4:30 PM, JANUARY 19
Room 306

David Bienenstock, Head of Content for HIGH TIMES

Ever since Colorado and Washington became the first two U.S. states to legalize marijuana in 2012, the establishment press in America has myopically focused on the "green rush" aspect of this societal sea change, beaming out a steady stream of special reports on how a new breed of well-pedigreed professionals and far-sighted entrepreneurs have come riding in like the cavalry to "legitimize" marijuana and reap huge profits in the process. But what if instead of allowing mercenary corporate interests and Wall Street hustlers to come in and take over the cannabis industry, the weed heads ban together to keep out the greed heads?

In this talk, which will reflect on the impact of successful legalization votes in eight U.S. states, Bienenstock will examine how the fall of cannabis prohibition offers a unique opportunity to create a new, progressive economy that can then be extended to other industries.

While every other segment of the global economy is already tightly controlled by vast capital and deeply entrenched political interests, the cannabis business remains, for the moment, wide open. Which means legalization offers a wholly unique opportunity to build a truly progressive industry from the ground up—one that addresses income inequality, labor rights, environmental sustainability and unchecked corporate power. Best of all, five years from now, when we've established a thriving cannabis industry based on local small businesses that all make a living, instead of a killing, while uplifting workers, communities, consumers and the environment, we can use that example to push every other industry on Earth towards such "radical" ideas as paying a living wage, marketing responsibly and not destroying the planet.

For starters, since legal marijuana's most enthusiastic supporters and insistent detractors both overtly fear the rise of Big Marijuana, activists on both sides of this debate must immediately start working together to make sure all regulation of the cannabis industry specifically supports small, local, socially-responsible businesses over large, profit-obsessed corporate interests.