What’s one great way to tell if an industry is doing well? More jobs open up, and salaries improve. What’s a great way to know there are problems? When more and more jobs get cut. That’s where we are today, as mass layoffs continue in the cannabis industry, signaling a host of problems, with no solution in sight.
When the industry first started it was a true free-for-all. The predictions for market growth were off-the-charts, and it seemed like every big international company wanted to swoop into newly legalized locations to take advantage of this new reported cash cow of an industry. Everyone wanted in. Lots of people made investments. We all waited with baited breath to see who among us would become the new weed industry millionaires.
Now, we’re a few years in, and the landscape has changed, along with expectations. CBD has faded out into almost nothing, medical markets are getting eclipsed by recreational markets, which themselves are still often eclipsed by black markets. Prices remain high in many places due to insane taxing, and governments have been slow to pick up on this as an issue. Overproduction has (let’s be honest, predictably) come into play, causing prices to plummet in every venue. And the once thriving industry, is now showing its cracks, with sales plummeting in many places.
Last year the reports started really rolling in about industry closures and layoffs. Smaller names were already having a hard time making it in due to expensive regulation, extreme competition, and extra costs like slotting fees at dispensaries; making it seem like a game for the big dogs only. But even they’re having issues. And now as 2023 gets underway, the mass layoffs continue, both in the US, and around the world.
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Mass layoffs in the cannabis industry – global
Clever Leaves Holdings is a Colombian cannabis company with operations in Portugal. On January 23rd of this year, the company announced restructuring plans that include cutting nearly ¼ of its staff. Clever Leaves is in the medical space, creating pharmaceutical-grade products. This restructuring means winding down all operations in the Portugal location. In fact, the company wants to move everything back home to cut costs, saying:
“By exclusively cultivating and producing our cannabinoid products in Colombia, we aim to leverage our existing cost efficiencies in the country as we ramp our dry flower offering,” said Andres Fajardo, CEO of Clever Leaves. “We believe this transition will allow us to optimize our production infrastructure and drive increased cost savings, positioning us to compete more effectively in the global medicinal cannabis market.”
As of the end of September, the company had $12.1 million in assets in Portugal. The facility included cultivation, post-harvesting, and manufacturing activities; though it sounds like all of this will eventually end. It’s also not the only company operating out of Portugal that wants to cut back. On January 17th, cannabis giant Tilray Brands announced it too was looking to cut about a quarter of its staff. The facility in Cantanhede is also a medical cannabis products facility. Said a Tilray spokesperson to MJBizDaily:
“A total of 49 jobs will be affected in the production, manufacturing, quality, quality control (laboratory), cultivation, supply chain, facilities, warehousing, logistics, procurement, and IT. These changes, which are in line with Tilray’s rightsizing to meet the needs of the current economy and the state of legalization across medical and adult-use cannabis, will take place over the next three months.”
To give an idea why this is happening, consider that in the quarter ending November 30th, 2022, the company posted a $61.6 million net loss. Tilray is a public company and can be found on the NASDAQ and Toronto Stock Exchange under TLRY. Clever Leaves also had huge losses of $37.3 million, in the first three quarters of last year. It only earned $13.2 million in the same time frame. Clever Leaves is publicly traded under CLVR on NASDAQ.
In Canada, Delta 9 announced that it would temporarily lay off 40 people. This is interesting wording as it implies the company does believe it will be able to reverse these layoffs. Realistically, maybe it will, but a stronger reality might be that none of these jobs are coming back for any of these companies. This cut in the company’s Winnipeg facilities accounts for 40% of its staff.
Fellow Canadian company The Flowr Corporation (OTC:FLWPF) a cultivation services enterprise with locations in several countries, made some big changes last year to keep from bankruptcy. It cut employees to the tune of $4 million in savings, accounting for 40% of its workforce. Along with this, it made a deal to sell off its subsidiary Flowr Forests, a 16 acre property for cultivation. This is considered a non-core asset, and makes the company $3.4 million in revenue.
Mass layoffs in the cannabis industry – US
The US might not have federally legal weed, but it is home to the biggest cannabis industries. However, things aren’t doing better within the borders of the US, than they’re doing outside them. One of the big ones to announce major cuts of late? Columbia Care, Inc., which operates in several states, and owns Green Leaf Medical LLC, which is about to make a bunch of people jobless. How many? 73. As of February 28th.
According to the company: “In order to meet the appropriate supply and demand levels of the market, it was necessary for us to reduce the workforce at our cultivation and production facility.” It continued, “We are hopeful that with adult use on the horizon, this facility will be back up to full capacity in the future.” It’s pretty clear this cut is indeed due to a lack of business.
Leaflink, a wholesale tech platform out of New York, is also cutting jobs. Late last year it was reported that 80 employees were sent looking for new work. Much like the other companies to make cuts, the company explained: “Unfortunately, as the cannabis industry continues to face headwinds and the current macroeconomic environment, we needed to take the next step in our evolution to continue supporting the industry.”
Truelieve, a company offering medical cannabis products and services out of Tallahassee Florida, and which operates in many states, also made a similar announcement at the end of last year. Workers were cut from its McKeesport Pennsylvania cultivation facility, numbering approximately 36. This is technically small potatoes considering the company employs in the neighborhood of 8,000, but its also not the first cut. The company laid off workers in three Florida locations: Midway, Monticello, and Quincy, as well.
While the cut was blamed on “Trulieve’s $2.1 billion acquisition of Arizona-based multistate operator Harvest Health & Recreation in 2021,” it also came on the heels of the company posting a quarterly loss of $115 million.
Yet another Florida company, Springbig, a technology company for weed-specific marketing software, cut 23% of its workforce (37 employees) late last year. The company is trying hard to turn a profit amid an industry that seems harder and harder to turn a profit in. These cuts were meant to save $200,000 in the short term, and 21% in the first three quarters of 2023.
Springbig had just merged with Tuatara Capital Acquisition, in order to get on NASDAQ; trading under SBIG. The company’s shares have plummeted from $4.50 last June, to 82 cents at the end of 2022. Prior to the drop it had reported $24 million in yearly revenue, with a $275 million valuation, as per Green Market Report.
If you’re a big reader of cannabis news, then the publication Leafly is likely familiar to you. Well, even Leafly Holdings is having problems. In October of last year, it was reported that the cannabis resource and marketplace, would cut 56 jobs, or 21% of its staff. Leafly, traded under LFLY on NASDAQ, is looking to save approximately $16 million a year, saying, “These reductions will help preserve our ability to respond to opportunities as this industry continues to mature and expand, and allow us to more effectively manage our capital.”
Previously mentioned layoffs in the cannabis industry
This is unfortunately not the first time I’ve reported on cannabis industry layoffs. Last year made one thing very clear: the market is not as sound as many wanted to believe; and the overall market predictions in place, are falling short of reality.
Some of the big layoffs already reported on, include Weedmaps, which cut about 25% of its staff; Curaleaf Holdings, which just got rid of 220 employees; Akerna, which released 1/3 of its staff, or 59 workers; Dutchie, which removed 8% of its workforce, amounting to 67 jobs lost; Canopy Growth which sold all its retail locations, and cut 245 jobs last year; and Aurora Cannabis which cut 12% of its workforce as a part of corporate restructuring to save money.
With the biggest names in cannabis faltering, it brings up the question of who can survive. More companies to let employees go recently, include California’s Eaze, which laid off around 25 employees last year; Lume, a cannabis company out of Michigan closed four out of 30 of its stores; and Nature AZ Medicine, an Arizona medical cannabis company, cut up to 100 employees as a result of medical sales falling.
There’s nothing saying that 2023 won’t turn into a banner year for cannabis sales, and there’s nothing saying that all of these companies won’t recoup their losses, or hire back the numbers they lost. But right now, things aren’t looking fantastic for cannabis industry growth, and these layoffs are a good indication that more bad news might be coming.
Will the cannabis industry rebound? Or are these mass layoffs an indication that the weed industry has hit a wall? And maybe most important to ask, if it can be saved, what kind of changes are necessary in order to facilitate this?
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When an industry is doing well, there are more employment opportunities, and generally better pay. When it’s not, jobs are scarcer and paychecks are lower. Though there were glowing expectations for the cannabis sector, recent layoffs in the industry, signal yet another problem in the overall cannabis business landscape.
Weedmaps – A little info
There are tons of cannabis companies and brands out there, which helps explain the massive amount of competition. Sometimes, names are only familiar to those in a specific state, and sometimes the names resonate throughout the legal areas of the country. One such example, is Weedmaps.
Let’s say you’re in Chicago, or San Diego, or Boston, and you want to find yourself a list of the dispensaries around. Well, Weedmaps is your guy. As Weedmaps is a tech industry providing a service, but no actual direct cannabis product, it has the ability to operate in any location, since it isn’t associated with actual cannabis, just where to find it.
The company, which went public in 2021 under WM Technologies (and trades under MAPS), offers dispensary information for interested clients. It gives updated addresses, reviews, and menus for the different weed stores. It also helps people find doctor’s offices, different brands, and to locate delivery services in their area. Though the site itself doesn’t offer weed directly, it does allow patrons to order from their dispensary through it, making it a sort of middleman. And of course, the site offers further learning information in the form of news, strain information, and so on.
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Weedmap’s mobile app is the most downloaded and used marijuana application in either the Google Play store or Apple store. It acquired the Denver-based software company MMJMenu in 2011, which provides software for dispensaries to handle all kinds of things like checkouts, inventory, and managing patients. In 2019, the company announced it would launch its own point of sale service, called WM Retail, with live menu integrations.
Founded in 2008, the company is headquartered in Irvine, California, with additional offices in Denver, Tucson, New York, Barcelona and Toronto. About a year after opening, the New York Daily News had this to say about the new company: “There’s a new stoner’s paradise on the Web… where medical marijuana patients can connect with other patients in their area, to freely discuss and review local cannabis co-operatives and dispensaries.” At the time, this was a much bigger deal than it is today.
The company partnered with NORML, a social welfare organization that pushes for marijuana reform, in 2011. Making it more official that it was a fighter in the legalization effort. It even opened a museum exhibit in West Hollywood in 2019, aptly titled the Museum of Weed. The 30,000 square-foot enterprise tells the story of marijuana in the last 100 years. The museum is currently closed, with no further info on reopening.
Cannabis layoffs – Weedmaps cuts 25% of staff
Sounds like Weedmaps is doing pretty great, right? A real winner in what’s proved to be a difficult industry. Yet, things aren’t as clear-sailing, as the above description implies. While Weedmaps has certainly enjoyed much success, its also ran into some issues. Issues that represent some of the overall problems in the cannabis industry. Last month, Weedmaps made yet another announcement. That it would lay off 25% of its staff. That’s an entire quarter of the company. And for a company that actually does well in the industry.
There are some details about the move. WM Technologies is looking to get rid of 175 of its employees, which is about 25% of its staff, according to a regulatory filing on November 29. The layoffs will cost WM Technologies approximately $10.7 million, which include severance and benefits payments.
Though it might not happen all at once, its expected that this transition will “be substantially complete by the first quarter of 2023, subject to local law and consultation requirements, which may extend the process in certain countries.” By the end of 2021, the company had 607 employees between the US and Canada. This announcement comes after the company already cut 10% of staff in August due to lowered revenue.
Why is this happening? According to the regulatory filing, “This decision was based on cost-reduction initiatives intended to reduce operating expenses and sharpen the company’s focus on key growth priorities.” This makes sense as at the same time, the company warned investors to expect “a year-over-year decline in the low double digit percentage area” for the 4th quarter. In fact, WM Technology lost 80% of its value on NASDAQ this year.
Things were bad enough that this past November, old CEO Chris Beals, decided to leave out, and was replaced by co-founder, executive chair, and the former CEO, Doug Francis. This usually doesn’t happen in a company without a lot of issues. Beals not only exited the CEO position, but his seat on the board as well.
In a showing of how quickly things can about-face, the company had turned a $49.2 million profit last year, before it posted a $10.5 million loss in this year’s 3rd quarter. Also and interestingly, it had an increase in monthly paying customers from last year to this year by about 25%, but revenue per client fell 21%.
Where else is this happening?
