The People Changing How We Think About Cannabis

How cannabis is being presented by respected figures and organisations is rapidly improving its status. Brands, professionals and media are reporting and extolling its wellness, lifestyle and business virtues - hastening its acceptance. 

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In February, The Times championed the recent sea change in business attitudes to cannabis. “The first investors in GW Pharma two decades ago were a little confused to be invited to visit a greenhouse in Kent. One of them even recalled having to wash sticky cannabis residue off his hands afterwards. In 1998, the therapeutic drugs start-up had little more than a crop of weed and a good idea. “It was certainly an uphill battle,” admitted chief executive Justin Gover. “We were, after all, dealing with a plant that was highly controversial.” Today, GW Pharma is worth £3.5bn and has won approval for two drugs - Sativex, for multiple sclerosis, and Epidiolex, for epilepsy.”

Just the other week, Bloomberg declared “America’s Generation Z is coming of age in a whole new world of weed. Already with big-time spending power, Gen Z is formulating its consumption habits at a time when marijuana muscles into the mainstream. They have only known a time where cannabis is edging toward acceptance, with California legalising medical use in 1996 - a year before even the oldest Gen Z consumers were born.”

 
With statements like these, it’s no wonder that mainstream opinion is almost unrecognisable from a decade or two ago. It is surely now inevitable that the popular perception of cannabis will soon complete its journey from naughty to normal.
 
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Meanwhile, trendsetting lifestyle, wellness and cosmetics brands are jostling to shout their cannabis advocacy from the rooftops. “The future of weed is here, and it’s sleek, spacious, luxurious, and, above all, calm” enthuses Goop (CEO Gwyneth Paltrow) about the new MedMen cannabis store in New York City. “Once defiantly naughty, now inescapably chic, cannabis has never been more à la mode,” gushes MALIN+GOETZ.

Where editorials on the merits of cannabis were once muted, now they’re proudly exhorting it front and centre. And this isn’t simply the media riffing on the latest ephemeral narrative; the normalisation of cannabis is being set in stone – and law. “Big law firms are building out specialised pot practices to chase down a red-hot market for weed deals,” reported Business Insider in January. “With the rapid spread of marijuana legalisation in the US, lawyers are discovering that the tangled web of regulations guiding the rapidly growing industry is a boon for business. Some form of cannabis is now legal in 33 states and many in the industry say it's only a matter of time before legalisation sweeps the nation. Big money — and big law — has followed. The opportunity could be huge: some Wall Street analysts say marijuana could become an $80 billion market in the US alone in the next decade, with the global market hitting close to $200 billion.”

With statements like these, it’s no wonder that mainstream opinion is almost unrecognisable from a decade or two ago. It is surely now inevitable that the popular perception of cannabis will soon complete its journey from naughty to normal.

At this diverse week of events, attendees will be able to explore the multifaceted potential of the cannabis plant. This week is a chance to hear from the people shaping this new narrative— from MPs and athletes, to Barclays analysts and healthcare professionals. There’s a variety of ways to experience the latest trends in cannabis-derived wellness products and cosmetics, and learn how activists and policymakers are trying to reform and improve laws. European Cannabis Week will help communicate its benefits to a wide demographic. Panellists will also discuss the most pressing issues facing the European cannabis industry today, analysing the latest developments and looking at how medical cannabis has permeated the mainstream.

Along with a growing list of global brands, media organisations and respected professionals, those taking part in European Cannabis Week are part of a vast movement who are changing perceptions and shaping the cannabis debate across Europe and the world.

Will Sloane