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Cannabis Career Watch | New Hires and Promotions July 31, 2020




Chief Operating Officer Michael Highdale joined the team at 48North Cannabis Corp. He previously served as vice president of operations at Sofina Foods Inc.

“I am thrilled to have Michael, an experienced leader in the food and beverage space, join the company’s industry leading team as COO,” said 48North Chief Executive Officer Charles Vennat. “In recent months, 48North has made significant progress in professionalizing its operational and manufacturing capacities. Without question, Michael has the experience required to continue implementing these improvements, ensuring that 48North’s facilities remain first-class in the cannabis industry and beyond.”


Functional Remedies appointed its Senior VP of Operations Asa Waldstein to a one-year stint on the board at American Herbal Products Association, a national trade association and recognized voice of authority in the herbal products industry.

“I’m honored to re-join AHPA’s prestigious board,” said Waldstein. “AHPA has been a leader in the herbal products marketplace for forty years and has continued to lead the hemp conversation for over a decade with its cannabis committee. I am very thankful to the board for electing me to serve with its esteemed members.”

Asa Waldstein

Waldstein previously served as an AHPA board member and 2019 was elected to chair its cannabis committee.

Veritas Farms promoted Marketing Specialist Marisa Cifre to the role of marketing manager. Prior to joining Veritas in 2019, Cifre served as a marketing strategist for CereScan Corp. She also served as a marketing consultant for OmniComm Systems Inc.

“We are pleased to promote Marisa to marketing manager at Veritas Farms,” said Veritas co-founder and Chief Executive Officer Alexander M. Salgado. “With her wide range of marketing knowledge and experience, she is an asset to our company as it continues to grow and expand in the booming hemp industry.”

Director of Local Government Affairs Randi Knots and Special Initiatives Coordinator Mathew Waldron joined the staff at the Cannabis Consumer Policy Council. Knots will be responsible for coordinating local government outreach and policy development. Waldron will be responsible for communications, social media, legal and policy research, content generation, developing webinars/podcasts, and campaign management.

Zenabis Global Interim Chief Executive Officer Kevin Coft will be replaced by Shai Altman, effective September 1, 2020. Altman, who will serve as president and CEO, previously was president of McCain Foods, Canada. He also has held executive roles at Wrigley/Mars. Coft will remain with Zenabis as chief facilities officer.

“Zenabis is pleased to welcome Shai to the team as CEO,” said Zenabis chair of the board Daniel Burns. “His deep and varied experience across the entire spectrum of leadership and operations, and in particular his experience in [consumer packaged goods] in Canada and globally, make him incredibly well-suited to contribute to Zenabis’ continued growth.”

Mydecine Innovations Group hired former Red Bull marketing executive Jim Gunning to serve as chief marketing officer, replacing former CMO Benjamin Martch. Gunning previously has held roles at RESQWATER, Blue Sky Biologicals, and KANABIA.

“Jim’s years of professional experience in marketing, sales, and relationship building easily shine through his work ethic and his genuine, relaxed and humble personality are obvious seasoned traits you would only find in someone that is truly confident with the incredible skills and talents that Jim has acquired,” said Mydecine Chief Operating Officer Damon Michaels. “I believe that it was very fortunate for Jim and I to cross paths in this world and I knew from the beginning that we would one day do great things together. I am very happy to welcome Jim into the Company and add him to our amazing dynamic team.”

Redwood Green Corp. reappointed founding Chief Executive Officer Christopher A. Hansen to the role of CEO.

“Chris has a deep understanding of the company and environment, and his leadership will have a steadying influence, particularly given the significant challenges we face in these turbulent times,” said Dr. Delon Human, chairman of the board at Redwood Green. “Our company has listened to the market and stakeholders and understands the need to adapt our corporate strategy and implement the changes necessary to ensure sustainable growth in the cannabis/cannabinoids industry.”

Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications Ray Gracewood resigned from his position at Organigram Holdings. He has been replaced by Julie Chamberlain who was promoted from her role as senior director of brand.

“Ray is a pioneer in cannabis marketing,” said Organigram Chief Executive Officer Greg Engel. “He has been instrumental in launching Organigram’s medical business and building out its adult-use recreational brand portfolio.”

Several companies made changes to their directorial and advisory boards.

SLANG Worldwide President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Driessen joined the Benzinga Cannabis Advisory Council, bringing the panel to twenty-eight members.

BevCanna Enterprises appointed beverage industry pioneer Douglas Mason to its independent advisory board. Mason holds board-level roles at a number of public companies, including TransCanna Holdings and Naturally Splendid Enterprises.

Cresco Labs appointed Carol Vallone to its board of directors. Vallone currently serves on the board of trustees at MGH Institute of Health Professions, on the finance committee at Mass General Brigham, and as chair of the board of trustees at McLean Hospital.

Canateq Holdings added three members to its board: former Molson Coors Chief Executive Officer Mark Hunter, former president at Molson Coors International Kandy Anand, and AI health technology entrepreneur Fred Brown.