What does it say when a company that was actually making it, turns and lets go of a huge percentage of its staff? That things might not be the smooth ride that they once were. Just as many states like Colorado are experiencing decreased dispensary sales, and less tax revenue, a company like Weedmaps also feels the burn. And its not the only one.
Another of the big and recent cannabis layoffs, was Curaleaf Holdings, which dropped about 220 employees right before the Thanksgiving holiday. Curaleaf ran into legal issues earlier when it was sued for selling tainted CBD products. Why the layoffs? According to an insider, they’re “a part of an effort to control costs and drive efficiencies in the face of economic uncertainties ahead.”
Similar layoffs were seen by Akerna, a cannabis compliance software company out of Denver. In May, that company laid off 59 employees which accounts for 1/3 of it workers, while also cutting operation costs by $440,000. Even executives are taking a 25% pay cut to help with cost-cutting. Much like a change in CEO, this never happens without problems. The company’s problem is that it lost $20.6 million in operating costs for the first quarter of 2022, ending the quarter with a working capital deficit of $15.1 million.
Then there’s tech firm Dutchie, which works with around 5,000 marijuana stores in the U.S., providing e-commerce solutions including payment processing. The Oregon-based company announced cuts this past summer of approximately 8% of its workers, amounting to about 67 jobs lost. Dutchie made this decision not because of its own losses, but as a matter of watching current trends.
Want more cannabis layoffs? Yet another is the California company Eaze, which laid off around 25 employees. Michigan retailer Lume Cannabis closed four of its 30 stores, and Nature AZ Medicine out of Arizona cut as many as 100 employees since medical sales have fallen in general. Big name Aurora Cannabis out of Edmonton, Alberta, also said in June of this year that it would cut 12% of its workforce for corporate restructuring.
And what of Canopy Growth Corp.? The largest cannabis company in 2019 has taken it hard enough to not only sell all its retail locations, but to cut 245 employees (8% of its workforce); all in hopes of saving CA$150 million in the next 12-18 months. The company even closed its cultivation facility in Niagara-on-the-Lake, which it had acquired back in 2014.
No matter how you look at it, these moves don’t signal good things for the legal cannabis business world. In fact, cannabis industry layoffs, as well as the decreased sales revenue they come from, are a great indication that if this industry is to continue, it will have to adapt fast to its new environment.
Go back to Cannabis Problems Part 1: Colorado and Lower Sales for more information on the issues that plague today’s cannabis industry.
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Weedmaps is once again under fire for promoting illegal or unlicensed dispensaries and brands, mainly in California. Several businesses have reported the issue to the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), claiming that Weedmaps is “allowing vast amounts of black-market activity through their website, and they know about it but won’t do anything about it.”
Although this has long been a problem in California, business owners who put in the money and effort to operate legally aren’t too pleased about their unlicensed competitors getting a leg up in advertising. Among the many comments made, the general opinion on the matter is that Weedmaps is completely eroding the fabric of the legal cannabis marketplace.
What’s the story?
I personally noticed the issue after shopping at Riverside County dispensary that I found on Weedmaps a couple of weeks ago. I very quickly realized the store was not operating legally when I got there and they had no type of check-in process, whatsoever – they didn’t even ask for my ID. I knew this had been an ongoing issue with Weedmaps in the past, but they did make some attempts to remedy the situation and clean up their appearance back in 2020.
However, that all seemed to change (at least on a noticeable) late last year. The most recent complaints were filed in May of this year by Canex Delivery out of Los Angeles. In their statement, Canex claims that they made numerous attempts to contact Weedmaps regarding the issue, but nothing was resolved. At that point, CEO Jim Damask and CFO Joseph Bitzer decided to take legal action against the advertising giant. Using documents and screenshots to make their case, they filed a lawsuit claiming that their company “suffered significant losses due to Weedmaps – quite possibly into the tens of millions (of dollars).”
The court documents also stated that “by allowing illegal operators to advertise on their site they are misleading investors by unethically increasing their revenue, which is being reported as legitimate in quarterly reports.” In response, Weedmaps simply went on the record with MJBizDaily as saying “We have not received any communications from the DCC or SEC regarding complaints made by Jim Damask and/or (Joseph) Bitzer of Canex Delivery.”
In addition to promoting illegal storefronts and delivery services, Weedmaps has also been pushing illegal products; for example, 1,000 milligram brownies and gummies (when the legal limit in California and all other adult-use markets is 10 mg per serving). They also have dispensaries with operating hours that are out the legal range, like some that offer delivery past midnight or 24 hours. Legally, cannabis retailers in California between the hours of 6am and 10pm.
Despite repeated attempts for clarification from MJBizDaily and other media sources, Weedmaps declined to provide and additional information. Regardless, numerous sources have been able to confirm that as late as June 28th, Weedmaps had multiple listings for illegal for retailers, brands, and products. It’s hard to say exactly what kind of monetary effects these advertisements had on other dispensaries in the area, but it’s quite likely that at least some legal businesses were impacted.
A DCC spokesperson stated that this is still an “open investigation,” adding that, “Those dealing with unlicensed activity are immediately referred to our law enforcement division. DCC provides publicly accessible data, available to private companies like Weedmaps, so it is simple to follow the law by verifying whether a cannabis company is licensed in California.”
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Why would Weedmaps take the risk?
Honestly, the answer seems pretty simple to me: The industry is struggling and they need money. Why else would they put themselves on the line to jeopardize their reputation and entire website like that? I assume it’s because they were making a decent profit from these illegal ads.
But now, if they are found guilty (which based on the evidence, it seems highly likely that they will be), they will get hit with some huge fines would could be very damaging to the already struggling company. Not to mention, this is a publicly traded company, so getting charged with illegally boosting revenue could be a problem for investors. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if some have already started to sell their shares.
Four years ago, the company landed in hot water for similar issues, but after repeated warnings and legal threats, they removed all the illegal ads from their site in 2020, before their parent company went public. It’s unclear whether removing the ads will be enough to help them, but as of now, they still have illegal products and dispensaries listed on their site. So it doesn’t appear that they are even making the same kind of effort to get things back on the level like they did a few years prior.
The future of Weedmaps
Obviously, a bit of what happens in their future hinges on how this lawsuit fares for them. Having said that, Weedmaps seems to be on a bit of a downward spiral anyway. Weedmaps’ parent company announced recently that they will be laying off roughly 25% of their staff, adding up to about 175 employees. “This decision was based on cost-reduction initiatives intended to reduce operating expenses and sharpen the company’s focus on key growth priorities,” WM Technology disclosed in a Nov. 29 regulatory filing.
Sadly, many are not surprised by all this. In my opinion, Weedmaps’ entire business model only thrives in a prohibition environment. Sure, Weedmaps has been incredibly useful and convenient, and it’s been around, helping us find pot for years now. But once weed is federally legal, that opens up many doors in the advertising sector and Weedmaps will be forced to complete with some of the world’s largest tech and marketing companies… and it may not go well for them.
The reason I mention this is because, a lot of times, it simply does not work as advertised. Pricing, strain, availability, much is it is inaccurate as listed online. You can go to a store’s menu, pick and choose a bunch of items, then go to checkout only to be informed what you ordered is out of stock. Or even worse, you get to the dispensary and then they tell you that what you ordered is not available.
Honestly, doing illegal things is not really basis for turning on a company, especially not in this industry, because, let’s face it, if it weren’t for people who are willing to bend some rules, the cannabis market wouldn’t even exist as it does today. That said, based on everything that’s been going on with Weedmaps lately, it’s hard to imagine their stock will succeed in the long run if they keep deceiving investors and running illegal business schemes.
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Weedmaps is under fire for advertising illegal or unlicensed cannabis retailers on its site in California. Several businesses have filed complaints that claim Weedmaps is working with these businesses despite their lack of legal backing.
These complaints were filed last month and in May with the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). They claim that Weedmaps is “allowing vast amounts of black market activity through their website, and they know about it but won’t do anything about it.”
These illegal businesses have long been an issue in California, and now, businesses are fed up that they are even getting a legal leg up with advertising despite their status. Those upset about it claim that the legal marketplace is being undermined by the massive cannabis advertising and content company.
If it is determined that Weedmaps is guilty of this, they could face serious fines, which would be a major blow, since they are traded in the stock exchange, but it’s not clear whether or not they will be found guilty. Four years ago, the company got in trouble for something similar regarding illegal ads, and successfully removed the ads from its website in 2020 before its parent company went public.
The new complaints from this year were filed by Canex Delivery, a Los Angeles-based cannabis company. The company claimed that they initially went to Weedmaps with their concerns, but no action was taken. CEO Jim Damask and Chief Financial Officer Joseph Bitzer provided documents and screenshots to back up these claims once they took legal action, and alleged that the ads promoted the illicit market.
The official SEC complaint reads that their company “suffered significant losses due to Weedmaps – quite possibly into the tens of millions (of dollars).”
They also claimed that Weedmaps is selling ads to these illegal companies to turn a profit, and wrote that “by allowing illegal operators to advertise on their site they are misleading investors by unethically increasing their revenue, which is being reported as legitimate in quarterly reports.”
In response, Weedmaps simply went on the record with MJBizDaily as saying “We have not received any communications from the DCC or SEC regarding complaints made by Jim Damask and/or (Joseph) Bitzer of Canex Delivery.”
The company declined to provide further comment, despite repeated requests from MJBizDaily.
A spokesperson for the DCC said California regulators are investigating, and the SEC declined to comment.
It also has been confirmed that as of June 28, Weedmaps had live web pages advertising for multiple illegal retailers and products. The nature of those ad deals, how this impacts the competition, and whether or not the official report will find the company at fault, has yet to be determined.
The ads were for Southern California delivery companies, but unlike Canex, they are not legally licensed businesses.
The ads also appear to violate California, and even Weedmaps, policies. They do things like claim illegally strong edibles, including 1,000 milligram brownies and gummies, and don’t show a state license number, or if they do, it’s a number that doesn’t match the business posting the ads. They also advertise illegal operating hours such as delivery until midnight or later.
Canex’s Bitzer and Damask filed the complaints with the California Department of Cannabis Control in late May and with the SEC on June 4.
A DCC spokesperson claimed that this is still an “open investigation,” saying, “Those dealing with unlicensed activity are immediately referred to our law enforcement division. DCC provides publicly accessible data, available to private companies like Weedmaps, so it is simple to follow the law by verifying whether a cannabis company is licensed in California.”
As this case continues, it will become clear whether or not Weedmaps will be held accountable for these ads and the impact they have on local businesses.
Welcoming back the High Times 100—our celebration of the top market movers and culture creators in the cannabis space. Although we took a brief hiatus while the world shut down amid COVID-19, we’re back this year with a vastly different landscape. Enter 2022, and there are more public companies than ever. It was difficult to narrow the list down to just 100 entries, as there are many more fighters who are not included. Browse through the list of honorees that were selected this year.
Leo Gontmakher CEO, 4Front Ventures Leo Gontmakher is CEO of 4Front Ventures—a vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operator that manages over 25 different cannabis brands and strives for high quality as well as efficiency. His leadership has kept 4Front Ventures on the path to success—so much that the company was recognized as one of Inc.’s “Best-Led Companies of 2021” at the end of last year. Gontmakher co-founded Northwest Cannabis Solutions, and he previously served as the COO at Cannex until it merged with 4Front Ventures in 2019.
Brad Melshenker Co-CEO, 710 Labs Brad Melshenker is a successful entrepreneur, having founded The Greenest Green in 2009 and 710 Labs in 2012, as well as creating ancillary businesses The Faulty Pelican and Green Life Consulting. Aside from these efforts, he also put his best foot forward to help the Colorado Department of Revenue create draft rules for extract regulations. Melshenker embraces a great commitment for his companies to produce excellent product that he himself would buy, and is devoted to embracing social equity involvement and other community services whenever possible.
BigMike Straumietis CEO, Advanced Nutrients LTD. A grower since 1983, BigMike is founder and CEO of Advanced Nutrients, creator of the ONLY complete cannabis growing system that Hits the Shift and optimizes all phases of the vegetative and bloom cycles to bring the plant to its true genetic potential. BigMike has dedicated his life to decoding the cannabis genome and making cannabis an acceptable and everyday part of healing humanity. For his work he’s been featured on HBO, Showtime, Yahoo Finance, Cheddar’s, CannaBiz, Kennedy on Fox; and in High Times, Forbes, Entrepreneur, Rolling Stone, and Playboy.
