Though for 40 years people have been working to change the laws and perception of marijuana, and though it’s been nearly 20 years since California passed the first medical marijuana statute, cannabis as an industry is still in its infancy. Today we highlight some of the top mj organizations and people, some seasoned—some new, who are shaping the business, the policies, and the image of marijuana in the US.



Marijuana Business Association (MJBA)

Based in Seattle, the MJBA’s mission includes the admirable goals of creating common market standards and developing best ethical business practices for participants in the emerging legal marijuana industry. MJBA offers many ways to join and regular meet-ups are held at sponsoring businesses making it easy to get involved. We especially like MJBA because their Women’s Alliance attracts really intelligent women.



Jamen Shively

Jamen Shively

Simply put: We love him. He is a brilliant man who wants to change the world. His vision is to cure world hunger and his creativity and dedication make you believe he is really going to do it. A former microsoft executive, Shively brings massive-scale experience to the mj organizations he interacts with. Just as Microsoft dominated the market will we see this in the world of cannabis production? If so, we suspect Shively will be guiding the way.


NORMLNational MJ Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

At 40 years strong, making it one of the most seasoned mj organizations, NORML maintains the best website for legal and political information impacting the cannabis industry. Their blog contains thoughtful articles that receive many comments and their online library offers a wealth of information.


National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)NCIA

Denver-based NCIA coordinates a national effort to create a “favorable social, economic, and legal environment.” While the NORML staff lobbies congress and seeks to educate the public, the many events put on by NORML offer opportunities for education and networking with those who labor to be the accepted and respected professionals they are in their fields. The NCIA Board of Directors is a dynamic group of people with a wealth and breadth of experience in the industry.


Steve DeAngeloSteve DeAngelo

As the founder of the ArcView Group investor network, DeAngelo has connected more than a dozen marijuana businesses together with investors resulting in approximately $12 million raised in support of the developing or growing companies. The more than 300 accredited investors in the ArcView Angel Investor Network have access to cannabusinesses they can get no where else. Each week 3-5 companies make web-based pitches. Not unlike “Shark-Tank” ArcView investors get to choose those they feel are the best-fit for their interests and portfolio. Beyond the monetary investments, ArcView is creating a space where knowledge, experience and skills are generously shared making the industry and it’s players more robust.


Women GrowWomen Grow

Newly created Women Grow seeks to “connect, educate, inspire and empower” women in marijuana organizations to be leaders in the industry. With networking events across the country and a cadre of successful women in their speaker’s bureau Women Grow is positioned to become a leading mj organization in the industry.




The Stanley BrothersStanley Brothers

Known globally as the creators of Charlotte’s Web and founders of the Realm of Caring Foundation the Stanley Brothers are not only intellectually curious medicinal developers they are astute businessmen who over five years grew from two small basement groves to multiple storefronts and massive greenhouses. The Stanley Brothers represent what so many want to be as mj organizations: successful business owners who operate ethically and care about people. In other words, they’ve grown an empire and not lost their soul. Leading by example: that’s something to aspire to.



Cory BookerCory Booker

As Newark Mayor Booker has been outspoken in his support of marijuana policy reform that moves toward a complete overhaul of state and federal drug policy saying in 2012, “we need to begin to talk about drugs in a different way. I want to lead the national conversation away from this insanity that we have right now which is a massive percentage of our prison population, where we spend hundreds of billions of dollars, where we have people arrested for nonviolent drug offenses and they get re-arrested and re-arrested and re-arested to no real result while making our neighborhoods not more safe and no more strong.” Booker will be one to watch now that he has the opportunity to effect change at the national level as a US Senator for New Jersey.



Diane FornbacherDiane Fornbacher

High Times’ Freedom Fighter in 1999; recipient of the NORML Pauline Sabin Award in 2012; Founding Member of the Board of the NORML Women’s Alliance Foundation (NWAF); Fornbacher has dedicated 20 years of her life to grassroots and national drug policy reform organizations. A speaker, fundraiser, writer, mother, and publisher of Ladybud Magazine, Fornbacher is the definition of an activist. (PHOTO: Shutterboxx Photography/Toni Liu)