Marijuana Business Magazine May-June 2020

Marijuana Business Magazine | May-June 2020 108 IndustryPlayers | New Hires & Promotions A look at some recent hiring moves in the marijuana industry CEO Change at 4Front Multistate operator 4Front Ventures promoted Leo Gontmakher to CEO. He had served as the company’s chief operating officer. Before joining 4Front, Gontmakher was COO at Cannex Capital Holdings, a Canadian marijuana company that merged with 4Front in July in a deal valued at almost $500 million. He replaces Josh Rosen as CEO. Rosen will serve as 4Front’s executive chair. The change accompanied an announcement that the Phoenix- based business slashed at least 40% of its jobs. CEO Out at Green Growth Brands Peter Horvath resigned as CEO of Green Growth Brands, a troubled CBD retailer in the process of focusing solely on marijuana. The Columbus, Ohio-based MSO once owned the nation’s largest chain of CBD retail kiosks, but after a disap- pointing holiday season, the company announced it was jettisoning most of the kiosks to focus on marijuana. Horvath came to Green Growth after leading strategies for retail giants such as Victoria’s Secret, American Eagle Outfitters, DSWand Limited Brands. Green Growth Brands said that former Chief Operating Officer Randy Whitaker would take over as interim CEO. Whitaker joined the company in February 2019 from Belk, a privately held department store with more than 293 locations. MedMen Appoints Interim CEO Los Angeles-based MedMen, a multistate operator struggling with layoffs and financial woes, retained a management advisory firm, Sierra- Constellation Partners, and tapped two of its executives as interim CEO and chief operating officer. SCP also is headquartered in Los Angeles. By Omar Sacirbey A fter 20 years as senior vice president-government relations at the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), Mark Gorman was ready for a change. Over the past few years, one of his tasks was to watch the cannabis industry. Gorman helped establish a marijuana working group at the council, organized a trip for board members to visit Colorado cannabis businesses and regulators and provided frequent reports to the board about growth in the marijuana sector and its impact on the distilled spirits industry. “It was a niche that I carved out for myself because I was particularly interested in it,” said Gorman, who is based in Washington DC. Concurrently, DISCUS CEO Chris Swonger was occasionally having his brain picked by Gina Kranwinkel, CEO of the National Association of Cannabis Businesses (NACB), a trade group that represents more than 400 member businesses and thousands of cannabis professionals around the country. “Part of (Kranwinkel’s) interest was that the council had very active code-review boards,” Gorman said, particularly codes for responsible marketing and advertising, something DISCUS had done for decades. “It’s been critical to developing a good reputation for the industry.” When Swonger learned Gorman was planning to leave DISCUS, he called Kranwinkel and said Gorman would be a good fit for a group developing codes and standards for the cannabis industry. Kranwinkel agreed and hired Gorman, who also spent seven years leading government affairs at the National Restaurant Association and several years as deputy director at the Washington DC office of General Mills. Gorman said DISCUS and the NACB are fighting for similar goals in their respective industries: fair taxation, equitable regulation, market access and advancing industry responsibility and commercial credibility. He’s already embroiled in his first challenge, pushing Massachusetts Gov. Charles Baker to declare recreational cannabis essential in that state, along with alcohol and medical marijuana, during the COVID-19 pandemic. What’s it like starting a new cannabis lobbying post during a lockdown? “It’s difficult. I would like to be walking the halls of Congress or meeting with (cannabis industry colleagues) and mapping out strategies … and that’s harder to do over the tele- phone,” Gorman said. But work is getting done, and Gorman is optimistic that one year from now, more states will want to legalize cannabis, while changes to federal cannabis policy could be afoot, too. Government Relations Exec Distills New Message Mark Gorman