Monday kicks off Boston Cannabis Week, five days of education, arts, entertainment and other events curated for cannabis professionals, consumers and industry leaders. It comes on the heels of the commonwealth's new cannabis equity law, which was passed this summer to ease barriers to entry and level the playing field in the state's multibillion dollar industry. Boston Cannabis Week co-founder and CEO Lisa Finelli Fallon spoke with GBH’s Morning Edition co-host Paris Alston about how the festivities came to be. This transcript has been lightly edited.

Paris Alston: So you have a lot of different things going on this week, ranging from education and wellness to arts and entertainment. Recreational cannabis was legalized in Massachusetts in 2016. Describe the community and the culture that has built up around it since then.

Finelli Fallon: It's been a really interesting journey, watching all of these brands launch within the state and seeing a transition. One of the things we're discussing this year at Boston Cannabis Week is legacy market transition. How did these brands exist before legalization and what do they look like now? And I think that's a really important conversation to continue to keep having because there's still a lot of holes with the legislation. There's still a lot of things that need to be fixed. We still have a lot to face with federal legalization and banking and all of the things that are still slightly problematic to the industry. But it's really exciting to be in this time in the state right now. In Massachusetts particularly, I think we're trying to think of ways to do things outside of the box, and slowly that's improving.

Alston: So, Lisa, I'm curious, what's your take on how the state has handled the rollout and the regulation of cannabis since legalization, and what more may be needed in that area?

Finelli Fallon: So for the most part, it's been a little tricky navigating legalization in Massachusetts. For example, states like New York who legalized, they don't have the same consumption laws that we have here. So even though it's legal for me to possess, it is legal for me to grow it, it is not legal for me to have a social consumption event that is geared towards a similar aesthetic to what a bar would be, where you go and enjoy alcohol. We don't have that here yet. And obviously, one of the biggest complications and issues we face is the number of people around the country who are still incarcerated for either dealing or possession or whatever the case may be, when now half of the country is selling it legally, celebrating it. There's a big disparity there that really needs to be focused on.

Alston: Lisa, tell me a little bit about your relationship to cannabis and to this industry and how you fit into this landscape.

Finelli Fallon: I'm someone who has been a lifetime proponent in that I've seen the benefits it's had, both medically and from an overall wellness perspective. So I always, even as a young child, was questioning why certain things were acceptable in our community and certain things weren't. I've worked in media and music and advertising and production for a really long time. Back in 2016, I was the booking agent at Hard Rock Boston, and I started doing mainly hip hop shows there. I was approached by my now-business partner, Scott Bettano, at one of my shows that was actually with Redman. And he had asked at the time if I would be open to booking the talent for the Boston Freedom Rally.

"I always, even as a young child, was questioning why certain things were acceptable in our community and certain things weren't."
-Lisa Finelli Fallon, CEO, Boston Cannabis Week

They were contracting people to book the talent at the time. And we did the show on Boston Common with Method Man and Redman. We did all the fundraising and helped elevate that event by providing such a big platform for artists. And that was kind of the inception of the idea of, we should be doing a full week of events. This should be like Fashion Week, but for cannabis. It should be something that provides something for everyone.

So with our events in particular, if you're ok going to the larger events, we have festivals, the block party and things for you to be a part of. If you can only attend virtually and you want to be home, you can still be a part of Boston Cannabis Week. And inclusiveness is really important for our organization and to our mission. Our education and networking are always 100 percent free, we never charge for education or networking. The entertainment events are ticketed, but we still do our best to provide affordable ticket prices. We try to work with everyone who wants to be a part of Boston Cannabis Week in whatever way works for them.

Alston: Well, Lisa, it sounds like it's going to be a wonderful week of programing. And this has been an adjustment on all fronts, both in policy and in terms of culture. There have been people in the state who've been resistant to legalization and the increasing presence of cannabis in our communities and in our culture. For those people, what would you say? For folks who are who are a little hesitant about how cannabis is beginning to show up?

Finelli Fallon: I think the important part of that conversation is the education aspect of it. Fear often incites a reaction that is negative towards whatever we're discussing. I think the more we talk about it openly, the more we educate the community on what this actually is and what the possibilities are and the benefits of what it's done for people — not to mention that over the years as an event producer, I've worked with countless numbers of artists — 100 percent of the time we have more issues with alcohol consumption at events than with anyone consuming cannabis.

Very rarely do we have problems or issues or fights or any of the things that we see very frequently with alcohol or any other controlled substance. So if we're going to talk openly about what all of these things mean, we have to be very realistic with ourselves about what the actual benefits and potential harms are from whatever that substance is. In this case, I feel very strongly [about] that and this ties in directly to our veteran initiative this year. Conditions like trauma, PTSD, can very often be helped or softened by the use of these products. I'm not a medical professional in any way, shape or form. This is just from my expertice and what I've seen the community around me experience, and what's been important to them in their wellness journeys.

Alston: So you mentioned Method Man and Redman. I heard that you were in one of their music videos.

Finelli Fallon: That's a that's a deep cut right there. Yes. I was featured in Redman's music video back in 2016. It was filmed a day or two after the show at Hard Rock. That's really impressive that you found that information.