[Canniseur: Fabulous list of honorees! These women are all certainly making their mark in the cannabis industry, but where’s the diversity? Certainly there are women of color who should be on this list.]
At High Times, we strive to uplift and center the women who make the cannabis space what it is: innovative, progressive, inclusive, and welcoming. This International Women’s Day, we’d like to announce the 2019 High Times Women of Weed honorees. These twenty individuals have made significant change, progress, and advances in their fields—and of course, in cannabis. Ahead of this year’s Women of Weed event, here are the honorees and what they do:
Courtesy of Alison Gordon
Alison is a veteran of the Canadian cannabis industry, bringing unique experiences and relationships to her role as Chief Executive Officer of 48North. A skilled marketer, she is celebrated for her ability to shift public opinion and consumer behavior. She’s even been named one of Canada’s Top 10 Marketers by Marketing Magazine and was appointed to the Board of Directors for the Cannabis Canada Council in 2018.
As co-founder of Rethink Breast Cancer, Alison is credited with growing a new generation of young breast cancer supporters compelled by her groundbreaking communication and pharmaceutical expertise in the healthcare realm. Today, Alison is applying her skills to 48North’s business plan in this new era of the cannabis industry.
Amanda Ostrowitz is a regulatory attorney and entrepreneur who’s identified a need for a user-friendly, scalable platform to research regulations and laws in the cannabis industry.
Amanda founded RegsTechnology and its current product, CannaRegs, as a tool to aid attorneys, business people, and governments with localized tracking of regulatory issues.
Courtesy of Amanda Reiman
Amanda Reiman is the Vice President of Community Relations for Flow Kana, a branded cannabis distribution company that works with small farmers in the Emerald Triangle. She is also on the Board of Directors of the International Cannabis Farmer’s Association, a Board member for the California Cannabis Tourism Association, the Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association, The Mendocino County Fire Safe Council, and The Initiative—the first incubator/accelerator for women owned cannabis businesses.
After receiving her PhD from UC Berkeley, Dr. Reiman was the Director of Research and Patient Services at Berkeley Patients Group, one of the oldest dispensaries in the country, and the Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy for the Drug Policy Alliance. -She also taught courses on substance abuse treatment and drug policy at UC Berkeley for 10 years and has published several research articles and book chapters on the use of cannabis as a substitute for opiates and the social history of the cannabis movement. Amanda currently resides in Ukiah, CA.
Amy McClintick has been a key player on the Cura team since its inception. After starting in Sales Operations, Amy is a shining example of what it looks like to grow with the company and industry. Moving from her previous role as Chief Operating Officer, Amy is essential to the Cura team and comes with in-depth knowledge of the cannabis industry, operations, compliance and regulations. Additionally, Amy has proven the ability to fast track the company into new markets. Under her direction, Cura’s new internationally-based team has become a focused and powerful force of superstars achieving history-breaking sales numbers.
Prior to Cura, Amy built a 15-year independent career in the study and practice of holistic medicine—a personal passion that has proven to enhance her positive influence on Cura’s path forward. Amy’s multi-platform career experience includes specialization within management and business operations, with notable top-performance awards within tech sales and food and beverage distribution.
Amy graduated from the University of Idaho with degrees in Marketing and Political Science. She is a native of Idaho, but has made Portland her home since 2005. She is a wine connoisseur and, with what little spare time she has, runs a wine tasting club.
Cassandra heads up the cannabis industry leading daily news website Marijuana Business Daily and its family of content resources for the B2B cannabis marketplace, including the internationally recognized family of MJBizCon conferences.
Previously a vice president at Citi, she earned her MBA from the University of Texas, McCombs School of Business. Cassandra and her business partner co-founded MJBizDaily in 2011; it is now the most established ongoing business to business news organization serving the cannabis industry.
Courtesy of Cevon Levy
Holding an expertise in luxury fashion, Cevon started her career in international production and transitioned into business development and executive roles across the international fashion industry.
In 2017, Cevon partnered with Avanzato Tech to create House of Eden, an 18k gold, charge-free vaporizer geared toward the chic consumer.
For women by women, House of Eden is the first of its kind to raise the bar for your vaporizing experience.
Corey Thomas is a second generation cannabis farmer, founder of Honey Pot and a fourteen-time cannabis cup winner. In 2018 Thomas rebranded Honey Pot, re-released some of her award-winning products and released a new line of vaporizers infused with organic essential oils.
Today, Honey Pot holds the title of High Times most awarded topical manufacturer with products that have developed a loyal consumer following and a distribution network including some of California’s most popular dispensaries.
Courtesy of Cynthia Salarizadeh
Cynthia Salarizadeh is Managing Partner at KCSA Strategic Communications, the founder of the cannabis industry’s leading newswire and entrepreneur tech suite, AxisWire, and the founder of the luxury brand House of Saka, which houses world’s first cannabis infused still and sparkling rosé out of Napa Valley.
Additionally, Cynthia is the co-founder of Green Market Media which is currently most recognized for its cannabis finance news publication Green Market Report, as well as co-founder of the network Industry Power Women.
Prior to joining KCSA, Cynthia was the Founder and CEO of the leading cannabis public relations firm Salar Media Group, which KCSA acquired. She is also a council member on Forbes Communications Council as well as a contributing writer for Entrepreneur on the leading women and business of cannabis.
In 2018, Cynthia was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year and CEO of the Year by her peers through Cashinbis, she was named by High Times as one of the 100 Women in High Places and featured by Dope
Magazine as one of the “Outstanding Women in Cannabis”. Cynthia earned her degree from the University of Pennsylvania, a certificate in political journalism from Georgetown University.
Courtesy of Debra Borchardt
Debra Borchardt is the co-founder and CEO of the cannabis financial news website Green Market Report. Debra has covered the cannabis industry since its earliest stages when she recognized that the legalization story was the biggest business news story of the decade. As a senior producer and reporter
at TheStreet.com, Debra was awarded by the American Society of Business Publication Editors in 2014 in the Best Video—News category for “Guess Where People Want To Buy Pot.”
Debra is also a Co-Founder of the women’s cannabis executives networking group Industry Power Women and serves on the board of the cannabis newswire Axiswire.
She began her career in the securities industry where she was a Vice President at Bear Stearns, holding three securities licenses. She left Wall Street to earn her Masters Degree in Business and Economic Reporting from New York University. At that point she embarked on a career as a financial journalist and spent eight years at TheStreet.com working daily with Jim Cramer.
Looking ahead to 2019, Debra has big plans for GMR, which includes the launch of additional websites. Following the successful Green Market Summit in 2018, she is planning her next Green Market Summit event in Chicago on May 7—in addition to everything else, she is a frequent panel moderator and guest at cannabis conferences.
Courtesy of Beth Stavola
Beth Stavola is Chief Strategy Officer and Board Member of iAnthus Capital, and is also the founder and CEO of the top CBD self-care and wellness brand, CBD For Life.
In 2017 Cannabis Business Executive named Beth #3 on the “CBE 75 Most Important Women In Cannabis” list for being a true pioneer cannabis operator and is one of the only female C-Suite executives in the public, multi-state cannabis companies.
Beth holds the esteemed honor of being named as one of the leading medical cannabis expert entrepreneurs on the floor of the House of Representatives in 2014 by Congresswoman Dina Titus. She holds a BS in Finance and Economics from Monmouth University and spent most of her Wall Street career at Jefferies and Company.
Beth resides in New Jersey wth her beautiful family and is proud to be the mother of six children.
Courtesy of Emily Paxhia
Emily Paxhia is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Poseidon. She has reviewed thousands of companies in the cannabis industry and has worked with countless founders in many capacities, such as shaping pitch preparations and market strategies and product launches, and advising on day-to-day business operations. Emily has over 10 years of experience working as a consultant and researcher and has become an expert at extracting actionable insights from research and applying them to make corporations function more efficiently and successfully.
Emily has also dedicated time and energy to supporting policy groups and has served on the Board of Directors of the Marijuana Policy Project. She also currently serves on the Board of Athletes for CARE.
Emily graduated from New York University with an M.A. in Psychology in 2008.
Courtesy of Grace Lahlouh
Grace Lahlouh is a self-described “motivated stoner”. A cannabis consumer since her teens, Grace left a successful career in real estate to join two friends at Ganja Gold to become pioneers in the fight to end prohibition.
A California native, she relocated to Los Angeles in 2016 to expand the company, running distribution, curating events, writing, and donating cannabis to the homeless. She feels honored and humbled to be named one of the High Times Women of Weed.
Jackee Stang is a serial marketing entrepreneur with a distinct focus on building brands that aim to help people live better lives. She is the founder of High Times’ Women of Weed and the High Times’ Women’s Council, and is the former the VP of Programming at High Times Magazine.
An award-winning producer for Bulletproof Radio, Jackee is the co-founder of Quarter Brands, a new lifestyle cannabis brand available at MedMen, and is also the president of Delic—an emerging new media brand mainstreaming psychedelic culture.
Jamie Pearson, COO of Bhang Corporation, is a rare, second-generation cannabis executive. She has been a leader in numerous industries including real estate finance, investment, and strategic celebrity cannabis partnerships.
Jamie is widely recognized as a win/win deal-making ninja, and leads negotiations for all global joint ventures and licensing deals for Bhang—the world’s most-awarded and distributed cannabis brand featuring the eight-time Cannabis Cup winning line of gourmet chocolate bars and an award-winning line of CBD products.
