25 Truly Influential People in the Cannabis Community – Bonza Blog
25 Truly Influential People in the Cannabis Community:
The involvement of the cannabis plant in the lives of many had been both a prolific and a rough journey. In the ancient times, people placed a high value on its use. Times and perspectives have changed, though. In modern times, it is seen in an entirely different light. Some people continue cultivating the plant believing in its medical use. Others associate it with hostility and crimes. Still, there are those who advocate its spiritual properties.
Despite its highs and lows, cannabis is somewhat enjoying a mainstream status. It would not be possible if it were not for the untiring efforts of passionate, intelligent, and hardworking individuals. Coming from a diverse field of specializations, these people have contributed heavily to the growing acceptance of this much-maligned plants.
Iconic Supporters of Cannabis
Entrepreneurs, artists, musicians, agriculturists, scientists, researchers, and so many more; these people have influenced states and nations to not only decriminalize the use of cannabis but also to legalize its cultivation and use.
There is a growing number of entrepreneurs who saw the potential of cannabis as more people become aware of its beneficial uses. And, as its legalization spreads all over the world, there is money to be made. Although by and large, the cannabis industry remains suppressed and oppressed, some have acted as trailblazers in setting up businesses to cater to its various needs.
1. Ophelia Chong
Like many before her, her experience with cannabis started when a family member used it to alleviate the symptoms of an autoimmune disease. A day after, an idea came to mind. A professional designer and photographer, Ophelia Chong is also an enterprising individual. To cut a long story short, she started a cannabis stock agency.
With an ever-increasing number of businesses springing up, as well as cannabis-related sites, there is a need for stock images. Ophelia had seen how there is a lack of high-quality photos. Her company fills that gap.
Photos can tell a story. Ophelia’s cannabis photos, on the other hand, touches the soul. Through photography, she compels the audience to have a better understanding of the plant and have a greater appreciation of its benefits.
2. Hope Wiseman
A former investment banker and prominently featured in WAGS Atlanta; Hope Wiseman is the youngest black woman to own a dispensary in the United States.
Starting a new business is not easy, let alone one that is as controversial as a cannabis dispensary. It took more than two years, but upon obtaining a license, work began to open Mary and Main (formerly Compassionate Herbal Alternative).
There are three main sections in the store. Experts in the experience room can give advises on different strains with regards to particular effects and preferences. If needed, there is the medical suite where a doctor can provide guidance on the use of cannabis in treating illnesses. Last is the co-working suite where small events and educational classes can be held.
Mary and Main is not the typical dispensary. Far more than being a business, Hope breaks the stereotype and brings light to a nation where black people are 3 to 4 times more likely to be arrested for possession of cannabis.
3. Steve DeAngelo
A leading activist, entrepreneur, author, speaker, Steve DeAngelo is a dominant name in the Cannabis community. He is the Co-Founder and CEO of Harborside Health Center and the President of the ArcView Group.
The Harborside Health Center is a non-profit dispensary for medical Cannabis. It is also considered to be the largest among all the dispensaries across the globe. On the other hand, the ArcView Group is a community of investors who believe and encourage budding entrepreneurs in the field.
Before attaining all these achievements, he lived with the stigma and judgment of the society towards his stance. For four decades, he struggled in his advocacy of legalizing cannabis use in America. People had this notion that consumption of the herb was primarily purely for the psychedelic high. Moreover, there was a strong association between marijuana to racial disparity and oppression. Steve has been pivotal in helping re-shape this to a positive mentality.
He labored a big fight against the people who wanted his health center closed down. And, through his book called the Cannabis Manifesto, he continues to make the society understand the cultural, legal, societal, medical controversies surrounding the herb. Furthermore, he exercises philanthropy by giving free holistic services to the free medical marijuana to needy patients.
4. Diane Czarkowski
Diane Czarkowski and her husband John Czarkowski established one of the first marijuana dispensary and cultivation centers in Colorado. This initiative was very different from their previous career in the real estate industry. At any rate, they did cater to the needs of patients and the elderly. After three years, though, they sold this center.
A turning point came when they received a call for help in setting up a dispensary. Unknown to them at that time, it would become the beginning of Canna Advisors, a venture that will extend its help to many aspiring dispensary owners.
Diane Czarkowski has been ardently involved in the Cannabis community. In fact, she was one of the founding members of Women Grow. This organization serves as a vehicle for bringing forth communication, empowerment, awareness, and inspiration among female front-runners.
In addition, she was a board member of the former Women’s CannaBusiness Network. She holds active membership in relevant organizations such as the Americans for Safe Access, the Marijuana Policy Project, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
5. Jeanine Moss
A hip-replacement surgery and the companionship of older women would later end up in an enterprise known as Cannabis. As part of her surgery recovery treatment, Jeanine Moss was given opiates which she could not stomach to take. To alleviate her pain, she chose to take medical marijuana, instead.
Once, when she was with her group of friends who were also bringing marijuana stashes in their respective bags, she noticed they were all being discreet in taking them out. It sparked her innovative and forward-thinking nature that led to the idea of making functional and beautiful bags for female Cannabis consumers.
Introduced to the public in 2015, the bag and accessories line of Jeanine attracted the industry and spurred culture change. The company makes use of a patented technology that enables the bags to block Cannabis odor.
Jeanine Moss is an inspiration to women, young and old because her entrepreneurial knack managed to find a practical solution to a growing problem among women who are afraid of being judged just because they are carrying around marijuana loads.
It is not a secret that many get inspiration and creativity from the effects of cannabis. No wonder there are artists and musicians who fight and advocate for its legal use.
1. Bob Marley
It is no secret to the eyes of many that Bob Marley’s photo of smoking weed has been used prevalently in the Marijuana novelty business goods. Staunch followers have understood his music as if it was all about the herb. The truth, however, is that the plant has enlightened him in his spiritual life, music talent, and art.
Robert Nesta Marley, better known as Bob Marley, had a high premium for the value of cannabis in his religion. A believer of the Rastafari religion, they use marijuana in meditation and group sessions. Not only did he regard it as something for leisure, but he also supported the legalization of its use because it fostered enlightenment and awakening.
Marley is an icon of the cannabis community because he fought against political oppression and advocated social justice and equality. Three decades have passed by since his death, and his legacy still lingers.
2. Thomas Jacob Black
Thomas Jacob Black, popularly known as Jack Black, got exposed to different drugs at a very young age. He tried LSD and cocaine as a teenager wanting to appear tough and intimidating to others. At one time, he also tried heroin. But that was a one-time exploration almost did not end well. As for marijuana, he occasionally uses it.
Celebrated for his ability in music, acting, and entertainment, Jack Black is a strong advocate of marijuana legalization, In fact, he served in the VIP advisory board of Marijuana Policy Project, an organization that upholds the need for amending the policies governing the use of cannabis. Moreover, they espouse to make medical cannabis available and accessible to critically ill people.
3. Melissa Etheridge
Known for her rock music, Melissa Etheridge was once arrested for marijuana possession. According to her, the plant has been of great help when she was healing herself from breast cancer. Her staunch belief in the plant’s healing abilities led to the founding of Etheridge Farms and a new line of cannabis products.
Through Etheridge Farms, Melissa is able to introduce alternatives to pain remedy such as topicals and edibles. Aside from this, by using her musical talent, she makes it possible to bring advocates and consumers together.
Apart from her products and music, she is continuously visible in causes related to the industry. She was a panel moderator at the CTE, Concussion and CBD Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition in Los Angeles.
She was also one of the keynote speakers at the first O’Cannabiz Conference & Expo in Toronto, Canada – a symposium attended by medical practitioners, licensed manufacturers & producers, and industry professionals.
4. Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr.
Professionally recognized as Snoop Dogg, he is not only a celebrated rapper and songwriter but has also appeared in several shows and films. Aside from his passion towards music, he is also publicly zealous about marijuana and its use. Not surprisingly, the famed artist is also a follower of Rastafarianism.
For a long time, Snoop Dogg has been spreading consciousness about the herb. In fact, he even transformed this enthusiasm into entrepreneurship. Among his investments in cannabis-related businesses are Merry Jane, Leafs by Snoop, Ease, and Trellis. He also established the Casa Verde Capital in 2015 with the aim of providing financial support to cannabis start-ups.