Ted Lidie Founder and CEO, Alien Labs One of the world’s most recognized cannabis brands, Alien Labs has become a huge success since its inception in 2014, thanks to founder and CEO Ted Lidie. His vision and relentless passion for cultivating cannabis led him to create a premium-flower empire—strains like Melonade and Kryptonic might ring a bell as some of the winners at the High Times Cannabis Cup Arizona: People’s Choice Edition 2021 (not to mention many more products like pre-rolls and edibles, too).
Shanel Lindsay CEO, Ardent Life, Inc. The Boston-based biotechnology company known as Ardent Life, Inc. was founded by CEO Shanel Lindsay to bring about real change for medical cannabis patients. Lindsay spent over 15 years using cannabis to treat pain from ovarian cysts, and after witnessing the inconsistencies of decarboxylation methods, Lindsay invented the Nova Precision Decarboxylator. She’s also retained a strong presence in the cannabis community, having served two terms on the Massachusetts Cannabis Advisory Board and is the cofounder of the nonprofit Equal Opportunities Now and the Northeast Cannabis Coalition.
Abner Kurtin Founder and CEO, Ascend Wellness Holdings Abner Kurtin, Founder and CEO of Ascend Wellness Holdings, has been managing capital for two decades. The Harvard Business School graduate initially began his career at The Baupost Group, was a member of the Presidents Council of Massachusetts General Hospital and Chairman of the Hill House. He is also the founder of the K Capital Partners (a multibillion dollar hedge fund) and Ca2 Group (a Massachusetts-based real estate firm), before he founded Ascend Wellness Holdings in 2018.
Miguel Martin CEO, Aurora Cannabis Inc. Miguel Martin has been an integral part of Aurora Cannabis Inc. since September 2020 when he was appointed the role of CEO. With over 25 years of background in consumer-packaged goods paired with firsthand cannabis industry expertise, Martin is leading Aurora to succeed in the Canadian and European cannabis industries. His former roles include President and CEO of Reliva, CBD Wellness, and President of Logic Technology Development Inc, one of the largest e-cigarette manufacturers in the US.
Hugo Alves Co-founder and CEO, Auxly Cannabis Group Inc. Tasked with directing Auxly Cannabis Group Inc.’s strategic vision, co-founder and CEO Hugo Alves is a longtime cannabis industry pioneer who has had many interactions with various Canada-based companies, brands, patient access groups, and events and played an important part in Canada’s recreational cannabis industry. Alves also co-founded Hope for Health, a registered medical cannabis charity, which focuses on medical cannabis access and education, and is an adjunct professor who teaches Marijuana Law and Practice at the University of Western Ontario Law School—the first ever course of its kind offered at Canadian law schools.
Jonathan Sandelman Chairman and CEO, Ayr Wellness Jonathan Sandelman is a 30-year veteran of Wall Street and former President of Bank of America Securities, but his experience in the cannabis industry launched when he founded Ayr Wellness—a vertically integrated cannabis company operating in multiple states—with brands such as Kynd, Origyn, Stix Preroll Co. and Levia. Sandelman shares on his LinkedIn profile that he personally values investing in his “employees, customers and communities,” and strongly supports the company’s approach to capital and expansion.
Bernard Noble Co-founder, B Noble Bernard Noble was sentenced to 13 years hard labor in 2010 for being in possession of two joints. After having served seven years of that sentence, he was released in 2018, and the experience inspired him to create his for-profit cannabis brand, B Noble, with Fab 5 Freddy. B Noble has become an important representative and advocate in ending the War on Drugs after personally being convicted for small amounts of cannabis. Most recently, the B Noble brand partnered with Curaleaf, where 10 percent of the proceeds from every two-joint pack go toward helping those who have suffered as a result of the War on Drugs.
Amy Ralston Povah Founder, CAN-DO Foundation Clemency advocate Amy Ralston Povah was imprisoned for nine years, out of a total of 24-year sentence, for “conspiracy” in a trafficking case related to MDMA. After being commuted by former President Bill Clinton in July 2000 (and a full pardon later by former President Donald Trump in January 2021), Povah founded the CAN-DO Foundation, which strives for clemency for anyone who is convicted of nonviolent drug offenses. A majority of her life has been dedicated to fighting for criminal justice reform and against the War on Drugs.
Dan Daviau Canaccord Dan Daviau is President and CEO. Canaccord Genuity Group Inc. Mr. Daviau served as President of Canaccord Genuity’s North American Capital Markets business from February 2015. From 2012 to 2015, he was President of the firm’s US Capital Markets business, where he helped to structure the firm’s investment banking, research, sales and trading operations in the region and improve cross-border capabilities. From 2010 to 2012, Mr. Daviau was Head of Investment Banking for Canaccord Genuity.
Neema Samari Owner and Co-founder, Cannabiotix Born and raised in Santa Monica, Neema Samari first got into the cannabis industry as a youngster over 22 years ago. Samari co-founded Cannabiotix back in 2014, and quickly garnered the brand national attention as one of the elite connoisseur cannabis brands in the space, after building and running the brand’s first legal, vertically integrated facility in Las Vegas. After Samari and his team grew CBX into the #1 brand in NV, he returned to CA to blueprint and build the company’s second vertically integrated headquarters. Since re-launching into the CA market in 2020, Samari and his team have quickly grown Cannabiotix into the #1 selling premium flower brand in the state. This year Samari decided to try his hand in a different sector of the space as he recently launched his new brand Highatus, an edibles company that produces some of the best tasting infused sour gummies on the planet.
Barrington Miller Director, Canadian Securities Exchange Director of Listed Company Services at the Canadian Securities Exchange (CSE) Barrington Miller works to help retain listed companies who work with the CSE through promotion and marketing. He also helps the company with business development, education and outreach regarding the programs. Before joining the CSE, he worked as a professional trader through Dundee Securities and Raymond James, as well as trade work with Weyerhauser and ED&F Man. He is a leader when it comes to cannabis trading and someone with a unique understanding of the industry.
Dennis Hunter Co-founder, CannaCraft CannaCraft Co-founder Dennis Hunter grew up in Mendocino County, California, and tuaght himself to cultivate cannabis from an early age. With his roots and experience stretched deep in the famed Emerald Triangle, he was destined for it to become a lifelong career. Early on he developed large-scale grow operations in California, which were raided in 1998 and forced Hunter to spend six-and-a-half years in prison. However, this event only fueled his passion for the industry, as he proceeded to found Left Coast Garden Wholesale, a company that specializes in cannabis-related equipment. This led Hunter to meet Ned Fussell, a one of Left Coast Garden Wholesale’s biggest customers, with whom he partnered with to found CannaCraft.
David Klein CEO, Canopy Growth Corporation As CEO of one of the world’s biggest cannabis companies, David Klein is one of the people behind Canopy Growth Corporation’s ongoing success as a leader in the cannabis industry. Klein formerly worked for Constellation Brands (known for managing a wide variety of beer, wine and spirits) for over 15 years where he held numerous roles, such as Executive Vice President and CFO. With his resume of experience, he transitioned to the cannabis industry as a member of the Board of Directors in 2018, followed by his current role as CEO in 2020.
Robert Beasley CEO, Cansortium With over 10 years of experience in many facets of the cannabis industry, Robert Beasley is a dedicated leader who has been instrumental to the success of Cansortium. In the past, he co-founded a law firm, Litvak Beasley Wilson & Ball LLP, in 2001, which assisted cannabis businesses in obtaining licenses in California, Florida, Oregon and Washington D.C., followed by taking part in crafting the Florida Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act and Florida Medical Marijuana Legalization Initiative. Now he is not only CEO of Cansortium, as of 2020, but in early 2021 he was also appointed to the Board of Directors.
Jacques Tortoroli CEO, Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. Jacques Tortoroli assumed the role as CEO of Charlotte’s Web Holdings Inc. in December 2021. His 40-year career includes launching ecommerce platforms, global finance, mergers and acquisitions, and strategic partnerships through various senior executive roles at Bacardi, Viacom Inc. Young & Rubicam Inc., PepsiCo Inc., and KPMG. Charlotte’s Web of course was named after Charlotte Figi, a child with epilepsy who went on to inspire a CBD movement before passing away at age 13.
Nicholas Vita CEO, Columbia Care LLC One of the highest honors from the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp is the “Captain of Industry”—and Nicholas Vita received this award at the 2021 Marijuana Business Conference & Expo. Vita is CEO of Columbia Care LLC, one of the largest multi-state operators focused on medical cannabis in 18 jurisdictions, and his leadership has led Columbia to great heights in the industry, including leading corporate strategy and expansion into new markets among many other responsibilities.
Rachel Wolfson Comedienne Rachel Wolfson, native of Las Vegas, Nevada, is a stand-up comedienne known for her intimate hyperfocus on cannabis, which typically is part of her highly-esteemed stand-up material. Wolfson is the latest major cast member to be included in the fourth installment of the infamous Jackass franchise—Jackass Forever—which debuted in theaters in February 2022 and pushed her further into the public eye. She was the first Jewish person to score significant airtime on the show. Wolfson resorted to weed for relief, which she says works wonders for ADHD. Wolfson has appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Dish Nation and Entertainment Tonight.
Felipe Recalde (CEO) and Christopher Lynch (Chief Executive Wizard) Compound Genetics Felipe Recalde is CEO of Compound Genetics, while Christopher Lynch serves as Chief Executive Wizard and Founder. Compound Genetics is a seed breeder. Through rigorous phenohunting, collecting and collaboration—Compound Genetics combines rare and sought-after flavors to create the best cannabis on the market.
Caleb Counts Founder, Connected Cannabis Co. Caleb Counts, founder of Connected Cannabis Co., has spent over 10 years building the brand with his passion and dedication to creating the highest quality strains imaginable. The journey began in 2009 when the first Connected Cannabis Co. medical dispensary opened in Sacramento. Since then, the brand has been phenohunting and cultivating numerous highly sought after strains, which are available in many dispensaries across the country. Under Counts’ leadership, the brand has grown exponentially in Arizona and is continuing to build in California.
Gilbert Milam Jr., aka Berner CEO and Co-founder, Cookies The word “cookies” is no longer just associated with a baked good, but represents the massively popular Cookies cannabis brand, founded and led by CEO and Co-founder Berner. With amazing positivity as he endures chemotherapy as a result of a recent cancer diagnosis, Berner’s Cookies empire continues to thrive and expand under his leadership, which now offers a wide variety of brands, products, unique strains, clothing and more. The Cookies brand is also well-known for its collaboration efforts, such as Cookies x Snoop Dogg, and its dedication to its Social Impact Program.
Charles Bachtell Founder and CEO, Cresco Labs Founder and CEO of Cresco Labs Charles Bachtell has a myriad of unique corporate and legal compliance experience that has led to the company’s ongoing success, including eight years working at the nation’s seventh largest mortgage bank prior to his involvement in the cannabis industry. Aside from his role at Cresco Labs, Bachtell is also one of the founding members of the Illinois Cannabis Bar Association, as well as various cannabis-related trade associations in Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio, and is an adjunct professor for the Northwestern University Pritzker School of Law.
Kurt Schmidt CEO, Cronos Group Kurt Schmidt entered the cannabis industry as President and CEO of Cronos Group in 2020 and was chosen to usher in the “next phase of growth” for the company. Schmidt’s resume showcases an extensive background with consumer products, with leadership roles both in the US and internationally, including the Campbell Soup Company, The Blue Buffalo Company, Nestle and other roles in the food and beverage industry.
Joe Bayern CEO, Curaleaf Holdings With over 20 years of experience in consumer goods, Joe Bayern has a successful track record of business transformation. He was appointed as Curaleaf Holdings’ CEO in November 2020, following previous roles as President of INDUS, a vertically integrated cannabis company, as well as CEO and COO of VOSS of Norway. Among his many accomplishments, he lists his role in the creation of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group and the evolution of Cadbury as a leader in the confection industry.
