A steadfast spirit. The desire to encourage and empower. One big heap of compassion.
These are some of the requirements to steer a team through the ever-evolving and increasingly competitive world of cannabis, as shared by Cannabis Business Times Editorial Director Noelle Skodzinski during her opening remarks at the Cannabis Leadership Awards Class of 2022 reception Aug. 24 at Cannabis Conference in Las Vegas.
Cannabis Business Times/Cannabis Conference Editorial Director Noelle Skodzinski addressing the crowd at the second-annual Cannabis Leadership Awards.
Produced by Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Conference, and sponsored by FOHSE, the Cannabis Leadership Awards recognize those who address the industry’s injustices, build positive workplaces, and facilitate positive change in the cannabis industry. Nearly200 industry professionals gathered for the ceremony, which also honored actor, musician, cannabis activist and business owner Tommy Chong with a Lifetime Achievement Award.
“It is crucial to … recognize those who are leaders not because they want to be leaders, but because they embody the true ideals of leadership,” Skodzinski said.
FOHSE Co-Founder and President Ben Arnet
FOHSE Co-Founder and President Ben Arnet said, “We have a long way to go to where the industry deserves to be, and it’s a huge opportunity for the leaders … to continue that narrative.” In the meantime, he added, “It’s really nice to see the industry continue to knock down barriers, and it’s time to loudly applaud those innovators for doing so.”
The Cannabis Leadership Awards 2022 recipients were selected from nearly 200 peer-nominated submissions.
Cannabis Business Times/Cannabis Conference Programming Director Cassie Tomaselli (left) pictured with Cannabis Leadership Awards recipient Wendy Bronfein
Curio Wellness Chief Brand Officer and Director of Public Policy Wendy Bronfein was honored for trailblazing Maryland’s medical cannabis program with sophisticated products and brands, advocating for reform on the national level, as well as developing the company’s franchise retail division Far & Dotter, which raised $30 million dollars to support independent and diverse ownership in the cannabis industry.
“In this industry, we speak to many audiences at once–some that have greater affinity for us than others–and we must be ever-conscious of this reality as we push our agenda forward,” Bronfein said during her acceptance remarks. “It’s important we continue to tell our story in ways that engage, debunk and evolve the collective mindset around cannabis.”
Read Wendy Bronfein’s 2022 Cannabis Leadership Award profile here.
Cannabis Business Times/Cannabis Conference Associate Editor Tony Lange (left) pictured with Cannabis Leadership Awards recipient Drew Duval
Cresco Labs Senior VP of Cultivation Drew Duval was honored for his ability to build and scale cultivation operations and teams, such as FloraCal Farms, which sold to Origin House (now owned by Cresco Labs). Duval was also lauded for working with California counties on legalization and tax reform, as well as drafting a comprehensive cultivation, genetics and management training program for Cresco Labs, one of the largest multistate operators in the country.
“It’s an honor to accept this award,” Duval said before thanking his wife and his team for their support, later adding, “I just want to thank the plant. It’s been inspirational in my life from the beginning up until now. It’s taught me a lot over the years.”
Read Drew Duvall’s 2022 Cannabis Leadership Award profile here.
Cannabis Business Times/Cannabis Conference Editor-in-Chief Michelle Simakis (left) pictured with Cannabis Leadership Awards recipient Ian Hackett
Napa Valley Fumé President Ian Hackett was honored for balancing pragmatism and passion with his team while driving forward the company’s brands in one of the most difficult states to succeed—California—while also participating in philanthropic efforts, from One Tree Planted to Last Prisoner Project. Napa Valley Fumé was also named a ‘2021 Best Cannabis Company To Work For—Cultivation,’ scoring highest in employee satisfaction surveys.
“Thank you to my team back home, and I appreciate being mentioned here with Wendy, Kema, Drew [and] Lindsey. I’m truly honored,” Hackett said.
Read Ian Hackett’s 2022 Cannabis Leadership Award profile here.
Cannabis Business Times/Cannabis Conference Senior Editor Zach Mentz (left) pictured with Cannabis Leadership Awards Recipient Kema Ogden
Top Notch The Health Center (THC) Co-Founder and Co-Owner Kema Ogden was honored for carving her own path as the first Black female dispensary owner in Nevada—as well as putting community first. Ogden serves as a director and board member for organizations such as Community Outreach Medical Center, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Nevada’s Cannabis Compliance Board Advisory Commission (CCB) as well as CCB’s Subcommittee on Social Equity, Diversity and Inclusion.
“I believe it’s vital for those who are able to help and guide and inspire others in this industry to do so in order to help and move this industry forward,” Ogden said.“Also, leading with compassion and empathy is extremely important in our industry, as well as working with a team of people that have the same beliefs and values as we do.”
Read Kema Ogden’s 2022 Cannabis Leadership Award profile here.
Cannabis Business Times/Cannabis Conference Associate Editor Andriana Ruscitto (left) pictured with Cannabis Leadership Awards Recipient Lindsey Renner
Native Humboldt Farms Owner Lindsey Renner was honored for championing her Native American heritage through her vertically integrated cannabis company, rebuilding her home and business after California wildfires, and instructing social equity applicants on how to run legal cannabis operations through her partnership with Cookies U.
“Through cannabis I’ve found my strength, my passion, my purpose,” Renner said. ”And I’ve also found that through cannabis I actually have a platform—a platform to talk to other Native Americans, women, people in general, and let them know that no matter what the circumstances are, or if it feels like all the odds are stacked against you, with hard work and perseverance and a positive mindset, you really can overcome anything.”
Read Lindsey Renner’s 2022 Cannabis Leadership Award Profile here.
Cannabis Business Times Digital Editor Eric Sandy (left); pictured with Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tommy Chong
Cannabis Business Times and Cannabis Conference Digital Editor Eric Sandy honored Tommy Chong with the event’s final accolade of the evening: the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award. During his remarks, Sandy shared with the audience an account of Chong’s decades of work as an activist through his entertainment career, his experience as an ancillary and plant-touching business owner, as well as the nine months he spent in federal prison between 2003-2004 (in addition to hefty fines and merchandise forfeiture) for selling glass pipes online via his business Nice Dreams Enterprises.
“I humbly accept this award on behalf of all the potheads in the world,” Chong said. After a standing ovation, he delighted the audience with humorous tales of his business operations and his outlook on his achievements.
Read CBT’s October cover story on Tommy Chong, ‘The Elder Statesman,’ here.
Cannabis Conference Lifetime Achievement Award recipient Tommy Chong delivering acceptance remarks at the 2022 Cannabis Leadership Awards, produced by Cannabis Business Times and supported by FOHSE
“I’ve been very successful, and the reason I’ve been very successful is that I know there’s a higher power,” he said. “He was with me from the beginning, especially when I was in prison, because that’s really where you connect with God because you got time—you’ve got nothin’ else to do.”
He later joked, “The great things about glass bongs is that stoners buy them. And a lot of times they break them before they leave the shop. So they have to replace them.”
Cannabis Conference will be returning to Paris Las Vegas August 15-17, 2023. Visit www.CannabisConference.com and sign up for email alerts for the latest updates regarding speakers and sessions, exhibitors, as well as networking events.