Bruce Croxon, co-founder and former chief executive officer at Lavalife, joined the board of directors at WeedMD. The company also announced the resignation of board member Dr. Hugh Scully.

The Washington State Bar Association Cannabis Law Section elected Sativa Rasmussen to serve as chair for a two year term. Rasmussen is currently an attorney at international law firm Dorsey & Whitney.

Sativa Rasmussen

Bern Whitney resigned from the board of directors at Flower One Holdings.

Have new hire or promotion news to share on Cannabis Career Watch? Send your press release to [email protected].



Cannabis and the 2020 Election




Next month, five states will be voting on seven ballot measures to legalize cannabis. A variety of proposals, including constitutional amendments, statutory initiatives, and alternative measures, could establish new medical cannabis markets in two states and expand legalization to include adult use legalization in four states. Three of these proposals would enshrine cannabis possession and consumption within state constitutions.

This article will explore the proposals themselves as well as the short-term implications of legalization on existing license holders and the industry.

2020 cannabis ballot measures policy focus

State-by-State Review


Arizona voters have another opportunity to legalize cannabis next month, after narrowly defeating adult use legislation four years ago. In recent years, the Copper State’s medical cannabis market has seen significant MSO expansion, and new mandatory testing requirements launch at the beginning of November.

There are roughly 150 medical cannabis licenses in the state currently — all of which would receive priority status in the application process for adult use licensing. Additionally, diversity applicants and applicants in areas currently lacking cannabis retail access would be fast-tracked applicants.

Prop. 207 does include local control and opt-out provisions, and a new 16% tax would direct revenue to a variety of funds, while retail operators would be able to launch delivery services as soon as 2023.


Mississippi could become the 34th state to legalize cannabis for medical use, but two competing measures are creating complications on the ballot. A citizen-driven campaign led to the placement of Initiative 65, while the legislature responded with Alternative Initiative 65A.

Initiative 65 establishes a medical cannabis program similar to the program structure of many other states; with clearly defined qualifying conditions, possession limits, taxes, registration fees, and a regulator — the state health department. The alternative includes no definitions and only allows smokable cannabis products for terminally ill patients, leaving a highly restrictive market requiring enabling legislation.

Previous bills have been proposed, but never brought to a vote — leaving some skeptical that anything at all may come of Initiative 65A.


Montana’s existing medical cannabis program relies on a system of caregivers who cultivate cannabis and make manufactured products, including edibles and concentrates. Additionally, there is a limited number of licensed dispensaries throughout the state. Legalization would be a major evolution for Montana, which has seen multiple ballot initiatives and legislative interventions in recent years.

Two measures have been placed: one constitutional amendment to set the age of 21 as the minimum buying age and a measure to establish a commercial adult use market. While no early sales provisions are included, Montana companies would be the only businesses able to start sales for the first year after legalization.

New Jersey

New Jersey voters may make history, legalizing the adult use of cannabis and triggering a race among Mid-Atlantic states to implement sales first. While all of New Jersey’s neighbors have existing medical cannabis programs, none have taken steps to expand further. In recent years, numerous regional state legislatures have attempted to legalize, and Public Question 1 may tip the scales for an entire region with over 50 million residents.

The text of the amendment is brief, but it establishes a definition for ‘cannabis’ while permitting possession, use, and industry operations for adults ages 21 and up. The existing Cannabis Regulatory Commission would be tasked with regulating the industry, but the state legislature must first come to an agreement and pass enabling legislation.

Currently, New Jersey’s medical market includes roughly fifteen licenses, including cultivation and manufacturing, as well as a limited number of dispensaries. The next phase for cannabis in NJ is uncharted territory for now: it is unclear if existing licenses will be given the first opportunity to serve the general public.

Given licensing delays and a slow rollout in Illinois, lawsuits and delays could be in New Jersey’s future — with some analysts suggesting a four-year timeline from amendment passage to full implementation. This may be good news for MSOs, including Columbia Care, Verano, and Acreage Holdings, among others.

South Dakota

South Dakota has long been unfriendly to cannabis in all forms and has some of the nation’s strictest marijuana possession penalties. While other non-medical states have at least given a nod to low-THC medical hemp programs, the Mount Rushmore state hadn’t established any kind of hemp or cannabis program at all until the legislature passed industrial hemp legalization this past spring.

Now, the state could make history as the first to legalize cannabis for medical and adult use purposes at the same time. Two proposals are on the ballot: an initiated measure to launch a medical cannabis program, and a constitutional amendment to fully legalize cannabis, with provisions including adult use, a medical program, and expanded hemp legalization.

Medical use is enshrined in both proposals, while the constitutional amendment would prevent the legislature from any type of statutory tampering to limit a retail market. The constitutional amendment would establish a commercial market for both adult use and medical purposes. Medical use would include home cultivation. As there is no cannabis market in the state at this time, no businesses would be able to take advantage of “early sales” provisions, as seen in other states.


