The New West Summit event is coming to San Francisco next month. It is being billed as the 'TechCrunch Disrupt event for the Marijuana Industry.' For those that are unfamiliar with TechCrunch Disrupt, it's the technology industry's largest gathering of tech industry leaders, complete with an expo, competitions, and a bunch of other stuff that tech nerds like Jay Smoker eat up. It's like the Super Bowl for technology in America and beyond.
For obvious reasons, I'm very excited for the New West Summit because I have always wanted to see an event dedicated solely to marijuana media and technology. A lot of other events have panels dedicated to marijuana tech and media, but I don't know that I've ever heard of an entire event dedicated to it. And if there have been events, they aren't going to be as big as this one. Unfortunately I can't go because I have to work during the event (the cubicle hate is thick), but my buddy Kaliko will be there to represent The Weed Blog, so make sure to tell him hello if/when you see him!
But just because I can't be there doesn't mean that I don't plan on trying to insert my fingerprint on the event in some fashion. If I was there in person, I would be doing this at the event, but since I can't make it, this article will hopefully do the trick. I know that many of the companies that will be at the event read this blog. For those that do, I hope that they realize how hard we work for activism and to spread reform awareness. Admittedly, we don't donate dollars to reform causes because you have to get it to give it, and we are still working on our business side of the blog. However, we do everything else we can to try to support reform, and do so in ways that are worth much more than money (just ask failed Oregon Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton!).
My challenge to companies attending the event is this - I challenge you to support reform more than you have in the past. Obviously we all compete for page views, and to some extent, advertising dollars. A lot of companies are now starting to compete for investment dollars. All of that is fine and dandy. However, it doesn't mean much if companies don't give back to the movement that made all of those opportunities possible in the first place.
Marijuana media and technology should be leading the way on supporting activism because after all, most of us are in the business of getting eyeballs to things. A lot of companies out there claim to support activism, but when you ask them for specific examples, they get all cryptic in their responses. The Weed Blog was created to help end marijuana prohibition, not to make money, and hopefully that shows in what we have done in the past, are doing currently, and will continue to do as long as I can log into WordPress and harness the platform that Jay Smoker has created.
The word 'disrupt' is thrown out a lot when referring to this event, and I think that's great. But if companies really want to disrupt the marijuana industry's tech and media sectors, they need to disrupt marijuana prohibition. 'Changing the game' in marijuana media and technology will only occur if we change the game for marijuana prohibition. Marijuana companies can have the greatest ideas under the sun, however, if what they are promoting is still illegal, they might as well close down their tablets and delete their Google Analytics app from their phones.
If you are at the New West Summit, and you want to learn more about how to support reform, my e-mail inbox is always open. It's fine if we all still compete in the ways previously mentioned, but I'm hopeful that we can start an informal competition of who can support reform more. That's a competition that I'm more than willing to lose at!