Patrick Stad CEO, The Cure Company, The Originals, Jungle Boys CEO Patrick Stad is behind some of the most legendary cannabis companies in Southern California, dating back to The Cure Company’s Proposition 215-era founding in 2006. Today The Cure Company is behind some of the most beloved strains in the region. Instead of wasting time on sleek packaging and branding alone, The Cure Company is instead focused on great top quality flower. The Originals family-run grow operation and Jungle Boys award-winning phenos are highly respected within the growing community and the cannabis sphere.
Julie Barron Decriminalize Nature As a psychedelic/cannabis therapist, Julie also now works outside of the therapy office to promote healing on a larger scale, healing in community and healing through our own personal relationship with nature. Barron is an activist and pioneer of the Michigan psychedelic community. Barron led Decriminalize Nature Ann Arbor’s win to successfully decriminalize entheogenic plants and fungi in September 2020. Barron then helped to create Decriminalize Nature Michigan who is currently collecting signatures for a November 2022 statewide vote to decriminalize plants/fungi and reduce penalties for all drugs. She also sits on the national board of Decriminalize Nature.
Matt Stang Co-founder and CEO, Delic Corp Matt Stang is Co-founder and CEO of Delic, which he founded with his wife, Jackee. Delic is a leader in new medicines and treatments for a modern world, improving access to health benefits across the country, and reframing the conversation on psychedelics. Stang arrives in his latest role after 17 years serving in the cannabis media industry before shifting gears, moving into private equity funds.
Scheril Murray Powell Attorney / Doumar, Allsworth, Laystrom, Voigt, Adair and Dishowitz LLP Scheril Murray Powell, Esq. dedicates this award to the “BRAVE ONES”…The ones who risked it all to use cannabis because they did not like how narcotics made them feel…the ones who contributed to biodiversity by transporting genetics around the world…the ones who baked herb brownies for HIV/AIDS/Cancer patients…the ones who risked incarceration and personal freedoms to develop a market, law enforcement who turned a blind eye because they know what addiction really looks like, and the physicians that were the first to recommend cannabis for their patients. She is a Cannabis, Agricultural, Dietary Supplement and Trade Attorney and the Cannabis, Food/Beverage/Entertainment, Transportation and Healthcare Business Development Manager at Creative Services, Inc.
Kassandra Frederique Executive Director, Drug Policy Alliance Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance Kassandra Frederique is always busy. Drug Policy Alliance is a national nonprofit that works to end the War on Drugs, which has disproportionately harmed Black, Latinx, Indigenous, immigrant and LGBTQ communities, and build alternative solutions instead grounded in science, compassion, health, and human rights. Frederique was the architect of the campaign that cut the number of New York City cannabis arrests by more than 99% since 2010—an astounding feat for the largest city in the US.
Ross Lipson Co-Founder / CEO, Dutchie With the help of the remote needs of the pandemic, the U.S. cannabis boom and need for accessible cannabis services, Ross Lipson, co-founder and CEO of Bend, Oregon cannabis delivery service Dutchie, is helping to usher in a new era for our favorite plant. He’s versed in the delivery biz, with 15 years of experience working within food ordering systems, eventually taking that expertise and applying it to the cannabis space. The Dutchie platform works with dispensaries to manage their ordering systems and will soon celebrate its fifth birthday.
Javier Hasse Founder, El Planteo We have to give a shout to our fellow cannabis journalists, especially one with a portfolio so massive. Along with his best-selling book, Start Your Own Cannabis Business, his managing director role at Benzinga Cannabis and more than 4,900 articles published on outlets including Forbes, CNN, CNBC, Entrepreneur Magazine, Leafly, Yahoo! News, Nasdaq and many more, this media hound founded El Planteo in 2020, a Spanish-language outlet focused on cannabis, hemp, psychedelics and other topics scarcely covered by local media.
John Fetterman Current Lt. Gov. Pennsylvania Acting as Mayor of Braddock, Pennsylvania between 2005-2019, and sworn in as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania in January 2019, 2022 is going to be John Fetterman’s last year in office—but it’s certainly not the end of his extensive career. Fetterman shared in November 2021 that in his role as a chair of the Pennsylvania Board of Pardons, he wants to see as many people pardoned for cannabis convictions in 2022 before his run ends. Fetterman also announced his run for Senator of Pennsylvania, the primary of which is approaching on May 17, 2022.
Trevor Fencott CEO, Fire & Flower Trevor Fencott is President/CEO at Fire & Flower Holdings Corp. Mr. Fencott has been an executive in the cannabis industry since 2013 as a co-founder of Mettrum Health Corp. where he also served as its chief legal officer, corporate secretary and director through its go public transaction in September 2014 and its subsequent acquisition by Canopy Growth Corporation in January 2017. Additionally, he is a director of Push Capital Limited, an early-stage venture capital company focusing on the high-growth cannabis and digital technology industries.
Chad Bronstein Founder and CEO, Fyllo Founder and CEO of Fyllo, Chad Bronstein is passionate about leading by example in the world of business and focusing on the technological aspects behind cannabis. Fyllo is a technology company that deals with data, media and regulatory solutions for the cannabis industry. Bronstein has helped lead Fyllo to become an innovator and major player when it comes to compliance and regulation in the legal cannabis industry. He’s also considered a go-to source of social commentary on regulations in the industry.
Fabian Monaco CEO, Gage Growth While Fabian Monaco has a vast investment banking and legal background, he’s found his home in the cannabis space as CEO of Gage Growth, centering the mission of providing premium cannabis to market, positively shaping cannabis culture and nurturing the community. Currently, Gage is working to build itself as the most dominant brand in Michigan, though the goal is eventually to expand into other states. Along with prioritizing top-shelf retail and premium cannabis products, Gage also looks to give back through volunteer engagements and their social equity program.
Graham Farrar CEO, Glass House Brands Inc. Graham Farrar owns and operates Glass House Farms, located in the Santa Barbara County coastal city of Carpinteria, which comprises two greenhouse operation sites totaling 10 acres of cannabis. Farrar launched Glass House Farms in 2015 when Proposition 215 was still in effect. Farrar grew up in Santa Barbara County and studied molecular biology and biochemistry in college. After college, he got into the tech side of cannabis cultivation through marketing and selling a variety of products to support the industry, including fertilizers and growing systems.
Mike Robinson Founder, Global Cannabinoid Research Center As a multiple cancer survivor who has used cannabis oils and CBD extensively for those and other symptoms, Mike Robinson knows firsthand the healing benefits of cannabinoids. As the founder of the Global Cannabinoid Research Center in Santa Barbara, California, he’s shared his journey and analytics on cannabis medicine research globally, helping to assist patients and teach clinicians globally. Additionally, he’s founded multiple nonprofits for children with disabilities and boasts an extensive history of leading programs to provide disadvantaged cannabis patients with medicinal alternatives.
Adam Schoenfeld and Nick Kovacevich Co-Founders, Greenlane Holdings Greenlane is a leading global platform for the development and distribution of premium cannabis accessories and lifestyle products, serving global markets and more than 11,000 retail locations—including dispensaries, smoke shops and specialty retailers. It’s led by Co-Founders Adam Schoenfeld and Nick Kovacevich. As CEO, Kovacevich ensures the company executes its mission and is integral to the company’s most crucial decision making. Chief Strategy Officer Schoenfeld was an early adopter and pioneer of vaporization, playing an integral role in the adoption and success of numerous successful brands in the vape space.
Ben Kovler Founder, Green Thumb Industries With extensive experience managing complex-operating companies and his deep commitment to philanthropy, Ben Kovler moved forward in 2014 as the founder, CEO and chairman of Green Thumb Industries, a national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and retailer manufacturing and distributing a wide portfolio of branded cannabis products. Kovler is also the co-found of Invest For Kids, an annual forum meant to share investment ideas to benefit children in Illinois.
Darren Lampert CEO and Co-Founder, GrowGeneration Darren Lampert has been CEO of GrowGeneration since 2014. Lampert began his career in 1986 as a founding member of Lampert and Lampert, where he concentrated on securities litigation, NASD (now FINRA) compliance and arbitration and corporate finance matters. GrowGeneration Corp., through its subsidiaries, owns and operates retail hydroponic and organic gardening stores. It engages in the marketing and distribution of horticultural, organics, and lighting and hydroponics products, including lighting fixtures, nutrients, seeds and growing media.
Dani Diamond Founder, Hall of Flowers Dani Diamond is founder of Hall of Flowers—an industry-only, highly curated, B2B tradeshow, specifically inspired and designed to facilitate the trade of premium cannabis products. With over 30+ years experience producing the most influential fashion & music tradeshows, the founder of Hall of Flowers understand the importance of providing a professional platform for buyers & sellers to conduct business.
Cy Scott CEO/Co-Founder, Headset Cy Scott, a self-described “entrepreneur at heart,” traversed his career working in startups and large organizations, though he’s no stranger to the cannabis space. Prior to Headset, he helped accelerate the adoption of legal cannabis as the co-founder of Leafly, now serving six million monthly visits. His current venture, Headset, is an analytics company for the cannabis industry, made to help operators make informed business decisions based on data, helping their customers to navigate the rapidly changing and emerging industry.
Leo Bridgewater National Director, Heart Community Capital/Minorities for Medical Marijuana After enlisting in the United States Army following the events of September 11, 2001, Leo Bridgewater has been a longstanding cannabis advocate in his home state of New Jersey for many years. He was a co-founder of the NJ Cannabis Commission between 2016-2018, and proceeds to act as the National Director of Veterans Outreach for Minorities for Medical Marijuana and most recently became a partner at Heart Community Capital in March 2021 to collaborate with numerous “pro athletes, creatives and activists, and cannabis industry experts” and invest in minority owned-cannabis businesses.
Michael Beaudry Vice President of Business Development, HERBL Solutions Michael “Mikey” Beaudry is the Vice President of Business Development at HERBL Solutions, California’s largest cannabis supply chain company. An integral part of the leadership and strategic team since the company got its start in 2018, he has had a key role in developing over 30 partnerships with many of the top brands across the California landscape. With both the assortment and infrastructure Beaudry has helped to build, HERBL has sold over a half-billion dollars of cannabis products in California, becoming one of the most robust and scaled distribution supply chains in the country. Passionate about building relationships and successfully helping businesses grow, Beaudry’s continued focus is to build on ensuring cost-effectiveness to meet beneficial long and short-term goals for both brands and HERBL. His extensive knowledge of the industry, the strategic partnerships he has built, and his ability to understand and adapt to the evolving landscape make Beaudry the strong leader he is in the industry.
Adam Arviv Investor, HEXO Corp Adam Arviv invested in HEXO, through his fund KAOS Capital Ltd.. Adam Arviv is currently the Chief Executive Officer of KAOS Capital Ltd. and a Strategic Advisor for ORYX Gaming. Previously, Mr. Arviv served as the Founder, Chief Executive Officer and a director of Bragg Gaming Group Inc., a publicly-traded company on the TSX, and President of Will-Power Management Inc. He was also the co-founder of Gaming Nation Inc., Green Growth Brands and the BRN Group. Mr. Arviv also serves as a Chairman on a number of boards, including, GhostRetail, the BRN Group, and Legacy Eight Gaming.
Raj Grover CEO, High Tide Inc. Establishing himself early in his career as one of Canada’s most prominent business strategists and deal makers, Raj Grover moved forward in 2009 to found High Tide, which has grown from a small shop of two employees into one of Canada’s largest cannabis retailers. He’s also founded High Tide’s subsidiary companies, Valiant Distribution and Canna Cabana, and co-founder of subsidiary Famous Brandz. Though he’s committed to his business, Grover believes that those who enjoy success should give back, spearheading High Tide’s support of World Vision, which sponsors children in under-developed countries.
Ricky Williams Founder, Highsman Best known as a professional football player and running back for a number of teams, featured on the New Orleans Saints, Miami Dolphins, Toronto Argonauts and Baltimore Ravens, former player Ricky Williams has since shifted his focus to the cannabis space with the Highsman brand, which he defines as an “appreciate for greatness.”. He cites the scrutiny for using cannabis to “take care of his body,” hand-picking his favorite strains and breaking barriers in streetwear, sports and cannabis to further destigmatize cannabis in the sports space.
