and a screening of "Super Troopers."