SXSW (South by Southwest), the world’s largest gathering of creative professionals conference and festivals in Austin, Texas, has come out of the green closet and added an entire cannabis centric track to the programming for the 2019 Conference portion in the event’s 32nd year. Titled the “Cannabusiness” track, this portion of the programming will help close the Festival (taking place during the last 4 days of the event - March 14-17) and aims to navigate the technological, cultural, and political ecosystem surrounding the future of cannabis-focused enterprise.
The track will include cannabis industry professionals and activists alike such as Steve DiAngelo, Amanda Reinman, Dr. Sue Sisley, Steve DeAngelo, Chris Walsh, Lanese Martin, and Felicia Carbajal.
Amanda Reinman was one of the speakers who participated in the Conference last year as well, and she remarked, "Last year there were a smattering of cannabis related panels and it was exciting to see how much interest there was in what we had to say. I knew there would be increased content this year and I was not wrong! SXSW is a perfect venue to talk cannabis because it is a conference all about visioning for the future."
However, not everyone is as excited about the track as people in the cannabis movement and industry. Campaign recently reported that, “Cannabis is another area where there’s more smoke than fire. I struggle to see how much room for innovation this industry really brings. As a Canadian resident, I can assure you that legalization has made little impact on the lives of the drug’s habitual consumers, and the industry is wrapping itself in enough red tape and regulation to kill any buzz stone dead. Any new industry that is suddenly green-lit may seem exciting, but can we really justify a whole ‘Cannabusiness’ track?”
My answer is an overwhelming YES. The cannabis plant has been demonized for decades because of the conjecture and propaganda fed to us primarily by the federal government, and I commend SXSW on taking the step to feature a track on this subject matter to help educate people and thus normalize the cannabis conversation at in mainstream conversations.
As pointed out by Marijuana Moment, “The number of contenders to talk pot at SXSW isn’t the only sign of rising interest in formal marijuana programming at prominent cultural events,” citing the recent debut of “Grass Lands, a curated cannabis experience” at the 10-year-old music fest in Golden Gate Park.
However, with SXSW being an event that has been running for 3 times as long with crowds reaching over 70,000 AND being an event hosted in a prohibition state, this is a huge step for normalizing the cannabis conversation in America.
I will be hosting a Meet Up session at the event entitled “Cannabis and Parenting: Lifting the Stigma” as part of this inaugural track, please reach out if you will be in attendance!
You can learn more about SXSW or register to attend here.