Jessica F. Gonzalez Attorney, Hiller, PC Jessica Gonzalez currently serves as a Cannabis attorney at Hiller, PC, as well as outside General Counsel for Minorities for Medical Marijuana, Inc. Gonzalez led the social impact committee for NJ CAN 2020, the coalition that ran one of the most successful cannabis legalization campaigns in the country and helped shape cannabis policy on the statutory, regulatory, and municipal levels in New Jersey. Gonzalez assists clients in navigating the legal cannabis industry in the areas of IP and state licensing applications. She has been designated as a Cannabis Law Trailblazer by the National Law Journal, named on NJBIZ’s 2021 Next Generation of Leaders list and recognized as one of the top 20 cannabis influencers in New Jersey three years in a row.
Seth Rogen Founder, Houseplant It’s no secret to most that funny guy and comedian Seth Rogen is a fan of weed, but the Pineapple Express star has since moved forward to embrace the plant in a larger capacity, co-founding cannabis brand Houseplant. The cannabis at Houseplant represents the strains that Seth and Co-Founder Evan Goldberg love, along with the “finest product that growers across the state of California have to offer.” The brand embraces THC-rich cannabis, prioritizing the top colas of the plant where the biggest buds are found, hand-picking, -trimming and -packaging each Houseplant offering.
Alan D. Gold Executive Chairman, Innovative Industrial Properties Since the formation of Innovative Industrial Properties, Alan D. Gold has served as a co-founder and as executive chairman of the company board, also serving as executive chairman of IQHQ Inc., a privately-held life science real estate company, with an impressive resume of leadership positions in the life science industry and beyond. Innovative Industrial is the pioneering real estate investment trust for the regulated cannabis industry, founded in December 2016 as the first publicly-traded company on the New York Stock Exchange to provide real estate capital to the regulated cannabis industry.
Raquel Peyraube Doctor, International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines Specializing in the problematic use of drugs, with abundant training in psychiatry, toxicology and psychoanalytic psychotherapy, Raquel Peyraube has 28 years of experience in the field. Over the decades, Peyraube has made contributions in training, prevention, treatment and damage reduction, including innovation of theoretical and methodological developments with a focus on ethical issues. She’s currently working on the development of clinical trials, medical education of medicinal cannabis and dissemination of information and advice for reform of drugs policies in a number of countries.
Bruce C. Cozadd Chairman, CEO, Jazz Pharma Helping to innovate and transform the lives of patients as the CEO and chairman of Jazz Pharmaceuticals, a global biopharmaceutical company, Bruce C. Cozadd is pushing the company forward to set a new standard of care to those living with complex conditions who deserve new and improved therapeutic opportunities.. He’s been with the company since 2003, moving into his current position back in 2009, which is developing a cannabinoid platform to help further navigate the healthcare space. Outside of Jazz Pharma, Cozadd is passionate about education and the arts, especially music.
Jim Cacioppo CEO/Chairman/Founder, Jushi Holdings With a resume spanning more than two decades, managing the business and allocating capital in senior management positions at several large hedge funds, Jim Cacioppo brings his start-up, operating, financial and investment know-how to his role as the CEO, chairman and founder of Jushi Holdings. Jushi is a national, multi-state cannabis company focused on developing and operating high-end retail locations, premium brands and state-of-the-art cultivation, processing and manufacturing facilities. Under Cacioppo’s leadership, Jushi looks to set a new standard for a sophisticated and modern cannabis experience.
Michael King and Charlie Kieley Co-Founders, Kings Garden Inc. Kings Garden started in 2015 in the Coachella Valley region of California, since growing into a profitable cultivation company birthed through funding from friends and family. With Michael King’s financial savvy and background on Wall Street, along with Charlie Kieley’s experience working directly in the cannabis industry, opening and operating our retail and retail cultivation facilities, the two joined forces. Kings Garden is continuously building and prioritizing the production of high-quality, indoor flower; giving back to local communities and prioritizing the advancement of the cannabis space as a whole. Kings Garden is currently operating 3,400 indoor lights via 250,000 square feet and is in the process of building out an additional 8,500 lights via 415,000 square feet, thus bringing the total operational footprint to 12,000 lights via 665,000 square feet by 2024.
Mary Bailey Managing Director, Last Prisoner Project The Last Prisoner Project was founded in 2019, centering the belief that no one should remain incarcerated for cannabis offenses. Managing Director Mary Bailey similarly believes that everybody fortunate enough to benefit from cannabis legalization should feel a moral obligation to assist those still suffering due to prohibition, dedicated to helping right the wrongs of cannabis criminalization. Prior to launching Last Prisoner Project, she was the CEO and founder of a Maui, Hawaii-based production company that specialized in events that inspire positive social change.
Daniel Chu CEO, LoadedCo. Founded in 2017, with quality craftsmanship in mind, LoadedCo. Takes pride in its reputation for collaborating with some of the best brands in the industry, and for creating unique high-end products. LoadedCo. Are the makers of handcrafted pre-rolls and a variety of collaborations frequently involving infused flower and other ingredients.
Rick Doblin Founder, MAPS Richard Elliot Doblin is an American drug activist and executive who is the founder and executive director of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS), which he launched in 1986. MAPS is on the forefront of psychedelic research and development. Since 1986, MAPS has distributed over $20 million to fund psychedelics and medical cannabis research and education. Doblin received his masters and PhD in public policy from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. His 2019 TED Talk explored the vast potential of psychedelic-assisted therapy.
Rosie Mattio Founder, Mattio Communications Rosie Mattio is CEO and Founder of Mattio Communications, which was ranked as the number one cannabis PR firm by Green Market Report. The company can be found practically everywhere in the cannabis space. Mattio was able to land the first-ever cannabis article in Oprah magazine. Based in New York, Mattio Communications represents 50 marquee cannabis clients, including Headset, Green Thumb Industries, Papa & Barkley, LeafLink, Greenlane and Curaleaf. Long ago, Mattio learned to hustle, growing up in the Bronx, and it’s certainly evident in her firm’s success.
Lewis Koski COO, Metrc Lewis Koski is the Chief Operating Officer for Metrc. Before joining METRC in 2019, Lewis ran his own consulting firm, helping agencies develop smart cannabis regulatory policies. Prior to that, he served as the Deputy Senior Director of the Colorado Department of Revenue’s Enforcement Business Group, directing state policy surrounding regulated markets and its enforcement. Lewis also served as the Director of the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED). At MED, he helped build the first state agency in the US to develop and implement medical and adult-use cannabis policy.
Christopher Alexander Executive Director, New York Department of Cannabis Management Christopher Alexander works with the New York Department of Cannabis Management to help move policy forward. A New York resident from birth, his passion is for policy and politics, as well as enacting change through the democratic process. He formerly served as a legislative aide, advocate and attorney, and was appointed by Governor Kathy Hochul to lead New York’s Office of Cannabis Management. The agency oversees all things policy for the newly budding New York cannabis industry, as well as all procedural aspects of legal marijuana.
Rusty Wilenkin CEO and Co-Founder, Old Pal Can flower be both affordable and beautifully crafted? For Old Pal’s Co-Founder and CEO Rusty Wilenkin the answer was a resounding “yes.” After spending 4+ years in the cannabis space, Rusty started Old Pal in 2018, creating one of the industry’s most recognizable brands— and also one of the most successful. Currently a top California brand, Old Pal has expanded into seven additional states, and in 2021 they were the #3 brand based on units sold in their five active states (according to BDSA).
Skip Motsenbocker CEO, Pacific Stone As CEO of Pacific Stone, a state-licensed California-based cannabis brand, Skip Motsenbocker has more than 25 years of professional experience in asset management, private equity and corporate finance and management. Pacific Stone provides both large scale greenhouse cultivation facilities and over one million square feet of flower. Pacific Stone Brand is offered in over 600 stores and includes packaged flower, pre-rolls and cartridges. Motsenbocker oversees the brand’s product launches and expansion, among other strategic initiatives.
Troy Datcher CEO, The Parent Company With a background in the consumer goods market and experience with consumer products, sales negotiation, strategic planning, and trade marketing, Troy Datcher brings myriad business skills to his role as CEO of The Parent Company. He has a background in Political Science thanks to a Bachelor’s degree from Gettysburg College, and Datcher actually worked with Clorox Co. before he joined forces with The Parent Company. Today, he is responsible for their worldwide success and leadership in the cannabis market. He is also the first Black CEO of a major, publicly traded marijuana company.
Robert Groesbeck Co-CEO, Planet 13 Holdings As Co-CEO of Planet 13 Holdings, Robert Groesbeck is a long-time entrepreneur, starting and assisting in the creation of a number of businesses, including work in the cannabis industry. Mr. Groesbeck was designated as one of the top 40 Southern Nevada Business Executives under the age of 40, on the basis of his professional achievement and community service by the Las Vegas Business Press. Planet 13 has opened some of the largest dispensaries in the world, with impressive locations in Las Vegas and in Orange County, California.
Roger Volodarsky CEO, Puffco Roger Volodarsky is founder and CEO of Puffco, and has been working to perfect the company’s handheld vaporizer device over the course of the last decade. Volodarsky is described as a serial entrepreneur, a tech fan and cannabis connoisseur, who is highly successful at a relatively young age. Volodarsky helped introduce the Puffco Peak Pro—now a standard in vaping technology. Developing vaporizers for cannabis concentrates and “turning consumers into connoisseurs” is one of his long-term dreams. He was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York and New Jersey.
Josh Kesselman Founder, RAW Papers He’s quite the personality, which is great for marketing and branding in the world of cannabis-adjacent industries. RAW papers are a go-to standard for rolling paper needs, and they’ve been around forever. RAW Founder Josh Kesselman is on a mission, “Uplifting the world one beautiful natural sheet at a time.” Kesselman launched RAW clear back in 1995, and the company’s success has been linked to his continued presence in the public. Kesselman was arrested for selling a bong to a federal informant, and continues to fight for the right to sell cannabis accessories.
Heather Jackson Co-founder, Realm of Caring As co-founder of the Colorado Springs, Colorado-based Realm of Caring (RoC), Heather Jackson is also president of the board. RoC is an independent 501c3 non-profit organization who serves anyone in need of more information about cannabinoid therapies. Through revolutionary research, innovative education, and life-changing grants, RoC seeks to facilitate and encourage the mainstream acceptance of transformative, plant powered therapies to benefit individuals and families and serve healthcare providers as well as the hemp and cannabis industries.
Ann Lee Co-founder, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition Ann Lee and her husband Bob founded Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition (RAMP) based on the belief that the prohibition of marijuana is “diametrically opposed to the Republican principles of limited government,” and personal freedom. Lee has been a leader and activist in the Republican Party since 1970. That year, she became precinct chair in the Harris County Republican Party serving from 1970 to 1992. Her first campaign activity came in 1964 in support of Barry Goldwater. In 1983, Lee co-founded the group Women for Reagan.
Brad Rogers CEO, Red White & Bloom Brad Rogers is CEO and Executive Chair of Red White & Bloom. He has an extensive track record of building tremendously successful and profitable businesses in the cannabis sector and beyond. He also grew two of Canada’s largest licensed cannabis producers to a combined market cap of $2 billion. Red White & Bloom’s growing portfolio boasts strong brands and proprietary product development capabilities—focusing on a “house of brands” strategy in both cannabis and hemp-derived product lines.
Jason Gellman Owner, Ridgeline Farms Growers up north all know the trusted name of Ridgeline Farms. Ridgeline Farms owner Jason Gellman was honored for the 2018 Business of The Year Award at the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce—the first time for the Southern Humboldt Chamber of Commerce, and for Jason Gellman, to have the award go to a local craft cannabis farmer. Humboldt County-based Ridgeline Farms focuses on quality over quantity, family values and environmental stewardship in the company’s owner-operated cannabis farm. Gellman and Ridgeline Farms have won multiple awards including Emerald Cup wins.
