Less than 30 years after Israel became the first nation in the world to allow its citizens to use cannabis for medical purposes, the medical and adult-use cannabis markets have spread across the globe at a dizzying rate.

Scientific research and cultural shifts have legitimized cannabis use, and dozens of countries now have fully-regulated national programs that allow for varying degrees of legal access. The United States, however, remains a notable exception, although currently, 36 states and four territories allow for the medical use of cannabis products.

According to a recent report, the global cannabis market is expected to reach to $42.7 billion by 2024 and shows no sign of slowing down.

While by no means exhaustive, this arbitrary list of executives represents diverse continents and the executives leading some of the most exciting cannabis and hemp ventures around the globe, showing the reach of the industry and its still untapped potential.

United States

Dr. Oludare Odumosu, Zelira Therapeutics

Oludare “Dare” Odumosu, PhD, is the Chief Executive Officer of Zelira Therapeutics (ASX: ZLD) (OTC: ZLDAF), a leading global therapeutic medical cannabis company with access to the world’s largest and fastest-growing cannabis and hemp markets. 

Dare plays a pivotal role in the development of Zelira products and formulations – both cannabis-based and over-the-counter brands – and in bringing those brands to US and global markets.

Odumosu sits on the board of the National Cannabis Roundtable, which promotes common-sense federal regulation, tax equality and financial services reform and supports changing federal law to acknowledge states’ rights to regulate and manage cannabis policy.

Nancy Whiteman, CEO, Wana Brands

Heralded as “The Queen of Legal Weed” by Inc. (May 2017) and “The Martha Stewart of Edibles” by Entrepreneur (Jan. 2019), Nancy Whiteman is co-founder and CEO of Wana Brands, a top international brand already available in more than 3,000 dispensaries across the United States and Canada.

In October 2021, Canopy Growth Corp. (NASDAQ: CGC) announced it had purchased the right–upon federal permissibility of THC in the US–to acquire Wana Brands. With proceeds from the deal, Nancy established the Wana Brands Foundation, an organization working to enhance the world by supporting a wide variety of nonprofits in Wana’s communities.

Nancy leads Wana Brands’ strategic vision and has been instrumental in the company’s growth into new and emerging markets. She also directs the development of partnerships and licensing agreements domestically and internationally. Nancy serves on the Marijuana Business Daily Advisory Board and the Benzinga Cannabis Advisory Board.

She has been recognized for numerous awards including Forbes’ Most Influential People in Cannabis (April 2022), High Times 100 (April 2022), Green Market Report’s First Ever Women Leadership Award for Leading Brand (April 2022) and Denver Business Journal’s Outstanding Women in Business (July 2022). She is a member of the US Cannabis Council, Colorado Cannabis Manufacturers Association, National Cannabis Industry Association, Colorado LEADS and Marijuana Policy Project. 

Berner, Cookies

Berner, Born Gilbert Anthony Milam, Jr. (10/27/1983) is a Billboard charting rapper, cannabis trailblazer, documentary filmmaker, cultural ambassador, and one business mogul.

Berner is the Co-Founder and CEO of Cookies, the most recognized cannabis brand in the world. Cookies is headquartered in San Francisco and offers a collection of over 70 proprietary cannabis cultivars, more than 2,000 products, with over 50 retail locations across 5 countries.

Cookies was named one of America’s Hottest Brands of 2021 by AdAge; the first cannabis brand to ever receive this accolade. In addition to Cookies, Berner has released 47 albums to date as an independent artist, and has founded/co-founded the following cannabis-related businesses, establishing himself as one of the most important influencers in the industry: 1212 Ventures, Lemonnade, Cookies SF, Weedmaps, Vibes, Santa Cruz Shredders, Hemp2o Water, Vibes, Bern One Entertainment music label and Social Club.

Gary Santo, TILT Holdings

Gary Santo is the visionary Chief Executive Officer of TILT Holdings (OTC: TLLTF), bringing over 25 years of experience leading lean, high-performance teams in Consumer Credit, Financial Services, Gaming and Technology, Higher Education, and Specialty-Pharma.

TILT has quickly emerged as a significant catalyst for change in the cannabis industry, with a portfolio of companies that provides the technology, hardware, cultivation, and production, serving brands and cannabis retailers across 36 states in the U.S., as well as Canada, Israel, Mexico, South America, and the European Union.

Through Santo’s leadership, TILT continues to innovate through its core businesses, including Jupiter Research, a wholly-owned subsidiary and leader in the vaporization segment focused on hardware design, research, development, and manufacturing; and cannabis operations, Commonwealth Alternative Care in Massachusetts, and Standard Farms in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

n addition, Santo and TILT continue to forge ahead on the company’s commitment to creating industry change through unique partnerships, such as with the Shinnecock Indian Nation of Long Island, New York. The Shinnecock formed Little Beach Harvest in partnership with TILT Holdings on its existing vertical operation in New  York, starting with a 5,000-square-foot cannabis dispensary located on tribal territory in Southampton, N.Y. Further to Little Beach Harvest, TILT has partnerships with newly launched minority-owned Highsman and Black Buddha cannabis brands. TILT is headquartered in Phoenix, Arizona.

Helene Servillon, Journeyone Ventures

Helene Servillon is the Founding Partner of JourneyOne Ventures, a 100% woman and minority-owned early-stage cannabis fund.

The JourneyOne team has 45 years of combined cannabis expertise and is focused on investing in the most venture-scalable sectors of the market which includes tech, tech-enabled services and companies with unique IP.  She is also a Senior Advisor to Bowen's cannabis practice, a Boston-based growth tech investment bank with a 20-year track record in capital raise advisory and buy-side and sell-side M&A.

Jessica Passman, Hunter & Esquire

Jessica is the Founder of Hunter + Esquire, the retained executive search and human capital advisory firm specializing in the cannabis and psychedelics industries.

Jessica is the organizational magic masterfully working behind the scenes leading research, recruitment, legal + company operations. 

Prior to launching Hunter + Esquire, she worked as an associate attorney at several top law firms, and provided outside general counsel to numerous clients through her own legal practice. Eventually, her passion for business led to her role as Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel for a global networking organization exclusively for professional women executives and business owners. In her role there, she wore many hats while creating the opportunity to evolve as both an entrepreneur and attorney. And that's precisely what she brings to Hunter + Esquire.

Leah Heise, Gemini Twin Consulting

Leah Heise is an experienced executive, regulatory attorney and thought leader in the cannabis Industry.

Leah has held several C-Level positions (CXO, 4Front Ventures; CAO, Ascend Wellness Holdings; President, Chesapeake Integrated Health Institute; and, CEO, Women Grow) in the industry and has successfully exited four companies; one through acquisition creating more than a 10x return for investors, and two through IPO. She is passionate about creating an inclusive environment for all participants in the industry.

Leah is currently a Constellation advisor to Kearney, at top-tier CPG and transformative management consulting firm interested in bringing their operational expertise to cannabis. At Ascend, where Leah served as the Chief Administrative Officer, her focus on building scalable infrastructure assisted the company to grow its human resources from 73 employees to more than 1300 in less than 18 months and from $19M in revenue in 2019 to a $1.6B market cap on IPO in May of 2021.

Leah entered the cannabis industry in 2015 after being told by her doctor to explore it use medically to reduce the inflammation and pain from a chronic illness called pancreatitis; an illness that …

Full story available on Benzinga.com

Leah entered the cannabis industry in 2015 after being told by her doctor to explore it use medically to reduce the inflammation and pain from a chronic illness called pancreatitis; an illness that …

Full story available on Benzinga.com