The cannabis industry is bursting with ingenuity. Ganja-preneurs, go-getters, and trailblazers have their eyes on the prize, carefully navigating their way in our post-prohibition society with many unknowns and plenty of challenges. Each month, we’ll be introducing you to five key players who are forging paths, kicking ass, and making waves.
Ron Silver, Founder at Relevant Innovations
It’s difficult to spend any decent amount of time exploring New York City without a late-night or early afternoon brunch-trip to Bubby’s restaurant—it’s an institution. With recent expansions across the city and into Tokyo, Japan, restaurateur Ron Silver is at the top of his game. Silver’s been in the restaurant business for 25 years, but he’s been enjoying cannabis even longer. With the emerging cannabis industry, Silver saw a unique opportunity to combine his farm-to-table culinary expertise with his love for cannabis into one passionate focus, Relevant Innovations. His all natural edibles company has a patent pending process that offers a fast acting, controllable low dose. Made with top-quality CO2-extracted organically-grown cannabis, his product’s THC dissolves faster and absorbs at a higher rate, giving consumers more control. “As a chef for 40 years, I’m deeply passionate about hospitality and the importance of the guest-host relationship,” says Silver. “It’s my responsibility as a host to offer quality edibles that do no harm. I believe my products can help beat out our nation’s opioid abuse problem and assist people with pain management.”
Madison Ortiz, Writer & Canna-Brand Ambassador at Happy Tokes
With a BFA in Advertising Design from the College for Creative Studies in Detroit, Madison Ortiz, a.k.a. Happy Tokes, shares her journey as a medical marijuana patient with an enthusiastic online audience of over 56k on Instagram. Over the years, several hundred brands and artists have chosen to promote their products and creations through the Happy Tokes Tribe, driving sales while making meaningful connections. “Early on, I saw an opportunity to help people connect—teamwork and strategic collaboration go a long way,” says Ortiz. “It’s incredible to see how many people come together through the tribe. I’m humbled to have my platform act as the catalyst for such serendipitous bonds. Clearly, I’m not just pushing products onto people. Rather, I’m introducing things I discover and truly love with an audience of incredibly receptive people. The purity and rawness of their engagement with these brands is unreal.” When Ortiz is not writing about cannabis for various publications, you’ll spot her at popular events around the United States, representing companies like CannaSmack Hemp Lip Balm.
Kate Morgan, Head of Global Marketing at PAX Labs, Inc.
With nearly 10 years of event, branding, and marketing experience under her belt, Morgan creates and implements global, consumer-facing marketing programs for premium vaporizers JUUL and PAX, ultimately bringing the brands to life. “To be at the forefront, and blazing the way of an emerging $70 billion dollar industry, is incredibly exciting,” says Morgan. “There’s been little innovation in the field until recent years. To be working in the industry during this time of advancement and acceptance is amazing. At PAX, our mission aims to make traditional smoking obsolete, and to do so in an elevated, empowering way. Giving users the freedom to consume—and live without stereotypes—is one of the best parts about being an innovator in the industry. Having brought truly unique, fun solutions to over a million people, I can't wait to introduce more people to, and empower more people with, the PAXlife. Lots coming soon!”
Jesce Horton, Co-founder & Chairman at Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA)
The Minority Cannabis Business Association is the first non-profit organization founded to create equal access and economic empowerment for cannabis businesses, their patients, and the communities most affected by the war on drugs. As Chairman, Horton sees it as his mission to leverage his resources and experience to make a positive and sustaining impact in the cannabis industry. “Cannabis has the ability to do amazing good in our society,” says Horton, “but the industry will never reach its full potential without keeping sustainable business practices—like diversity and environmental efficiency—as core principles of development and growth.” In addition to his work with MCBA, Horton owns Panacea, an award-winning dispensary in Portland, Ore., and is the co-founder of Panacea Valley Gardens, a thriving medical cannabis cultivation center.
Andi Bixel, CEO & Founder at Drip Ice Cream
“I’m just one girl who wishes that every bite of ice cream I make moves us toward a new way of life, where our focus is on the things that really matter,” says Andi Bixel, creator of one of Portland’s most popular cannabis-infused craft ice cream brands, Drip. She believes relaxing with her ice cream helps promote a better, more well-balanced way of life. After five years spent traveling Europe and South America, where she discovered interesting flavor profiles, native Oregonian Bixel returned home and began making her medicated, homemade treats. Developed by intimately working with expert cannabis cultivators, extraction artists, and certified analytical laboratories to create a unique, consistent experience, her hard work has paid off. You can find her creamy, frozen confections among Oregon’s top dispensaries.
Written on September 19, 2016 by
Zoe Wilder is a writer based in Portland, Oregon, with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the College of William & Mary and a Master of Social Work from Fordham University.