For the first time ever, cannabis will be the theme of some exhibits at the prestigious Philadelphia Flower Show, which opens this weekend at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. Three of the show’s exhibits will feature cannabis, although no cannabis plants or products will be on display.

The Philadelphia Flower Show is the nation’s largest and longest-running horticultural event, begun in 1829 by the Philadelphia Horticultural Society. Held annually, the show features displays by the world’s leading floral and landscape designers.

However, until this year, cannabis has been taboo. An exhibit planned in 2016 was canceled at the last minute over what has been described as a misunderstanding. But with medical marijuana legal in Pennsylvania since 2018 and lawmakers now considering the legalization of recreational pot, things have changed. Last year, the horticultural society reached out to the cannabis marketing agency Chronic for advice on integrating marijuana into the show.

As a result, this year’s show will feature ‘The Greenroom,’ an educational display offering information about the medical marijuana programs in Pennsylvania and the neighboring states of New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. Two of the exhibit’s sponsors, dispensary chain Keystone Shops and cultivator Prime Wellness, also have their own exhibits at the show.

“Our job is to get the word out, to let the expected 250,000 show-goers know that medical marijuana has arrived,” said Sarah Seamonson of Chronic. “People can find info about doctors, ailments that marijuana is approved to treat, and where medical dispensaries can be found throughout the region and what people can expect when they visit one.”

No Pot Allowed

But one thing will be noticeably absent from the cannabis-themed exhibits at the Philadelphia Flower Show: cannabis. The horticultural society has forbidden any actual cannabis plants in the displays. Artificial weed plants won’t be on display either in an effort to ease the wariness of some of the horticultural society’s leadership.

“To do that, nothing on display could be construed as a real pot plant. It was unfortunate, but we got [that point],” said Greg Ricciardi, the CEO of Chronic and its sister agency 20nine.

The Green Room is decorated with pastel-colored paper cutouts in the shape of cannabis leaves, but even hemp plants, which are now legal under federal law, are off-limits.

“We’re keeping the controversial topics to a minimum,” said Mike Badey, the CEO of Keystone Shops. “The Department of Health approved us, but one stipulation was that we couldn’t have live cannabis plants. We weren’t planning on having them, anyway.”

When asked, Chris regional organizer for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Chris Goldstein said that cannabis “absolutely” has a place at the nation’s most famous flower show.

“If you look at cannabis as a plant, it is the most popular flower that Americans interact with on a daily basis — either regulated or unregulated,” Goldstein said. “It has many strains, varieties, looks, and scents. And it outsells roses by far.”

The Philadelphia Flower Show opens on Saturday, February 29 and runs through Sunday, March 8.

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