Colorado Cannabis Convention fight will land in court

21 cannabis convention long shot of convention with giant kush sign.jpg
Inside the convention hall in April.
The original promoter of the Colorado Cannabis Convention, Raymond Springsteel, believes he could put on a concert on the moon.

Several people he used to work with think that's where he's already living.

While the busy booths, scantily clad dispensary girls and crowds exceeding 12,000 made the Colorado Cannabis Convention at the Colorado Convention Center April 2-3 look like a success to many people, behind the scenes things were as messy as spilled bong water.

The convention was the brainchild of Springsteel, who has a business called the Boulder Talent Agency. Over the phone, he talks a mile a minute, frantically describing how he envisions himself as Colorado's top concert promoter, a position gained through offering the lowest ticket prices possible. How he dreams of preventing drunk driving after concerts at Red Rocks by allowing camping in the parking lots. He says he could put a concert on the moon if he wanted to -- and he's serious.

In short: Raymond Springsteel has some big ideas.

In the beginning, he says, the Colorado Cannabis Convention was a way to prove a metaphysical point after talking all night to a former girlfriend about how he could accomplish anything he put his mind to. "I said that in six month, we could affect change in the state, people's lives and the whole country," he recalls. "I could make millions in revenue, but I don't care. I want to show [her] that something can be done if you want to do it."

So in November 2009, Springsteel started to make his dream reality. He hired "Krystal" (who asked that her real name not be used) to work in his tiny Boulder office, and got busy renting the convention center, soliciting vendors to fill it with booths, and organizing the artists and musicians crucial to executing his vision. Everything was going well, he remembers.

Krystal doesn't see it that way. By December, she says, things were in constant disarray. She was essentially doing all of the work needed to put on the convention while babysitting Springsteel. "His office was like a bedroom, it was disgusting," she recalls. "But needing a job and trying to survive, I stayed there."

At the end of February, both Springsteel and Krystal traveled to Los Angeles for HempCon, a massive gathering of cannabis-related vendors sponsored by Kush, a California-based company that was putting out pot magazines and also running DailyBuds.com. Seeing what Kush had done for HempCon, Springsteel decided that the success of the Colorado Cannabis Convention relied on getting the word out. "It made me realize it would be a good idea to put a lot of money into the PR of this thing," he says. "But I had exhausted my resources, so I asked Michael Lerner to make an investment to promote the show."

Lerner, the CEO of Kush, had met Springsteel in Denver around New Year's Eve, according to Bob Sealan, attorney for DailyBuds.com. By January 6, the two had begun e-mailing each other and having informal talks about what sort of role Lerner might have in the Colorado convention.

For Krystal, the trip to LA made her realize she couldn't work for Springsteel any more. He was spending money intended for the convention on himself, she says, and at one point asked her to call more vendors to get more "spending money" for the weekend. "I'm trying to put on the convention and all he is doing is spending the money," she remembers.

While Springsteel stayed in LA to sign up vendors, Krystal flew home from California on February 21 and promptly quit.



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