Planting the Seed: A Cannabis Conversation

The Luck Summit starts 4/26 and wraps on Willie Nelson’s birthday, 4/29


Matt Bizer (r) with Ellee Fletcher Durniak in Luck, Texas (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

After seeing the large impact and engagement from Willie's Birthday livestream last April, the Luck Reunion folks have sprouted a new creative endeavor – Luck Summit – one they hope starts a much-needed conversation about a topic near and dear to Willie Nelson's heart. Planting the Seed is their inaugural convention aimed at bipartisan dialogue about all things cannabis.

In a statement, Nelson said, "I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?"

Matt Bizer, co-founder and CEO of Luck Reunion says, "From our perspective, the only way to truly break through in the state of Texas is by helping to destigmatize and drop the stereotypes surrounding cannabis, and open a dialogue with everyone to sort of slowly work that conversation into our day-to-day."

The virtual (for now) Luck Summit is set up to mimic an in-person festival with their beloved stages paired strategically with related programming tracks from many angles. The Jailhouse Stage will center on legal and political issues; Chapel Stage is all about ethics, and the Bank Stage is economics; Revival is health and wellness, and Saloon is the community stage; General Store is industry and agriculture, and Barn is science. Their famed World Headquarters stage will feature keynotes and musical guests.

And the target audience is regular people, not necessarily just the cannabis industry. "We're not throwing a cannabis event for the cannabis industry – it's for you and me and our neighbors," says Bizer. "The focus of all of the tracks and panels is sort of around the idea of an accessible bipartisan conversation."

Bizer explains that on the Summit's docket are discussions about all sorts of cannabis topics: the science of cannabinoids, hemp manufacturing and textiles, economics and entrepreneurship, legalized growing, CBD, minority- and women-owned cannabusiness, even Willie's history of cannabis as it parallels his music and career. The three days of panels, guided by host Nathaniel Rateliff, are peppered with, naturally, plenty of music, keynotes, and 4:20 happy hours, plus comedy, munchie breaks, and other entertainment segments. And outside of the educational focus, their Hopin platform allows that same type of networking we all miss from pre-pandemic conferences and festivals.


Even more, proceeds from event ticket sales directly benefit HeadCount's Cannabis Voter Project – a nationally focused civic engagement campaign. Sam D'Arcangelo, director of Cannabis Voter Project, says, "It's a really important time to have this conversation in Texas. [It's] happening nationally – about cannabis reform in general, not just legalization, but expungement, decriminalization, expanding the medical programs – and there's so many issues on the table."

The CVP website tracks where every member of Congress stands on cannabis issues, in addition to providing info on voter registration and how to contact lawmakers. And that civic engagement is exactly what both HeadCount and the Luck Summit are working toward. Says D'Arc­an­gelo, "We want everyone to register to vote, but specifically people who care about cannabis reform."

D'Arcangelo notes the timeliness, explaining that just this week, the New Mexico governor signed legalization and expungement bills; neighboring Oklahoma already has "a pretty open medical cannabis program and they're likely to have a legalization initiative on the ballot in 2022"; and that Mexico has advanced a cannabis legalization bill to their Senate floor. Still, despite the bill that allowed hemp harvests in Texas, this state maintains one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the nation and continues to prohibit recreational use. Federally, there is a significant cannabis reform movement, including Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) who recently reiterated plans to introduce comprehensive "marijuana" reform bills aimed at changing the current Schedule 1 substance federal status. Austin law enforcement effectively decriminalized personal possession in 2019, after the Texas Lege legalized hemp and complicated prosecutions across Texas. Other cities are also reexamining their laws.

"A lot [of the progress] has to do with the fact that over the last few years, a lot of states have reformed their cannabis laws and the sky has not fallen. People have seen that. People who would've been initially skeptical have seen that happen and see the results, which speak for themselves," D'Arc­an­gelo says. "We at the CVP believe that cannabis is a gateway issue that can get lots of young people excited about participating in our political process. Now is the perfect time to be reaching out to your lawmakers to start a conversation about cannabis reform."