Courtesy of Karson Humiston
Karson Humiston is the Founder and CEO of Vangst, the cannabis industry’s leading hiring platform. Launching in 2016, Vangst has connected over 10,000 people with jobs at over 650 leading cannabis businesses. Vangst has raised over $12M in funding from institutional investors.
Kathleen Thibault is the driving force behind constructive change at Advanced Nutrients, Big Mike’s Blends and Lacturnus Labs, spearheading the culture of advocacy that is foundational to the company. As a clinical social worker and psychotherapist, Kathleen brings over two decades of professional experience in assessment, research and policy to her position as chief culture and people officer with tertiary qualifications in psychology, social work, and health policy.
When she first joined the Advanced Nutrients family, Kathleen immediately set about reviving the company messaging, starting with edifying BigMike’s core values. To that end, she has implemented new hiring practices and training systems that have achieved a more diverse, inclusive and insightful company atmosphere.
Cannabis has a fearsome proponent in Kathleen Thibault.
Courtesy of Maya Elisabeth
Maya Elisabeth is dedicated to creating the highest quality cannabis products. She is the owner and operator of Om Edibles and Whoopi and Maya, two companies that specialize in treating cannabis as a superfood.
Then winner of 11 High Times Cannabis Cup awards and 9 Emerald Cup awards, she knows her products are only as good as the ingredients she uses to create them.
Rachel Gillette is among the first attorneys in the nation to dedicate her practice to the cannabis industry. Since 2010, she has helped cannabis businesses with licensing and regulatory compliance, business law and transactions, contract drafting and review, tax litigation, corporate formation, and tax matters, including audit representation. She works with startups and entrepreneurs, investors, and ancillary industry businesses to help develop the cannabis innovation ecosystem, and is a zealous advocate for the industry.
Rachel has served as the executive director of the Colorado state chapter of NORML, and was a founding member of Women Grow and the National Cannabis Bar Association.
She earned her JD from the Quinnipiac University School of Law in Hamden, Connecticut, where she served as Associate Editor of the Quinnipiac University Probate Law Journal. During law school, she interned with the New Haven Public Defender’s office. It was there where she developed her commitment to advocacy for those facing the many challenges of the criminal justice system.
Courtesy of Raechel White
Raechel White joined Cresco Labs in January of 2018 as the Director of Marketing and Communications. Raechel joined Cresco from a position in sales marketing Pandora Media, where she led the sales narrative efforts for healthcare, quick service restaurant, and consumer packaged goods sales teams.
Prior to her time at Pandora, Raechel served as a marketing specialist at Centro Media. Now serving as Director of Brand Marketing at Cresco Labs, Raechel leads the national implementation of a strategic house of brands, tailored to all major consumer segments in medical and recreational markets.
At 13 years old, Rylie Maedler has accomplished more than most of us midway into adulthood. Not only is this teenage powerhouse the CEO of her own cannabis company, Rylie’s Sunshine, and the founder of a non profit, Rylie’s Smile Foundation, but she is the driving force behind three laws granting children in her home state of Delaware legal access to medical cannabis.
She travels the world speaking at medical cannabis conferences, advocates for pediatrics to have safe access to medical cannabis and for advancements in the research of rare diseases using cannabis preparations.
Rylie has found a way to continue her goals while living a full and happy life, despite having a seizure disorder and one of the rarest types of debilitating bone tumors in the world, AGCG.
While the word “inspirational” is grossly overused, there is no other word to describe the young cannabis activist and daily medical cannabis user.
Rylie is an honors student in the 7th grade who also loves to sing and spend quality time with her cat, Toby.
Meet The 2019 High Times Women of Weed Honorees was posted on High Times.
[Editor’s Note: Excellent interview on cannabis and business, entrepreneurship, family, future, and legacy building. A worthy read for all. ]
In honor of our “women of weed”-themed issue, High Times asked two of the most prominent women in the cannabis space to discuss the industry they’re so passionate about.
Dr. Dina is the founder of the Alternative Herbal Health Services dispensary in Los Angeles as well as the inspiration for the Nancy Botwin character on the groundbreaking pot-centric show, Weeds. A noted cannabis activist, Dr. Dina has made a name for herself as both a business owner and a philanthropist. Here, setting aside the traditional HT interview format, Dr. Dina talks to her colleague Corey Thomas, the founder and CEO of the Honey Pot cannabis company and winner of multiple High Times Cannabis Cups.
Dr. Dina: I’m honored right now to be here. I’ve watched you blossom over the years as an entrepreneur. I’ve seen you build your brand from the ground up. I’m really proud of you. I think that you set a great example for so many women in the industry. And I know that as a mom, you have something stronger to fight for. You should be pretty damn proud of yourself.
Corey: Thank you.
Some girl love—we got to put it out there because it’s true. We don’t always express how proud we are of one another as much as we should. What you’ve accomplished is really impressive. And it’s very difficult without taking on millions of dollars from the very beginning. But what I really want to know is: How do you think the role of women in cannabis has evolved in the last 10 years?
I wouldn’t say that our roles have necessarily changed much. I’ve been in the space for close to 20 years now and there’s always been strong women—the mothers, the sisters and the wives that made the industry what it is today. They’ve always been the ones that were trusted to run the [businesses]; some of the most successful dispensaries in California are run by women—current company included. We’ve always been integral parts of the space.
I think the real evolution over the last 10 years is society’s point of view on what we’re doing. The lack of education before and the stigmas that we dealt with created a fear-based lifestyle for us. And now with the changes in legislation, we’re able to come out of the closet a little bit more and step into the light and build businesses. But I think that’s the same for all genders. We’re all in a safer space now, at least here in California.
I agree. I’ve seen a huge difference. Twenty years ago, I feel like most of the women were stay-at-home moms, and they would take care of their kids while their husbands would grow. Because if something happened, they would go to jail. So the wives would be at home with the kids. That’s a situation we’ve had to fight for so many years. But eventually women started really getting involved in helping their husbands or their boyfriends build their brands. And all of a sudden, the women kind of stepped out from behind the men. Like, “Let us handle this. We can do this better.”
Oh, yeah, we’ve been here the whole time.
We’ve always been here. But now we’re in the front. It’s interesting, when you go to the High Times Cannabis Cups, you don’t see a lot of guys that show up to work the booths; you see girls. People want that because females are friendlier. They’re just naturally more nurturing and [people] connect with that.
Yeah, I mean this is a compassion industry first.
That’s what I think makes the difference. I think the compassion side of it is where the women really shine.
Oh, definitely. I will say numbers-wise, there’s probably more women working in the industry overall, because of those budtenders and all the women working in the retail space.
Yeah. So what do you think are the biggest misconceptions people have about you?
Oh, man. I mean, I’ve been labeled a stoner for the longest time. I think you can probably relate.
I understand that.
Ignorance created a lot of misconceptions about who we are and what it meant to have a relationship with cannabis. I think that the legalization and the change of legislation and us being able to step out and show that we are powerful businesswomen who have been able to accomplish things against those odds [challenges] the lazy-stoner stigma that we all dealt with.
Yeah, I mean, cannabis consumers. I have a relationship with cannabis that is extremely special to me. Whatever society wants to call us, that’s on them.
How were you first introduced to cannabis?
My parents are actually in the space.
So you had a head start then.
Well, honestly, D.A.R.E. class was the first time I heard about cannabis. I think that’s how most of us heard about drugs, even though they thought that they were teaching us what to avoid. Other than D.A.R.E., my parents were always really honest. But they didn’t share that side of their life with me. Because it wasn’t safe to do that. You don’t tell your kids because they just like to talk.
The first time I ever consumed cannabis was in the parking lot of a bowling alley… And it was actually from my parent’s roommate. So technically, it was through my parents. It was the summer before freshman year of high school. I turned 14 that year, and I never looked back from that point forward.
Bowling was very fun that night.
You know, I think the first time you consume cannabis, you’re so concerned about what it is you’re going to be feeling. I hit it one time, and the whole time I was like, “Am I high? Am I high? Is this what it is to be high?”
I was so paranoid.
I mean, it was introduced to me by someone that my family trusted. And my parents never looked down upon it or said anything bad about it. They were always honest about the medicinal benefits, but at the same time, I knew that we couldn’t talk about it, that this was a part of our lives that was a secret. It’s a different time now, for sure.
How do they look at your career? Are they blown away by what you built?
I would say so. I think that my parents are really proud. I hope they are. I feel like I owe it to them. There have been a lot of changes over the last 20 years. [We can’t forget about] the generation that survived prohibition and helped to make the space what it is today.
We gotta make sure they’re okay.
Yeah. My family [and I have seen] the dark sides, you know? I mean, this is all puppies and rainbows.
What do you think are the biggest achievements in terms of marijuana image and portrayal?
Well, first and foremost, shout out to High Times. High Times Magazine has been around for longer than I’ve been alive. [For 44 years,] they have been teaching the world about the wonders of cannabis. Not only cannabis, but also the other wonderful natural substances that we can use to enjoy life a little bit more.
Other than that, in the last 10 years, Sanjay Gupta’s docuseries and how monumental that was [that he admitted] his ignorance and that he was wrong.
Isn’t it crazy, though? Have you noticed when you’re driving down the street you look up and all these billboards are for cannabis brands?
