Last week, cannabis hit Austin, Texas in a big way. The first ever Cannabusiness track—a series of panels and presentations on the technological, cultural, and political ecosystem surrounding the future of cannabis-focused enterprise—landed at the South by Southwest festival. Throughout the weekend of learning, connecting, and shenanigans in the wild, I came away with a better understanding of all things cannabis. These were my takeaways from the event.
People Want Terp Knowledge
We’ve been classifying cannabis by sativa, indica, hybrid for a long time, so it isn’t surprising that the transition into terpene-based discussions can leave a lot to unpack—especially for those in non-legal states where they have access to less information.
So when a few thousand visitors slid through the SXSW Leafly Lounge, our onsite hub for connecting with any-and-everyone who wanted to talk cannabis, I expected them to be confused by the terpene-based system we introduced. But a good number of people understood terpenes and wanted more information about them.
Consumers young and old, and with varying levels of cannabis experience, were prepared to side-step “indica vs. sativa” and engage with terpenes and cannabinoids.
Austin Has a Familiar Scent
Son. There was so much smoke in the Austin air. I heard a man on a Lime bike ride by and say, “Oh my god, more weed?!” He couldn’t believe it.
There were blunts being blown at concerts. I saw DaBaby blowing Backwoods outside the hotel lobby. It was a straight up pre-420 out that bitch.
Mind you, Texas has not legalized cannabis. But it’s clear they’re ready for it—evidenced by how law enforcement was reacting to the plant’s presence.
Cops Don’t Want to Be Bothered By Cannabis
The police officers wanted no part in petty cannabis crimes. In fact, they were more concerned with regulating where you can ride an electric Bird scooter than they were about what we were ingesting.
Proof of this revolves around a time I saw a woman smoking a bluntinski in the broad daylight. A cop walked by and yelled, “Hey, put that out!” Normally, in Texas, that single blunt could’ve landed that woman in jail or hit her pockets for a hefty fine.
If that doesn’t speak to the stupidity of cannabis prohibition, I don’t know what does.
Clean Cannabis Is the Biggest Concern
The people want clean buds. While at SXSW, I received more questions about pesticide-free cannabis than ever. They want pesticide-free, no-mold, no-mildew brands of cannabis that can only be verified by lab testing.
Even the more mature consumers—yeah, I’m talking the oldie-but-goodies—are concerned with it. This is medicine, and patients shouldn’t have to worry about its safety.
People Are Still Scared to Support Legalization Publicly
While doing some man-on-the-street surveying for Leafly, I asked over 20 people of various ages and backgrounds if they supported the legalization of cannabis. All of those people said yes.
However, only the younger people were willing to say so on camera. The older generation were very concerned about how their support could affect their everyday lives, showing that the normalization of cannabis is still an underground sport.