Before I begin, it needs to be prefaced that this is the first time attending SXSW. For anyone who hasn’t been, it’s a conference where experts from various fields like media, marketing, music, journalism, film, etc. come together to learn hard and party even harder. I’d heard about this conference since high school and had always wanted to attend. Somehow, all things came into place and allowed me to go this year. For the past two years, I’ve been to cannabis seminars every couple of months so my knowledge on them is somewhat extensive. So for anyone in the cannabis field thinking of attending next year’s SXSW let me break down how this year’s went.
The first panel I attended was “Cannabis Tech in the Kitchen” with an alchemist, professional chef, biotech engineer and public relations professional in the cannabis field. For one, the panel began early so it had seemed as if I had rudely entered at an inappropriate time. There were a few significant nuggets of information that were helpful like understanding the concept that whenever consuming an edible if the product states 15% THC then this equals 1500 mg of THC. But, the panel was filled with unexplained passive aggressiveness between those on the panel. There are multiple opportunities for audience members to come up to a microphone and ask whatever question they’d like but it was soon realized that the public relations professional was dominating the questioning. It was unclear whether she was intoxicated from cannabis or alcohol but it soon became apparent that audience members were frustrated with her lack of personal awareness for curious audience members.
Time and time again it’s heard that cannabis is a female-led industry but it’s difficult when time and time again professional panels consist of mostly all-white male speakers. This isn’t the case for all but it was for “Cannabis and the Tech Stack.” This panel discussed all the current technological innovations happening in the cannabis space. Things such as software following “seed to sale” and purchasing data of dispensary consumers. All very informative and innovative technologies to say the least but all with the face of a white dude. Nothing of inclusion or diversity was discussed but for a communications professional the most promising part was when someone stated that cannabis brands will need agencies in the future just in the same way dispensaries need client retention.
Brief side note, “The Future of Esports” panel was one of the most fascinating because it had various speakers in the space discussing their current work in the field. The esports director was one of the panelists who proclaimed that they are the fourth arm of the franchise. This is a space that many brands can look into to sponsor players. As for cannabis, once federal regulation happens then cannabis brands can come in and sponsor players. For now, WeedMaps is the only cannabis brand sponsoring a team in the esports community.
The last significant cannabis panel at SXSW was the “Future of Cannabis” that had individuals from carious areas of the field. Those from private equity to media. This panel didn’t have any significant information that an individual in the cannabis field doesn’t already know but they were the most likely group of panelists from the cannabis field at SXSW. This seemed more of an educational panel than anything else. Regardless, if someone in the cannabis field is interested in learning more or meeting with individuals in the space then you should probably wait for New West Summit coming up later this year.