Former U.S. Speaker of the House and political legend, Tip O’Neil, once famously proclaimed that “all politics are local.” However, that only holds true if you choose to get involved. Over the weekend of November 15, 2019, the California Democratic Party held its 2019 Fall Endorsing Convention at the Long Beach Convention & Entertainment Center. With thousands of political activists, officeholders, party delegates, and major presidential candidates converging in Long Beach, California, The LBCA coordinated a Cannabis Caucus Street Party to educate and meet people attending the conference. Working closely with the Santa Ana Cannabis Association and the United Cannabis Business Association, the block party sprang to life Friday evening near the Promenade within easy walking distance of the convention center.
LBCA Community Education Director, Pam Chotiswatdi, said that “The LBCA Board of Directors wanted to do the event and made the decision approximately two weeks ago to go forward. It was a truly collaborative process and we are grateful to have worked with Santa Ana Cannabis Association and the United Cannabis Business Association to create this event within such a tight timeframe. We wanted a cozy environment and, despite a last minute location change from the city, this block worked out really well for us.”
LBCA volunteer Stephanie Balcazar evoked the recurring theme of the evening and said, “Events like this help normalize cannabis and it changes the stigma around it. We can educate people, focus on the medicine, and not the celebrity or party culture. Her fellow LBCA volunteer, Antwone Kennedy, told me that “I’m a lifelong resident of Long Beach. I saw the LBCA newsletter and wanted to help.”
Melahat Rafiei, a DNC Member and California Democratic Party Executive Board Member, said “I’m very supportive of these kinds of community efforts as they normalize cannabis. It helps educate consumers about the science and innovation behind cannabis and treat it like any other business. People are curious about weed, and it’s a tribute to Pam, the LBCA, SACA, and the UCBA to jump in and put on an event like this.”
Toni Vargas (right), Founder, Holistic Love, Inc. and
Linda Contreras brought amazing (non-infused) samples of her fabulous oatmeal cookies. Also invoking the normalization theme, Toni said “Events like this are very important. It helps normalize cannabis and move away from the lazy stoner perception. It’s good for politicians to see this is a normal thing and we’re trying to help people because food heals.”
Patrick O’Donnell, California Assembly Member, 70th District, agreed with Toni that things are changing. “This is an opportunity to collectively educate the community. Not so long ago, I would have been running away from media at a cannabis event, but now there is a much greater level of acceptance within the community. I am absolutely impressed that this event came together so quickly.”
Lisa Gutierrez (right), District Manager, Haven Dispensaries, was thrilled to attend with her team members. “Educating people about health and wellness is very important to everyone at Haven, and events like this are a great way to help normalize cannabis. This is our first event in Long Beach and we’re really happy to be here.”
Claudia Winokur-Bravo, BelCosta Labs Content Developer, summed the event up nicely as well.
“BelCosta Labs is proud to support The LBCA and the city of Long Beach. These events are important to get the word out about education and the science of cannabis. It gives people the opportunity to ask questions one-on-one.”
As the DJ pumped out tunes, people took in the scene and as Claudia noted, guests spoke with the vendors who supported the Cannabis Caucus. While it was a non-consumption event, people hung out, discussed cannabis policy, and networked. The mood was definitely friendly and upbeat, and the street was packed until closing at 10 p.m. The LBCA is deeply appreciative of all the help from the SACA and UBCA, the vendors who donated their time and energy, and the City of Long Beach who supported the event. For more information about upcoming events, check out our calendar. We’re always looking for volunteers so jump in and get involved like Stephanie and Antwone. Please feel free to send an email to Steven for more information.
Gotta Story Media creates handcrafted content exclusively for the cannabis community. Philip is also the host of the podcast Cannabis For the Rest of Us. Find it on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or Stitcher.