It’s amazing. I mean, we’re in national publications. Newsweek, we’ve been in National Geographic, we’re on Netflix [Disjointed]. Thanks to you. You know, there’s Bong Appétit on Viceland, which is a show that is teaching people how to infuse their own food with cannabis. It’s amazing.
Let’s talk about product development with your advertising. The Honey Pot bear was that famous bear that everyone knew. And it was something that really helped brand your product. Everyone knew you guys, you stood out as the Honey Pot. But as everyone knows, with Prop. 64, and our new regulations, we cannot appeal to children. And so we had to say goodbye to the bear…
Yes, exactly. In 2012, when I started Honey Pot, I had to store the honey. The bears are kind of synonymous [with honey]. When I made that first batch, I just poured it into bear containers. It became the Honey Pot bear.
Then we won our first High Times Cannabis Cup in 2015, for Honey Pot Bear Balm. So that solidified the bear as being a part of who we were. Fast-forward to 2018 and the bear is considered to be attractive to children. The Bureau of Cannabis Control here in California has quite a few regulations of how edibles need to be packaged and labeled and so on.
We’ve committed to evolving. But it’s creative, like the creative process of building a brand, and building that package, it’s something that is really enjoyable. The regulations have taken a lot of that creativity out of it, but it still is amazing. I’m really happy with our new branding and our new logo and our new packaging, and I’m really excited about the future.
Well, people have always loved your product, Corey. It’s not about the container. It was cute and kitschy, and I think it opened up a lot of people to trying a product that they were scared of. So thank you for that, because there were a lot of older women that came in and they were really scared, they didn’t even know what to do. “Here, we have CBD honey, just put it in your tea.” That opened them up.
We were microdosing way before, and now everyone is forced [into] microdosing. We’ve been doing it for a long time. But cannabis consumers are smart. They’ll purchase something because it’s in a pretty package one time or because it has a celebrity’s name on it, but if it is not a good product, they’re not going to buy it again. The products speak for themselves there. I just try and use ingredients that are as medicinal as possible. And if they work well together and have a beautiful marriage and can help the consumer just feel better, that’s really the goal.
What would you like your legacy to be?
Well, first and foremost, my son is definitely my legacy—third-generation cannabis-educated. He’s 11, so he’s not anywhere in the space nor will he be, but I’ve always been honest with him about who I am and who our family is.
Well, you’ve had a legitimate business for a large part of his life, but that business has been kind of in the gray area.
I’ve always told him what I did and the products that I made. I was honest with him that you can’t talk about these things, because not everyone believes that mommy’s helping people. That was hard for him to understand. It’s hard for all of us to understand…
It’s really hard.
It doesn’t make sense. But other than my wonderful child, who I hope to leave as a better version of myself, I just hope that my relationship with cannabis and the products that I make could just help one person’s life a little, make their life a little bit easier, a little bit more peaceful. We all want to make a small difference here in the world. If I’m able to transform my personal relationship with cannabis into making people’s lives easier, then I think I succeeded at life.
So what do you think about the current censorship that is being directed at cannabis, like on YouTube and other platforms? There’s a massive movement that’s trying to [tell] the truth about cannabis and they’re not allowing us to do so.
I think there are two sides to that, because we were just talking about Netflix and Viceland, and all of these amazing things that are happening. But at the same time there’s no legislation and there are no rules for how this information is supposed to be broadcast. At the end of the day, big business still runs our government and our entertainment industry. I feel like there are a lot of monopolies in this country that would be affected by the legalization of cannabis.
So we’ve been talking about equality. We know there’s still some sexism and misogynistic behavior going on in the industry. Do you feel that we’re being treated equally?
We are equal, we are part of this industry. That’s how I see it.
I remember with my first shop, I would have a vendor come in and I would try to negotiate a price with them. They’d be like, “$5,000.” I’m like, “I’ll give you $3,500.” And they would look at me like, “She’s trying to lowball me” or something, and they would say, “Where’s your husband?”
Oh, yeah, it still happens today. I almost feel like it’s a benefit to be underestimated. Sometimes. I mean, we’ve been in this game a long time. And, you know, yes, there is sexism, sexism exists.
Do you have any thoughts about the budding female cannabis social-influencer market versus the female growers and owner-operators?
Well, I mean, first of all, we didn’t have social media. We had to have code names and burner phones. And I was taught not to say anything about anything.
All photos are evidence against you in court…
There’s been a big shift in social media that has helped to educate the masses about the wonders of cannabis. And it’s been great for brands when Instagram was first going and there weren’t the algorithms [it has now]. You’re really able to speak directly to the consumer and let them know who you are and tell your story, and I think that’s been really great for cannabis patients. Anyone that’s considered an influencer has a tremendous responsibility. You’re influencing a generation.
Where do you want to be five years from now?
I know that I always want to be a part of the cannabis space. It’s just a part of who I am.
Where do you see Honey Pot five years from now? What do you have in store for us?
We recently partnered with a beautiful organic facility, and we’re now manufacturing all our products in a state-of-the-art facility. So we’re very, very excited about that. There’s lots of growth and amazing things happening at Honey Pot. We’re coming out with a bunch of new products and the old favorites are coming back.
How does the packaging change for you?
We are now in opaque bottles with a measuring cup so the consumer can measure their 10-milligram doses.
OK, last question: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Just be confident. Believe in yourself. Don’t believe in that stoner stigma that everyone else does. It was a big moment for me when I won my first Cannabis Cup. It made all the struggles and stigmas worth it. It felt like I was on the right path and supposed to be here.
This feature was published in the November 2018 issue of High Times magazine, subscribe right here.
The High Times Interview: Dr. Dina & Corey Thomas was posted on High Times.
The cannabis industry has made remarkable strides of late, and the first-ever High Times 100 celebrates the efforts of the men and women currently shaping the marijuana landscape. While the remarkable contributions of pot pioneers throughout the 20th century are largely responsible for the freedoms and successes we now enjoy, this list focuses on the people who are actively influencing the cannabis world. As such, we’ve limited the HT 100 to the living, with an emphasis on current contributions to cannabis. Here are the 100 most influential growers, extract artists, dispensary owners, product makers, activists, politicians, scientists, media members, celebs and sports figures in the cannabis world.
Aaron Justis—Buds & Roses
Under the leadership of president and CEO Aaron Justis, the Buds & Roses team has been recognized for its efforts with a consistent customer and revenue growth, and 26 High Times Cannabis Cup awards. Buds & Roses consistently sources and sells the highest-quality cannabis available, creating a premier shopping experience year-round. The store’s friendly, attentive staff are rigorously trained and certified in cannabis knowledge, so they can expertly guide each client to the best product for their needs.
Steve DeAngelo—Harborside Health Center
Steve DeAngelo has been a cannabis activist, advocate, entrepreneur and educator for over four decades. He has founded many successful socially responsible ventures, including Oakland’s Harborside Health Center, one of the largest cannabis dispensaries in the world, where he serves as CEO. As an accomplished speaker, DeAngelo can be found at events and conferences around the globe. His unique sense of style and his passion for cannabis make him both a role model and a cultural icon.
Wanda James—Simply Pure
Wanda James was the first (and for a long time, the only) African-American cannabis-dispensary owner in Colorado. James is a former Navy lieutenant and political-campaign manager who was appointed to work on President Barack Obama’s National Finance Committee, as well as the Amendment 64 Task Force that laid the groundwork for regulating recreational cannabis in Colorado. James and her husband, Scott Durrah, a former Marine and certified chef, have owned restaurants in Los Angeles and Denver for nearly two decades; they recently sold the popular Jezebel in Denver to focus fully on their cannabis company, Simply Pure. In 2016, James was named one of the “50 Most Important Women in the Cannabis Industry” by Cannabis Business Executive.
Adam Tasselmyer—Herbal Solutions
Adam Tasselmyer is a resident of Ypsilanti, MI, where he worked closely with local government officials in crafting the cannabis ordinance. Tasselmyer opened Herbal Solutions, the second locally licensed dispensary in Michigan, in May of 2011. Herbal Solutions has since won more than 50 High Times Cannabis Cup awards. Tasselmyer is also the owner of Higher Society Extracts and Loyalty Extracts. This year, Tasselmyer looks forward to bringing the Herbal Solutions brand to California.
Donnie Anderson—Western Caregivers
Medical-cannabis cultivator Donnie Anderson is a co-owner of the Western Caregivers dispensary in Los Angeles. With over 10 years’ involvement of advocacy and activism in the cannabis-reform movement, Anderson in 2015 was appointed to chair the NAACP California-Hawaii Cannabis Task Force. He has embraced his role in guiding the cannabis industry to become a newly legal and powerful economic force as a founding board member of the California Growers Association, co-founder of the Southern California Coalition and chairman of the California Minority Alliance. Anderson is keen on advancing equal-opportunity representation of marijuana-reform-policy initiatives and commercial-enterprise endeavors for all socioeconomic groups.
In 2010, Adam Bierman co-founded MedMen in Los Angeles with Andrew Modlin. MedMen is comprised of a turnkey management company and a capital arm. Since its inception, MedMen has helped more than 100 businesses in the United States navigate the complexities of the legal marijuana market, from completing state applications to managing operations. In 2014, MedMen secured $3.75 million in financing to launch operations in Nevada and Illinois, the largest capital investment at the time in a full-service cannabis-management firm. In 2016, the firm launched the MedMen Opportunity Fund, a $100 million private-equity fund with cannabis-related investments. MedMen brings together expertise in critical areas for the cannabis industry—licensing, cultivation, extraction, production, retail operations and capital formation.
