Smoking out SXSW: Welcome to the Future of Cannabis

Official logo of SXSW 2018.
Michael Ford, Anasa Troutman, Adriana Kertzer, and Katerina Ivanova at the “Music Urbanism” SXSW 2018 panel (March 12, 2018, Austin, TX, Conference room C/D, Four Seasons Hotel,).
  • The tide is changing on a GLOBAL scale. Numerous countries have decriminalized cannabis and while laws vary considerably, the momentum of international legalization clearly indicates this is not just a national (American) story.
  • NATIONAL attitudes in favor of legalization are at an all time high. According to a Gallup 2017 survey, 64% of Americans believe cannabis should be legal. This percentage is up from 60% in 2016.
  • MAINSTREAMING is the future. The biggest shift during the next five years will be the “mainstreaming” of cannabis products (the process through which something becomes accepted as normal by most people). We will also see the invention of new ways of consuming cannabis. The inherent complexity of the plant lends itself to a wide range of products. In short, a much wider consumer base will experiment with a broader range of products in the near future.
  • MEDIA companies are changing the conversation around cannabis. Companies like Herb are democratizing the conversation about cannabis, moving it out of “niche” media environments by showing how the plant has a healing power that can elevate the human experience and provide relief (not just enable recreation). However, media outlets often struggle to work around the regulations that constrict their activities given cannabis is still listed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency as a Schedule 1 drug.
  • INTERSTATE commerce is still limited. The number of cannabis companies “touching the plant” that operate on a multi-state level is still very limited.
  • TRANSPARENCY and SAFETY are key. Technology is now available to test cannabis products and certain states, in order to ensure a safe cannabis market develops, have created testing requirements (producers must send their products to certain labs before they can be sold to the public).
  • Limitations on MARKETING language. It will be interesting to see how limitations on the words that can be used to market cannabis products change. For example, words like “candies” and “cookies” are prohibited in certain jurisdictions in order to prevent products from appealing to children.
Photo by Robert Nelson on Unsplash

Panel Overview

Here is the description of “Welcome to the Future of Cannabis” panel on SXSW’s website:


Below are the biographies of each of the panelists as listed on SXSW’s website:



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