Matt Zingler Co-founder and Co-CEO, Rolling Loud Some careers are more exciting and rewarding than others. Co-founder and Co-CEO of the Rolling Loud Festival Matt Zingler works with his business partner Tariq Cherif. The two of them also founded Dope Entertainment, Florida’s premier Hip-Hop touring company. The Miami-based festival Rolling Loud has turned into one the hottest lifestyle events. In past years, the company’s massive lineup has featured superstars such as Travis Scott, Post Malone and A$AP Rocky. Part of his resume includes adapting to the massive setbacks from COVID.
Tony Gallo Managing Partner, Sapphire Risk Advisory Group Considered in the industry as the “O.G. of Cannabis Security,” Gallo is the Managing Partner at Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, voted one of the Top Cannabis Ancillary Firms. Since 2013, Sapphire Risk has been focused on developing cannabis security strategies for businesses and has worked with over 500 clients in 35 States. Tony has spoken at over 100 conferences nationwide on cannabis security from application to operation. Tony received his degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University in Jersey City, New Jersey, and is a published author.
Andy DeFrancesco SOL Global Andy DeFrancesco is well-known for being a dealmaker on wall street and in cannabis, not only as a co-founder of Aphria but through his investment company SOL Global Investments. DeFrancesco pulled off some of the biggest success stories in the cannabis industry. Deals include Liberty Health Sciences, which was sold to AYR for $290 million, and another Florida-based operator Bluma Wellness which was acquired by Cresco Labs for $230 million. He co-founded both of those companies. DeFrancesco plays a major role in Simply Better Brands, which owns PureKana.
Jim Hagedorn CEO, Scotts Miracle-Gro Jim Hagedorn is Chairman/CEO at Scotts Miracle-Gro Co., a household name in nutrients. Hagedorn’s father Horace launched the original Miracle-Gro in 1951, and later, he grew up watching the Miracle-Gro brand earn the trust of gardeners all across America, and he’s committed to maintaining that legacy with gardeners today. A former fighter pilot known for “boldness and ingenuity,” Hagedorn helped orchestrate Miracle-Gro’s merger with Scotts in 1995, creating the leading consumer lawn and garden business in the world. He became CEO of the combined company in 2001.
Dr. Sue Sisley Scottsdale Research Institute Dr. Sue Sisley’s unparalleled research into medical cannabis broke through boundaries. As President of Scottsdale Research Institute and best known serving as Principal Investigator for the only FDA-approved randomized controlled trial in the world examining safety/efficacy of smoked marijuana flower in combat veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD. Her studies were approved by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and she runs a thriving private practice in Phoenix as well. Sisley’s research has been supported by the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, a California-based nonprofit psychedelic organization.
Michael Serruya Serruya Brands Michael Serruya began his fruitful career at age 20 as one of the co-founders of Yogen Früz®. Michael was also the CEO of Coolbrands®—then home to CPG brands including Weight Watchers®, Eskimo Pie®, Tropicana® and Godiva® Ice Cream. Serruya joined MedMen’s board in August 2021 as part of a $100 million investment in the Company by Serruya Private Equity to expand its operations in key markets and identify and accelerate further growth opportunities across the United States. Michael has also participated on the Boards of Directors of a number of both publicly and privately traded companies.
Zachary George CEO, Sundial Zachary George is CEO at Sundial Growers Inc. He is an entrepreneurial and seasoned executive with over 20 years of experience in alternative investments and evaluating opportunities across the capital structure of North American companies with a focus on real assets. George previously worked in senior management and board capacities focused on large-scale restructurings and operational turnarounds, influencing corporate action and governance policies in order to maximize shareholder value. He also founded FrontFour Capital Group LLC and he has been the head of five different companies.
Jason Wild Chairman, TerrAscend Jason Wild is the President and Chief Investment Officer of JW Asset Management, LLC, and the advisor for five investment partnerships with over $2 billion in assets under management. Mr. Wild received his license as a pharmacist in 1997, and subsequently founded JW Asset Management, LLC in 1998. The firm has a strong history of finding opportunities within the healthcare sector. He is a graduate of the Arnold and Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy. Mr. Wild is the Chairman of the Board of TerrAscend Corp. and Arbor Pharmaceuticals. He is a board member of Vensun Pharmaceuticals and Vitruvias Therapeutics.
Irwin Simon CEO, Tilray Brands With more than 30 years of experience building industry-leading, consumer-packaged goods companies—ranging from foods, dietary supplements, personal care and cannabis—Irwin Simon now leads Tilray Brands, a global leader in cannabis research, cultivation, processing and distribution, as CEO. Tilray is the first GMP-certified medical cannabis producer to supply cannabis flower and extract products to patients, physicians, pharmacies, hospitals, governments and researchers on five continents. Irwin is also the executive chairman of Whole Earth Brands, Inc., a leading platform in packaged goods and ingredients, and lead director at Stagwell Inc., a digital-first global marketing network.
Chrystal Ortiz Advocate, True Humboldt Sharing the core community values surrounding sustainability, community service and mindful cultivation that her “Back to Lander” parents held close in the Emerald Triangle region, Chrystal Ortiz since returned to the hills of Humboldt County in the late ’90s, raised their two children off the grid and embraced her current role at True Humboldt. The group is composed of Humboldt cannabis farmers who have joined together to support one another through the ever-changing-and-evolving cannabis industry, with the aim of preserving the unique heritage of the area.
Kim Rivers CEO, Trulieve Kim Rivers joined Trulieve, an industry-leading, vertically-integrated cannabis company and multistate operator in 11 states, at its inception and has been a key player in the company’s customer-centric vision, growth and expansion. Rivers oversees every part of the cannabis process, from the seed-to-sale. She previously worked in a private practice as a lawyer, specializing in mergers, acquisitions and securities for multi-million-dollar companies. When she’s not busy at Trulieve, Rivers also plays an active role in her community and serves on numerous charitable boards.
Brittani Cushman Senior VP and General Counsel, Turning Point Brands Brittani Cushman is Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary at Turning Point Brands, Inc. As a female leader in the industry, Cushman works on public policy, legal and governmental affairs in the heavily regulated tobacco products industry. She specializes in tackling complex policy matters and legislation in the areas of federal and state regulation, marketing and taxation. She also helps to execute strategies as part of the senior executive management team.
Tyler Robson CEO and Chair of the Board, The Valens Company With over a decade of experience in cannabis science, research, and development, especially focusing on propriety extraction processing and medical application, Tyler Robinson came to his role as chief executive officer and chair of the board with The Valens Company with plenty of established science experience. He graduated from University of Saskatchewan with a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences and a biology focus. He has been with The Valens Company since 2012, moving from COO to CEO and growing alongside the company.
Karson Humiston Founder and CEO, Vangst Karson Humiston is the Founder & CEO of Vangst, the cannabis industry’s recruiting platform. Since launching in 2016, Vangst has connected thousands of people with jobs at leading cannabis businesses around the world. Karson was featured on the 2018 Forbes 30 under 30 list and Vangst was featured in Entrepreneur’s 100 Brilliant Companies of 2018. Prior to founding Vangst, Karson founded On Track Adventures, a student travel organization based out of St. Lawrence University.
Gary Vaynerchuk CEO, VaynerMedia and Co-owner of Green Street Gary Vaynerchuk, aka “Gary Vee” is the chairman of VaynerX, a modern-day media and communications holding company, and the active CEO of VaynerMedia. The Belarusian-American is a renowned entrepreneur, author and personality. He’s also the co-owner of Green Street, a full service creative agency that built a seven-story cannabis incubator in the heart of Los Angeles. Most people are drawn to Gary Vee’s no-nonsense attitude, as he effortlessly motivates his audiences.
George Archos (CEO) and Sam Dorf (Chief Growth Officer) Verano Holdings George Archos is CEO and founder of Verano Holdings. He has experience coordinating complex freight delivery and operating successful restaurants. He first joined the cannabis industry in 2014, and since then has risen in the ranks at various companies to take on a leadership role in this one. Sam Dorf, chief growth officer of Verano Holdings, has a background as a criminal defense attorney, and became a cannabis entrepreneur in 2013. He is known as a revered merit-based cannabis license application strategist and is responsible for supporting the growth of the team.
Brian Vicente Lawyer, Vicente Sederberg LLP, Lawyer A passionate supporter of cannabis reform, Brian Vicente, lawyer, founding partner, and one of the major players behind Vicente Sederberg LLP, has over a decade of experience helping to shape cannabis law, the area he specializes in. One of his major claims to fame was helping to draft Colorado’s historic Amendment 64 and co-directing the campaign in support of it. Vicente has worked with cannabis entrepreneurs, investors and businesses all across the US. His focus is on helping folks start and grow compliant and profitable businesses in the cannabis sector.
Al Harrington Founder, Viola Most well-known for his storied career in basketball, Al Harrington was pro for 16 seasons, but that’s not where his legacy ends. He is also a major player in the world of cannabis now. He founded Viola Brands in 2011, a cannabis company that now spans multiple states, including California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado and Michigan, as well as a recent expansion to Oklahoma to work with their medical market. With the success of Viola, Harrington has shown that celebrity partnerships can be a lot more than lending a name and clout to a company.
Brian Malin Co-Founder, Vital Grown Founder and CEO of Vital Garden Supply and co-founder of Vital Grown, Brian Malin strives to show the world the importance of organically grown cannabis for both growers and consumers. He has been learning about organic farming and soil biology for over 25 years, and his mission is to use his natural gardening experience to help cannabis teams grow, both literally and figuratively. Malin is well-known from appearances on the Hash Church podcast, judging cannabis competitions like the Emerald Cup and Ego Clash, and spreading the gospel of organic pot.
Nancy Whiteman Co-Founder and CEO, Wana Brands Nancy Whiteman is co-founder and CEO of Wana Brands, an edibles company based in Colorado. One of the leading edibles brands in the mile high state, Wana Brands has grown-from a start-up to a successfully bought-out company, as Canadian-based cannabis giants Canopy Growth bought the business for $297.5 upfront. Whiteman is a legal in the pioneering industry of legal edibles, and her name is known throughout the industry. She’s known as both “the queen of legal weed” and “the Martha Stuart of edibles.”
Mike Glazer Comedian, Weed + Grub Weed + Grub is exactly what it sounds like—a comedy routine about cooking culture, comedy and cannabis. According to Emmy-nominated comedian Mike Glazer and cannabis culture writer Mary Jane Gibson, it’s also about “calling shit out” as the two smoke, snack and interview celebs. Glazer is known for his work on Night of Too Many Stars, Worst Cooks in America and other media featuring comedy, food and cannabis. He has cooked with Gordon Ramsay and was named as a 40 Under 40 Rising Cannabis Star.
Sean Kiernan President, Weed for Warriors Project Sean Kiernan is president of the Weed for Warriors Project, a well-respected veteran advocacy group that speaks out about the need for veteran cannabis access. He also served in the Army airborne infantry/pathfinder until receiving an honorable discharge and attended UC Berkeley. His background after college was in finance, working for companies like JP Morgan and Caxton Associates. He has contributed to MAPS research on cannabis and PTSD, and his goal in life is to help veterans access the medicine they need.
Dasheeda Dawson Founder, The WeedHead & Company Dasheeda Dawson is founder of The WeedHead & Company and author of the bestselling workbook, How to Succeed in the Cannabis Industry—now in its 3rd Edition. Dasheeda is a corporate-to-cannabis crossover pioneer and business strategist with experience as senior executive leader and strategy. More recently, she was selected as the Cannabis Program Supervisor, to oversee all regulatory, licensing, compliance and equity initiatives for the city of Portland, Oregon’s cannabis industry. She is a co-host on She Blaze, an award-winning weekly cannabis news and culture podcast available on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and iHeartRadio.
Chris Beals CEO, Weedmaps Chris Beals is Chief Executive Officer at Weedmaps LLC. Weedmaps is a tech company serving the cannabis industry, founded in 2008. In March 2019, Beals was named CEO of Weedmaps. A few months later, in August 2019, Weedmaps launched a 30,000 square-foot Museum of Weed in West Hollywood, California. Weedmaps not only connects people to cannabis retailers, but the company recently explored a social media platform alternative to Instagram with Berner.