5. Caryn Elaine Johnson
A much-admired actress and a writer, Caryn Elaine Johnson, better known as Whoopi Goldberg co-founded the Whoopi & Maya Medical Cannabis with Maya Elisabeth. Among the initial products launched by the brand are medical marijuana formulated to provide a reprieve from menstrual cramps. In only a year, these signature products have found its way to over 300 dispensaries.
Maya herself is a world-renowned expert in edibles. Her personal brand Om Edibles has won numerous awards in the High Times Cannabis Cup. Together, they inspire a generation of women by showing how they could succeed in an industry dominated by men. Whoopi, in particular, is also an inspiration to the African-American women community.
The quality of cannabis upshots, strain extracts, oils, has improved because of the labor and determination of scientists, medical doctors, and researchers. Far more important though is the contribution to the viability of its medical use.
1. Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Of all the people who have had or continue to be a positive influence to the cannabis community, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is the least likely to be one. In fact, he once was opposed to its legalization.
The neurosurgeon is of the opinion that most people who favor its use are in for the high rather than the medical benefits. Furthermore, he also cited its dangers.
In recent years, though, he had a change of heart. New research and studies have dispelled its dangers while others show evidence of its medical benefits.
In his own words, “I apologize because I didn’t look hard enough, for now. I didn’t look far enough. I didn’t review papers from smaller labs in other countries doing some remarkable research, and I was too dismissive of the loud chorus of legitimate patients whose symptoms improved on cannabis.” – Dr. Sanjay Gupta
As one of the most influential people in the United States, his words carry weight. As he speaks objectively on marijuana, he raises awareness based on facts rather than on some misguided perception.
2. Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
If not for the innate curiosity of Dr. Raphale Mechoulam, the community would not be able to experience the important properties of the plant.
Back in the 1960s, the primary compounds found in cocaine and morphine were identified. On the other hand, not much is known about cannabis. A naturally inquisitive person, the doctor started a research that led to the discovery of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and the Cannabidiol (CBD).
His work reinforced the belief that marijuana has medical benefits. It also further affirmed the notion that it has the potential to be a treatment for numerous illnesses. For all his untiring efforts, he earned the moniker as the Father of Marijuana Research.
3. Mara Gordon
Mara’s breakthrough with the plant came because of a dire need for a remedy for her husband’s back pain. His condition required surgery but due to intolerance to opiates, the couple decided to seek alternative treatment.
It eventually paved the way for the creation of Aunt Zelda’s and Zelda Therapeutics. Through medicinal cannabis, Mara Gordon offers relief to whoever is suffering from pain and illnesses by providing top-rated quality of products – topicals, THC-infused olive oils, and strain-specific extracts. Aside from formulating these products, the company also arranges consultations and educational presentations online.
Professionally, Mara Gordon has an intense exposure to process engineering. She is also part of the board of Daya Foundation, International Cannabis Standards Board (ICSB), Humboldt, and New Frontier.
She has gone to several countries to deliver cannabis-related speeches. She believes that one-day people will regard the plant as a sophisticated medicine that can be part of a person’s medical treatment.
4. Dr. Jeff Raber
With the legalization of marijuana, it is logical that there will be a proliferation of supply from cultivators. It is a must to ensure that what goes to the dispensaries and reaches the public is safe.
Dr. Raber saw a need in this particular area, and so he built The Werc Shop, a laboratory dedicated to testing cannabis for potency and safety as well as checking its terpene and cannabinoid content.
His advocacy lies on regulatory provisions for the safe delivery of cannabis to the market. He continues to seek innovative methods and tools to improve its research and quality control further.
Currently, he holds the position of an Executive Director for the Association of Commercial Cannabis Labs (ACCL).
5. Dr. Suzanne “Sue” Sisley
Dr. Sue Sisley is a risk-taker, determined, and an intelligent scientist who is in favor of a more comprehensive education of the entire cannabis plant. In her point of view, more in-depth research is required to understand its compounds and effects better.
In 2014, Dr. Sue Sisley took the risk of embarking on a scientific study regarding the function of marijuana in the treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Unfortunately, the University of Arizona terminated her tenure – an act she viewed as a form of injustice. Fortunately, she was able to continue her research with the aid of the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
A year after her termination, Dr. Sue Sisley was awarded the Researcher of the Year by National Medical Marijuana Group.
Today, she continues to get involved in clinical trials, cultivation projects and changing the status quo about the implementation of cannabis research.
Written words have the power to make or break conceived notions and perspectives of people. The roles of journalist, therefore, is not to be underestimated. For in their capacity and platform, these individuals can reach a diverse audience to deliver the truth about cannabis and its use for recreational and medical purposes.
1. Cassandra Farrington
Readers won’t be able to enjoy content from the email, print, and website of Marijuana Business Daily if not for the perseverance of its founders Cassandra Farrington and Anne Holland.
This news publication is an excellent vehicle for distributing news, reports, resources, and information. Even with competition, the duo managed to penetrate the market and reach a broader audience to continue spreading facts and awareness of marijuana.
Although Cassandra did not have any particular connection with the plant before starting the business, she reaped inspiration from its community.
With their support, the Marijuana Business Mirror organized conferences and summits to bring the community closer to the real essence of cannabis. They are also involved in organizing MJBizCon, and MJBizNEXT, the industry’s two biggest trade shows.
2. Celeste Miranda
Gradually, more and more states are opening up to amending prohibition laws as many are slowly adopting a favorable view of the herb. Despite the risk of starting a business and all the obstacles, there is no lack of enterprising people. And typical of any startup, the most challenging part of the process is reaching the market.
To help fill this gap, Celeste Miranda launched Cannabis Marketing Lab, an advertising agency that creates, execute, and monitor campaigns to fulfill the needs of clients. Other services offered include website design, social media management, search engine optimization, brand positioning, promotional contents, and communications strategies.
Apart from managing the business, the inspiring Celeste continues to be active in speaking engagements.
3. Noelle Skodzinski
Co-founder and the Editor of the Cannabis Business Times, Noelle Skodzinski is one of the people who supported the legalization of marijuana in the state of New Jersey.
Her zeal in advocating for legal use stems from a traumatic family experience. While her father suffered from extreme tremor, her mother had a brain surgery that is causing severe side effects. Without a choice, her parents agreed to and used 1:1 THC/CBD oil and recovered from their medical issues.
Cannabis Business Times provides current information on cannabis horticulture, state regulations, trends, issues, and news. Noelle also spreads inspirational stories of how the herb has saved and changed the lives of people through the platform. And, since its founding in 2014, has reaped numerous awards.
In 2016, Noelle Skodzinski was included in the Top 50 Most Influential Women in Cannabis by the Cannabis Business Executive.
4. Ricardo Baca
Ricardo Baca’s name in the field of journalism is synonymous with excellence. He has worked all the way from a staff writer up to being a critic.
In 2013, he was selected to be the editor-in-chief of the Denver Post’s news vertical, The Cannabist, that shares business, politics, food, devices, crimes, and culture information connected to marijuana. Its importance to the industry cannot be quantified. Suffice to say; it helped in spreading awareness that indirectly benefited business such as dispensaries.
5. David Bienenstock
Another prominent journalist, David Bienenstock was the former head of content of High Times and a contributor in numerous other publications. He is also the author of How to Smoke Pot (Properly) and The Official High Times Pot Smoker’s Handbook.
In his books, not only did David write about the history, culture, and benefits of the plant. He also used it to contribute to the ongoing campaign against unfair government policies that opposed the use of marijuana.
At present, he creates and hosts the podcast, “Great Moments in Weed History” with Abdullah and Bean. He continues to engage in activities involved in event planning and marketing of other advocates of the herb.
If not for the breeders, there would have been lesser choices of strains. In some instances, it is also through the effort of these people that exceptional lineages of the plant are kept alive. Instead of simply developing new hybrids, these individuals have taken it to a whole new level with influencing profiles as well as its use.
