October 1, 2016 | by Staff
Authoritative voices are rising to make dynamic and lasting changes in a world predisposed in its views on marijuana use. The voices are being heard from virtually all sectors. What follows are 10 leading marijuana influencers in cannabis research, public advocacy, the marijuana industry and Hollywood.
Research depends on funding. Unfortunately, in areas where cannabis remains under the cloud of its black market legacy, funding is restricted. That stigma has not deterred the commitment and conviction of key influencers.
Raphael Mechoulam, Ph. D., the father of marijuana research, isolated and synthetized THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and discovered the human brain produces its own cannabis.
He continues his work of more than 50 years at the Department for Medicinal Chemistry and Natural Products at Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School and School of Pharmacy, Institute for Drug Research.
Geoffrey Guy is founder and Chairman of the Board of GW Pharmaceuticals a publicly traded company committed to “the global leaders in prescription cannabinoid medicines, through the rapid cost-effective development of pharmaceutical products which address clear unmet needs.”
The company originated Sativex, the first medical derivative of the cannabis plant, to relieve pain associated with cancer and Epidolex to treat severe seizures in children with epilepsy.
Orrin Devinsky, M.D. (Harvard Medical School) is Director of NYU Langone’s Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. Dr. Devinsky currently leads a clinical trial on Epidiolex.
Worried about how the nation’s patchwork of regulations and standards compromised research and medical care, he wrote an argument for research as an op-ed in The New York Times where he stated that, “To foster research, we need to change compounds derived from marijuana from Schedule 1 to a less restrictive category”
Some leading influencers are public advocates for adult and/or medical use of marijuana. They are educated and respected voices in several forums affecting public and legislative opinion.
Sanjay Gupta, M.D. (University of Michigan) serves as Associate Chief of Neurosurgery at Grady Memorial Hospital and Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery at Emory University School of Medicine. He is also the very public Chief Medical Correspondent for CNN.
An advocate with a very large audience, he called for a marijuana revolution on CNN in 2015 saying, “We should legalize medical marijuana. We should do it nationally. And, we should do it now.”
Tista Ghosh, M.D., MPH (Yale and Indiana University) has published important work on the structure of legalized marijuana.
As Deputy Chief Medical Officer and head of infectious and non-infectious epidemiology for the state of Colorado, she steered Colorado’s efforts to secure the safety of marijuana users once the state legalized use for recreational purposes.
Senator Cory Booker co-sponsored the Democratic Party’s platform and interest in the Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States Act (CARERS). CARERS is the modest but significant first step in broadening federal law to standardize and liberalize dispensing of medical marijuana.
Booker stands out among the many governors and congressional figures with similar interests largely because of his charismatic media presence.
The cannabis industry has spawned an evolving economy with considerable promise. Key influencers operate from within the industry to promote entrepreneurship and expansion of business interests in cannabis products.
Steve DeAngelo, an irrepressible and inspirational cannabis advocate, founded the Harborside Health Center (Oakland, CA), the world’s largest medical marijuana dispensary.
He co-created (with Troy Dayton) the ArcView Group, the top voice on the cannabis economy and credited with raising $70 million in investment funding since 2010.
Brendan Kennedy, CEO of Privateer Holdings, leads a team that represents worldwide investors seeking to end cannabis prohibition through a portfolio of global brands. This includes the Bob Marley brand with respect for Bob Marley’s beliefs in the power of the earth and how we share it.
The brand stamps natural cannabis, body care products and accessories. And, it just may be the harbinger of other endorsed products.
Celebrity opinion carries a perhaps disproportionate influence on public decisions. Only a few stars have made the next step to entering the industry fully, with some of them seeking a marketing high road in terms of advertising and image.
Whoppi Goldberg is an actress and author with a large TV audience. An Academy award winner and hostess of ABC’s The View, she has been outspoken about her use of recreational marijuana and support for medical use.
Goldberg has leveraged that popularity into the successful introduction of Whoopi & Maya, a cannabis-based line of rubs, tinctures, soaks and balms.
Melissa Etheridge, a cancer survivor, introduced marijuana-infused wine tinctures to add a little buzz to the alcohol high.
More recently she's introduced a web-marketed Etheridge Farms line of non-smokeable topicals, edibles, tinctures, balms and oils. She is betting on its appeal to women and seniors.
Advocacy and investing voices are getting louder and more influential. These 10 figures provide not only significant critical input, but also meaningful energy. They capture the research, public, industry and celebrity voices presently impacting the field of marijuana.
Contact or Contribute? Send us an email.