Jake Salazar—MMJ America
Jake Salazar is a Colorado native, born and raised in Louisville, a suburb of Boulder. In his 10 years in the cannabis industry, Salazar has built the respected MMJ America brand in markets throughout the United States, as well as in other countries, including Australia and Puerto Rico. Salazar owns four MMJ America dispensaries in Colorado and one in Nevada, which together have won 18 High Times Cannabis Cups. He also owns the Vault Genetics. Salazar has played a pivotal role in the cannabis-legalization movement with his political connections and board positions. He is a proud member of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Matt Morgan—Green Axis
Matt Morgan, a leading player in Nevada’s recreational-cannabis market, co-founded Bloom Dispensaries in Arizona, building the business to 100 employees in less than a year and bringing in over $1 million per month. He left Bloom to form a new partnership with a private investor in Nevada, creating Tryke Companies/Reef Dispensaries in 2014. Reef Dispensaries currently operates six retail locations, two manufacturing plants and two laboratories across Nevada and Arizona with over 350 employees.
Yvonne DeLaRosa Green—99 High Tide Collective
Activist Yvonne DeLaRosa Green is not only a female pioneer in the cannabis industry, but also a respected actress. Credited with opening the world’s first upscale hybrid dispensary (99 High Art) by way of an art gallery in iconic Venice Beach over 10 years ago, Green has since opened the 99 High Tide Collective in Malibu, which has been named one of the best dispensaries in California. She was also Los Angeles’s first recipient of a cannabis business license. As an actress, Green has appeared in countless film and television shows, including Weeds.
Brooke Gehring—LiveGreen at Patients Choice Colorado
Brooke Gehring founded Live Green Consulting in Denver in 2009. She is a co-founder, chairwoman and chief executive officer of FGS Inc., Patients Choice of Colorado and LiveGreen Cannabis, a vertically integrated medical- and recreational-marijuana company. Gehring is a sustaining member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, a founding board member of the Council for Responsible Cannabis Regulation and is a founding member of Women Grow. Gehring also consults in three of the country’s extraction-only markets in Minnesota, New York and Pennsylvania, and in flower-inclusive markets such as Hawaii and Maryland.
Max Cohen—The Clinic
Max Cohen is a seasoned marijuana entrepreneur and industry trailblazer. In 2009, Cohen founded the Clinic, which is now a large vertically integrated multistate marijuana company. Under Cohen’s leadership as CEO, the Clinic has designed, constructed and operated several cultivation, processing and dispensary facilities that produce some of the top-rated marijuana products on the market. The Clinic consistently ranks as one of the highest-quality marijuana producers in the country and has won over 45 first-place cannabis-industry awards for its unique strains.
Kyle Speidell—The Green Solution
Kyle Speidell is CEO and co-founder of the Green Solution, a Colorado-based family-owned premier cannabis company with 14 locations across the state. Through innovation, Speidell and the Green Solution team aim to increase access to cannabis worldwide, providing consistent quality at competitive prices through a variety of distribution channels, prioritizing consumer safety and understanding cannabis’s social impact.
Dr. Dina, Jason Beck & Scott Lambert—AHHS Collective
Alternative Herbal Health Services (AHHS) co-owner Jason Beck is one of the first and most successful medical-marijuana dispensary operators and cultivators in the United States. Born with cerebral palsy, Beck is in the unique position of being a patient, caregiver, business owner, cultivation specialist, advocate and adviser. Fellow AHHS co-owner Dr. Dina (who received her nickname from Snoop Dogg) has been named the “Queen of Medical Marijuana in LA” by Rolling Stone and “Pot Doc to the Stars” by Variety, and she was the inspiration for Nancy Botwin in Showtime’s Weeds. She is the cannabis consultant for Netflix’s Disjointed, founder of the nonprofit FreedomGrow.org and host of the upcoming travel show Top Shelf With Dr. Dina.
Debby Goldsberry—Magnolia Wellness
Debby Goldsberry has 30 years’ experience as a leader in the medical- and adult-use marijuana industry. She is executive director at Magnolia Wellness, an award-winning dispensary in Oakland, CA, and is the managing director of the Hi Fidelity dispensary in Berkeley. She co-founded the Berkeley Patients Group medical-cannabis collective in 1999, directing its growth for over 10 years. Goldsberry published Starting and Running a Marijuana Business (Idiot’s Guides) in 2017, and is a sought-after industry business-management consultant.
Rosa Cazares—La Mota
At the age of 28, Rosa Cazares is leading the cannabis industry as CEO of one of Oregon’s largest dispensary chains, La Mota. Cazares heads a workforce comprising nearly 80 percent women. However, as someone who calls the late Steve Jobs her hero, Cazares doesn’t consider herself a feminist so much as a savvy businesswoman. Cazares also holds a position on the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee, which gives her a hand in the state’s rulemaking process overseeing the cannabis industry.
Laura Vega—Green State of Mind
Laura Vega served as a member of the Portland Minority Cannabis Cabinet and Cannabis Tax Steering Committee tasked with utilizing cannabis tax funds to help minorities disproportionately affected by prohibition. Vega also served on Oregon’s Cannabis Testing Rules Advisory Committee. She started Green State of Mind in Oregon with her husband in 2014, receiving accolades from the national media for its edibles. Green State of Mind received its recreational license in 2017, and the company has since expanded its product line, collaborated with premier industry brands and consulted on brand creation. In 2018, Green State of Mind’s product line will launch in California’s adult-use market.
John Lord—LivWell Enlightened Health
Entrepreneur John Lord has founded, built and sold several consumer-products companies. Prior to founding LivWell Enlightened Health, Lord created a successful baby-products company whose products were available at major retailers. After selling the company, Lord was drawn to the fledgling marijuana industry by the opportunity to apply his business acumen. Lord has worked hard to put LivWell Enlightened Health at the forefront of the industry, blending marijuana culture with solid business principles.
Armen Yemenidjian—Essence Vegas
Armen Yemenidjian founded Integral Associates I and II, medical- and recreational-cannabis companies that own and operate three Essence Vegas dispensaries and Desert Grown Farms, a 54,000-square-foot state-of-the-art cultivation and production facility in Las Vegas. Under Yemenidjian’s leadership as CEO, Essence Vegas has received numerous accolades, including being named Business Insider’s number-one dispensary in Nevada and a top-25 dispensary in the United States. Yemenidjian serves on the board of the Nevada Dispensary Association and the Nevada Cannabis Coalition, and he was selected by the state of Nevada to participate in the Governor’s Task Force on Cultivation.
Ryan Kunkel—Have a Heart Compassionate Care
Ryan Kunkel opened Have a Heart Compassion Care to serve the medical market in Washington in 2011. Since then, Have a Heart has branched into six Washington recreational shops, with stores in Hawaii, California and Oregon opening soon. Kunkel built his company in the spirit of medical compassion, applying the same principles to recreational adult use. Have a Heart is recognized as Washington State’s “Best Overall” dispensary, most recently by Leafly in 2017.
Tarek Tabsh—New Amsterdam Naturals
As a pioneer and business developer, Tarek Tabsh has over a decade of experience building businesses across a diverse range of verticals in the legal cannabis industry. As the co-founder of New Amsterdam Naturals in City of Las Vegas, Tarek was among the first people to legally dispense cannabis in the state of Nevada. Tarek co-founded Province Brands, a cannabis beverage company based in Toronto that produces ultra-premium, cannabis-derived beer and spirits. Tarek is also a co-founder of Oxford Cannabinoid Technologies, a cutting-edge cannabinoid biotechnology company in partnership with the University of Oxford, based in the UK.
David Weisser—Rocky Mountain High
David Weisser has over nine years of experience in cultivating and dispensing medical marijuana. He has been hailed for developing a medical model in “seed-to-sale” enterprises with an emphasis on tracking clinical data. In Colorado, Weisser owns Rocky Mountain High, comprising eight dispensaries and four cultivation facilities. Weisser also serves as chief operating officer and a member of the board of directors of Compassionate Care Research Institute Inc., doing business as Garden State Dispensary, a nonprofit licensed to operate vertically integrated medical-marijuana operations by the New Jersey Department of Health and Delaware Health and Social Services.
David Aguilar—Co-Founder of Brass Knuckles
Building a brand in the THC-cartridge scene has gotten much harder as more and more companies flood the market. This makes what David Aguilar and his team at Brass Knuckles have accomplished even more impressive. In practically no time, Aguilar and partners Mike Healey and Alvin Joiner have gone from forming a start-up to becoming industry leaders in super-premium CO2-extracted cannabis-oil products. Brass Knuckles’ flavorful and potent one-gram high-quality quartz oil cartridges are among the most desirable products available, and its three-story “speakeasy” mega-booth was the talk of our recent 2017 SoCal Harvest Cup.
Whoopi Goldberg & Maya Elisabeth—Co-Founders of Whoopi & Maya
When the legend of stage, film and television decided to enter the cannabis business, she partnered up with a multiple Cannabis Cup winner to create a product line with a focus on relieving menstrual pain and discomfort. Whoopi & Maya produces high-quality medical-cannabis-infused topicals, edibles and more for women (and men) interested in quality pain relief. The company’s products are available in over 350 dispensaries in California, and it’s recently expanded into Colorado with plans for more growth. With several High Times alums on board, Whoopi & Maya is poised for global dominance.