1. Michael Ray
Marijuana has always been unfairly associated with criminal acts and chaos, but Michael Ray was able to contribute to a turn-around on this negative point of view. With a mission to help improve lives, his company caters to those who need oil extracts, vapor pens, CBD refill cartridge, pods, and flowers.
Aside from this objective, Mike Ray started Bloom Farms as a way of giving back to the community. What’s beautiful about this company is the integration of social responsibility. Under his watch, they have provided more than a million meals to underprivileged members of the California society.
For every purchase of their products, a decent meal goes to the needy. In addition, the employees of Bloom Farms are encouraged to volunteer at food banks, and the company pays them for the hours and efforts spent.
It was not all glory and triumph at the beginning for Mike and he has had his fair share of tears in building this social enterprise. His childhood home and the family farm were swept up by the Butte wildfire in California in 2015. This place houses 99 plants that are supplied to Bloom Farms. As devastating as it was, he was able to recover and get back on his feet again.
2. TGA Genetics
Also known as The Green Avengers, this group of intelligent breeders was established in the early 2000s out of frustration from pseudo researchers and advertising.
One of the founders, Subcool, became fascinated with cultivation as a young lad. He got attracted to the plant that people did not seem to want to talk about. As a teen, he was captured by police because of growing marijuana unlawfully. He regarded this as an injustice, and he used this experience to pursue cultivation further.
Some of his best strains include Space Queen, Jack the Ripper, and Vortex. He has also published a photo-story book entitled the Book of Dank and Dank 2.0.
Another amazing breeder, MzJill is part of the group and is considered to be a trailblazer in cross-breeding. Famous for her Billy Jean and Agent Orange upshots, she is a believer in the plant’s medicinal and therapeutic capabilities.
Over the years, TGA Genetics has garnered countless awards including the prestigious Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award.
3. The Haze Brothers
Another brilliant set of breeders that the community has to be grateful for are the Haze brothers. Using pure varieties from South America, Thailand, Mexico, and Southern India, they developed the legendary Haze.
Of all Sativa strains, it is almost impossible to find one that can match the outstanding qualities of Haze. In fact, it has served as the genetic base of thousands of modern hybrids today.
4. Soma Seeds
For Soma, cultivating cannabis is a form of art. His affinity towards nurturing the plants started when he was young. And, he has since strongly advocated its healing and therapeutic properties.
A self-confessed vegetarian, he started cultivating cannabis in Vermont. While deeply immersed in nature and practicing vegetarianism, he sought better ways of growing the plan in an environment-friendly manner.
Reclining Buddha, NYC Diesel, Buddha’s Sister, Amnesia Haze, and Lavender are some of his award-winning creations.
5. Mr. Nice Seedbank
Mr. Nice Seedbank is a group of breeders is behind the White Shark, Northern Lights No. 5, White Widow, NL5 x Haze, Super Silver Haze, and White Rhino. These hybrids became the genetic base of later successful breeds. They were recipients of the 1998 High Times Cannabis Cup.
This group has come a long way of cultivating and studying the genetics of potential hybrids. Owned by a superb and persistent man, Shantibaba, this seed bank has had a tumultuous journey in bringing about top-notch quality strains in the market.
In collaboration, Shantibaba has worked with Howard Marks who has exceptional expertise and knowledge about the plant. A resilient campaigner for the legalization of cannabis, he has appeared in many occasions such as media interviews and public talks to share about his past life as a smuggler.
Both men experienced being in prison for violating prohibitions. Despite these hurdles, they have set a standard in cross-breeding which was followed by many.
The Future Looks Bright
With the initiatives and labor of these influential people, they are able to give rise to more encouraging ideas and plans. Because of them, the future of Cannabis looks very promising.
Consumers will have a better understanding of what they can obtain favorably from the plant. Cultivators will be more pioneering and meticulous in cross-breeding. With the ever-growing technology, scientific advancements will definitely crop up fast.
No one can predict accurately the path that the cannabis industry will take. One thing is sure, and that is, there will be a continuous overflow of people who will try to fill in the gaps. More and more will leap and embark on an endeavor for the sake of those who see the power of cannabis.