Smoke or Treat Cannabis Festival Showcases New Industry’s Offerings

J.M. Lesinski

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Giant Panda Guerilla Dub Squad Performs Live at Smoke or Treat in Basom, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

With cannabis legalized in New York state, events educating the public and promoting the medicinal and healing properties of cannabis are beginning to emerge as well. One such festival entitled, Smoke ‘R Treat, occurred Saturday, October 2 on the Tonawanda Reservation in Basom, New York.

Smoke ‘R Treat was presented by Shaman Medicinal, a registered wellness center also on the Tonawanda Reservation in Basom, New York. Jesse Spring and his wife Ruby are the owners of Shaman Medicinal, a family run, native owned and operated wellness center.

“Our first event was back in September, Labor Haze, and that had about 500 people in attendance,” Spring mentioned in a recent interview. “Smoke ‘R Treat had, I believe, just over 600 people, so there were more people than last time for sure. We saw people from all over Western New York - Buffalo, Rochester, even a few people from Hamburg. I really wanted the vibe of a market, a familiar gathering place where people can see that this new thing is just a normal part of life.”

The marketplace atmosphere of Smoke ‘R Treat was most certainly achieved at the event, as upwards of sixty different vendors were on the premises, showcasing every kind of cannabis product under the sun. Cannabis infused beverages, snacks, and entire meals were available, as well as prepackaged edibles, concentrates, even a THC-infused barbecue sauce.

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Smokahontas Artisan Baked Goods offered up their array of THC-infused floats and donuts at Smoke or Treat.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

“In total, there were about 60-65 vendors or tables at Smoke ‘R Treat,” Spring also noted. “We were able to accommodate a lot of last minute people too, which was great. All the vendors who participated made set up a breeze, everyone there was really on the same frequency. I think the industry folk are really embracing that notion of, ‘Hey, this is our time. Let’s seize this opportunity.’”

Following New York state’s legalization of marijuana back in April of this year, New Yorkers quickly learned that legal did not mean ‘stocked and shelved’ quite yet, as storefronts and dispensaries continue to be a hot topic at most municipal meetings. On the Tonawanda Reservation, it was not so much an issue.

“Using our sovereignty, we are free of mandates, and we can utilize this unique advantage to the benefit of our community,” Spring also commented. “Everything was always static from the state when it came to legalization, but when they eventually did, we were ready.”

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The sign indicating where parking was at Smoke or Treat in Basom, New York.Photo by J.M. Lesinski

A licensed cannabis cultivator himself, Spring has years of training and industry knowledge behind him from his time at Oaksterdam University, an institution which many refer to as “the world’s first” and foremost cannabis college, founded by famed marijuana rights activist, Richard Lee, in Oakland, California.

“I went to Oaksterdam University to get my license to cultivate and sell, we did all the courses they offered, and it was honestly life-changing,” Spring noted. “It was this incredible experience that completely changed my outlook on plant-based medicine and made me realize this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Now running Shaman Medicinal with his wife back in his hometown, Spring’s events are proving themselves a beacon for both local businesses and the cannabis industry alike, showing the Western New York area the positive impacts legalization has and will continue to have on the community.

“Shaman is very much family organized at the core,” Spring also stated. “The business is made up of myself, my daughter, son, nieces, nephews, and other indigenous folk, all local, all in the family. Everyone we work with for these events always comes together as a family. We were only able to get the event to the level it was at because we functioned as one big family dynamic.”

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Local Buffalo business, Plant-It Express, showcases their home cultivation products at Smoke or Treat.Photo by Rachel Bell of Plant-It Express.

One of the most fascinating aspects of Smoke ‘R Treat was indeed the sheer variety of the products and what companies present offered. From home cultivation assistance to infused baking supplies and spices for bakeries, the future was most certainly now at Smoke ‘R Treat.

“I wanted the most proper presentation and set up possible,” Spring also remarked. “Everything had to be perfect and on the up and up and I really wanted to give the community the best possible representation of what we can provide to them. I mean, many of the chefs there who use cannabis in their products come from culinary backgrounds and the things they make are just incredible. People need to see the range and breadth of what we have to offer.”

Going forward, Spring has plans for expansion already, including a new indoor property and more future events. With the growing popularity of cannabis, the sky is the limit. “Currently, we are looking into getting a warehouse,” Spring said in closing. “We are incredibly excited for 2022 and moving forward in general.”

This is original content from NewsBreak’s Creator Program.

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Professional journalist for over five years, covering topics all up and down both coasts of the United States, including arts, music, food, politics, and culture. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Fredonia with minors in Psychology and Creative Writing, as well as an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from California State University, Fresno.

Buffalo, NY
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