One of the key components of the Luck Summit that both Bizer and D'Arcangelo reiterate is the open bipartisan discussion. Says Bizer, "One thing we've found from doing some man-on-the-street questioning over the past few weeks is that people who don't support cannabis are wary to talk about it at all. What we're trying to do is invite people to be a part of that conversation and tell us why they don't and what their history and experiences have been so we can better understand. 'No' is a perfectly good response, but we should know why you're saying no, and I think that is the same thing with people that are saying 'yes.' Everybody should educate themselves and that's what we're trying to accomplish."

D'Arcangelo says, "Who is better to lead [the conversation about cannabis reform] than Willie Nelson? It's an issue that has a lot of bipartisan support, right? One of the only things that might have more bipartisan support than cannabis law reform is Willie Nelson – when he speaks, people listen. He's a cannabis icon and a music icon, but also a Texas icon. So there is no better person to lead this conversation."

The Luck Summit runs April 26-29, and marks the nine-day cannabis plant celebration running 4/20-29, that they're calling the High Holidays.

Wondering if Willie himself will make an appearance? Says Bizer, "We'll be unveiling the programming closer to 4/20, but they [Willie and Annie Nelson] will be involved. Willie's birthday just happens to be the day the event ends so ... I'll leave it at that."


Planting the Seed is a donation-based ticketed summit raising money for HeadCount’s Cannabis Voter Project. To register, or for more information on the High Holidays, please visit www.high.holiday. Pre-register for the event at www.hopin.com/events/lucksummit.


HIGHlights for the Upcoming Luck Summit: Planting the Seed

WHO: While this summit is intended for those aged 21 and over, much of the education is aimed at those of, or near, the voting age of 18. Anyone with opinions and questions, and anyone interested in an open dialogue about all things cannabis – plus plenty of 4/20 friendly entertainment – is encouraged to attend.

WHEN: Planting the Seed is considered the "marquee event" of Luck's High Holidays, which runs from the strategic date of April 20 through Willie Nelson's birthday, April 29. The Luck Summit is scheduled for 4/26-29, and detailed programming information will be released in the coming days through their websites and social media.

WHAT: Luck Reunion and Willie Nelson are hosting the first cannabis convention and their mission is "to create a community of action around destigmatizing, decriminalizing, and legalizing Hemp and Cannabis in the State of Texas and across the Nation." Three days of programming includes multiple tracks from economics to ethics, science to agriculture, and plenty of music, comedy, and munchie breaks. In addition to live panels and participant networking, they aim to foster a full-bodied conversation around all things cannabis – including CBD, hemp, and other cannabusiness – in addition to providing a bipartisan place to work through issues surrounding the plant Willie calls medicine.

WHERE: This is a completely virtual event. Participants will have the opportunity to network through the platform and engage in the live panel discussions. For a short time after the conference, recorded content will also be available through the host website, www.hopin.com/events/lucksummit. More info about High Holidays is available at www.high.holiday and info about Luck Reunion is available through their social channels @luckreunion.

HOW MUCH: Luck encourages everyone to pre-register and ticket sales are tiered five-deep, ranging from $10-500. Admission sales for the Summit go to HeadCount's Cannabis Voter Project. More information about Cannabis Voter Project – including a database on lawmakers stances across the nation – is available at www.cannabisvoter.info.

Sign up for the Chronicle Cooking newsletter

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

If you want to submit a recipe, send it to food@austinchronicle.com

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
MORE Willie Nelson
CBD Companies Find Practical Uses for Marijuana Compounds
CBD Companies Find Practical Uses for Marijuana Compounds
Canvas 1839’s scientist and Willie’s Remedy explain cannabis molecules

Jessi Cape, June 7, 2019

More by Jessi Cape
Two Married Couples, Two New Neighborhood Spots in Austin
Two Married Couples, Two New Neighborhood Spots in Austin
It takes two with Birdie's and Bobo's

May 7, 2021

Austin Embroiderists Build Community Stitch by Stitch
Austin Embroiderists Build Community Stitch by Stitch
Local interest in fiber arts is growing rapidly as people find stitching is a way to calm nerves, find friends, and make political statements during the pandemic

April 9, 2021

KEYWORDS FOR THIS STORY

Willie Nelson, Planting the Seed, cannabis, Matt Bizer, Luck Reunion, Luck Summit, HeadCount, Cannabis Voter Project, Sam D'Arcangelo, High Holidays

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

New recipes and food news delivered Mondays

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle