A new paradigm is upon us. The pandemic changed everything about how we move through the world. It's changed how we interact with each other, which is going to continue to evolve. It's given us the ability to see situations realistically, understand wants versus needs, and appreciate moments and people that we've all previously taken for granted.
2020 also reminded us that cannabis is a medicine — even if you use it recreationally — that can help us get through dark times. Hell, it's what propped us up and got us out of bed every morning. Without great weed and the incredible people behind each brand, we surely would have become a lost soul in a fishbowl, or some other sad Pink Floyd motif. But the resilience of cannabis industry folk motivated us to keep our chins up and joints lit — and for that, we thank you.
That's why we put this list together: to shout out the people who are slaying the game and inspiring others along the way. We recognize this list is short compared to large swaths of talented people making shit happen in the cannabis space. So, click here to scroll through a more inclusive list! In the meantime, here are the people making serious chess moves in the weed game.
Lonny The Street Lawyer
Lonny The Street Lawyer, better known as the Cannabis King of DC and owner of Street Lawyer Services, is a high-profile criminal defense attorney by trade. Since graduating from Stanford University and Columbia Law School, he has represented over 4,000 individuals facing drug, weapon, and felony charges.
But as of last year, Lonny has refocused his energy on becoming a branding and marketing expert in the cannabis industry. Due to his legal expertise and understanding of DC culture, Lonny became a frequent guest host on DC101’s Klinger show to give life advice and answer listeners' criminal defense questions on air. Soon after, Lonny expanded his audience to a nationwide platform by taking his expertise to iheartradio’s Cannabis Talk 101.
CBD.io is dedicated to providing premium hemp products enriched with CBD. They want you to discover the health and wellness benefits of CBD through their unique range of tinctures, edibles, flowers, and skincare. They partner with farms across the US and use the latest methods in extraction and manufacturing to provide quality at every step.
David Kool: Co-Founder, President of Telos Cannabis Group, Director of Business Development for Eaze
David grew up in British Columbia, where cannabis was a material stakeholder in the provincial economy. When he went off to college in Boston, most of his friends started growing pot, which meant when he got home from studying Economics at Brandeis University, he was the one helping them all fill out their licensing paperwork for the initial medical framework in Canada.
After watching the explosion of public companies in Canada, taking advantage of the retail investors’ blind enthusiasm for the nascent industry, he knew that wasn't where he wanted to invest his energies. He knew going to LA was a no brainer. It was clear that the influence Los Angeles has in the world's cultural imagination in conjunction with the slow roll-out was going to centre California and LA as tastemakers for global brands that would start to emerge as supply chains stabilized and the product gained a more mainstream acceptance.
He started Telos Cannabis Group in 2016 with some amazing partners. They began investing in projects they believed in as a unit, which reinforced their value early on. They have tried to be impactful on those companies by helping bring a holistic approach to ecosystem company management. At his core, David believes in partnership and collaboration, not simply as nice buzzwords, but as existential to success, especially in California.
Sabrina Alkire: 420 Insurance Lady
Sabrina Alkire has been a respected insurance producer for nearly a decade. She stands out in the industry as a woman with pink hair and tons of tattooed. She found the cannabis industry through her own personal medical battles and has not stopped using it since. Since day one, Sabrina has welcomed in her local cannabis industry and spends time with labs, dispensaries, and grows, which has given her the opportunity to consistently learn.
With her passion for cannabis and insurance, she’s now driven to educate and change the stigma that both industries carry. Sabrina makes herself easily accessible not only to her clients and potential clients, but also to other agents as well. At the end of the day, what matters to her is that the community is properly insured and taken care of.
Through many public speaking events and social media platforms, she is able to educate people on the types of insurance available to cannabis businesses and which ones should be a true priority. Fighting at her state capital alongside her friends and clients is not the only advocacy she’s involved in — Sabrina is also working toward changing and educating those in insurance at the federal level to get rates and class codes corrected for the cannabis community in every state.
Considered to be the highest-rated handheld dry herb and concentrate vaporizer on the market today, the XVAPE Aria is a masterpiece of form, function, and high fashion. This classy vape features dual usage, a high-speed heat up time, and 100% isolated airflow, giving it some of the best-tasting flavor available in a portable unit. For those in search of perfect flavor delivery matched with powerful function, the XVAPE Aria is the only answer. The Aria is available in three standard colors black, blue, and green - and in Limited Edition Night Viper vegan snakeskin pictured above.
Timeka Drew: Founder of Biko
BIKO is inspired by Timeka’s daughter. As a mother, she wants to create an inheritance for her daughter that reflects her multi-ethnic legacy. Timeka always felt a certain pain around not knowing where her father and ancestors were from, and feeling a lack of connection to anything other than slavery regarding her African heritage. After she took an Ancestry DNA test and found she could trace lineage to Cameroon, she found that to be a fitting place to look for her brand’s name. BIKO means "please" in Cameroonian pidgin. Her daughter’s paternal grandmother is Korean, and she definitely helped inspire the BIKO aesthetic – and the name of the brand’s first preroll product: “juseyo,” which means “please pass me.”
BIKO is about respect. Respecting your fellow human, respecting your ancestors, and respecting yourself. BIKO is for women who smoke high-potency top-shelf products, crafted by women who smoke high-potency top-shelf products. Cannabis is a time-honored feminine herb, and to pretend women are just now learning about the plant and are slower to engage than men is disrespectful and wrong. BIKO honors women who know quality cannabis and seek quality, engaging cannabis experiences.
The BIKO juseyo preroll is made from premium whole flower, curated for creative energy. Perfect for the morning, or a midday pick-me-up, BIKO prerolls are for a woman who tackles tasks and moves mountains. BIKO juseyo diamonds are made from premium whole flower and infused with THCa. The diamond varieties are high-potency smokables for high-functioning connoisseurs.
BIKO products are currently available at Royal Greens and BudzDeli in Los Angeles, California. Learn more at bikoflower.com and follow BIKO on Instagram to find out about new drops on the Eaze Social Equity Menu!
Will Senn: Founder of Urban Leaf Dispensary
Urbn Leaf was founded in 2017 in San Diego by cannabis entrepreneur and industry pioneer Will Senn. Named one of the top 100 most influential people in the cannabis industry by High Times, Senn has been on a mission to shatter the stigma around cannabis by creating safe, upscale, and comfortable retail spaces that are easily accessible to medical and adult-use guests.
Prior to launching Urbn Leaf, Will was involved in several cannabis ventures over the last 16 years and created a number of successful industry trade associations, which include the United Medical Marijuana Coalition, Patient Care Association (one of the first medical marijuana industry associations in the country) and, most recently, the Global Alliance for Cannabis Commerce, whose current charge is federal cannabis reform.
Senn has made it Urbn Leaf’s mission to source the highest quality cannabis products California has to offer. When one steps inside an Urbn Leaf store, guests are getting a glimpse of their personal stash. The company’s ethos is “If we wouldn’t consume it ourselves, it doesn’t belong on our shelves.”
Almost four years and seven locations later, Senn has excelled in the art of catering to a diverse clientele with a top-tier selection of cannabis products. He truly values the power of the plant and understands that educating his team, local communities, and the general public is the real key to success.
The JUJU ROYAL brand originated in Denver Colorado 2014. Their mission was to connect cannabis, Rastafarian culture, and reggae music in a brand that produces premium products for the emerging cannabis market. Julian Marley (son of legendary Bob Marley — duh!) and Travis Belcher ( CEO and creator) are committed to building the brand and expanding into new territories, while continuing to develop safe CBD and THC cannabis products with purpose and empathy for patients, as well as recreational users.
The JUJU ROYAL brand now has retail stores, distributors, merch, and an online store for all of your CBD needs. The focus for 2021 will be our expansion into the California recreational market and continuing to introduce innovative unique products to our patients and consumers.
Jed Morris: CEO of Green Matter
Meet Jed Morris, CEO of Green Matter. With over 30 years of experience in the industry, his role as a shareholder and cultivator with some of the preeminent brands in cannabis (Connected/Alien Labs and Emerald Family Farms) has helped him build a reputation as one of the “titans of cannabis”. In early 2020, Jed started construction on a 65k sqft processing and packaging facility in Sacramento known as the Green Matter Campus. Green Matter, is the parent company to Humboldt Standard and Emerald Triangle Exotics, Jed’s two retail brands.
Humboldt Standard was founded in 2012 by Jed and his partner Josiah Spaun under the ethos that success in this industry comes from scaling while still maintaining purity of product. They respect the pioneers who formed the cannabis culture and traditions of Northern California and feel a need to keep the tradition alive. Humboldt Standard products are all exclusively grown in Humboldt by small family-run farms who are given the chance to build their brands by collaborating and cobranding with Humboldt Standard.
Emerald Triangle Exotics is Green Matter’s newest offering. After three decades of phenohunting and breeding an exclusive genetic library Jed decided to bring some of the industry’s most coveted strains to the “bottom shelf.” Exclusively grown by Green Matter on Jed’s 4600-acre ranch in Lake County, the goal of the brand is to make the top shelf of cannabis more reachable.
Justin Williamson has been dedicated to educating himself about cannabis long before it was legalized or cool to do so. He knew it would change the world, and he wanted to be a catalyst for that kind of medical change. Winning the High Times Cup for the legendary GG4 strain during his first year in business was only motivation to do more and continue to hone in on the craft.
Born and raised in Edmond, Oklahoma, he now owns and operates his medical cannabis cultivation facility in his hometown and has dedicated his life to his passion for the plant, so that he can be a part of providing a healthier and better world for his three daughters.
Jeremy Green: Executive Chairman and Managing Co-Founder, 14th Round Inc
Jeremy Green has over 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur and innovator in the consumer and industrial electronics industry, with the last seven years focused on brand and product innovation in the cannabis space. Jeremy has worked on the product design and manufacturing for top brands in cannabis, as well as developed efficient standard operating procedures and facility layouts used by many of the top brands in cannabis today.
As the Executive Chairman and Managing Co-Founder of 14th Round, an LA-based design and technology company, Jeremy oversees the implementation of growth strategies, the execution of strategic initiatives, and the management of business relationships with key accounts and brand partners. In March 2020, 14th Round expanded its position as the leader in custom designed and engineered vaporization products by acquiring Uneka, a California-based packaging design and engineering firm, strengthening its offerings across packaging categories for edibles and flower products. Closing out 2020 and adding to its existing owned and managed supply chain in China, 14th Round finished construction and started production at Mallen Tech, a fully-automated cGMP and ISO-certified plastic injection molding facility.
In 2016, Jeremy co-founded dosist, which is widely recognized as the top health and wellness brand in cannabis and was named one of Fast Company’s “Ten Most Innovative Companies in Health” in 2018. As the Chief Operating Officer of dosist from June 2016 to December 2018, he grew the company from launch to over 100 employees and co-created the ‘dose pen’, which was named one of Time Magazine’s “Top 25 Inventions of 2016.” Jeremy continues to act as an executive consultant to dosist, focusing on innovation pipeline strategies, new product development, and global expansion and partnership initiatives.
Cannabiotix is a boutique cannabis company based in California. Founded with the belief to develop and cultivate the most elite genetics in the cannabis industry today. Our foundation is built on using natural and sustainable farming techniques in symphony with the latest methods in science and technology to cultivate clean, PGR free, award-winning cannabis flowers. Since the days when the trade was largely underground, our founders have been building a genetic catalog of rare and highly potent cultivars. We breed these unique varietals to create exclusive, in-house strains that showcase one of a kind cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
With over two decades of experience, the team at Cannabiotix is made up of avid cannabis enthusiasts that give each strain customized individual attention. We believe this is a craft that can never be mastered, a belief that drives us to constantly evolve and hone our techniques to ensure we provide enthusiasts with the best flowers and cannabis products possible.
Oklahoma born and raised, Tyler Dodd is a third-generation cannabis farmer who uses his streamlined cultivation and manufacturing techniques to craft award-winning cannabis flower and secondary products. As the Co-Founder and CEO of Arca Bellum, Dodd utilizes his network of global cannabis cultivation partners, looking to them as mentors and granting him access to a wide array of highly sought-after genetics. His strong knowledge and passion for procedures led to the creation of his SOPs which were developed to generate an extremely aggressive cost of goods sold.
Tyler Dodd is also working closely with the leaders in cannabis technology on projects including data collection and large genetic developments that have gained interest from groups such as MIT and Harvard Medical School. Optimization and efficiency are at the core of every project he and his accredited executive team initiate and will continue to be the standard of his own operations moving forward.
Outside of his work in cannabis, something near and dear to his heart is his affiliation with Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Coffee Bunker, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that supports veterans and service members in their transition to civilian life through personal and professional development.
The Mack Factory
Who is Chilly Mack, you ask? He’s an American cannabis breeder, and the Founder of the brand, Mr. Mack’s. While being the creator of the strains Bloo’s Kloos and Weebe’s World, Chilly Mack is more widely known for his confectionary skills and product development capabilities. His flagship brand Mr. Mack’s focuses on smokeless products like edibles, topicals and tinctures — several of which are High Times award-winning products, including the coveted Cannabis Cup for his Bloo’s Kloos 1000mg THC tincture.
In addition to their wonderful product development, Mr. Mack’s Cannabis Co., which is their retail establishment, provides an experience like no other. With its elaborate paintings and twenty-foot window overlooking their bakery-style kitchen, you can watch the process of products being made daily, including fresh baked goods. All products are handcrafted and poured, providing a very intimate and unique shopping experience. Their staff is well trained and extremely knowledgeable, a defining factor that led them to become a 2020 "Best Of" Weedmaps location.
Included in his arsenal with his partner Erick “Mota” Mack, Chilly Mack is also partners in three other premium brands Pot Pops, Dank Confections, and BARZ — all of which are Chilly’s own personal recipe — some going back to the mid-'90s. Their products can be found in hundreds of stores across two states. Be on the lookout for their CBD line hitting shelves across the country. They are proof that you can have a small team and make a major impact.
The Grasslands Team
At Grasslands we tell stories, build brands and amplify value. Our indigenous-owned agency is fluent in cannabis and other complex business languages, offering integrated marketing services, best-in-class public relations, and targeted digital advertising to b2b and b2c businesses. Our journalism-minded approach and promise means that we actively listen and communicate, deliver on expectations, are beholden to the deadline, and drive results. We supercharge marketers, leaders, and brands through successful brand creation, product launches, market expansion, capital raises, M&A initiatives, and unforeseen crises. We track, measure, learn, report, and iterate in real-time — and ultimately, we get your story heard by the audiences that matter most.
Anthony Lee: aka "FullTimeTony"
Anthony "FullTimeTony" Lee is a cannabis and restaurant entrepreneur based in Nevada. He co-founded the first-ever cannabis convention in Reno, NV, called the Reno Cannabis Convention, in 2016. He is currently a co-owner and managing partner of Culture & Cannabis. Culture & Cannabis is a media company and a multi-state licensed cannabis brand in Nevada and Oklahoma. He also is a co-owner of Smoke & Fire, a contemporary American BBQ restaurant in Las Vegas, NV.
Recently Los Angeles-living and Colorado-bred rapper, Jahni Denver has been preparing for the release of his new album, The Good King.
In addition to his musical interests, Jahni has been steadily developing his cannabis lifestyle brand, Say Treees, and continuing to push his own strain of cannabis called “Jahni Denver OG,” cultivated by Shift Cannabis in Colorado.
Officially a cross between Brain OG and Stardog, Jahni's own strain has been a success and has helped Jahni expand his own brand and the Say Treees lifestyle, and apparel brand beyond just the music he is known for.
"Say Treees started off as a lifestyle brand, and the quickest way for me to show people a tangible product and brand was the apparel route, so I started making hats and beanies and shirts,” says Jahni. “Then I was able to take Say Treees merch on tour when I opened for Dizzy Wright before Covid and got to connect directly with the people. It just created a physical product outside of music in the whole cannabis community and it's been nothing but love since then. From the name and logo, to the brand story it has been a lot of love after this year that was up and down.”
"At the end of the day this is an independent Black-owned business and I'm trying to scale it one-person at a time so we are going to drop a new collection every quarter hopefully with a musical project to match. I'm excited about this year."
In addition, Jahni is moving towards Say Treees becoming a legally licensed cannabis brand in the state of California. "To take Say Treees to a worldwide level is my overall goal, I'm still in the first few years of building a brand, but I'm loving the process and I'm seeing the growth and getting love so it motivates me to keep going," he said.
"Jahni Denver OG is available only in Colorado for now, but Say Treees will get its start in the legal cannabis market in California. I've been really blessed and I have good relationships, and Goddammit people like me. That's my name on the strain, it's currently on WeedMaps when you go to Denver, and it's flying off the shelf. It's a stoner's dream to be here at this point. I'm really happy with the progress given the circumstances of the last year. I feel blessed."
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ElectraLeaf is an eleven-time High Times Cannabis Cup winner. As a branding house, they have led a vertically-integrated company ever since its inception in 2018 and are en route to becoming an emerging multi-state enterprise. Their operation includes seven dispensaries, 700+ lights of indoor cultivation, nine acres of greenhouse/outdoor cultivation, and manufacturing space.
Through a partnership with Cookies, a paramount brand, ElectraLeaf played a large role in the launch of Cookies’ world-class products in Oklahoma’s rising market. Kicking off with collaborations, including Run the Jewels’ “Ohh La La” strain; Rick Ross’ “Pink Rozay” strain; alongside favorites, like “Gary Payton,” “Cheetah Piss,” “Medellin,” and many more. ElectraLeaf will also support the launch of several Cookies and Lemonnade retail stores throughout the state with their house of brands including ALTVM craft flower, pre-rolls, vapes, and concentrates.
In addition to their signature edibles and topicals, ElectraLeaf’s Swerve and Sweet Stuff brands have introduced a line of custom vapes. But these have a twist. Each of the five unique packages contributes to supporting awareness for equality, veterans, women’s rights, LGBT, and animal rights. "As an American born in Puerto Rico, who’s helped care for my disabled mother the last 22 years, I understand the adversities many go through in life and my understanding of those challenges has developed into a desire to help others,” says Pedro Sotomayor, CEO at ElectraLeaf.
“ElectraLeaf is a culmination of merging cannabis culture with medicine to provide patients the finest experience when using our products,” says cofounder Ricki Rebeiro. Through their love for the culture, respect for the business, and a passion for excellence amongst a diverse team of seasoned operators at the helm, ElectraLeaf has created a business engine framed on quality and sustainability with a goal of taking its new green economy model nationwide and, no doubt, globally.
Hazy is a cannabis creative agency, based out of Los Angeles, CA, formed by three friends: Audrey Roy, Adam Pacanovsky, and Kolin Morgenstern. The team specializes in content creation, marketing strategy, and event production.
Most known for their experiential events and collaborations with names like Pabst Blue Ribbon, Hazy kicked off 2020 with a live concert on Hollywood Blvd, a pro-skater competition, and a Friday the 13th party with live tattoo artists and exotic cars.
