Movers & Shakers

Movers&Shakers

A look at some recent hiring moves in the marijuana industry

by Omar Sacirbey

OpenVape Brings on New Science Team

OpenVape, the Denver-based vaporizer and vape oil company, has hired four Ph.D.’s to join the research and development team of its subsidiary, Organa Labs, with the aim of getting its products into FDA clinical trials.
The move signals that a growing number of science professionals with advanced degrees are looking to the cannabis sector for employment.

“This is the new American industry that will offer scientists new opportunities to pioneer new products to satisfy a huge consumer demand,” said OpenVape CEO Ralph Morgan.

He said bolstering the company’s scientific team is a critical step to remaining competitive.

“The rapid growth of this industry, including competition, is opening a path of opportunity that required an investment in talent and equipment for us to maintain our leadership position,” Morgan said.

OpenVape’s new science team leader is Thomas King, who comes over after 11 years at Globalmmune, a biopharmaceutical company that develops treatments for cancer and infectious diseases. King, who received his Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of Massachusetts in 2001, will lead a team of five scientists that is currently establishing a preclinical therapeutics development laboratory. The goal is to discover new biological activities of cannabinoids and improve product delivery. Eventually, the team hopes to launch FDA-approved clinical trials with humans to study the effect of cannabinoids and their derivatives in treatments for cancer and other diseases.
King is joined by Richard Kiyomoto, who received his Ph.D. in plant pathology from Washington State University. He will be tasked with developing industrial hemp cultivars, improving cloning methods, and creating ways to “fingerprint” hemp cultivar DNA.

Physical chemist G. Jeffery Rathbone will build and run the lab’s mass spectrometers, which are used to analyze terpenes and measure potency, while Sam Singh will bring R&D and project management experience from Merck, General Millis and Globalmmune.

Sin City Cultivation Hires New Master Grower, COO

Sin City Cultivation, a Las Vegas cannabis cultivation and processing company, has brought on a new master grower. Ben Burkhardt has been in the cannabis trade since 1998, when he started as a patient-cultivator in San Francisco. He also once worked for Berkeley Patients Group, and earlier this year Burkhardt launched Sunlight Green Systems, a Denver-based company that provides real estate, production and other services to cultivators.

The company also hired former Nevada state senator Sandra Tiffany to be its new chief operating officer. Tiffany spent 14 years in the Nevada State Legislature, where she held several leadership roles and supported key marijuana legislation.

Vicente Sederberg Taps New Attorney

Vicente Sederberg, a Denver-based cannabis law firm, has added to its legal expertise by bringing on lawyer Kelly Rosenberg, who worked on marijuana regulations since 2010 at the Colorado Department of Law. Rosenberg will help clients with regulatory and compliance issues and also be a part of the firm’s new government consulting division, which assists governmental entities in drafting medical and retail marijuana laws, ordinances and regulations.
While with the Colorado Department of Law, Rosenberg first served as the general and litigation counsel to the Colorado Medical Marijuana Enforcement Division and later worked on a five-person team that drafted, edited and reviewed all rules adopted by the agency.

Weedmaps Finds Way to Washington Lobbyist

Weedmaps, the popular dispensary listing site, recently welcomed veteran lobbyist Dustin McDonald, who takes the title of head of government relations. Previously, McDonald was in charge of federal government relations for the Government Finance Officers Association, an industry group representing more than 18,000 public finance officials in the United States and Canada.

In his new position, McDonald will focus on shaping policies and regulations governing public safety, public health, and the marijuana industry’s financial health.

urban-gro Grows Sales Team

urban-gro – a Colorado company that provides lighting, water treatment and other cultivation technology products for cultivators – has nabbed Mark Doherty from MedCann Advisors, where he was CEO. At urban-gro, Doherty takes on the position of director of sales and is based out of New York. He’s focused on the cannabis market east of the Mississippi.

Before MedCann, Doherty managed Aqua Vita Farms, a wholesale producer of aquaponic lettuce whose innovative farming methods were covered by the BBC and USA Today.

Three Cannabis Pros Join GrowBlox Board

GrowBlox Sciences, a biopharmaceutical research and development company that develops pharmaceutical-grade cannabinoid therapies, has added three cannabis industry veterans to its board: Leslie Bocskor, president and founder of Electrum Partners; consultant Shane Terry, former president of the Nevada Dispensary Association; and John Poss, who is transitioning from GrowBlox’s CFO to CEO.

Healthcare Expert Joins Accreditation Group

Raeanna Lewarne has left her post as president of the hospice care division at ProCare RX, a pharmacy benefits management company in Georgia, to join the executive board and review committee of the National Medical Marijuana Accreditation Organization, where she will audit client accreditations.