The legal cannabis industry is too new to be defined by a hard-and-fast set of rules. With regulations constantly in flux and legalization in a small, but growing, number of states, the industry’s emerging leaders are proving to be as diverse as the products they’re creating. These idea generators and innovators come from backgrounds that defy the outdated perceptions of cannabis, with individual backgrounds that are far from uniform.
Here are four cannabis industry players who established their game-changing reputations long before they started building a new American industry.
Andrea Drummer, Elevation VIP Cooperative
A Le Cordon Bleu educated chef, Andrea Drummer spent years in high profile positions with Ritz-Carlton and Los Angeles eateries Redbird and Vibiana. While on the fast track to the top of the haute cuisine world, she shifted gears in 2012 after whipping up a batch of canna-butter. Since then, she hasn’t looked back, and Drummer now heads up Elevation VIP Cooperative; a medical marijuana dispensary specializing in exclusive multi-course menus filled with dishes you’d find in the finest European restaurants. She is single-handedly redefining what it means to cook with cannabis.
Robert Weakley, INDUS Holding Company
The Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Salinas, California-based INDUS Holding Company began his professional life in hospitality, cutting his teeth with such globally-recognized players as Hyatt Hotels. With a professional perspective on culinary leadership, Robert Weakley turned his attention to the edible cannabis market. His INDUS brands now include such popular products as Altai and Moon edibles. The ability to translate what would otherwise be considered a wildly divergent professional experience has proven to be his greatest advantage. Weakley’s non-traditional pedigree on the front lines has granted him a unique outlook over the brands he oversees, establishing him as a leading authority in the cannabis space.
Calvin Broadus Jr., Casa Verde Capital
Throughout his nearly 30 years as an icon of hip-hop, that artist professionally known as Snoop Dogg has made no bones about his love for cannabis. But for Calvin Broadus Jr., his evangelism for the product doesn’t stop at the microphone. Broadus’ business savvy and global brand helped him build Casa Verde Capital, one of the leading venture capital firms in the cannabis space. Casa Verde takes aim at the ancillary cannabis ecosystem by investing in verticals such as AgTech, health & wellness, financial services, technology, and media. Some of his most notable investments include the groundbreaking Eaze marijuana delivery service, and cannabis-focused website Merry Jane.
Kelly McMillin – INDUS Holding Company
With the cannabis industry under close and constant scrutiny, law enforcement veteran Kelly McMillin is in the unique position of ensuring INDUS Holding Company remains on the right side of the law. McMillin served 33 years in law enforcement – including nearly five years as Chief of Police for the City of Salinas – before transitioning into a cannabis career. Cannabis legalization, in any form, could never happen without a strict legal adherence. Licenses are granted. Regulations are followed. As Chief Compliance Officer, McMillin’s trained eye, policy awareness, and network of connections are critical to ensuring the INDUS family of brands operates at the height of strict safety and quality standards.
If the legal cannabis industry is to continue its rapid growth, it will need to rely on leaders and self-starters who come from diverse backgrounds and are more than capable of transitioning from “traditional” professions into a non-traditional space.