No longer just something smuggled past security on the way in, festival organizers are now actively trying to cash in on growing cultural (and perhaps financial) interest in marijuana.
In Austin, that liberal refuge surrounded by the rest of Texas, the industry will be officially in attendance for the second year in a row at South By Southwest 2019.
Voting is currently open for choosing panels at next year’s bacchanal of tech, art and industry. Tracks for next year range from blockchain and cryptocurrency to virtual and augmented reality.
And right now, the SXSW Cannabusiness track has 62 submitted panels to vote on, with such topics as:
Cannabis Research Shackled by Politics Since 1968, organized by noted marijuana researcher Dr. Sue Sisley, will focus on “the abuses of the DEA / NIDA cannabis monopoly.”
Breaking the Grass Ceiling: Women, Weed, and Tech will discuss the opportunity for women to lead, and launch companies in, the cross section of marijuana and technology.
Legal Cannabis & Black Male Entrepreneurship lays out the case for why “Black men should be an integral part of the industry to rectify the damage from the drug war.”
When Can We All Get High Together? (Legally) features Denver mayoral candidate and cannabis entrepreneur Kayvan Khalatbari and Vicente-Sederberg partner Josh Kappel talking about social use.
There’s also a few about repairing the harms caused by the war on drugs, several Texas-specific panels and one more focused on women. There’s even Parenting and Cannabis, an expanding issue as more marijuana reform takes place and social attitudes shift. The large majority of proposals, as to be expected, are about starting and running cannabis businesses.
In addition to the 62 categorized under the Cannabusiness track, several other proposed panels in other tracks seem to focus at least partially on marijuana issues. One such panel in the Brands & Marketing track, is about cannabis-based beauty products. Another categorized under Food highlights the flavors and effects of terpenes. And one under Design focuses on the “changing aesthetics of pot.”
At this year’s SXSW event, in March, there were two panels on cannabis tech, one on the Future of Cannabis, a cannabis health meet up and a panel on the role of marijuana in pro sports led by former NFL player Eben Britton. (Noticeably absent? A social-justice-focused topic.) But considering the 62 panel topics submitted for next year, it seems likely there will be more expansive marijuana discourse at the 2019 event.
The number of contenders to talk pot at next year’s SXSW isn’t the only sign of rising interest in formal marijuana programming at prominent cultural events. Last weekend in San Francisco, Outside Lands debuted Grass Lands, a “curated cannabis experience” at the 10-year-old music fest in Golden Gate Park. They’re “the first major U.S. music festival” to do so, according to an announcement by organizers.
For all its popularity, though, the 2019 SXSW cannabiz track doesn’t have nearly as many entries as, say, Intelligent Future (374) or Tech Industry and Expertise (251). But it has considerably more than Touring & Live Experience (25) or Esports Industry (28). Nearly tied is Coding and Development with 61 options.
Through the Community Voting system, participants make a profile so they can cast votes on which panels they want to see next year. Public support only makes up 30 percent of the total programming decision, however, with input from SXSW Staff and the Advisory Board making up the other 30 percent and 40 percent respectively.
Voting on SXSW 2019 panels is open until August 30. SXSW descends on Austin March 8 – 17, 2019.
California Lawmakers Use Cryptocurrency To Buy Marijuana From Dispensary
Two city councilmembers in California became the first elected officials to use cryptocurrency to purchase marijuana from a dispensary—at least publicly—on Tuesday.
Berkeley City Councilmember Ben Bartlett and Emeryville City Councilmember Dianne Martinez visited the Ohana Cannabis shop in Emeryville to demonstrate how the technology can reduce transaction fees and improve financial transparency.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Berkeley Councilmember @BenBartlettCA and Emeryville Councilmember @EmeryvilleDi become the first elected officials to buy cannabis with cryptocurrency in history (probably, idk) with help from @EvilleAlly pic.twitter.com/gRTHFW2Zvc
— Rigel Robinson (@RigelRobinson) September 11, 2019
The technology they used, called stablecoin, is a form of digital currency that has “price stable characteristics” linked to the U.S. dollar, meaning the sale and tax proceeds were settled in a way that’s consistent with cash.
Blockchain Advocacy Coalition, which is backing the technology, is advocating for legislation that would enable local jurisdictions in California to “determine and implement a method by which a licensee under [the state’s legal cannabis program] may remit any city or county cannabis license tax amounts due by payment using stablecoins.”
“By providing a cash-free method of cannabis tax collections, AB 953 can reduce costs and safety risks for cities and businesses,” Bartlett said in a press release. He added that the marijuana industry is “a 21st-century industry” that “deserves 21st-century legislation.”
“Tax collections leveraging stablecoin technology will help bring this new industry into the light.”
In a photo taken at the dispensary, Bartlett is holding up a pamphlet for VetCBD, a low-THC, high-CBD tincture that’s used to treat conditions such as anxiety and pain in pets. It’s not clear what Martinez purchased from the shop.
