SXSW 2020

Frenemies: Cannabis Activists & Cannabis Industry


The state-regulated marijuana industry wouldn’t exist without the hard work of activists, and early on, industry and activism were one and the same. But in recent years, tensions between industry and advocacy have begun to emerge — some businesses have fought to restrict the rights of patients and consumers, and some activists have opposed forms of legalization that they don’t agree with. Kris Krane, the only person who has been both the Executive Director of a drug policy reform non-profit (Students for Sensible Drug Policy) and President of a publicly-traded cannabis company, 4Front Ventures, will dive deep into this relationship, examining how the two can support each other, where they clash, and why I think the industry is obligated to support the drug policy reform movement.

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  1. Gain insight into the early relationships between key players in the cannabis industry and movement, such as NORML, SSDP, Harborside, and the NCIA
  2. Understand the current pain points where industry and activism are butting heads, such as home cultivation and caps on cannabis business licenses
  3. Learn why industry is obligated to support activists—1) because it owes them its existence & 2) the US gov't still views industry employees as outlaws



Whit Richardson, Communications Director, 4Front Ventures

Meta Information:

  • Event: SXSW
  • Format: Presentation
  • Track: Cannabusiness
  • Track 2
  • Level: Intermediate

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