For better or worse, there are a lot of entrepreneurs who are using the “green rush” to try and make a quick buck in the marijuana industry. Of course, many of them don’t understand the complexities with regards to the law, amount of capital needed and quality-control, and so they may end up losing out if they have nothing more than the expectation of easy, short-term money. Yes, some manage to make out like bandits, but many more tend to fall by the wayside without proper guidance and the right team behind them.
There are also some entrepreneurs doing an excellent job, and really are looking at making the cannabis a viable industry that will produce profits in the long-term as well as quality products and services that will hopefully do some genuine good. We are lucky enough to have had some of them on Elevate the Conversation we also have David Dinenberg joining us this Wednesday. So, without further ado, here are our top ten cannabis entrepreneurs, in no particular order …
It may seem a little cheeky to put our up-and-coming guest first on this list, but it’s with good reason. David Dinenberg worked in real estate, entertainment and finance prior to starting work in the cannabis industry around 4.5 years ago, and has used his expertise in order to help sort out one of the cornerstones in making a business successful: being able to process and track payments and keep stock of the inventory!
Although we don’t know if That Glass Jar will work for everyone, and there is no definitive medical evidence other than some case studies to prove that it works, the product is convincing, and Bonita is rightfully proud of the topical cream she helped create. Let’s hope we get the chance to do some proper double-blind tests to see if That Glass Jar is effective and for how many people, and perhaps in the process refine the product so it’s even better!
Anyone who’s familiar with Tommy Chong’s story knows that he was put away in prison for selling bongs and “marijuana paraphernalia”. Since the late 90s/early 2000s, the world has moved on, and it is now easier for early adopters like Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin to finally make some perfectly legitimate money from an industry they and so many others – many of whom are perhaps less well-known and spent lifetimes in-and-out of prison – helped create. Their high-quality glass bongs are a great testimony of their legacy, and we are sure they’ll be in production and used by marijuana enthusiasts the world over for many years to come.
In a world where regulation is lax and patients have a drought of information when it comes to cannabis dosing and safety, Aunt Zelda’s is an oasis in the desert. All of the products on her site are lab-tested, and Mara’s training as a cannabis alchemist and process engineer has led her and the co-founder of Aunt Zelda’s, Stewart Smith, to become one of the leaders of data-driven, cannabis-based plant medications. Her company also provides advice on cannabinoid and terpenoid concentrations and dosing, which is exactly where we need to be going with this if we want cannabis to be seen as medicine.
When much of California and the US is gearing up for a future of recreational use – and perhaps with its standards of produce that wouldn’t be acceptable for medical marijuana patients – Aunt Zelda’s is a beacon. Not only are they competitively-priced, their products consistently beat out even market-leaders for safety and efficacy, which tend to be over-priced and better at marketing themselves than anything else. Aunt Zelda’s do this despite having more overheads with regards to testing, and should be seen as a standard for other companies to follow.
Jason David, Jayden Juice CBD Tincture
It’s difficult to call Jason an “entrepreneur” in the traditional sense, in that it seems his circumstances forced him to start looking for a solution to his son’s, Jayden David’s, epilepsy. However, as he has his own brand and dispensary, it is perhaps fair to say that Jason is an entrepreneur of sorts. The dispensary he set up is one of the best in California, and his passion and conviction in getting medical marijuana properly tested and taken seriously as medicine has changed many people’s minds on the war on marijuana. We implore you to listen to his story from when he was last on the show.
Alongside Shantibaba and Noel Schoenmaker, Arjan and his coffee shop in Amsterdam, Greenhouse has played a massive part in the strains and seeds we see today. Prize winners past and present use many of the legendary strains developed by Greenhouse in the 90s, and having a cut of Mango or Super Silver Haze will make you very popular amongst cannabis connoisseurs.
Yes, there are many great breeders, including DJ Short, Reeferman, Soma, Swerve, Subcool and the guys from Serious Seeds and Underground Originals amongst many others, but you will notice something when looking at their seed catalogues and the plant lines they work on: they will usually have at least one strain using the genetics that came from Greenhouse! Today, Arjan and co. are traveling around the world seeking out original landrace strains, which will help us analyze their genetics and understand more about the medical applications of this very special plant.
Although Jones’s campaign was overshadowed by the California Legalization Initiative and the efforts of the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) and its billionaire backer, Sean Parker, her campaign could still play a part in the crafting of nationwide medical marijuana industry regulations – something that’s sorely needed at the moment. Plus, Dale is also the President and CEO of Oaksterdam University, which means her influence reaches far and wide.
ReformCA were also very critical of Proposition 64 and the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), and who knows? Their vision of legalization may well just be the one that finally wins out in the end, as Prop. 64 may end up being more restrictive than people realize.
Edibles are a tough one. Nobody knows how strong they really are, and there are massive inconsistencies between batches, even within the same chocolate bar, cake or whatever other form of edible you prefer to take. She Don’t Know is quite different, in that they focus on microdosing and, as far as we know, test quite stringently for strength, never going above the 5 mg THC per cookie rule. This makes Jill a good cookie in our book!
Jeff Raber is the co-founder of The Werc Shop, a lab that’s dedicated to testing cannabis for safety and efficacy. His research into cannabis edibles has shown us how much this industry needs standards and regulations, as he found the edibles he and his team tested to be inappropriately labeled. He found the same with many strains sold in dispensaries, where the name of the strain did not match up to the strain’s genetics and cannabinoid/terpenoid profiles.
For medical marijuana patients in particular, this is of great concern, as effective titration and knowing what you’re getting is of utmost importance in order to get the ideal, actually-beneficial-to-health, therapeutic effects from cannabis. Here’s to Jeff and the great work he and his lab are doing.
Deirdra O’Gorman, The Fourth Corner Credit Union
Deirdra O’Gorman founded The Fourth Corner Credit Union in 2014, with a goal that’s shared by David Dinenberg (mentioned above): to provide the cannabis industry legitimate banking services. Deirdra has been granted a state charter, but their application for a master account with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City was rejected and dismissed with prejudice in 2016.
Fourth Corner has appealed that decision, as well as filing a lawsuit against the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). Both the appeal and lawsuit case are pending, but regardless to say: should Deirdra win, it’ll be a landmark occasion in the world of cannabis, and dispensaries and other companies will be able to finally access the banking services their businesses need.
As you may have noticed, we have avoided some of the big superstar names getting involved in the cannabis industry, like Snoop Dogg, Ricki Lake, B-Real, Martha Stewart, Whoopi Goldberg and so on. This is not to say that these entrepreneurs or their companies are bad – some of them are rather excellent, in fact, and were amongst the “early adopters” of the cannabis industry.
It’s more that we feel that some of the lesser-known voices and faces need to be paid attention to, especially as in some ways their businesses may have a direct impact upon the way the cannabis industry does things as a whole. Knowing some of the people who might not be as big in the media, but still have a key part to play in the move towards cannabis legalization and regulation, is of utmost importance if we want to know where this industry is going.