The bill to provide for alternative payment options at marijuana businesses is timely given that federal prohibition has made banks skittish of servicing such companies and results in many firms operating on a largely cash-only basis—an issue that has captured the attention of federal regulators and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in Congress.
In California, legislation that would allow credit unions to accept cannabis business clients was pulled by its sponsor on Tuesday. Sen. Bob Herzberg (D) said he plans to reintroduce the bill next year.
“We are thrilled to build technology that solves real problems for customers, merchants, and politicians which will help usher in the next 100 million users of crypto,” said Dan Schatt, co-founder of Cred and the Universal Protocol Alliance, which developed the stablecoin technology, said.
“Not only does crypto result in significant cost reduction for consumers and merchants, but it also enables highly productive tax collection, transparency, and predictability for city and state governments,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Twitter/Rigel Robinson.
Seth Rogen Hosting Marijuana-Fueled Charity Carnival For Alzheimer’s Research
Actor Seth Rogen will be the ringmaster at an adults-only charity carnival next month featuring comedians running game booths and marijuana aplenty.
Proceeds from the Hilarity for Charity County Fair will go toward research into combating Alzheimer’s disease, an issue close to Rogen.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) August 26, 2019
“We here at Hilarity for Charity love to fight Alzheimer’s disease, but we also love rides, alcohol and weed!” Rogen, who launched his own cannabis company in March, said in a promotional video for the Los Angeles event. “We also love trying to be good people so that in the event there is an afterlife, we don’t go to hell.”
Comedians Adam Devine, Andrew Rannells, Ben Feldman, Casey Wilson, Ilana Glazer, Ike Barinholtz, Jeff Ross, Josh Gad, Kate Micucci, Nick Kroll, Regina Hall and Riki Lindhome are participating in the event. Skateboarder Tony Hawk is set to do a halfpipe performance. And rapper Anderson Paak will also put on a show.
Details of where cannabis fits into the program aren’t available on the event site. But Gad, one of the comedians participating, noted in a tweet that this is “the only fair I will attend this year other than my children’s book fair which has a lot less readily available weed.”
I will be at this fair. This is the only fair I will attend this year other than my children’s book fair which has a lot less readily available weed. https://t.co/k88ZSMb3O9
— Josh Gad (@joshgad) August 26, 2019
Rogen’s passion for fighting Alzheimer’s isn’t new. He’s become an outspoken activist for research into the disease after he witnessed his mother-in-law develop early onset Alzheimer’s.
In 2014, the actor opened his testimony before a Senate committee hearing on Alzheimer’s research by joking that he wasn’t there to discuss the topic some might expect: marijuana.
“First I should answer the question I assume many of you are asking, yes I’m aware this has nothing to do with the legalization of marijuana,” he said. “In fact, if you can believe it, this concerns something that I find even more important.”
Though he didn’t bring it up at the hearing, research has demonstrated that cannabis can help eliminate a toxic protein associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Last year, the federal government asked the public to submit additional scientific research into the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana in the treatment of the condition.
Photo courtesy of Twitter/Seth Rogen.
Disneyland Busted Robert Downey Jr. For Smoking Marijuana, He Reveals While Accepting Disney Award
Robert Downey Jr. said he was once detained at Disneyland after getting caught smoking marijuana on a gondola ride.
The Iron Man and Avengers actor shared the anecdote while being honored at the Disney Legends award show on Friday, describing his first trip to the California park.
“Here’s a bit of trivia for you. The very first time I went to Disneyland, I was transported to another place—within moments of being arrested,” Downey said, drawing laughs. “I was brought to a surprisingly friendly processing center, given a stern warning, and returned to, if memory serves, one very disappointed group chaperone.”
“I’ve been sitting on that shame for a while and I‘m just going to release it here tonight,” he said. “I would like to make amends to whomever had to detain me for smoking pot in a gondola without a license.”
“And I don’t wanna further confuse the issue by insinuating that pot smoking licenses for the gondola are in any way obtainable or for any of the other park attractions,” Downey added.
“Maybe for the Imagineers, but that’s their own business,” he joked, referencing Disney’s research and development team.
It’s not clear when Downey was detained in the so-called “Happiest Place On Earth,” but he’s previously talked about starting to use cannabis at an early age.
The actor isn’t the only high profile figure to get booted from Disneyland over smoking on the gondola ride.
Former President Barack Obama said last year that the same thing happened to him and some friends during college. He said during a speech at a political rally that they were smoking cigarettes on the gondolas, but also seemed to wink, raising questions about exactly what sort of plant material he and his friends were inhaling at the time.
In any case, Downey is right that there are no gondola marijuana smoking licenses available, even in California where cannabis is legal. In fact, Disney specifies on its park rules site that “[s]moking marijuana or any other illegal substances is not permitted at any time.”
There are designated cigarette smoking areas, however, which the former president presumably could have taken advantage of, if he really was simply imbibing tobacco.
Photo courtesy of YouTube/Spokesmayne.