BOULDER, Colorado — Veteran journalist, keynote speaker and Marketer of the Year Ricardo Baca will deliver the Media Literacy Keynote Address at the sixth annual Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium at the University of Colorado-Boulder on April 17 in the historic Wittemyer Courtroom in the Wolf Law School building.
Mr. Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist who has spoken on the TEDx stage and delivered keynotes at events centered around modern media, drug policy and the booming cannabis industry. He’ll share his unique perspective on the evolution of drug policy, culture, business and journalism in Colorado and beyond, challenging attendees to think critically about the future of drug-policy reform beyond cannabis.
“As I was covering the implementation of the world’s first legal adult-use cannabis system, I knew this was only the beginning of a much larger conversation,” said Mr. Baca, who was The Denver Post’s first-ever marijuana editor and the founder of award-winning news site The Cannabist, where he extensively covered the advent of adult-use cannabis and related issues across the country and around the world, as seen in the feature documentary Rolling Papers (Netflix).
In 2016, Mr. Baca launched Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency to work directly with business leaders in highly regulated industries, including cannabis, energy and traditional healthcare. Named Marketer of the Year by AdCann in 2019, he has received numerous accolades for his trailblazing work covering drug policy, cannabis business and culture, and continues to write columns and host podcasts for a number of top publications.
Capping the Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium’s full day of speakers, panels and a wide-ranging Information Fair, Mr. Baca’s Media Literacy Keynote Address will set the stage for the Closing Plenary speaker, Dawn Paley. A renowned journalist and author, Ms. Paley wrote Drug War Capitalism, a formative analysis of the U.S. “drug war” that lays bare the connections between neoliberal drug policy, militarization and privatization, and how this factored into resource extraction and economic exploitation in Mexico and Colombia. She is a doctoral student at the Autonomous University of Puebla in Mexico.
“American drug policy is so broken, and it’s been thrilling to watch legal marijuana regulations roll out in Colorado, Canada, California and beyond—in a thoughtful, compassionate, reasonable and responsible manner that treats cannabis like a public health issue instead of a criminal concern,” Mr. Baca said. “And now that we’ve seen what legal cannabis looks like, let’s explore what decriminalized psilocybin mushrooms and pharmaceutical ketamine look like—and in the process, change the way we discuss and regulate substances in the United States.”
Added Caroline S. Conzelman, Ph.D., the symposium’s organizer and an Anthropology Senior Instructor in the Global Studies Academic Program at CU Boulder: “Because of Ricardo’s tenure at The Cannabist—and the fact that he had to invent professional cannabis journalism—he will be able to offer a unique account of the evolution of cannabis policy, culture, business and reporting. We hope he also extrapolates how the lessons learned from cannabis may be applied to the emerging fields of legal psychedelic science, policy and culture.
“By creating a forum for students and the public at Colorado’s flagship research university to explore all of these trends guided by expert presenters, we aim to spark critical insights into the complexity and promise of these fields of study.”
Ms. Conzelman is spearheading the sixth annual Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium in collaboration with university faculty, staff, first-year anthropology students, the Cannabis Law League and CU’s Students for Sensible Drug Policy chapter and the Psychedelic Club.
The symposium was launched in 2014 as part of CU-Boulder’s continuing efforts to provide high-quality public education on drug policy and various plant-based and psychedelic substances. The annual public-education forum addresses an evolving range of issues surrounding the public health and safety aspects of cannabis and psychedelic science, medicine, culture, history, policy and industry.
This event on the CU-Boulder campus is free and open to the public. It runs from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Mr. Baca’s keynote starts at 5 p.m.
About Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency
Grasslands is a full-service boutique agency working with clients in highly regulated industries. A nimble 10-person firm with offices in Denver and Los Angeles, Grasslands specializes in best-in-class Public Relations, Content Marketing, Social Media, Thought Leadership work, Newsletter Campaigns, Book Development and Event Execution for businesses and executives. Founder and CEO Ricardo Baca, a 20-year newspaper veteran, has built a seasoned team with more than six decades of top-level journalism experience at outlets including Men’s Health, The Denver Post, the Chicago Sun-Times, Seventeen, The Daily Beast and Wonkette—and PR experience with clients including IKEA North America, K12 Inc., REI, Fisher-Price and Emeril Lagasse (bam!). Grasslands has a deep bench of experience supporting clients through product launches, acquisitions and IPOs, crisis management and capital funding initiatives. For more information, please visit MyGrasslands.com. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.