Food for thought: SXSW event is where cannabis meets nutrition, tech, music, art

As part of the South by Southwest virtual event, “Cannabis: The Catalyst for New Food Culture” slated for March 19 features panelists who will cover how plant-based nutritional plans spawn good mental health and wellness.

Attendees will hear from various experts including Ben Larson, the CEO of Vertuso based in Oakland.

Larson will discuss his work manufacturing active ingredients for cannabis-infused products from ice cream to gummies.

“It’s an exciting realm of work that we get to explore hundreds of compounds,” Larson told the Business Journal, while referring to his chief scientist as “a mad chemist.”

Larson has teamed up with many businesses, including those in the Napa Valley, to use the oil extraction as a basis for mixing various properties to come up with functional products. He singled out last year’s SXSW event featuring the “emerging beverage category” as a watershed moment for the industry’s association with art, music and technology.

“The entire culture revolves around food and beverage. Cannabis has the awesome opportunity to both be functional and experiential in it,” he said.

Susan Wood covers law, cannabis, production, agriculture, energy and transportation as well as banking and finance. For 25 years, Susan has worked for a variety of publications including the North County Times in San Diego County, Tahoe Daily Tribune and Lake Tahoe News. She graduated from Fullerton College. Reach her at 530-545-8662 or

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