It’s been the pleasure of Marijuana Retail Report to be able to feature many social influencers within cannabis who are making a splash on social media, as well as more influencers who have been monumental in the public and ongoing advocacy efforts for cannabis legalization.
We’re pleased to present you, even more, people who are influencing cannabis in huge ways, many of them being early pioneers of the businesses and services that originally laid the groundwork for the green rush.
Anne Forkutza is the Experience Director for COVA, one of the brands that are taking the power of digital communications for the customer experience to new highs. COVA is a cannabis retail software company that approaches their work in inventory management and POS systems on the experience of the user. The company is thinking about every single person that will be using their products, from the dispensary owner, to the budtenders, and the customers. Using digital screens and dashboard controls for inventory and POS, cannabis retail is organized and each stakeholder is effectively engaged in that process. It’s part of Anne’s role to get inside the heads of each user and deliver them the POS and inventory management system that puts brand development, user experience and maintaining quality in the green rush at the forefront of COVA’s work.
Canada’s emerging legal market is making many in the legal U.S. states look north to see some of the innovative ways Canadians are changing cannabis, worldwide. Stephanie Karasick, who had never used cannabis before considered medical marijuana following a PTSD diagnosis. Recognizing she didn’t have the knowledge to understand strains, dosing, and products offered under medical marijuana programs, she turned to technology and apps. She created Strainprint, which is an app that allows medical marijuana users to input data about their cannabis experiences, including information on what they’re treating, what they’re using, how much they’re dosing and the resulting effects. This is adding a great deal to cannabis literacy for medical marijuana patients. The app is taking off with thousands of users signing on to share their experiences and create a community-built database.
“The real crime isn’t using pot illegally, but rather the criminalization of pot,” became his motto as he started his career defending people illegally using cannabis to treat serious medical conditions like cancer and AIDS. He was elected the first ever President of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and is now the founding partner of Vicente-Sederberg, which has become the largest cannabis firm in the country. It shouldn’t be overlooked that Vicente has been influential on the global cannabis front, assisting Uruguay with the implementation of legal cannabis.
The girl in the United States that may know the most about cannabis regulations is Amanda Ostrowitz, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at CannaRegs. An attorney and entrepreneur specializing in cannabis, Ostrowitz brings a lot of experience in regulatory compliance to CannaRegs. The technology platform provides users with an easy way to search and sort compliance laws on cannabis across the country. Amanda is a sought-after speaker and has been named several times by the industry as someone to watch since launching CannaRegs in Colorado in 2015.
Andy Williams represents the best of everything in an entrepreneur’s story. After a long career in entrepreneurship, he and his brother Pete launched a family business, Medicine Man. The business goals of these ambitious brothers were to make Medicine Man the “Costco” of cannabis. They have now grown a $17 million dollar business and have helped growers and other cannabis businesses as consultants under their brand Medicine Man Technologies. Often called “The Baron of Pot”, Andy Williams represents a success story of cannabis that equaled profitability and influences in the industry.
Kyra Reed is responsible for bringing thousands of women entrepreneurs together through her group “Women Entrepreneurs in Cannabis”, that has become an online support network for women to help navigate the industry. She is also a co-founder of Kadin Academy, which is a high-level cannabis education center for cannabis business owners. Their goal is to change the statistics in cannabis so that we see 50% to 60% of CEO positions in cannabis companies being held by women.
As the founder and Principal of CannaVentures, Eric Layland is the go-to guy on cannabis branding. He is dedicated to upholding the high standards of the cannabis industry and to help others understand the key importance that effective branding has to the success of cannabis businesses. When we talked to Eric earlier this year, he shared that one of the challenges of branding in cannabis is that “there is no blueprint” for how things have been done in the past. His interest in CannaVentures is to be the source for the data on branding and brand strategy for the cannabis customers to help establish cannabis brand on strong footing.
She was the inspiration for Nancy Botwin on the popular cannabis-related series Weeds and she was outed to the public as “the real Nancy Botwin” by Snoop Dogg while in her dispensary. In fact, it was Snoop Dogg who Dr. Dina smoked cannabis for the first time with. Making her mark with her dispensary Alternative Herbal Health Services, the became known around Hollywood as “the Mother Teresa of Marijuana,” “the Queen of Cannabis,” and “the Princess of Pot.” Now, Dr. Dina works with cannabis brands on marketing and brand development and is also a consultant to the Netflix dispensary comedy Disjointed.
Woody Harrelson has been an outspoken cannabis advocate for decades, narrating the documentary Grass and since coming out in many public venues in support of cannabis. The cannabis community took a collective gasp when Harrelson, their favorite Hollywood stoner, announced he’d take a break from marijuana. When asked on an appearance of The Colbert Report if he’d really given up weed, he was elusive, suggesting that he hadn’t stopped smoking, and stating “You don’t have to smoke a brownie, dude, you know what I’m saying?”
The cannabis industry is nothing without the efforts of these people who have worked tirelessly for the cause of cannabis. We have a lot to thank these people for as they have blazed trials that are allowing people to find meaningful careers in cannabis while helping to change health care, economics, society, and most importantly, people’s lives.