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Pot Shots: Party in the Back

In Culture
Cannabis lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai (pictured right) rubbed elbows with the South Bay’s political elite, including Assemblyman Ash Kalra (left) and San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco (center) at the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance after-party.

Cannabis lobbyist Sean Kali-Rai (pictured right) rubbed elbows with the South Bay’s political elite, including Assemblyman Ash Kalra (left) and San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco (center) at the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance after-party.

Weed’s a powerful enough drug to lure business, labor and political interests into the same space as pot farmers and folks getting paid to guard ganja with guns. In this case, it was the country’s leading ganjapreneurs that rubbed elbows with the South Bay political elite last week at the Silicon Valley Cannabis Alliance-hosted after-party. The packed soiree inside The Continental Bar and Lounge rounded off the second day of the fifth annual Cannabis Business Summit and Expo held just around the corner at the San Jose Convention Center.   

Around 7,500 people attended what looked more like a typical tech convention than a High Times Cup competition over the course of this past week. Instead of smoke-filled halls with people lighting up different marijuana strains to vote on, the expo felt like any other business networking event including expert panels on cannabis law, policy and commerce attended by individuals wearing suits and carrying briefcases.

“It’s not like these conventions used to be,” SVCA founder Sean Kali-Rai told Metro. “It’s about making deals, finding funding and finding new products, making new connections.”

But after hours on The Continental patio was a different story; after making pitches all day, a large cross-section of cannabusiness interests including security, insurance, real estate, financial planning and consulting specialists were eager to mix business with pleasure. Partiers sparked up joints and puffed on vape pens while waiting for catered street tacos, and it was hard to tell if the line to eat took longer than the one to get inside the party, which at one point stretched down the block past the California Theater. A contortionist and juggler both provided the sort of mind bending evening entertainment perfect for being high or buzzed on one of the venue’s well-mixed cocktails.

Later on Harborside co-founder Andrew DeAngelo thanked attendees for coming before releasing 500 helium-cannabis balloons, while other notable names in the weed world like Oakland attorney James Anthony took photos with former San Jose mayor Chuck Reed. Appearances throughout the evening by Assemblyman Ash Kalra (D-San Jose), Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager, San Jose Vice Mayor Magdalena Carrasco, San Jose City Councilman Tam Nguyen, and San Jose city council candidates Pam Foley and Maya Esparza were strong evidence that the former outlaw cannabis industry (or at least their money) has finally been embraced by the in-crowd.

“I think politicians are getting it,” Kali-Rai said. “There’s a lot of support from voters and there’s a lot of money that could frankly help them with their elections.”

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