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SF tech conference pushes cannabis further into mainstream

Cannabis has come a long way in both business and technology, as evident in San Francisco’s inaugural New West Summit.

The two-day conference was the first of its kind to address the progress made and still needed in the business, technology, and media sectors dedicated to marijuana.

“It was a real inspiring meeting of the best minds in cannabis,” said David Downs, curator of the event as well as a notable journalist specializing in topics dealing with marijuana.

The event also served as an unofficial passing of the torch from one era of marijuana innovators to the next, CNET reports.

Lynette Shaw, who in 1997 opened one of California’s first medical marijuana dispensaries, was recognized with a lifetime achievement award at the summit. Shaw’s early contributions would become instrumental to the nascent cannabis industry. Shaw would later lose the dispensary due to a federal crackdown in 2011, setting the impetus for an amendment approved by Congress last year prohibiting the DEA to waste federal funds on dispensary raids.

“It’s fabulous,” the 61-year-old said Friday at the summit. “I’m honored to see my godchildren creating all of this.”

Those godchildren include people such as Amy Poinsett, co-founder and CEO of Denver-based MJFreeway.com, which creates software designed for seed-to-sale cannabis tracking.

“It’s exciting to start seeing outside investors come into the cannabis sector,” Poinsett told CNET.

The New West Summit proved to be a springboard for cannabis to jump into legitimate, mainstream business practices.

“The event demonstrated the industry has evolved beyond merely existing and into deep specialization,” Downs told SF Evergreen. “The real influencers want smarter, more focused programming, and they’re totally juiced on what we did.”

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