The cannabis honeymoon is over.
Weed is legal for adult use in nine states and the District of Columbia, and medical programs are available to Americans in 29 states. Meanwhile, according to recent polls by Gallup and The Wall Street Journal/NBC, between 60 and 64 percent of U.S. voters support cannabis legalization.
The time is now to make good on America's increasingly progressive perception of cannabis. But there's a lot to consider while moving forward. Prohibition has stifled and slowed meaningful scientific progress upon which livable policy must be built, while the racially disproportionate enforcement of cannabis regulations has an ongoing impact on black and brown communities' ability to participate in the emerging legal industry, and women are still under- and misrepresented in the cannabis sphere.
In addition to a dozen industry speakers—including opening remarks by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)—the OCA has curated a number of installation-based learning experiences that organizers liken to OMSI After Dark for the stoner set.
Extract and edibles brand conglomerate Sweet Cannabis will create a terpene learning station featuring its cannabis-derived and isolated terpenes—hosting an old-fashioned sniff-off in which folks can test their ability to parse the individual aromatic hydrocarbons that compose the signature scents and flavors of cannabis. Also on the science tip, Bandon organic cannabis producers Truly Oreganic will host a soil-building experience where folks can learn about natural, sustainable plant nutrition. Nearby, Phylos Bioscience's Phylos Galaxy will be projected as an interactive, larger-than-life display of the world's most comprehensive cannabis genetics database, visualized in clustered pinwheels of genomic similarity and variability.
It's also OK to shut off your brain and check out Jeremy Helms' installation of plants playing synthesizers (yep, you heard right), or get lost in the infinity room presented by vape penners Quill—described as an oasis of mirrors, plants and fog machines where eventgoers can get away from the hubbub—with additional rest points, including a "CBD spa" by Cura Cannabis, where we're told you just might be able to score a hand massage and other light pamperings.
But the real stars of the show are the ideas.
Headlining the one-off think tank of speakers is Lanese Martin of Oakland's Hood Incubator, an organization focused on improving racial equity in California's cannabis industry by creating and mapping black and brown onramps into the professional weed world. Ophelia Chong of Asian Americans for Cannabis Education will discuss racial identity as it relates to her life in and out of the cannabis industry.
In addition to equity-minded discussions, the event will address technological innovations in the industry. Mowgli Holmes, co-founder and CEO of the aforementioned Phylos Bioscience, will take the stage to talk about his efforts to create the world's most comprehensive cannabis genetics database, the Phylos Galaxy, as well as make those findings publicly available through the Open Cannabis Project, thus protecting the industry from patent trolls who are attempting to (wrongfully) claim ownership of cannabis varietals at the genetic level.
Meanwhile, Marco Malatrasi will discuss efforts to incorporate the Internet of Things into the commercial cannabis space, and Thomas Hayden from virtual reality experience studio 360 Labs will address the parallels between the VR and cannabis industries, as well as how the two intersect to provide high-resolution remote access to farms and cannabis facilities that don't well lend themselves to visitors.
In total, Toke Talks will offer a primer on the pressing issues that must be addressed to create a national industry that's livable and fair to everyone, while surveying the ideas, policy and tech that will support these efforts.
SEE IT: The Future of Cannabis Is Now: Toke Talks 2.0 is at Portland Center Stage, 128 NW 11th Ave., on Friday, March 16. 11 am. $30. See facebook.com/orcannassociation for a complete schedule.