Chicago's Newest Tech Conference Will Be All About Weed

By Justin Freeman in News on Dec 3, 2015 8:25PM

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Need some weed? (Photo by Blablo101 via Shutterstock)

Marijuana is slowly becoming legal in the state and across the nation. So it's only a matter of time before Chicagoans will be able to legally order pot on your phone and have it delivered to your apartment like GrubHub. In this brave new world of semi-legalized weed, what role does technology play? Next week the tech hub 1871 will be hosting a mini conference to discuss just this.

The event is named Canna Tech, a play on the words cannabis and technology. These two worlds already have a deep relationship, from Napster co-developer Sean Parker funding a legalization measure to the San Francisco-based company Pax, which hopes to "disrupt" smoking, with haute couture limited edition gold vaporizers sold at high-end fashion boutiques. This conference aims to expand on that relationship.

Canna Tech launched in Denver earlier this year and recently came to Chicago for a series of meet-ups before expanding into a small conference. “The whole point of [Canna Tech] is to bring together people who have an interest in building technology products and cannabis,” Canna Tech founder Zach Marburger recently told Built In Chicago. It will also feature Q&A sessions and demos from three local weed tech companies:

Kannatopia, which is still in development at 1871, aims to be a marijuana social networking site, but elevated from the stereotypical crassness found in a lot of pot culture. “We’re focusing on the modern cannabis user, which is your 9-to-5 workers. Your people working in finance. An attorney downtown, a coffee barrister, soccer moms," Kannatopia co-founder Kurt Akers recently told ChicagoInno.

Weegrow is still fairly new and in development at the moment, but the app will be for users to compare techniques on how to best cultivate marijuana plants and share their growing results amongst the community.

Cresco Labs are one of the largest cannabis cultivators in the state. They are partly responsible for growing the marijuana which is used by patients and doctors for medicinal purposes, and they plan to open growing centers in Joliet, Kankakee and Lincoln in the near future.

In 2012 Chicago’s City Council passed an ordinance decriminalizing small quantities of weed. Medicinal marijuana was recently made legal in Illinois and dispensaries are slowly starting to open across the state (despite some of the most strict regulation laws in the country). And Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. have all legalized marijuana for recreational uses. At this point, marijuana seems to remain illegal primarily because of fear and previous stigma. In the current national climate, where medical and recreational usage is clearly starting to be seen as an acceptable norm, “just say no” seems like the least sensible decision in this new budding industry.

Canna Tech is this Monday, December 7, at 1871, located at222 W Merchandise Mart #1212. Registration is free.