Previously, medical cannabis programs and commercial licensing schemes predated adult use legalization, and the majority of these proposals came into existence by way of the ballot. In most of the earliest states to fully legalize, this was the case: Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada all had some form of voter-approved medical cannabis legislation first.

Implementation of adult-use legalization has, however, varied across the states. In these proposals, Arizona, Montana, and New Jersey have existing medical cannabis infrastructures, but the implementation of adult use will likely lead to program changes.

Some legalization measures have allowed for existing medical dispensaries to launch sales to adults during a period of late-stage rulemaking. These businesses have operated under modified compliance rules, with track-and-trace requirements and varying tax rates until legalization rules are completed.

After Oregon voters approved legalization in 2014, the state’s medical market rapidly expanded with early sales on the horizon. At one point, there were more medical dispensaries in the state than Starbucks or McDonald’s locations. That number later dropped as businesses converted their licenses over.

For some of the states with legalization on the ballot this year, the transition out of medical will pose challenges: product shortages, long customer lines, new tax rates, uncertainty over product offerings, and testing requirements on top of an already difficult pandemic business environment.

Overall, legalization measures promise to bring a significant impact to consumers and patients in Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. It’s hard to quantify the short-term improvements to consumers and industry operators, as passage of these initiatives will set off a flurry of legislative and regulatory discussion over the holidays and into the spring. Existing licensees and hopeful applicants should keep an eye for new opportunities: public comment periods, application deadlines, and new sales opportunities on the horizon.


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Cuomo advisor predicts New York will legalize pot in April




New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s advisor on marijuana policy said this week the Empire State could legalize weed in April of next year with a bill that would serve as a model for other states looking to allow recreational pot in the United States.

Axel Bernabe, assistant counselor to Governor Cuomo, was a guest on the Under The Canopy series, recently launched by Canopy Growth, where he discussed cannabis legalization efforts in New York. According to Bernabe, a bill to legalize marijuana will be introduced through the state budget in January again, while he expects legalization to take effect by April. 

As New Jersey appears ready to legalize marijuana this November, Bernabe said the Cuomo administration has been watching its neighbor “closely.”

“We’re watching New Jersey closely. We’ve always been confident that we’d get to this before New Jersey, so if they pass the referendum they still have to have an agreement between the governor and the Senate over there,” he said.

“If New Jersey can beat us to it, they’ll get a gold star but I still think we’re gonna set the model for this,” Bernabe added, referring to the bill’s social equity provisions, among other things. 

During the interview, Bernabe also said that New York has been monitoring how legalization has been unfolding in Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts, but has also consulted with states on the West Coast, where the legal pot industry is larger and more developed. 

Regarding hemp, Cuomo’s advisor said the state will release its guidelines and regulations for CBD consumer products early next year as well.

“Those products are already out there, so there’s no sense in pretending they’re not,” Bernabe explained. 

For this reason, the governor and his team have been working on guidelines, which will include maximum dose per serving labeling and warnings about potential THC content in various hemp-derived products. New York has copied a lot of Florida’s hemp regulations while crafting its own policies, Bernabe stated, before telling Canopy Growth’s David Culver that the administration is currently putting the finishing touches to the guidelines. 

Although Governor Cuomo promised his state would legalize weed soon, marijuana legalization was left out of the New York state budget for 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, which hit the state particularly badly earlier this year.

Cuomo previously proposed working in conjunction with the neighboring states of New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania on coordinating a recreational marijuana system for the region. 


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PURA Concludes Farmersville Meetings – Deal Imminent




Dallas, TX – October 20, 2020 – OTC PR WIRE — Puration, Inc. (OTC PINK: PURA) today announced that CEO Brian Shibley concluded a key meeting yesterday essential to finalizing the acquisition of 72-acre property in Farmersville, Texas central to the company’s recently announced Farmersville Brands strategy.  “The acquisition is imminent. Look for an announcement very soon,” said Mr. Shibley.

PURA has scheduled the release of a comprehensive update this Friday, October 23, 2020, to provide the latest information on progress with the Farmersville Brand strategy. The Friday update this Friday will include the latest on the company’s planned dividend of PAO Group, Inc. (OTC PINK: PAOG) stock in conjunction with PURA’s sale of its cannabis cultivation business to PAOG.

For more information on Puration, visit

Disclaimer/Safe Harbor:

This news release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Securities Litigation Reform Act. The statements reflect the Company’s current views with respect to future events that involve risks and uncertainties. Among others, these risks include the expectation that any of the companies mentioned herein will achieve significant sales, the failure to meet schedule or performance requirements of the companies’ contracts, the companies’ liquidity position, the companies’ ability to obtain new contracts, the emergence of competitors with greater financial resources and the impact of competitive pricing. In the light of these uncertainties, the forward-looking events referred to in this release might not occur. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

Puration, Inc.
Brian Shibley,
(800) 861-1350


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