Garyn Angel—CEO of Magical Butter & Founder of nextCANNABIS
This award-winning inventor, entrepreneur and philanthropist from Port Richey, FL, created the innovative Magical Butter machine, a self-contained appliance that produces cannabis-infused butter, oil, tincture, gummies, lotion and more. While disrupting the edible production marketplace, Garyn Angel also successfully decriminalized cannabis in his hometown and has helped foreign countries rewrite their cannabis legislation. He believes that cannabis is a dietary essential, and his life-changing innovations continue to make it easier for people to easily convert herbs into edibles.
Jordan Lams—Co-Founder & CEO of Moxie
After losing his younger sister to a seven-year battle with leukemia, Jordan Lams dedicated his life to the medical-cannabis industry. His experience drove him to advocate for accessible, standardized, pharmaceutical-grade cannabis products, and he now manages market expansion, operations and brand development for PurePenn and its partner Moxie. Lams’s leadership has driven Moxie from a self-financed start-up to an international enterprise with facilities in four states and over 40 countries, where he works to ensure emerging markets are regulated safely and responsibly.
Trinity Angel—Chief Executive Director of Operations at Los Angeles Kush
Trinity Angel has been in the medical-cannabis industry for over eight years. Not only does she run operations for Los Angeles Kush, she’s also its head event planner as well as head director of Flight Farms Vape and LAK Vape. She’s also responsible for the LAK apparel and packaging line, managing everything from design to manufacturing and distribution. Under Angel’s supervision for just the last two years, the company has won multiple Cannabis Cups and other awards for its flowers, oils, vapes, booths and other products.
BigMike—CEO of Advanced Nutrients
Courtesy of Advanced Nutrients
Since founding Advanced Nutrients in 1999, Michael Straumietis, better known as “BigMike,” built the brand into a 100-million-dollar-a-year plant-nutrient powerhouse with current operations throughout North America, Eastern Europe, Germany and Spain, as well as sales in over 100 countries and growing. All along the way he has championed the cause of cannabis and, in particular, the growers who create the quality flowers from which it all begins. His newest venture, Lacturnus Labs, is a world-class 20-million-dollar laboratory-research facility.
Douglas Dracup—Owner & Operator of Hitman Glass
At only 32 years old, “Doug-ee,” as he’s known to friends, has built an empire inspired by great weed and hash. He’s been collecting pipes since 2004 and making hash oil since 2007, and he co-founded (with his late friend Erik Weissman) Hitman Glass in 2009 and started the Chalice festival in 2014. Along the way, he’s also opened his latest venture—Hitman Coffeeshop in Los Angeles, with plans to branch out to many other locations. Doug-ee also recently partnered up with cannabis legend Mila Jansen in a joint operation called HashQueen.
Dave Maggio—COO of Cheeba Chews
Along with partners CEO James Howler and CMO Eric Leslie, Dave Maggio built Cheeba Chews into one of the cannabis-infused-edible industry’s most iconic brands. They started up together in 2009, long before any legal recreational use existed, and, due to their manufacturing and product-development initiatives, they became guiding forces in the space. Maggio’s love for cooking and cannabis shines through in every product he’s released into the marketplace. The “deca-dose” Cheeba Chews in particular, have left their mark on the world.
Braelyn Davis—Co-Founder & Marketing Director of Flav
Braelyn Davis started with a vision to shift the negative stigma of cannabis by creating a positive brand that’s approachable by all. Since then, Davis and his team have created a line of CO2-extracted THC- and CBD-infused drops, salves, edibles and bath bombs as well as outstanding solventless and glycol-free cartridges, all available in California and Washington. Flav’s vision was well embraced in 2017 through athletics, music and education, and the company plans to continue to evolve and expand its mission in 2018.
Adam Bergman—King Pen, Loud Pack & GreenWolf
This CEO and founder of Loud Pack Inc. and owner of the GreenWolf dispensary first became involved in the cannabis industry over 23 years ago. In 2014, Bergman attended a High Times Cannabis Cup and witnessed thousands of people celebrating the plant; shortly thereafter, he opened the GreenWolf dispensary. After only a few months operating GreenWolf, Bergman saw a shift away from flowers and toward extracts and vapes, and he founded the Loud Pack Extracts and 710 King Pen brands. They continue to be the world’s most awarded dispensary and vape-pen brands on the market.
Jason DeLand—Co-Founder of Dosist & Co-Inventor of Double Barrel
Jason DeLand has spent 20 years in consumer marketing and innovations. Four years ago, he saw a clear opportunity in cannabis to bring a higher level of design, innovation and marketing to the industry. His passion for cannabis is rooted in the intersection of innovation, design, experience and functionality. In 2016, Dosist was born, the result of an incredible partnership of experts in device innovation, design, science and branding. Since then, Dosist has become one of the most recognized and successful brands in the space.
Joseph Encinosa—Founder & President of Gold Drop Co.
A lifelong allergy sufferer, Encinosa found relief with cannabis for his ADD and social anxieties; however, his allergy to cannabis limited the benefits it provided him. As a result, he has dedicated the last 10 years of his career to innovating the concentrate market. As a pioneer and expert in cannabis concentrates, Encinosa has created extracts and formulations that have earned him 85 awards from every medical-cannabis competition in the United States.
Graham Gibson—President & CEO of KandyPens
Since starting his company with an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in early 2014, Graham Gibson has built KandyPens into one of the largest vaporizer lifestyle brands in the world, featuring over 20 different product lines including their new RUBI refillable open-pod system vaporizer. Graham leveraged the power of celebrity endorsements and music video integrations by pursuing game-changing collaborations with A$AP Rocky and Amber Rose. The KandyPens empire continues to grow under his watch.
Chris Hagedorn—GM of the Hawthorne Gardening Company
As the son of Scotts Miracle-Gro CEO and chairman of the board James Hagedorn, Chris has some big shoes to fill in the horticulture industry. He’s gotten off to a brisk start, acquiring some of the biggest companies in hydroponics, but not without causing some pointed discussions along the way about a corporate takeover of the marijuana biz. Controversies aside, recent multimillion-dollar acquisitions of Gavita Lighting, General Hydroponics, Vermicrop Organics and American Agritech/Botanicare by Hawthorne prove that the big boys of “Big Ag” are doing more than simply eyeing the cannabis space.
Kristi Knoblich Palmer—Co-Founder & COO of Kiva Confections
Founded in 2010, Kiva Confections’ mission is to produce safe, consistent and delicious edibles. Kristi Knoblich Palmer is the driving force behind Kiva’s customer-service philosophy, employee development and best practices in manufacturing, business and marketing. She and her team have successfully grown the company to more than 100 employees. Palmer holds a board seat on the California Cannabis Industry Association and is a co-founder of the California Cannabis Manufacturers Association.
Cameron Forni—Co-Founder & President of Cura Cannabis Solutions
Well-known in the industry as one of the leading authorities on the design of cannabis vape cartridges, Cameron Forni has built a strong reputation for being inventive, energetic and laser-focused. He leads the charge in product innovation, supply-chain management and strategic sales development. Since creating Select Oil in September 2014, Cameron has grown the brand to extend into California and Nevada, thus becoming the best-selling cannabis brand on the West Coast, according to BDS Analytics.
Ruben Cross—Owner of Kushy Punch
Having worked as the marketing director and consultant for several Los Angeles–based collectives and large cultivation centers, Ruben Cross successfully developed and manages a diverse portfolio of companies including Kushy Punch and Kushism. His background in e-commerce, business-to-consumer marketing and product promotion ensures that this medical-marijuana entrepreneur stays on the right track. Ruben is an active member of the National Cannabis Industry Association, the largest cannabis trade association in the United States and the only organization representing cannabis-related businesses at the national level.
Josh Priebe—Director of Marketing at THC Design
This Southern California native and self-made entrepreneur started his career 17 years ago in the action-sports industry, creating the skateboarding brand Sk8mafia and clothing brand JSLV. As a marijuana advocate his whole life, Priebe’s transition from skate, snow and surf fashion into the cannabis world was seamless. “Preebz,” as his friends know him, joined Los Angeles cultivation powerhouse THC Design in 2016 as its creative director, overseeing all of the company’s marketing and shaping it into one of the first nationally branded cannabis companies.
Alex Leon—President of W Vapes
For over a decade, Alex Leon has been a cannabis marketing and branding executive. During his tenure, he’s been tapped to help brands and develop sales strategies for industry leaders like Terraform Genetics, Golden State Greens Point Loma, Advanced Nutrients and Nameless Genetics. As president of California W Vapes, Leon focuses on supporting and developing new product innovation and continuing to improve W Vapes’s product and brand awareness.
The youngest son of reggae legend Bob Marley has been performing since he was 13 years old. Now the multiple Grammy-winning Damian Robert Nesta “Jr. Gong” Marley uses his music and his business acumen to send a message championing cannabis and hemp. With his cannabis company Stony Hill recently launching a line of CBD products, he’s also partnered up with Ocean Grown Extracts to grow marijuana in an abandoned prison and he’s joined a group of investors who’ve bought your favorite weed magazine—High Times!
