A literal fireside chat gets a Zoom makeover.

A week or so before things began to shut down in Chicago and all over, an organization called Green in Chi hosted several dozen cannabis professionals – and those aspiring to enter the industry – for networking and a panel conversation upstairs at a River North watering hole. 

The cannabis industry in Illinois, still in its embryonic stage, was rapidly mainstreaming. Professionals from industries as varied as consumer product goods, agriculture, financial services and artificial intelligence convened over appetizers, beer specials and rationales for entering an industry that was against the law when they were starting their careers. 

Now what?

“We wanted to do something to continue to connect with our followers,” said event producer, Tony Paolella, who this week began a series of weekly video industry conversations that are accessible on YouTube, Facebook live and other digital channels. 

Like many professional organizations these days, Green in Chi is using the Zoom video conferencing platform to stream content. One notable distinction for cannabis content, reports Paolella, is that it can be blocked by platforms without any notice merely for being an accessory of what is still considered a crime in large swaths of the country. 

“If there are people logging in from Alabama or Mississippi during a live stream,” Paolella explained, “it can be blocked because cannabis is illegal on a federal level.” 

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Brad Spirrison is a journalist, serial entrepreneur and media ecologist. He lives in Chicago with his son. Interests include music, meditation and Miles Davis.