Luke Scarmazzo shared with the audience Wednesday at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference his personal experience with law enforcement and cannabis — and how social media could have made a difference.

“If we had the power of X back in 2006 when I was raided and arrested for operating a state-legal dispensary, it could have changed the trajectory of our case and the entire industry,”Scarmazzo said at the event in Hollywood, Florida.

His powerful opening marked a compelling discussion during the panel titled “A Candid Conversation With X: Cannabis And Social Media.” Scarmazzo’s journey from incarceration to advocacy underscores the transformative role of X (formerly known as Twitter) in amplifying voices in the cannabis sector once stifled by legal and societal boundaries.

Alongside Scarmazzo was Alexa Alianello of X’s Sales and Partnerships, touting her role as the unofficial “chief weed officer,” highlighting X’s significant strides over the past year.

“X is home to over half a billion of the world’s most influential and interesting people. Our users spend over 6 billion active minutes on the platform every day, marking an 11% increase since its acquisition,” she detailed, referring to Elon Musk’s purchase of the social media platform for $44 billion in 2022.

“Our users tend to have more purchasing power, be more affluent, and they tend to be more engaged with brands than users who are on other platforms,” Alianello stated. “So X has truly become an indispensable platform to our users, to our advertisers, and to different communities of people.”

The discussion also delved into specific advancements and strategic pivots X has made over the past year. “2023 was foundational, but 2024 is set to be even more transformational,” Alianello projected.

With initiatives like integrating artificial intelligence to enhance user experience and advertising capabilities, X is positioning itself at the forefront of technological and social innovation.

Scarmazzo’s narrative added a deeply personal touch to the panel. He recounted his tumultuous journey, which began when federal agents raided his state-compliant dispensary in 2006.

“We took our case to trial, but as many of you know, state law doesn’t mean much in a federal courtroom. We weren’t able to present our defense,” he explained.

His subsequent conviction led to a 20-year sentence, a harsh reality that unfolded as the cannabis industry began to flourish.

“I watched governments and corporations bank millions, while I sat in a cell for doing the exact same thing,” Scarmazzo lamented.

After a long struggle, Scarmazzo was released and reunited with his daughter, who was only five years old at his sentencing. “That little girl, who was just five when I went away, is now a beautiful, intelligent 21-year-old woman,” he said, pointing her out in the audience.

The panel was not merely reflective but forward-looking, emphasizing the potential of X to foster significant cultural and political discourse.

Alianello’s closing remarks reinforced this: “X continues to be a destination for free expression and for storytelling. We continue to support the ways in which people bring forward information and authentic experiences.”

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 Luke Scarmazzo shares his experience of being raided and arrested for running a state-legal dispensary in 2006. X’s role in amplifying voices in the cannabis industry was discussed at the Benzinga Cannabis Capital Conference, highlighting its growth and potential for social and technological innovation.  Read More