When the pandemic hit, they quickly pivoted to collaborate with cannabis brands throughout California on content for the launching of new products, dispensary grand openings, influencer campaigns, and virtual festivals.
Within the span of four months, they produced two, day-long live streams: 7.10 Fest and Original Sound Virtual Cannabis and Arts Festival. Each festival featured live music sets from bands and DJs, behind the scenes content of some of California’s top cannabis brands, and donation drives for charities Last Prisoner Project and In Place of War. A major highlight was watching electronic artist, Dr. Fresch, perform amongst live cannabis plants at Glass House Farms in Carpinteria, CA.
Follow what Hazy is up to through their website, Instagram, Linked In, YouTube, and newsletter.
Miranda Cummings: Founder of macy|mktg, Marketing Director for Noble Nectar Extracts
Miranda has dedicated herself to motivating the masses through creative experiences for as long as she can remember. After several years of building her network with cannabis and cannabis adjacent brands during her time at Westword newspaper in Denver, she founded her own experiential consulting agency: macy|mktg. This change allowed her to focus more on the moments that matter for cannabis brands and how to strengthen the consumer experience with their products. macy|mktg has quickly become a trusted consulting agency for multiple companies and has an ever-growing portfolio of unique consumption-friendly experiences in multiple states.
Aside from working with several brands on various marketing needs, she is also currently crushing her role as Marketing Director for one of the largest processors in Oklahoma: Noble Nectar Extracts. Miranda and her team at Noble Nectar Extracts have worked tirelessly on improving the standard of satisfaction in the Oklahoma cannabis community through their well-organized event and cannabis competition, The Noble Cup; their inclusivity-focused beta testing program, The Nectar Collective, and their emphasis on budtender education with Stay Noble University.
In true Power Player fashion, Miranda has her sights set on launching a flower line in Oklahoma's medical market with a few other experts in the industry - slated to hit the shelves in 2021. With creativity, charisma, and communication at the epicenter of each project, Miranda’s determination is sure to get the job done — and done well. Watch out for this Power Player — she's just getting started.
AJ "The Sales Goat" - Kosmik.TV
AJ, AKA “The Sales Goat,” started his career in cannabis in early 2019. As a serial entrepreneur, he saw the opportunity in the exciting new market and took the leap right away.
AJ has been very successful in other industries such as car dealerships and finance, but maybe most importantly, he cut his teeth in door-to-door sales at a young age. AJ’s complete lack of fear of “NO” is what makes him the true “Sales Goat” in cannabis, but truth be told, AJ doesn’t hear “NO” often.
The Sales Goat started his cannabis journey at a start-up called Mary Mechanix which was one of the top companies in cannabis after the legalization of medical marijuana in the state, much in part thanks to him. He was responsible for a huge majority of the company’s sales, bringing in an unsurmountable amount of business to the company, hence skyrocketing its growth. He knew he was onto something great.
At that company, he met an amazing chemist that he affectionately referred to as “The Mad Scientist”, who was the only person at the time making RSO. The Sales Goat realized the amazing benefits that RSO gave to patients with cancer, chronic pain, and other horrible diseases, and fell in love with the plant.
AJ was raised in a conservative environment, where cannabis was always stigmatized and viewed as wrong. Knowing all the benefits that it provided its users; AJ became passionate about changing that narrative.
That passion drove The Sales Goat into starting a new venture, and along with his new partners he founded Kosmik Brands. As a partner and the Head of Sales, he immediately began to drive sales for the company at a pace that is very unusual in the industry by one individual. Great management and unprecedented sales have made Kosmik Brand the fastest growing edible company in the state of Oklahoma, now competing with national level brands and overshadowing them in the market.
The Sales Goat is a visionary that dreams big and works tirelessly to achieve his dreams. His go-getter attitude, unparalleled drive, and contagious passion motivate everyone who has the chance to work with him, and although he has an incredible talent to sell, he has the utmost respect and care for his clients, who love having him visit their places of business and bring some of his distinctive joy and personality.