Aspen Live Founder Launches Cannabis Summit

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Aspen High will be a curated experience for visionaries in the marijuana and music industries

Launched in 1996, the Aspen Live conference has become a must-attend event for a growing group of music industry insiders and up-and-comers who travel to the Colorado resort town every winter for three days of skiing, panels and keynote interviews often led by writer and podcaster Bob Lefsetz. The event's founder Jim Lewi, a music industry veteran who works at both Goldstar and Red Light Management, is seizing on the success of the event to launch a cannabis conference in one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize recreational marijuana.

The Aspen High Summit begins Monday (Dec. 11) and runs three days with panels on cannabis sales at music events, a panel on the influence of media featuring Voice Media CEO Scott Tobias along with Ricardo Baca, founder of the country's first newspaper backed marijuana news site The Cannabist and star of the 2015 documentary Rolling Papers. Also speaking is Tripp Keber with Dixie Elixirs, Nikki Lastreto with Swami Select and Andrew Kline with the National Association of Cannabis Businesses.

Lewi said he launched the conference for individuals in the medical and recreational marijuana business to prepare for the eventual nationwide legalization of cannabis. While Attorney General Jeff Sessions has indicated a desire to roll back legalization efforts, Lewi believes the U.S. will eventually move toward nationwide legalization and that it's time to start preparing for what that future will look like.

"It's hard for any company that does business, especially on an international or national level, to get involved with cannabis right now," Lewi said. "It's not like Live Nation can just start selling cannabis at their amphitheaters tomorrow," but many promoters are seeing the potential for revenue from legal weed and are hoping to eventually get involved.

"It's already being consumed at their events and they're not getting a piece of it," Lewi said. "And I think that it's certainly proven to be a lot safer in terms of fights and accidents and breakups than alcohol." 

Lewi has partnered on Aspen High with Steve DeAngelo, creator of Harborside, one of the largest cannabis retailers in the country, and the founder of ArcView, a "Shark Tank" style investment firm for legal weed investments.

While the inaugural conference is being held at a time when legalization efforts seem to be stalling, Lewis said, "if the President of the United States is saying that he's a jobs president and he's up for creating jobs, and for states rights, then those two things go hand in hand with cannabis. There's now 26 states that have some form of legalization and it's very obvious that the public wants this to be legal and can't understand why it's not."

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