Snoop Dogg’s image is now synonymous with marijuana. He has graced the cover of High Times four times, including as part of the legendary Mount Kushmore gang. And Snoop is not only an OG weed rapper—he’s a legit cannabis businessman. He’s invested in multiple cannabis ventures, including the digital-media platform Merry Jane, his brand of cannabis products Leafs by Snoop and venture-capital firm Casa Verde. Casa Verde recently invested in Cannalysis, a cannabis lab that tests medical- and recreational-cannabis products.
Angela George/ Wikimedia Commons
Bill Maher has been a mainstay on late-night television for 25 years, first with Politically Incorrect (1993-2002) and now with the Emmy-nominated Real Time with Bill Maher (since 2003). An unapologetic proponent of cannabis, Maher has used his voice to advocate for marijuana-law reform, often discussing the subject on air. He is an advisory-board member of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and was named the number-one pot comic by High Times magazine.
OG weed rapper B-Real has become a staple of California’s legal cannabis industry, releasing Cannabis Cup–winning strains and partnering with ROOR for Phuncky Feel Tips. B-Real is also a tireless legalization advocate, speaking out about the benefits that a fully legalized marijuana industry can offer. High Times named him “Stoner of the Year” in 2014, and he was one of the cannabis legends on the Mount Kushmore cover. He’s currently tearing it up with his new supergroup Prophets of Rage. Catch B-Real smoking with all kinds of celebs on his show The Smokebox, airing on his live streaming network, the video and news site B-Real TV.
This stand-up comedian and podcast pioneer has been advocating for marijuana-law reform and the rights of cannabis consumers for over a decade. In 2004, Benson co-created and performed onstage in The Marijuana-Logues with friends Arj Barker and Tony Camin. His 2007 film, Super High Me, documented his use—and non-use—of marijuana. He hosts the popular podcast Doug Loves Movies and a weekly YouTube show called Getting Doug With High, during which all guests consume cannabis at 4:20.
Cheech & Chong
Cheech and Chong have been on the cover of High Times more than any other celeb stoners—a record eight times (five times together and three times with Tommy going solo). Cheech Marin is a multigenerational star and a cultural icon, and has appeared in over 20 films, including Tin Cup, and Once Upon a Time in Mexico. He also has a line of cannabis products called Cheech’s Private Stash. Tommy Chong is a Grammy-winning comedian who has appeared in several films, including Far Out Man and National Lampoon’s Senior Trip. He also starred in That ‘70s Show. After battling and defeating prostate cancer, Chong was diagnosed with rectal cancer, and he’s now seeking ongoing treatments with the help of various therapies, including hemp oil. Never one to give up on a fight, Chong is an avid speaker and activist for the medical wonders and potential health benefits of marijuana. He curates a line of cannabis products under the name Chong’s Choice.
This 84-year-old living legend has been writing and performing country music since the late 1950s. Willie Nelson has also championed farmers with his Farm Aid festival, promoted sustainability by putting his money where his mouth is by traveling by biodiesel bus, and co-chaired the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). In 2014, he started Willie’s Reserve to provide his signature cannabis strains as well as edibles, vapes and accessories in Washington, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and, most recently, California.
Reggie Watts is an internationally renowned vocal artist/beatboxer/musician/comedian who wows audiences with his 100 percent improvised live performances. Using his formidable voice, looping pedals and vast imagination, Watts blends and blurs the lines between music and comedy. He definitively credits cannabis with helping hone his creative process, and regularly incorporates it into his work: “It’s kind of a constant experimental life relationship that I have with the plant,” he once told High Times. Watts has performed sold-out headlining tours in the United States and Europe, and he’s a founding member of jash.com and can currently be seen on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
Angela George/ Wikimedia Commons
Iconoclast. Cannabis advocate. Melissa Etheridge is a woman of innumerable talents. Nominated for 17 Grammy Awards (she took home two), Etheridge won an Academy Award in 2007 for Best Original Song, “I Need to Wake Up,” written for the documentary An Inconvenient Truth. She discovered the medical benefits of cannabis when she was battling breast cancer, and has since been an outspoken advocate for legalization, along with her tireless activism for LGTBQ rights. Etheridge is creating a line of cannabis products through her company Etheridge Farms.
This comic got his start performing stand-up in front of fellow prisoners at a correctional facility in Denver in 1988. Since then, Joey “Coco” Diaz has been touring regularly, acting in films and television, and appearing as a regular on Joe Rogan’s podcast, often discussing his love for marijuana edibles. He also hosts his own biweekly podcast, The Church of What’s Happening Now, and airs inspirational and hilarious “Morning Joint” pot-friendly broadcasts on Periscope.
Sean Kiernan—President of Weed for Warriors
After serving four years in the US Army airborne infantry, Sean Kiernan had a successful career as a Wall Street hedge-fund manager until he began to suffer emotional trauma from his time in the service. With heavy pharmaceuticals and the VA failing him, Kiernan turned to cannabis and was able to stop taking all other meds. As president of Weed for Warriors, an organization that advocates for the right of veterans to choose cannabis, Kiernan helps to provide services, counseling and even free cannabis to qualifying veterans.
Mason Tvert—Marijuana Policy Project, VS Strategies
As founder of Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation, Mason Tvert was instrumental in the passage of Colorado’s Amendment 64 and has continued his activism in recent years as the Marijuana Policy Project’s communications director. Tvert has also joined forces with Colorado-based VS Strategies in hopes of sharing lessons and implementing strategies to help cannabusinesses, trade associations and state governments better understand the complexities that come with legalization.
Bill Piper—Senior Director of the Drug Policy Alliance
Bill Piper’s sole focus is ending the nation’s misguided War on Drugs. As senior director of the Drug Policy Alliance’s office of national affairs, Piper uses his nearly 20 years of political experience in Washington, DC, to lobby Congress in support of drug-law reform as well as fighting federal interference in state-sanctioned marijuana programs. Piper is also one of the most prolific reformers in the country, with his commentary and analysis appearing in publications throughout the country and around the world.
Keith Stroup—Founder of NORML
For those with any knowledge of the cannabis world, Keith Stroup is a household name. Stroup is the founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and serves as legal counsel for the organization. Since founding NORML in 1970, Stroup has been a force in the reform community. After nearly 50 years, he is still lecturing, writing and advocating on behalf of his life’s passion, cannabis-law reform.
Nina Parks—Co-Founder of Supernova Women
Nina Parks helped found Supernova Women in 2015 to provide a space for women of color in the ever-changing cannabis movement. With a mission based in education, Parks’s organization fosters community empowerment and creates advocacy training and education through cannabusiness workshops and networking. Sparking change and opportunities for women of color has led Parks to speak up for would-be Oakland ganjapreneurs and to work to revise the current medical-pot program.
Roz McCarthy—Founder & CEO, Minorities for Medical Marijuana
As the founder and CEO of Minorities for Medical Marijuana Inc. (M4MM), she is responsible for the organization’s day-to-day operation and is the chief strategist involved in developing advocacy, education and marketing campaigns to promote awareness, information and education about the efficacy of medical marijuana. M4MM is a membership-based organization working hard to ensure people of color have a true quantifiable opportunity to participate in the medical-marijuana marketplace and are afforded adequate access to care, no matter what their economic situation.
Neill Franklin—Executive Director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition
Maj. Neill Franklin was one of Maryland’s top cops when he retired in 2010 after 34 years in law enforcement. Over the course of those three-plus decades, he went from being an active supporter of the War on Drugs to a staunch opponent. While serving as a narcotics agent with the Maryland State Police, Major Franklin was persuaded by the then mayor of Baltimore, Kurt Schmoke, who declared that the War on Drugs was counterproductive and created excessive violence. He retired from policing in 2010 to lead the Law Enforcement Action Partnership as executive director. When not working with LEAP, Major Franklin volunteers his time by serving on many boards, including Murder Victims Families for Reconciliation, the Faith Based Community Council on Law Enforcement and Intelligence and the Place of Grace Church.
Denis Peron—Co-Author, Prop 215
Few figures in the cannabis world loom as large as Dennis Peron. Known as the “father of medical marijuana,” Peron worked tirelessly on behalf of medical-cannabis patients. In fact, the system of state-sanctioned medical-pot programs that now exist in more than half the country can all be traced back to Peron, who co-authored California’s medical-cannabis law (the country’s first), in 1996. (As this issue went to press, we learned of the unfortunate passing of Peron, who died at the age of 71. He will be greatly missed by the cannabis community and the innumerable patients whose lives he touched.)
Shanel Lindsay—Founder & President of Ardent
Shanel Lindsay helped create Massachusetts’s adult-use pot law, and she sits on the state’s Cannabis Advisory Board. But this attorney’s passion is for helping medical-pot patients get the most out of their medicine. As such, the founder of Ardent LLC created the NOVA Decarboxylator, which helps prepare cannabis for infusions, simply and consistently. Lindsay advocates for medical pot and emphasizes the need to educate the public in order to make marijuana an accepted treatment for a variety of conditions.
Ebele Ifedigbo—Co-Founder of the Hood Incubator
For all the good the legal cannabis industry has done, it has also ultimately taken work away from the growers and sellers who made a living in the illicit market. As co-founder and co-director of the Hood Incubator, Ebele Ifedigbo is working to help such underground cannabis entrepreneurs transition to legal markets. Ifedigbo is passionate about racial and economic justice and advocates for those who have been disproportionately affected by the War on Drugs.