Weldon Angelos Founder, The Weldon Project In 2003, a low-level cannabis case put a halt to Weldon Angelos’ budding career in the music industry, though it also helped to birth a national movement aimed to reform the U.S. criminal justice system. He became a bipartisan symbol for justice reform, and in 2016, he was finally released from prison after serving 13 years for a first-time, cannabis-related offense. Angelos moved forward to help others with similar experiences and founded the Weldon Project, dedicated to funding social change and financial aid to those serving prison time for cannabis-related offenses.
Daniel Carcillo Founder and CEO, WeSana Prominent athlete-turned-cannabis-entrepreneur Daniel Carcillo is founder and CEO of WeSana, a Chicago-based ketamine clinic. During his hockey career, he won two Stanley Cup Championships. Because of what he noticed first-hand while playing hockey, he became an advocate for mental health, concussions and traumatic brain injuries. His interest in how those things can be treated with plant and psychedelic medicine triggered the opening of WeSana. The Chicago-based business is currently making a splash in the world of ketamine medicine.
Kevin Jodrey Owner, Wonderland Nursery Kevin Jodrey is one of the most well-known growers in Humboldt County and is an internationally respected cannabis expert. As a world-renowned hunter of ganja genetics, Jodrey is fascinated by the search for rare, desirable, and marketable traits. Jodrey is the creator of Port Royal, owner of Wonderland Nursery, and co-founder of The Ganjier. He’s been cultivating for decades, running his own operations and offering consulting services. He’s spoken at universities, judged at the Emerald Cup, and consulted on cannabis related educational shows for National Geographic and A&E.
Tom Zuber Managing Partner and Founder, Zuber Law Tom Zuber is managing partner and founder of Zuber Law. Zuber is a litigator who specializes in intellectual property disputes and global intellectual property council for the cannabis industry on a worldwide scale. He manages Fortune-level clients through the firm and celebrates and advocates for his cannabis clients. He founded Zuber & Zuber, now known as Zuber Law, in 2003. When he started out, he had no clients and was a third-year associate. Now, Zuber Law is a world-known cannabis firm.
Are you struggling to get your brand out there? Is your cannabis store not as successful as it should be? Maybe digital marketing for cannabis is what you are missing. Read on for 7 digital marketing tips to grow your cannabis business. Did you know that digital marketing can help expand your reach, attract more […]
Cali Vibes, quickly becoming known as one of the largest reggae-focused events in America, allowed cannabis consumption on-site over the past weekend—one of the latest large events to do so, with an estimated 75,000 in attendance.
Presented by Goldenvoice, AEG and sponsor Weedmaps, Cali Vibes features the top names in reggae including some unexpected surprises. The bill included the Marley brothers featuring siblings Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani and Julian, as well as Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Stick Figure, Sean Paul, Shaggy and a special performance by Wu-Tang Clan. They were joined by Pepper, Atmosphere, Artikal Sound System, Iration, DENM, Tropidelic, The Elovators, Don Carlos and so on.
Cali Vibes was held at Marina Green Park in Long Beach, California February 4-6. It was also livestreamed live via emusiclive.com. In previous years, the event was called One Love, but this is the first time cannabis was allowed inside.
“As the official cannabis partner for Cali Vibes this year, Weedmaps had the opportunity to bring awareness to some beloved SoCal brands in the space throughout Cannabis Village”, Juanjo Feijoo, CMO and COO at Weedmaps, told High Times. “We are always looking for creative ways to engage with the cannabis community, and were delighted to be able to work with AEG and the Cali Vibes team to create a destination for consumers to learn about cannabis and cannabis brands safely while having fun. We can’t wait to continue to evolve this concept and bring it to more and more venues and festivals across the U.S.”
Guests were entranced with live urban art and interactive games, such as the “Flowers Are Not A Crime” art installation, created by Los Angeles-based artist, Laurie Shapiro, in collaboration with Weedmaps. The title of the installation was chosen to bring awareness to the fact that while cannabis markets continue to emerge and people profit, there are still over 40,000 people—disproportionately minorities—behind bars for nonviolent cannabis-related charges. People who downloaded the Weedmaps app could order from The Medicine Woman directly from the app and collect it from an off-site location.
Humboldt Seed Co. was busy at work, informing festival goers about the importance of terpenes and genetic transparency. Meanwhile, Clone Guy offered living clones, with their roots sheltered in plastic globes, providing for a surreal experience in legality. Living plants were practically everywhere in the vendor area.
The Koi CBD stage featured some of the largest acts, and The Greens presented by Koi CBD was located near Weedmaps Village. The Beach Club and VIP Lounge provided additional packages. Goldenvoice and Delicious Vinyl Island collaborated to present the BoomYard stage at Cali Vibes, which will showcase a slew of talent from Jamaica, including Mr. Vegas, Yaadcore, Walshy Fire, Teejay, Naomi Cowan and more. This is the place you went if you wanted to hear the cuts of dub, dancehall, raggamuffin, toasting and other sounds of Jamaica.
We were impressed at Method Man’s control over the audience during Wu-Tang’s performance, which was both the most rowdy and energetic. Stick Figure, on the other hand, wowed the crowd with pyrotechnics.
High Times caught up with several bands that performed at Cali Vibes.
“Kalea Wassman of Pepper and from the Big Island of Hawaii here—more importantly from the Big Island of Hawaii,” Wassman told High Times. “It’s so wonderful to know that with these kinds of events, opening up and being successful like it is now, gives us so much momentum to go into the next festivals that we get to do. This is just a beautiful situation after what we’ve gone through over the past few years. This is a festival filled with hope, because honestly, a lot of people have not been able to gather in this kind of sense with the community that this genre has.”
Wassman, who is vocalist, said to expect a lot of presence from LAW Records—the band’s own record label. “It’s fantastic where we get to envelope these younger acts and help them succeed in the world of music,” he said. “They’re going to be sprinkled all through the [upcoming new material].”
“This is a festival filled with hope, because honestly, a lot of people have not been able to gather in this kind of sense with the community that this genre has.” – Kaleo Wassman
Wassman reflected on Pepper’s work ethic, in combination with cannabis. “Honestly, I find it so much more rewarding at this point in my life to do the healthy approach to it, Wassman said. “What I mean by that is allowing myself to fall into the now, and not skipping over any moment that I get to be onstage, because it has been awhile since we have been onstage. That is a beautiful lesson to learn, because when you go town to town, day after day, night after night, you’re very susceptible to losing that connection with each show. What this has taught us now is that everything.” Pepper is set to release new material in 2023 after a giant summer tour that is yet-to-be-announced.
Sublime with Rome drew a large crowd, per usual, especially considering that the festival took place in Long Beach. “We have a freestyle that we’re jamming that’s kind of inspired by some new stuff,” Ramirez told High Times. “And we’re playing stuff we’ve never played, like we have Hirie coming up for a song, and we’re doing some stuff we haven’t played out here. It will be different shit tonight for sure.”
“We’ve been working on some new music,” – Rome Ramirez.
“We’ve been working on some new music,” Ramirez said. “We’re going into the studio, I think in June, to start to put together some of the tracks we’ve been working on. And hopefully we’ll be putting out a record by next year. We are just kind of focusing on the songs and trying to get all of the writing done.”
Ramirez admitted that Long Beach may not be the most popular destination in Southern California, “but it’s one of the most important in my eyes, because it’s transcended itself into sound in some of the other artists and other genres and artists,” he said.
Ramirez revealed that he’s been collaborating with Duddy from the Dirty Heads, both on music and CBD/THCa projects with small-batch companies. A lot of people they know only smoke weed, so they’re not getting any CBD. Both artists have experienced problems due to skating and/or baseball, Ramirez said. “So I said, lets put together some topicals and type of CBD that we can fuck with ourselves.”
Ramirez said details are scarce, but that it’s called Good Times Wellness, but done differently than the over-marketing of typical brands, “because everything now is so sleek and modern.”
The Ries Brothers—hailing from Clearwater, Florida—blend rock, blues, funk and reggae for a highly sophisticated sound with an emphasis on the craft of songwriting. “We played a brand new song called ‘Cornerstone’ and we’re about to go into the studio to record a new album,” Kevin told High Times. “That will be on it.”
The Ries Brothers performed a few live sets for Sugarshack Sessions—a popular, highly intimate digital music series filmed and recorded beneath palm trees in Bonita Springs, Florida.
“We’re really big on the Last Prisoner Project. If you’re in jail for a nonviolent cannabis charge, people get arrested with three grams and they’re put into jail—sometimes for years.” – The Ries Brothers
“Sugarshack is fantastic, from our home state of Florida, and the work they do is fantastic,” Charlie, who is the older brother, told High Times. “It’s such a great relationship that the bands have with them. Because they don’t charge the bands to shoot them. It’s a mutual project. We’ve gone down to their compound to do two sessions, and we just released one that we did from Reggae Rise Up that we did a three-song set. We had members of Stick Figure, Iration, Passafire and Tropidelic during the set. It was awesome.”
Kevin mentioned that he produces a lot of his own material. “I do a solo project called Echoing Dream,” he said. “And it’s kind of more reggae-dub. And I had the idea of taking back the song. It started with a bass line and drum beat. It was kind of a reggae idea for my solo project. I took out the skanks and everything—just keeping the drum and bass—and that turned into Charlie freestyling over it. And I always had the idea of making a remix like that. We had the idea of getting a bunch of artists in the scene together. Hitting up the DMs.”
Last year, the brothers released a reggae remix of their single “Take It Back,” featuring Julian Marley, as well as E.N Young, Kash’d Out, Gary Dread of The Movement, Bumpin Uglies, Little Stranger and Jaime Hinckson.
“The cool thing about it was, it worked out with the verses they sent us in the order that it ended up being,” Charlie explained. “Gary Dread was the first to say he was in, then it kind of steamrolled from there. Then eventually getting up to Julian. Mad props to our manager David [Parnes] here.”
“The track was almost done, we didn’t think Julian was going to be on it,” Kevin said. “The night before we had to submit it to mixing, Julian sent us his parts. I quickly mixed it, and am so stoked about having him on track.”
The Ries Brothers are not only interested in cannabis consumption, but cannabis reform that begins with undoing the wrongs from the War on Drugs—as evident in their continual support for organizations such as the Last Prisoner Project.
“We’re really big on the Last Prisoner Project,” Kevin said. “If you’re in jail for a nonviolent cannabis charge, people get arrested with three grams and they’re put into jail—sometimes for years. So the Last Prisoner Project helps people get out of jail for [inhumane prison sentences] for small amounts of weed. They’re doing a lot for the community, so that’s important to us.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to be on this festival bill.” – DENM
DENM’s debut full-length Slum Beach Denny was frequently included in top 10 reggae lists of 2021 as one of the hottest new albums of the year. It played like the soundtrack of summer. DENM also co-wrote “Rage” with Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads, featuring Travis Barker and Aimee Interrupter from the Interrupters.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be on this festival bill…” DENM told High Times just before his pivotal performance. “I’m just trippin’ that I get to play AND see the Marley brothers and Wu-Tang and all these legends—I’m just trippin’.”
In regular fashion, Dirty Heads showed up as one of the festival’s most popular bands. Coming from neighboring Huntington Beach, they weren’t very far from home in the first place. “The vibes are high,” vocalist Jared Watson from the Dirty Heads told High Times. “Wu-Tang Clan is playing right now. It’s a home show. I live 20 minutes from here.”
Duddy, who is also a vocalist along with Watson, told High Times that fans won’t hear any unheard new music, “but we will be performing ‘Rage’ tonight, which is one of our newest singles, which we put out not too long ago. Working with a lot of new music right now. We’ve got a new album in the works, but not playing anything new tonight.”
For some, “Rage” seemed like a flashback to the days of punk and ska, such as Operation Ivy.
“We wrote it with DENM,” Watson said. “Me and DENM were in the studio, just writing for Dirty Heads, and we wrote it with him, and when I heard it come together, I said—we’ve got to get Aimee [Allen]. I got the same vibes—this is kind of old school like Operation Ivy. I immediately thought of Aimee from The Interrupters, and they were working with Barker at the time. So that whole song came together in like one night. I texted Aimee, and she said she was in. I asked her, ‘Can you text Travis?’ ‘Sure.’ And an hour later, it was like ‘Travis is in and we’ll do it like tomorrow.’”
