Panelists Vow to Fight Cannabis Vilification

Magda Arroyo speaks at the Quarterly Cannabis Workshop at Impact Hub downtown.

Even though it may have been the first time women heavily involved in the Santa Barbara-area cannabis industry came together on the same panel, the three women who discussed their experiences Aug. 7 downplayed that, but instead addressed the importance and diversity of the industry at this point. 

The panelists spoke to a packed crowd of about 100 industry enthusiasts on the patio of the downtown Impact Hub. 

Autumn Shelton, chief financial officer of Autumn Brands in Carpinteria, called for industry members to fight the “lies and propaganda” put forth by cannabis detractors who believe nothing can be done about cannabis crop odors. 

She said her company is one of the founders of CARP Growers, which has successfully reduced odors that have many Carpinteria residents up in arms. However, the complaints persist, even though she said someday they will go away while other food crop odors will persist. 

Shelton admitted it has a been a much longer battle to get her company in full operation than the three months she thought it would take. She’s hoping for that to happen next year. 

Sara Rotman, founder and CEO of Bluebird 805 in Buellton, said the industry is challenged and “vilified” by its detractors because of a lack of information. She said the industry must “educate the uninformed.” 

Rotman said the cannabis industry is the most important since the start of the digital age. Its opposition eventually, she said, “will dissipate like a fart in the wind.” Detractors are vocal, but small in number, Rotman said. 

She praised the work of the North County Farmers Guild in making “good farmers and great neighbors” of the cannabis industry.  

Rotman, who also works as a strategist and chief creative officer at NEWCO Branding, said she came to embrace cannabis as a therapeutic aid when she came down with a debilitating disease, which she dealt with by using products made from that now-legal substance. 

Another panelist who overcame a debilitating malady with the aid of a cannabis product, said she used to decry marijuana’s use. “Canna-activist” and entrepreneur Magda Arroyo said she once chastised a family member and others for cannabis use. 

However, now she thanks her son for helping her see the therapeutic benefits of what is now legal throughout California and many other states. “I educated myself,” she said. 

She called on the audience to “step it up” in the battle to educate the rest of the community about the benefits of cannabis. Along with the other panelists, Arroyo said the industry will provide much-needed jobs and tax revenue. 

Arroyo, who works with Brown & Brown Insurance in Santa Barbara, also operates a “Cannabiz” Facebook page. 

Amy Steinfeld, managing partner of the Law Firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber and Schreck’s Santa Barbara office, the Aug. 7 event’s key sponsor, said her company is increasing its involvement in the cannabis industry. 

She said the firm has formed a Cannabis and Industrial Hemp industry group. Many of the firm’s team of nationally recognized practitioners have worked with clients on cannabis and industrial hemp-related issues for more than a decade.  

The team delivers comprehensive solutions for the full spectrum of clients in the space, both those directly touching the plant and those tangential to the industry or impacted by it. 

The group will be co-chaired by Melissa Kuipers Blake, a shareholder in the firm’s Government Relations Department, and Steinfeld, a shareholder in the Natural Resources Department. 

SB Verde, the 805 Cannabis Society, Delta Leaf Labs and Coastal Dispensary were among the other groups co-sponsoring the quarterly event. 

Posted Aug. 8, 2019.

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