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Marijuana reform: are seniors and parents the key?

Parents and elders were repeatedly mentioned as crucial stakeholders in California’s 2016 attempts at marijuana reform during last weekend’s New-West Summit in San Francisco. It was the first of what is expected to be an annual event.

Roger Salazar of Alza Strategies, a public affairs strategy firm in Sacramento, advises advocates that any successful ballot measure must be clear to non-users, minorities, and families – to name a few. Panelists urged unity since multiple initiatives will confuse voters, and they have a history of failing in other states. (California is currently looking at ten initiatives, most of which have inadequate funding for a statewide campaign.)

All participants in the legalization forecasting session of the two-day event were positive that voters will approve some form of recreational marijuana next year. But they also agree that it will win by a slim margin.

Legalization is “about more than just getting high,” Max Simon of Green Flow Media reminded attendees. Baby boomers, another swing group, want real information, not just slogans.

Another way to describe that might be “inspiration.” That’s the word offered by Swami Chaitanya of Swami Select Farms in Mendocino. “That’s really why we Baby Boomers started using it.”

Described as “the first conference to focus exclusively on the game-changing, disruptive developments in technology, investment and media within the cannabis industry,” the summit featured business investment seminars, legalization panels and predictions of marketing and editorial trends. Participants included Fiona Ma, member of the California State Board of Equalization and Ben Tulchin, pollster for presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and such local activists and journalists as Debbie Goldsberry with the ReformCA ballot initiative and Chris Roberts, San Francisco Examiner reporter.

Approximately a thousand people attended.