“I don’t know if we can release the names of the bands [on our new material] yet, but it’s going to be awesome.” – Duddy
Duddy confirmed the new cannabis and CBD project in the works with Ramirez. “It’s called Good Times Wellness. It’s a collab we’re doing with Consequence. It’s a CBD line and we are going to to small batch with actual marijuana as well. Not just CBD. It’s going to be a cool boutique, small batch CBD and marijuana line.”
Watson explained that if you dig around online, you can probably find some new Dirty Heads tracks. “I leaked a new song on a livestream I did,” he said. “There’s a song called ‘Visions’ and a song called ‘Oxygen’ that we have. The guy that produced those two records is producing the whole entire record. So we’re only working with one producer, and his name is Ryan Ogren. You’ll love him; he’s a close friend of ours. If you like ‘Oxygen’ and ‘Visions,’ you’re going to be stoked because we have songs like that on there. We have a few really, really broken down acoustic songs like that you’d hear on the acoustic album that we did. And then we have the majority of it is that kind of straight-down-the-pipe Dirty Heads. Some songs are more leaning hip-hop, and some are more highly reggae-influenced.”
“As of now, I think it’s going to be the most solid album that we’ve ever put out,” he said.
Watson added that the band just saw the soft dates for the summer tour and lineup for who they’re going out with on the tour. “It’s stacked.”
Duddy added, “I don’t know if we can release the names of the bands yet, but it’s going to be awesome.”
“The bands were going on tour with, that are at this show,” he said. “They’re the bigger names that played this weekend that we’re going to be on tour with.”
Duddy explained that performing in Long Beach, which is just minutes away from home, is like having a home show.
NBA player Kevin Durant and Weedmaps announced a new partnership last week that will make the basketball star and online cannabis marketplace teammates in addressing the ongoing stigma against cannabis. Under the multiyear agreement, Durant and his financial enterprise Thirty Five Ventures will work to break down the negative stereotypes associated with cannabis while elevating the conversation around the plant’s potential for athlete wellness and recovery.
“I think it’s far past time to address the stigmas around cannabis that still exist in the sports world as well as globally,” Durant told ESPN. “This partnership is going to help us continue to normalize those conversations, as well as create content, events, and a lot more through our Boardroom media network. This is just the beginning for us.”
The deal between Weedmaps and Durant, which reportedly took six months to negotiate, comes at a time when the relationship between athletes and cannabis is under intense scrutiny. Several professional leagues have changed their policies on cannabis or testing for its use. But the stigma against marijuana continues, as could be clearly seen this summer when sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson was denied the chance to compete in the Olympic Games after testing positive for THC in a qualifying meet.
“It’s no secret that many of the present attitudes toward cannabis are rooted in outdated beliefs and, frankly, lies about the plant that have been perpetuated for decades,” Weedmaps CEO Chris Beals told Marijuana Moment, adding that the aim of the new efforts is to provide a “fresh dialogue about how cannabis can be used for athlete recovery.”
“Through this partnership we’ll look to further break down the stigmas that have made cannabis use, particularly among athletes, so taboo, while also providing broader education about the plant’s many wide-ranging benefits and its potential for overall wellness,” Beals added.
Durant and Weedmaps Deal Includes Boardroom Sponsorship
Under the strategic partnership, Weedmaps will also sponsor the Boardroom, a media network founded by Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman that features an inside look at the business of sports. Durant, the Brooklyn Nets forward with two NBA championships under his belt, has been a vocal advocate for cannabis and has even invested in the industry. His open support for cannabis is rare for the NBA, which still has rules on the books that mandate four drug tests for cannabis each year. That policy was put on hold last year as the league went into a competition bubble in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, and the pause on testing was extended into the 2020-21 season.
“The band aid has been ripped off in the sports world,” Durant said while announcing the deal with Beals and Kleinman on the “Boardroom: Out of Office” podcast, adding “it’s kind of an undercover thing that players use cannabis, and use it throughout when they’re actively playing.”
The NBA’s ban on cannabis still exists, and representatives of the league and the players union have told ESPN “that there is ongoing dialogue about marijuana but currently no concrete plans to formally change the rule.”
Rules On Cannabis and Sports Changing Slowly
Other professional sports leagues, however, have already made changes to their cannabis policies. In 2019, Major League Baseball removed cannabis from the league’s list of banned substances, allowing players to use marijuana without fear of reprisals. And last year, the NFL changed its substance use policy, eliminating suspensions for positive tests for all drugs, cannabis included. For Durant, the changes seem overdue.
“I thought it was always interesting that the rest of the world was a little slower to be open about cannabis and its use, but to see, walking down the street—I live in San Francisco—you walk around the corner, there’s four or five dispensaries right on the corner,” Durant said.
Yet “athletes are still being tested four times a year for cannabis, and it just felt like the world was starting to close in on how people felt about the use of cannabis, and now it’s an open dialogue and it’s been amazing to hear,” he continued.
The deal between Durant and Weedmaps also includes a plan for the online cannabis resource to produce original content in collaboration with Boardroom. As part of Weedmaps’ broader sports and wellness initiative, the partnership with Thirty Five Ventures has plans to “further educate consumers about the plant’s potential for wellness and recovery,” according to a statement from Weedmaps about the deal. Former NBA player Matt Barnes, a cannabis supporter who admits he smoked marijuana through much of his 14-year career, believes that support from stars like Durant can lead to the acceptance of cannabis for all athletes.
“There’s a shifting culture and it takes a superstar like KD to embrace this and help others not be afraid to discuss the benefits,” said Barnes. “This has been a process. There have been meetings going on with the league and union for several years and both sides have hired experts to investigate this. This is a big step.”
Advertising can be challenging for cannabis companies trying to navigate the ever-changing world of regulations about what they can say and display. For example, California recently updated its guidance on billboard advertising near freeways, and many mainstream platforms won’t allow companies to show cannabis consumption in ads. With so many rules, where can folks turn for advertising solutions?
Weedmaps is the premier technology company in the legal cannabis economy, connecting consumers to retailers and brands while advocating for accessible cannabis for all patients and adults. Today, they are building the industry’s operating system – a platform to engage consumers and advertising and software offerings to help businesses thrive within the complex cannabis economy.
Weedmaps was designed to increase access to cannabis in the legal marketplace and provide a much-needed service for cannabis users. The company also works with cannabis brands and retailers to ensure consumers have access to the most current and comprehensive product selection.
With promo codes, retailers can offer unique discounts, while live menus provide clients with up-to-date, real-time information. The Brand Verification Badge helps protect consumers and prevent the sale of counterfeit cannabis products. These features are a bonus for advertisers, as they translate to more eyes on their listings, higher engagement, and potentially more sales.
Targeting Cannabis Consumers at Scale
Each month, 10+ million people visit weedmaps.com to find a specific product, a nearby retailer, or where they can purchase the best flower, tincture or edibles at the best price. Many are value shoppers, most of whom consume cannabis regularly. They respond strongly to opportunities for savings and value.
Weedmaps encourages advertisers to leverage the platform to directly connect with consumers and share updates about product drops, deals or special sales.
Weedmaps Senior Advertising Manager Adam Hirschberg explains that this ability for cannabis companies to be direct with their ad messaging is one of the advantages Weedmaps has over other marketing platforms. “There are limited advertising options for cannabis companies to target in-market cannabis consumers at scale,” he said. “And while at times, those other channels can be effective, advertisers often can’t unlock scale and ensure they are delivering to a cannabis audience. They have to be very careful with how they position themselves to maintain visibility, while also trying to promote a sale, all of which is a challenge.”
As the largest technology company in the legal cannabis economy, Weedmaps offers a direct connection to the consumer at scale while also measuring the performance of ad buys placed in front of their highly transactional audience. Being top-of-mind during a user’s buying journey is powerful – it’s the key to success, and brands and retailers can capitalize on that with Weedmaps.
Weedmaps measures their highly efficient paid advertising products’ success and effectiveness, offering advertisers detailed insights with every paid promotion. Clients can use this information to better understand what consumers are searching for.
“What sets us apart is that we are building more and more tools and reporting for clients so they can see the return on their advertising spend,” Hirschberg said. “When you advertise with weedmaps.com, you will know what your return is because we have that ordering capability, and we can see the entire e-commerce ecosystem and offer rich insights to our clients.”
Armed with specific consumer-engagement insights, Weedmaps clients can strategically set a path to their business’s higher bottom line. In 2020, more than 300+ advertisers and 1,000+ campaigns, Weedmaps generated:
– 250M+ Impressions
– 3.5M+ Orders (in 2020)
– An average return on ad spend of $17
– An average lift of 107% in views to their brand or retailer listing
Hirschberg says clients leveraging on-site features such as promo codes and brand verifications see higher engagement and a better return. “It helps drive consumer trust and validates the relationship between the retailer and brand,” he said.
With a new year ahead of us and a new administration in place, it will take multiple conversations to better the cannabis industry and right the wrongs of the War on Drugs and systemic racism.
To spark these conversations and begin building a more inclusive cannabis industry, Weedmaps and Green Enterprise have joined together to produce a two-day virtual conference — Information, Education & Empowerment Summit, being held from February 22 – 23.
Green Enterprise, a partnership between Digital Venture Partners and Black Enterprise, is a media resource for Black Americans entering cannabis entrepreneurship. Green Enterprise will virtually gather their audiences to inform, educate, and empower Black and POC entrepreneurs with new opportunities, skills, knowledge, and experience needed to be successful in the cannabis industry. Weedmaps is the event’s presenting sponsor.
“Since the inception of Green Enterprise, our goal has been to bring authentic stories to illustrate the successes achieved by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color operating within the emerging global cannabis industry. Our work with Weedmaps has already shown amazing progress in supporting our work to establish Green Enterprise as an authority in Black Cannabis media,” said Andrew Farrior, producer of Green Enterprise.
When and where do I stream it?
When: Feb. 22 – 23 2020 1 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. EST.
Where: You can watch it at Green Enterprise’s streaming page, which is here.
What will I be watching?
At this virtual summit, you will hear from successful entrepreneurs, Black business owners, and other leaders in the space throughout a series of panel discussions. Topics covered will include social impact and justice, social equity, raising capital and general economics, tips for investing, and other areas specific to successfully entering and participating in the cannabis industry for BIPOC individuals.
Here is the session agenda:
Some of the speakers are:
How is Weedmaps involved in the summit?
As a sponsor and participant in the virtual summit, Weedmaps looks to contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
“We are excited for the opportunity to work with Green Enterprise to produce this important event and continue to share our company’s commitment to building an equitable industry,” said Juanjo Feijoo, Weedmaps Chief Marketing Officer. “As legalization continues to move forward across the country and as the cannabis industry grows, we have a responsibility to not only address the wrongs inflicted on minority communities through the War on Drugs but also create a more inclusive economy at scale. The challenges are many, but creating a forum for open discussion and education with key industry decision-makers is more often than not the necessary catalyst for real change and solutions to occur.”
Weedmaps will be programming a panel discussion called “Together for Access, Equality, and Legalization” led by Ru Johnson, Roz McCarthy, and Cedric Haynes. This discussion will focus on the importance of cannabis organizations working together to build a more equitable industry.
The panel will also discuss WM TEAL (Together for Equity, Access & Legalization), a Weedmaps initiative that provides tools and resources to social equity-qualified entrepreneurs and businesses in the cannabis industry.
The cannabis industry is booming and more Americans are historically aware of the tragedy of the War on Drugs and its lasting effects. Now, more than ever, is an important time for Black and POC to be equipped with all the right skills and information to successfully participate at the forefront of this industry as it becomes more widely accepted. By bringing entrepreneurs and thought-leaders together, we can view the cannabis industry through complex lenses that will make an impact socially, racially, and economically.
And cannabis is entering new conversations and interests. Cannabis can be intertwined with countless other industries like wellness, agriculture, tech, sports, food, and music. Knowing how Black and POC entrepreneurs can influence cannabis’s direction will only make for a better, healthier, and more inclusive industry and culture. With this in mind, Green Enterprise and Weedmaps hope to drive thoughtful conversation around the challenges minorities have faced and the pathways toward success. The business opportunities ahead for Black and POC entrepreneurs are well-worth going after, and this summit aims to lay it all out for this community and their allies.