Don & Aaron—Founders of DNA Genetics
Don and Aaron, founders of DNA Genetics, were born and bred in California but found their groove in Amsterdam. In 2003, the brothers launched DNA, a company with some 40 employees and operations in Amsterdam, California, Canada and Chile. They have bagged scores of Cannabis Cups and hundreds of other awards, and were early inductees in the High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame, in 2009. While still killing it with their seed company, they also run a thriving consulting business, sharing their expertise around the world.
Arjan Roskam—Founder of Green House Seed Co.
Calling yourself the “King of Cannabis” would be a presumptuous affectation for almost anyone in the world—but not for Arjan Roskam, founder of Green House Seed Co. in Amsterdam. For over 30 years, Roskam has scoured the remotest corners of the planet to collect and preserve cannabis landraces, a project that has given the world some of its most cherished strains. That honorable mission has been documented in recent years in the HBO/Vice series Strain Hunters.
Crockett—Crockett Family Farms
Crockett Family Farms was launched in 2008 by the pseudonymous “Crockett,” a grower from the Sierra Nevada who had been raised in the secretive world of cannabis culture. Crockett’s legendary Tangie and Strawberry Banana strains are beloved by tokers the world over. As perennial Cannabis Cup winners, it was a no-brainer to install Crockett Family Farms in the 2017 High Times Seed Bank Hall of Fame.
Jeff Malinovitz—Owner of Nameless Genetics
The name behind Nameless Genetics is Jeff Malinovitz, the founder and owner of the venerable company. Malinovitz also founded the WEED, or Wellness Earth Energy Dispensary, in Studio City, CA, home to some 500-plus top-shelf cannabis products, as well as Go Green Hydroponics in Encino. When he’s not racking up Cannabis Cups, Malinovitz consults on giant grow ops and buildouts, which is good news for everyone.
Jeff Buchman—Co-Founder & CEO of Cannabiotix
Let’s take it back to 1998 to the beaches of Huntington in Southern CA. From a closet grow with a 400 watt light to over 900 lights, from Los Angeles to Sin City, cultivating over 40 genetics. Jeff Buchman went from a jail sentence and losing everything in his life to growing for Gold Coast Extracts winning multiple Cannabis Cups. Later, he started Cannabiotix with his best friend, Neema, where today they are breeding and producing flowers from Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
Scott Reach—Founder of Rare Dankness
Scott Reach has been a leader in cannabis cultivation for over 15 years. He launched Rare Dankness and Europe-based Rare Dankness Genetics in 2011. Four years later, Reach built a state-of-the-art facility in Colorado that produces high-end cannabis for both the medical and adult-use markets. Reach shares his expertise all over the world, consulting with start-ups looking to establish best practices in the industry.
Terry Booth—Founder & CEO of Aurora Cannabis
At Aurora Cannabis, Terry Booth takes on myriad responsibilities: operations, patient acquisition, genetics development, doctor-education programs and sales, among others. Booth is known in Edmonton, Alberta, as much for his corporate leadership as he is for his philanthropic work, the latter typified in his support for organizations dedicated to ending domestic violence, including the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” campaign and other charitable causes that address issues such as early childhood development disabilities.
Robert & Katrina McKinley—CEO of Phat Panda
“We like to think of ourselves as a large-scale boutique,” says Robert McKinley, CEO of Grow Op Farms in Spokane, WA. The operation, and its popular product line known as Phat Panda, has been around since 2014, and usually has some 80 cannabis strains proffered at any given time, including its wildly successful OG Chem and Golden Pineapple. McKinley, along with his wife, Katrina, has flourished with a “go big but think small” philosophy.
Berner—Founder of Cookies & Exotikz
Founder and owner of Cookies, one of the most popular cannabis brands in the country, this Bay Area-based rapper and marijuana business mogul keeps the hits coming. In addition to Cookies, Berner is the man behind the Exotikz brand and he’s helping to bring kick-ass kind to dispensaries across the country through his partnership with Jungle Boys. Berner’s set his sights on world domination with plans for global expansion in the coming year for the Cookies brand.
Bruce Linton—Founder of Canopy Growth Corp.
Bruce Linton is the founder, chairman and CEO of Canopy Growth Corporation and co-founder of Tweed Marijuana Inc. Canopy Growth became the first cannabis-producing company in North America to be listed on a major stock exchange (TSX, July 2016). Linton’s skill sets in raising investment capital—$625 million to date—and positioning cannabis brands are driving the company’s international expansion. The company’s subsidiaries and partnerships expect to deliver medical-marijuana products and cannabis beverages to the world soon.
Mila Jansen—Founder of the Pollinator
Mila Jansen, the original “Hash Queen,” has been a permanent fixture in Amsterdam scene since its inception in the 1970s. One of the first to own a legal coffee shop, the Mellow Yellow, Mila’s biggest claim to fame was her revolutionary contributions to the global hash market. Her creation, known simply as “the Pollinator,” revolutionized the hash-making process, removing the need to import hash products from Africa and the Middle East and establishing a new “Nederhash” pressed-kief product that could be made locally, anywhere cannabis is grown.
Frenchy Cannoli—Extract Expert
Frenchy Cannoli is a master hashmaker and historian. For years, he has traveled the globe smoking and creating concentrates. Through his travels, he’s acquired knowledge of all the classic hashmaking techniques, from the Himalayas to Morocco. He now resides in the Bay Area, where he’s merged his old-school sieving techniques with new-school methodologies. This unique integration yielded his line of high-quality hash products. You can learn his masterful techniques through his YouTube videos and classes, which he gives in the United States and Europe.
Vincent D’Accolti—Co-Founder of Rosin Tech Industries
When Vincent D’Accolti and his college roommate Sam started SHO Products in 2015, they worked out of D’Accolti’s garage, producing a single line of Rosin Tech Products. They quickly grew into a major purveyor of solventless extraction equipment and concentrate-smoking accessories, now with five brands—Rosin Tech Products, Pollen Masters, Dab Nation, the Electric Nail and SHO Industries—with global distribution agreements in play for a variety of related award-winning products.
Alex Queupumil—Critical Concentrates
Alex is the founder and owner of Critical Concentrates, a Southern California–based extraction company that specializes in dabable THC and CBD products. Alex’s diligence and care for his work is unmatched in the industry, as he’s refined and retooled his processes for years, eventually becoming a perennial Cannabis Cup champion several times over.
Jerett Wasserman—West Coast Cure
Jerett Wasserman owns and operates the LA-based extraction company known best for its fiery OG waxes and oils culled from some of the top OG Kush phenotypes in the world, most notably Paris OG. West Coast Cure has been a staple at Cannabis Cup competitions for years, taking home several first-place awards in the concentrates categories.
Dennis Hunter—AbsoluteXtracts/Care by Design
The six and a half years that Dennis Hunter spent in federal prison for cannabis cultivation did nothing to dissuade the owner and CEO of AbsoluteXtracts and Care by Design from pursuing his passion for the plant. With a quarter century of cultivation and cannabis activism under his belt, Hunter and his products have helped innumerable patients with cancer, epilepsy, PTSD and chronic pain. He has a simple reason for his indefatigable commitment: “I love the plant, love what it does.”
Ricky Williams—Former NFL Running Back
This Heisman Trophy–winning running back played 12 seasons in the NFL while suffering from severe bouts of social anxiety. After a brief stint as a spokesman for pharmaceutical drugs, Ricky Williams discovered cannabis and told ESPN, “Marijuana is 10 times better for me than Paxil.” After years marred by fines and suspensions for violations of NFL drug policy, Williams quit professional football and traveled the world training to become a holistic healer, and he continues to be a vocal medical-cannabis advocate.
Nick & Nate Diaz—MMA Fighters
Stockton, California, natives Nick and Nate Diaz are professional American mixed martial artists and world-renowned Gracie Jiu-Jitsu black belts. Both of the Diaz brothers are seasoned triathletes who sustain themselves on plant-based diets, and they have advocated for and used cannabis and CBD since starting their careers in their teens. Known for their phenomenal endurance and exciting fights, they are seasoned veterans within the sport and they’ve consistently ranked in the top 10 for over a decade. The Diaz brothers are two of the most powerful and recognizable names in MMA today.
Cliff Robinson—Former NBA Player
This 6-foot-10 center’s NBA career spanned almost 20 years playing for five different teams and making the All-Star team in 1994. He credits much of his longevity to the anti-inflammatory benefits of medical cannabis and works to change drug policies in professional sports. “Uncle Cliffy” is now known as “Uncle Spliffy” through his partnership with Pistil Point Cannabis in Portland, producing branded pre-rolls for the Oregon market and working on a topical pain cream, transdermal patches, and CBD- and THC-formulated vaporizer products.
Al Harrington—Former NBA Player
From an all-American high-school basketball career to 16 years in the NBA, Al Harrington has been a standout in every game he’s played. After years of taking prescription medicine for pain management, Harrington turned to medical cannabis when he retired from the game. But it wasn’t until he witnessed the transformation cannabis had on the health of his grandmother Viola, who suffered from glaucoma and diabetes, that he became inspired to invest in the industry. He’s now entered the cannabis sector as the lead investor and public face of the Viola Extracts and Harrington Wellness brands.
