California retailer Harborside marked the end of an era this week when it parted ways with co-founder and chairman emeritus Steve DeAngelo, sometimes called the father of the legal cannabis industry.
In a video posted on LinkedIn, DeAngelo said he would continue working to promote “cannabis knowledge and freedom” with a focus on “equity/sustainability/governance” (ESG) issues. “A small band of fanatically devoted cannabis activists” founded Harborside almost 14 years ago, he said in the video, to build a “gold standard” dispensary. The dream became possible when Oakland awarded it one of the country’s first six dispensary licenses.
I spoke to Harborside General Counsel Jack Nichols about the transition and asked DeAngelo protégé Kris Krane, who’s now President of MSO 4Front, about how (or if) smaller companies with activist roots can chart their own course at a time of consolidation. Both suggested companies need to focus on their strengths. For Harborside that might be the high quality retail experience it pioneered, while 4Front is all about efficient manufacturing at scale.