It’s one of the most prolific technology, music and cultural festivals in the U.S., but what really caught people’s attention in this year’s SXSW conference were the CBD offerings and promotions.
The famous Austin, TX gathering brought a huge cross-section of people from around the world to hear music and attend presentations by innovators to learn about the latest gaming and cultural phenomena at hand earlier this month.
Part of the conference’s main objectives and features is to host pop-up exhibitions, lectures and presentations by those putting new products on the market, and this year’s festival featured cannabidiol — or CBD — products rather prominently.
SXSW, pronounced “South By Southwest” for the uninitiated, ran from March 8th to the 17th this year. 
Speakers from three CBD companies presented to the conference-goers with information about CBD, its regulatory environment and its promise for the future, but plenty of less formal occasions to discuss CBD turned up at the festival.
Keynote speakers on CBD included Shawn Hauser of Vicente Sederberg, LLC, Christina Sasser of Vita Leaf, and Geoffrey Whaling of Canopy Growth USA, LLC. 
The speaker circuit promised listeners “a deeper understanding into the science, physiology, legality, sources, and uses of this special phytochemical,” but also a discussion of its current legality and regulatory status under the FDA. 
According to Digiday, MedTerra was one of the most prominent companies presenting their CBD wares on the floors of SXSW, offering cocktails infused with the compound and hosting relaxing yoga sessions where attendants could feel the calming effects on CBD in real time at the conference. 
Forty-four breakout sessions from CBD businesses were available to the more than 70,000 people who attended SXSW, making it one of the largest CBD events in the country by default, and marking a serious step forward for the industry as it marches full speed into the mainstream of American life. 
This is made more spectacular and unexpected by the fact that except for those medically prescribed for cannabis use, CBD is still technically illegal in Texas, according to reporting from Leafly.  Though some see this as worrying, nothing seems to be slowing down the CBD trade and excitement in Austin.
Of course, at the federal level, rules surrounding CBD are becoming more clear as the weeks pass. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb announced that agency’s internal rule process would take two-to-three years and that congress should instead seek legislative action. Still, SXSW answered and raised some interesting regulatory questions around CBD.
Geoffrey Whaling of Canopy Growth in particular discussed regulatory questions in his talk.
“How do we weave through this process where the farm bill has declared hemp to be a commodity crop? It is going to require the federal government to weigh in. Farm bill language requires for the USDA to work with agencies to develop regulations so we can start to see hemp being grown as you see corn or soybeans grown,” he said.