Cory Booker—US Senator, New Jersey
The junior senator from New Jersey is one of only 10 African Americans to have served in the US Senate. Booker, the former mayor of Newark, is speaking out for climate change and criminal-justice reform. An outspoken proponent for cannabis legalization, Booker recently introduced the Marijuana Justice Act into the Senate. The bill would remove cannabis from the DEA’s list of controlled substances and legalize it federally. Booker is cool as shit, and he could be gearing up for a 2020 presidential run. Cannabis consumers will be watching (and voting).
Jared Polis—US Representative, Colorado
In an uncertain political climate, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of a staunch and ferocious ally. Fortunately, the cannabis community has such a supporter in Representative Jared Polis. As a member of the House of Representatives since 2009, Polis has worked to end the government’s War on Drugs and to legalize cannabis. He’s introduced legislation that would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and launched the Congressional Cannabis Caucus in 2017 to develop a rational approach to federal pot policy. Polis will run for governor of Colorado in the 2018 election.
Gavin Newsom—Lieutenant Governor of California
The lieutenant governor of California is one of the hottest up-and-coming politicians in the country. An early supporter of the Golden State’s adult-use cannabis law, Proposition 64, Newsom supports marijuana legalization and has pushed back against the Trump administration’s federal cannabis crackdown. Newsom has broad support from the cannabis community for the 2018 gubernatorial race in California, and many expect a run for the White House will be next on his list.
Dana Rohrabacher—US Representative, California
A staunch supporter of states’ rights, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher believes that the federal government should not interfere with states’ ability to shape marijuana policy. Famously, he helped create the amendment known as Rohrabacher-Farr (now Rohrabacher-Blumenauer), protecting medical-cannabis patients and prohibiting the Justice Department from spending funds on prosecuting in legal states. A tireless supporter of the cause, Rohrabacher has pot smokers’ backs in the tumultuous climate created by the current administration.
Herb Wesson—President, Los Angeles City Council
CaolinnMejza/ Wikimedia Commons
Herb J. Wesson Jr. has served as the president of the Los Angeles City Council since November 2011 and has represented Council District 10 since 2005. Wesson is the first African American to hold the position of Council president in the city’s history and has been re-elected three times to lead the city’s legislative body. During his tenure as Council president, Wesson has presided over policy initiatives making Los Angeles a better place to live, work and raise a family. Under his leadership, Los Angeles lawmakers unanimously backed a host of new regulations for the adult-use cannabis industry. Wesson urged the LA City Council before the vote to “make history.”
Earl Blumenauer—US Representative, Oregon
Congressman Blumenauer is a longtime supporter of ending the failed War on Drugs. He’s called on Congress to reschedule, tax and regulate cannabis; allow for the cannabis industry to bank and operate in a normal business environment; and ensure safe access for patients—especially our veterans. In 2013, Blumenauer, along with Jared Polis (D-CO), wrote “The Path Forward: Rethinking Federal Marijuana Policy,” a straightforward report outlining everything from current issues with federal and state pot laws to removing the ban on industrial hemp.
Kat Packer—Executive Director of the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulation
Appointed by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti in 2017, Cat Packer serves as the city’s first executive director of the Department of Cannabis Regulation. Packer was the California policy coordinator for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), where she worked to ensure the successful and equitable development and implementation of California’s evolving cannabis laws and policies. Packer championed responsible regulation, industry diversity and reinvestment in communities most harmed by marijuana prohibition.
Dr. Joshua Kaplan—Neuroscientist & Professor
Dr. Joshua Kaplan is a neuroscientist and science writer specializing in medicinal cannabis. He’s a senior fellow at the University of Washington as well as a prolific science communicator, whose work has appeared in Dope Magazine, Leafly and, of course, High Times (see “Can Cannabis Rescue the Opioid Overdose Epidemic in 2017?”). Dr. Kaplan is currently working on the therapeutic potential of the endocannabinoid system, with goals toward treating autism and epilepsy.
Dr. Sue Sisley—Psychiatrist
Dr. Sue Sisley has been a leading advocate for PTSD patients, as well as for NFL players suffering from repetitive head injuries. As a board member of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Dr. Sisley brings needed medical expertise to public discussions of medical marijuana. Dr. Sisley is the site investigator for the only FDA-approved clinical trial looking at use of whole-plant marijuana in combat veterans with treatment-resistant PTSD. Look for published results of that study within the next two years.
Justin Hartfield—Founder of Weedmaps
Justin Hartfield is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist based in Southern California. He is best known as the founder and former CEO of Weedmaps, a groundbreaking SEO-based platform that has changed the way medical-marijuana patients find and access their medicine in MMJ states. Hartfield also serves on the board of directors for NORML and the Marijuana Policy Project.
Brendan Kennedy—CEO & Founder of Tilray & Privateer Holdings
As president of Tilray, Brendan Kennedy’s particular skill set is his insight into technology and growth industries. Thus, Tilray has blossomed into a global leader in medical-cannabis research and production, and today it delivers cutting-edge flower and extract products to patients, doctors, medical facilities and researchers on four continents around the globe. Tilray looks to be the world’s most trusted medical-cannabis brand and, with Kennedy at the helm, it’s on its way.
Tim McGraw—Founder & CEO of Canna-Hub
Tim McGraw began developing and managing real estate 20 years ago, but more recently planted his flag in the sweet-spot niche of the cannabis space. As the founder and chief executive officer of Canna-Hub, McGraw and his team have secured millions of square feet of commercial space for cannabusinesses. We like that McGraw actively seeks small, economically challenged communities in which to create jobs and bolster needy economies. For this and other reasons, the CEO took a High Times Trailblazer Award in 2015.
Matt Nordgren—CEO of Arcadian Fund
Matt Nordgren’s NFL career was cut short by injury, but the former quarterback has matured into an executive leader in cannabis financing, in particular in ancillary businesses. As founder and CEO of the Arcadian Fund and Arcadian Capital Management, Nordgren brings venture capital to companies in and around the cannabis and hemp industries. To date, he has managed over $7 billion in transactions and maintains a portfolio of some 25 companies. Nordgren also founded the Leadership Foundation, an organization committed to empowering youth through sports and education.
Matt Stang—Chief Revenue Officer of High Times Magazine
Since starting off at High Times almost 15 years ago as an assistant in the ad department, Matt Stang quickly rose through the ranks into a management and ownership position and earned a sizeable stake in the marijuana-media landscape. He has nurtured and grown a portfolio of advertisers and brand partnerships worthy of the almost-50-year-old brand. With years of sales and business-building experience and an eye toward the future of legal cannabis, Stang’s leadership lights the way forward for more “high times” to come.
Tom Angell—Reporter at Marijuana Moment
Cannabis writer Tom Angell is a go-to voice for those of us tracking weed news on the daily. Between editing his “cannabis portal” Marijuana Moment, chairing the nonprofit Marijuana Majority and writing the occasional herb-themed piece for Forbes, Angell stays on top of crucial cannabis news as much as any reporter in the country. Anyone trying to keep track of the myriad daily developments in weed politics and law would do well to follow this guy.
Martin A. Lee—Author & Advocate
Martin A. Lee is an author and activist who has written numerous books and articles on drug policies, politics and consumption, including Smoke Signals: A Social History of Marijuana—Medical, Recreational, and Scientific. Lee is a co-founder and director of Project CBD, an informational nonprofit organization started with Fred Gardner in 2010. Lee regularly lectures at universities across the country, and his work has appeared in many publications, including High Times.
Labeling herself a “granny that loves dabs” and a “cannabis advocate and silly entertainer,” Dabbing Granny has carved a fun little niche for herself on YouTube, garnering close to 35,000 subscribers. When she’s not cheering on the Denver Broncos or pounding dabs, Dabbing Granny’s main mission is to wish you peace and love. Best of all, she’s demonstrating the positive power of concentrates regardless of age. If only every granny could be a Dabbing Granny!
With 1.4 million subscribers on his YouTube channel, CustomGrow420—a.k.a. Joel Hradecky, or “Jolie Olie,” as he calls himself—has dabbed an endless array of concentrates, smoked plenty of blunts, and reviewed and unboxed too many weed-related products to count. A trusted name in the cannabis game, Olie’s sponsored posts—which make up many of his reviews—fill his YouTube page along with his favorite greeting: “What up, YouTuuuuuuuube!” Olie balances entertainment with information, and his loyal fan base will ensure that he won’t be disappearing in the smoke anytime soon.
Tim Blake—Founder of Emerald Cup
With more than a decade’s worth of experience building and presenting the Emerald Cup in Northern California, Tim Blake has created one of the most successful cannabis competitions in the United States. In addition to bringing consumers, growers and cannabusinesses together at his events, Blake, who has 40-plus years of growing experience, helped cultivators and law enforcement to create California’s 9.31 program, allowing for cannabis farmers to grow as many as 99 plants.
Evan Nison—Cannabis-Industry Public Relations (NisonCo)
As the youngest member on the board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Evan Nison works alongside legislators to champion and write marijuana legalization. Nison is also the founder and owner of a cannabis-specific public-relations firm, NisonCo, allowing him to work with clients on all sides of the industry, from doctors and scientists to tech companies and inventors. Teaming up with Whoopi Goldberg and Maya Elisabeth, Nison helped found Whoopi & Maya, a line of medical-cannabis products produced with women in mind.
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