PORTSMOUTH, Va. – The “High Tide Summit,” a free event featuring some of the biggest names in cannabis education nationally and locally, is set to kick off in Portsmouth on Wednesday, April 20.
“Cannabis crosses so many different ages and races,” said event organizer Antonio Dowe. “We have to figure out how to get the entire population of Virginia to think of medicine when you think of cannabis, and not think about some rave with glow sticks. That’s not what this is.”
Dowe teamed up with acclaimed rapper and Norfolk native FAMLAY to put on the summit at the Renaissance Waterfront Hotel in downtown Portsmouth. According to the event's website, it will “bring together a diverse group of local, state, and national activists, thought leaders, government officials, business professionals, healthcare, veterans, civil and human rights organizations, and environmentalists to discuss today's most pressing cannabis policy challenges and opportunities.”
“This is our intent, to have the right, correct information,” said FAMLAY. “It’s dangerous when you don’t have it.”
The roster of speakers includes local pharmacist Dr. Anna Peoples, famed record executive and entrepreneur Dame Dash, Portsmouth Mayor Shannon Glover, Portsmouth Commonwealth Attorney Stephanie Morales, and Norfolk Commonwealth Attorney Ramin Fatehi.
“The history of marijuana criminalization shows that it is rooted in anti-black and anti-brown discrimination. It served no public safety purpose,” said Fatehi, referring to the well-documented disproportionate arrest and imprisonment of minorities for marijuana use and distribution.
Fatehi was at the forefront of efforts to decriminalize cannabis in Virginia. As a panelist at the High Tide Summit next week, he will highlight the current state code for cannabis.
- Adults 21 years and older may possess not more than one ounce of cannabis for personal use.
- Generally, adults 21 years and older may use marijuana in private residences. However, nothing prohibits the owner of a private residence from restricting the use of marijuana on its premises.
- Adults 21 and over may grow up to four plants per household (not per person), according to specified requirements (see “Home Cultivation” below).
- “Adult sharing” or transferring one ounce or less of marijuana between persons who are 21 years or older without remuneration is legal. "Adult sharing" does not include instances in which (i) marijuana is given away contemporaneously with another reciprocal transaction between the same parties; (ii) a gift of marijuana is offered or advertised in conjunction with an offer for the sale of goods or services; or (iii) a gift of marijuana is contingent upon a separate reciprocal transaction for goods or services.
Fatehi will also stress that Virginia has another two years to establish a legal framework for commercial marijuana sales.
“The sale of marijuana remains illegal,” said Fatehi. “If people are selling marijuana, they’re still breaking criminal laws.
“Don’t smoke your marijuana while you drive. Don’t smoke your marijuana in public places. Don’t share your marijuana with children,” he continued. “If you wouldn’t do it with alcohol, don’t do it with marijuana.”
Dowe and FAMLAY said setting the record straight about Virginia marijuana laws, and uprooting stereotypes by showcasing marijuana’s diverse appeal, can help bring people together.
“[We’re] opening up the conversation for people who don’t generally talk to each other,” Dowe said.
Following the summit, rappers Smoke DZA, Three 6 Mafia and Kevin Gates will perform at the Atlantic Union Bank Pavilion in downtown Portsmouth. There is a fee for this event.
“[These artists] could be anywhere, and they’re coming to Portsmouth Virginia to support something that we created,” said FAMLAY. “It’s only going to grow.”
The High Tide Summit is not affiliated with the 420ish Festival in Portsmouth on April 23-24.