It feels particularly self-indulgent for me to have spent the past three days, and to spend the next four days, attending conferences that I've invested in for my own professional development. This morning we kicked off the first Cannabis Marketing Summit, and over the weekend I attended a conference focused on preparing and equipping event planners for the next big thing: virtual events.
It feels good to be focused on pivoting professionally, but I definitely carry some guilt for being distracted from the weekend's events. Dispensaries were looted in California, Oregon and Illinois. And after what started as a peaceful protest in my home city of Boston, a police cruiser was torched while I slept peacefully in the suburbs.
As I continue this week of professional development I do so with an eye toward utilizing my marketing skills to support these loud voices that are not being heard. This was already part of my motivation behind starting ELEVATE Northeast. But this is about so much more than creating access to cannabis and creating opportunities for people harmed by the War on Drugs. There is a war on Black people that can no longer be ignored... seven years after Trayvon Martin's murder inspired the #BlackLivesMatter movement.
I challenge all marketers and all cannabis businesses to think beyond their four walls and to think about how you can make an impact while making your income. We all have a voice and skills that can change the way people think, even if it's talking to a loved one about why this is happening. And, if you are shocked by this weekend's violence in your city, wherever that is, I encouage you to read (and share!) this piece from NPR about how not shocked we all should have been for letting this continue.