OK Cannabis Expo canceled, other Cox Center conventions going forward through pandemic

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OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As the Cox Convention Center prepares for major events to pick back up starting this weekend, organizers of one of the events is announcing its cancelation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second annual Oklahoma Cannabis Expo was rescheduled from its March date to August.

But Wednesday, during an interview with KFOR, organizer Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran broke the news through tears.

“While respecting the fact that this is our right in America, it’s also a responsibility,” she said.

Her son Austin was diagnosed with Dravet syndrome, a catastrophic form of epilepsy.

A strong believer in medical marijuana’s ability to offer him relief, she’s passionate about the legalization of marijuana. She said it breaks her heart that the event won’t be able to benefit from the expo, but she felt that holding it would go against everything she’s fighting for: the safety and well-being of others.

“If one of those people contracted covid and passed away, I could never forgive myself,” Bourlon-Hilterbran said.

But so far, the Tattoo Arts Convention planned for this weekend, CannaCon and an education leadership conference, both scheduled for September, are full steam ahead.

The idea of going to a convention right now was unsettling for Dr. Douglas Drevets, OU Medicine’s chief of infectious diseases.

“It would be really hard for me to walk into a room of 300, 400, 1000 people who were not all wearing masks and all staying away from me,” Dr. Drevets said. “My advice would be.. If there’s a large group of individuals and they are not all wearing masks, and not staying away from one another, then it seems like a perfect place to transmit a respiratory virus.”

But officials at the Cox Center said they’re going above and beyond what’s required by the city and state to keep everyone in attendance as safe as possible.

“As long as we’re doing what we can to make sure the people are safe, we’re going to try,” said Cox Convention Center spokesperson Lucy Albers.

The second annual Tattoo Arts Convention is slated to begin Friday afternoon.

“We’re a smaller event than we were last year for sure,” said organizer Troy Timpel.

Timpel of Philadelphia-based Villain Tattoos said there will only be about 80-90 booths after nearly half of the 140 artists and vendors pulled out.

They’ll have double the space to spread out in because the Cox Convention Center is letting them open up two exhibit halls for the event. The Cox Center is also reducing the allowed capacity by almost 50 percent. She said they don’t expect it to reach capacity, but if it does, people will have to wait until others inside leave.

Besides taking temperatures at the door, other safety precautions will include eight foot drapes separating booths, and organizers of this event are requiring everyone to wear a mask.

‘We’ve gotten a bunch of emails about how we’re infringing on people’s personal freedoms, and personal whatever,” Timpel said, “but we’re running an event, and we’re doing it our way, and we’re going to make it safe.”

He said he believes the measures will make the event safer than being in a supermarket.

“We feel confident that what we’re doing is a safe environment for the public,” Timpel said, “and we’re looking forward to the weekend.”

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