By Amanda Chicago Lewis
I was deep into my second or third joint of the afternoon, lounging on a green leather Moroccan pouf in the shade, when an elegant older blonde in a bright floral dress rushed up to declare that I was urgently needed on stage. It was Susan Soares, the beloved marijuana advocate and ringmaster of the day's events: a casual and intimate southern California conference called The State of Cannabis, held a few weeks back and filled with pot insiders and political stakeholders. Apparently another journalist had flaked at the last minute, leaving a vacant spot on the final panel of the day: "Cannabis & the Media." Baked as I was, could I go sit in front of a few hundred people and comment on what New York Media Elites talk about when they talk about weed?
Of course I could. Soares is the kind of affable, sincere person you just want to say yes to – even when you're high as balls and not quite sure you'll be able to form coherent sentences. And I tend to take the reason we had all come together – to do some soul-searching about the Golden State's most valuable crop – rather seriously. Along with the usual cannabis entrepreneurs, investors, and activists, there were several mayors, prosecutors, and previously prohibitionist government types in attendance. But as the biggest marijuana market in the world barrels toward a January 1st, 2018 deadline to begin accepting applications for both medical and adult-use licenses, initiating what will likely be the final phase in the state's bumpy two-decade journey toward legal pot, what is, in fact, the state of cannabis in California?
"Shitshow," one prominent advocate told me. "But don't mention my name. These edibles are starting to kick in." Several other answers fell along the same lines: "Precarious." "Disarray." "Evolving." "Complicated." "Compartmentalized." "Chaotic." "Uncertainty." "Clusterfuck." "Capricious."
The best thing anyone had to say? "Improving."
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Susan has been an entrepreneur all of her adult life. She had a clothing company for 10 years, Weeds & Doilies, opened a hair salon in Newport Beach, produced a feature film, created an alternative content program with a national theatre chain and currently is the Executive Director of C.A.R.E. (Cannabis Awareness, Research & Events). As a serial entrepreneur, she has worn many hats including expertise in digital media, marketing, social media, start ups, advertising, business development, public policy, market research, film production and cannabis cultivation.