Movers & Shakers

Movers&Shakers

A look at some recent hiring moves in the marijuana industry

by Omar Sacirbey

Women Grow Gets New CEO

Women Grow, a rapidly expanding cannabis industry networking organization, appointed a Maryland regulatory compliance attorney as its acting CEO effective July 1.

Leah Heise broke into the industry two years ago when Maryland passed medical marijuana legislation, and she began counseling people interested in the sector on business operations, infrastructure and compliance. In mid-2015, she formed Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute and created a management team that applied for grow, processing and dispensary licenses in Maryland.

Heise – who served as a former enforcement attorney with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – met Women Grow co-founder Jane West last year at a group leadership conference in Denver. West told Heise the position would be opening up and suggested she apply.

Why take on the job?

“Women Grow is really uniquely positioned to make an impact on the entire professional cannabis industry,” Heise said. “The way the brand has positioned itself it can change the way we hire, it can change the way the whole industry looks and operates.”

Indeed, Heise wants the industry to be a leader in building a diverse workforce in terms of race, gender and sexual orientation.

“I’d love to see the cannabis industry be at the forefront of changing the conversation in the United States and worldwide on how we hire generally,” Heise said.

West and fellow co-founder Jazmin Hupp will step back from their respective roles as national events director and CEO.

More Law Firms Going Green

Marijuana is at the center of Greenspoon Marder’s expansion strategy. The law firm – which already has offices in 10 Florida cities and in New York – now plans to open locations in Las Vegas, Denver and San Diego because they are in states with legalized medical or recreational marijuana. Cannabis should be a good fit for the firm, which specializes in other highly regulated industries such as healthcare, alcohol, firearms and tobacco.

The firm’s new national cannabis law practice will be led by Rachel Gillette, the founding member of the Denver office, and Lance Rogers, who is starting the San Diego office. As recognized authorities on cannabis law in the United States, Gillette and Rogers will spearhead the launch and growth of the firm’s marijuana practice.

The new Las Vegas office has tapped Phillip Silvestri and Neal Gidyani to handle cannabis issues there.

Another multi-state law firm, Tucker Arensberg, has formed a medical marijuana practice group in Pennsylvania, which legalized MMJ earlier this year. Commercial finance and corporate law specialist Barry Nelson heads up the practice. The other attorneys involved are Christopher Cahillane, William Harvey, Brittany Holzer, Brian Kahle, Catia Kossovsky, Scott Leah, Kenneth McDermott and Peter Spangler.

Allen St. Pierre Leaves NORML

Allen St. Pierre, the long-time executive director of the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws (NORML), has left the group to become vice president of communications and advocacy for Freedom Leaf, a media and branding company based in Las Vegas. St. Pierre will stay in Washington DC, where he will devote time to advocacy and use his relationships with business and political leaders to drive clients towards Freedom Leaf.

Notably, Freedom Leaf co-founder Richard Cowan hired St. Pierre in 1992, when Cowan was NORML’s executive director.

Blogger Johnny Green Joins Green Flower Media

Christopher Young, the well-known marijuana blogger known as Johnny Green, has left the Weed Blog and joined Green Flower Media, a canna-centric media and marketing company. The move follows an acrimonious legal battle that pitted Green and a fellow site blogger against Travis Mauer, the majority owner of the Weed Blog. Mauer has been accused of fraud in a separate lawsuit. Young and Mauer settled their dispute, allowing Young to join Green Flower in June.

CannRx Taps Financial Advisor/Cannabis Activist for Board

CannRx Technology, a Delaware corporation developing pharmaceutical-grade products from cannabis, has appointed Jeffrey Friedland to its board of directors. Friedland is CEO of Friedland Global Capital and author of “Marijuana: The World’s Most Misunderstood Plant.”

“One of my primary concerns regarding medical cannabis is the limited ability to clearly define its indications and effects for medical practitioners and consumers, which often leads to inaccurate dosing, unpredictable clinical results and undesirable side effects,” Friedland said.

Harvest Names New GM for Tempe Store

Harvest Inc. – an Arizona-based cultivator, producer and distributor of medical cannabis products – has appointed Brett Neale as general manager of its store in Tempe. Neale started with Harvest in 2015 as a delivery driver but soon moved up to take an assistant manager position. As general manager of the Tempe store, Neale will be responsible for the dispensary’s daily operations.