.Weed Webinar

Local cannabiz online

You know something big has happened when a business journal holds a cannabis industry webinar.

That’s what the North Bay Business Journal did earlier this year. Morgan Fox kicked off the event with a whirlwind tour of the American political landscape. He ended where he might have started: with a question. “Where do we go from here?” Fox, the media relations director and committee manager with the National Cannabis Industry Association, noted that there were good reasons for cannabis fans to be optimistic. But he also urged caution.

For most American voters, cannabis is not a top priority. North Carolina and North Dakota aren’t the North Bay. Also, Biden is vague when it comes to legalization on the federal level. He has more things on his mind than marijuana.

Cynthia Castillo, a senior associate with Farella Braun + Martell — the law firm that underwrote the webinar — described the ways in which the 1991 Telephone Consumer Protection Act denies cannabis companies the opportunity to advertise.

The TCPA, Castillo explained, prohibits unsolicited calls and text messages that originate from marijuana businesses. A jury in Oregon recently awarded $925 million in damages for 1,850,436 calls that violated the TCPA. Freedom of speech for cannabis? Forget about it for now.

Judith Schvimmer, general counsel with “The Parent Company,” offered stunning data: 80% of the people serving sentences in federal prisons for breaking the marijuana laws are Black and Latino. “Everyone is doing drugs,” she said. “Including my own grandmother.” She added, “Only a small fraction of the population is punished.”

Schvimmer described the Rockefeller Drug Laws of the 1970s that required mandatory minimum sentences of 15 years in prison for possession of two ounces or more of marijuana with intent to sell. They set the tone for decades of repression.

Cy Scott, the co-founder of Headset, a firm that gathers and analyzes data about weed, took a more upbeat approach. He insisted that the industry is not yet written in stone, that there are still big opportunities for innovative companies that use Instagram, and that members of Generation Z, including people in their early 20s, are buying and consuming weed in record numbers.

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