Cannabis in New York: 13 Industry Leaders You Need to Know

As New York cannabis continues to find itself, thankfully we have some awesome people helping lead the way.
As New York cannabis continues to find itself, thankfully we have some awesome people helping lead the way. /

Ever since cannabis was legalized in New York, the state has launched into setting up standards and regulations that aspire to create an exemplary market: one that is thorough, organized, and fair to operators, legislators, and consumers alike.

The market is well on its way to establishing itself, collecting cues from other regions’ past mistakes and successes, entrepreneurs moving into New York from other legal states, and, most importantly (and valuably), the state’s long-standing legacy operators. 

In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list with some of the most notable players in New York’s cannabis game, from retail and cultivation to legal, culture, social equity initiatives, and everything in between. 

Here are 13 of the top leaders in New York cannabis you should absolutely have on your radar.

13 New York Cannabis Experts You Should Know About

1. Sheri Tarr

Sheri Tarr is the Director of New York’s Cannabis Advisory Group: a volunteer-based nonprofit compiled of cannabis experts in policy, regulatory compliance, business, social justice, economics, science, and medicine.

Tarr initially forayed into the industry to advise companies on building sustainable business models, aiming to help mold cannabis into a market that is successful and profitable for everyone involved: consumers, legislators, and operators.

Tarr is also the Director and Regulatory Committee Co-Chair of New York’s chapter of the Cannabis Industry Association, is a frequent keynote speaker for the industry, and continues to advocate for legalization throughout the nation.

To stay up to date on Tarr and her latest endeavors, follow her on LinkedIn.

2. Vladimir Bautista

A New York native and renowned long-time figure in the legacy market, Vladimir Bautista is a prominent cannabis advocate, the co-founder and CEO of NYC-based cannabis lifestyle brand Happy Munkey, and a member of the UNLOC Board of Directors (an organization dedicated to integrating legacy operators into the legal market).

Aiming to give a “voice to the voiceless and hope to the hopeless,” Bautista has worked tirelessly to hold a space for the state’s legacy operators – members of the cannabis community who’ve been largely and consistently shut out of legal operations throughout the nation as regions continue to establish their regulations.

His involvement with UNLOC is his greatest initiative yet. The organization is aiming to “unlock” opportunities for legacy operators to successfully transition into the legal market, and the insights he provides from his experience in the space will help elevate UNLOC – and, by proxy, New York’s legal market – to a level that will hopefully set the stage for the rest of the nation.

To stay up to date on Bautista’s progress with UNLOC and as a powerful independent advocate, follow him on LinkedIn.

3. Mary Pryor

Raised in Detroit and currently based between Los Angeles and New York City, Mary Pryor is the co-founder of Cannaclusive: an organization dedicated to addressing and finding real solutions to cannabis’s inclusivity issue.

Throughout her experience as an operator and advocate within the industry, Pryor has recognized how marginalized minorities in cannabis continue to be, and she’s dedicated to being a problem-solver in this regard.

Aside from her role at Cannaclusive, Pryor serves as the New York Chapter President of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, as well as Chief Marketing Officer for TONIC CBD and Tricolla Farms. She is also an advisor and judge for Eaze Momentum Accelerator.

To stay tuned into Pryor’s progress in cannabis, find her on LinkedIn.

4. Jesse Campoamor

A seasoned political professional in New York City, Jesse Campoamor is a Board of Directors member at UNLOC

The founder and CEO of Campoamor & Sons LLC, he has a wide array of consulting experience that informs his current efforts to support New York’s legacy cannabis market as the state transitions into the legal industry. 

To stay up to date on Campoamor, add him on LinkedIn.

5. Frederika Easley

Frederika Easley is the founder of The People’s Decentralized Autonomous Organization (DAO): an extension of community empowerment organization The People’s Ecosystem.

Empowered by the ultimate goal of taking social equity into their own hands, The People’s Ecosystem and DAO are dedicated to holding New York and the rest of the nation accountable in how they treat legacy operators, and Easley plays a significant role in outreach, education, and consistent advocacy. 

To find more details about Easley and stay tuned into her progress, follow her on LinkedIn.

6. Jim Landau

A seasoned cannabis law attorney who isn’t afraid to be vocal about his efforts, Jim Landau is considered one of the most influential thought leaders in the New York cannabis community. 

A member of Prince Lobel’s Business Litigation and Cannabis practice group, he has several years of experience representing inter-industry clients facing regional, state-wide, and national litigation.

He also provides counseling to cannabusinesses learning the ins and outs of the industry, and frequently writes about and speaks on law ethics as they pertain to cannabis banking and business licensing.

Follow Jim Landau on LinkedIn for more updates.

7. Solonje Burnett

Known as a prominent “girl boss” within the male-dominated cannabis industry, Solonje Burnett is an entrepreneur, strategist, creator, executive producer, and breathwork guide.

She has several years of experience in event production, which informed her successful transition into New York’s cannabis culture and industry. 

She is co-founder and CEO at Brooklyn-based cannabis culture agency Humble Bloom, as well as co-founder and Chief Culture and Community Officer at cannabis discount and promotions management organization Honeypottt, which helps consumers get the best bang for their buck when scouting cannabis deals.

To follow more updates from Burnett, follow her on LinkedIn.

8. Kristina Lopez Adduci

Kristina Lopez Adduci is the founder and CEO of House of Puff, a luxury cannabis smoking accessory brand marketed towards women consumers.

Women have been famously shut out of cannabis – both as consumers and operators – and House of Puff seeks to normalize their place in the industry they helped build.

For regular updates from Lopez Adduci, follow her on LinkedIn.

9. Mr. Puffington

Known as the “East Coast Stoner Representative,” Mr. Puffington is an artist, promoter, ambassador, educator, and a regular judge at the New York Growers Cup.

The artist and influencer is incredibly vocal about his cannabis advocacy, and has played a major role in the normalization of the plant and its long-standing, unique-to-the-City culture within the Empire State.  

To stay tuned into Mr. Puffington, follow him on Instagram.

10. Gia Morón

The current President at cannabis female leadership organization Women Grow, Gia Morón oversees the company’s day-to-day operations, communications, educational initiatives, and strategic partnerships.

With an array of experience in public relations, brand strategy, and business development, Morón brings her expertise to the industry, focusing on supporting women as the market continues to grow across the nation. 

For more updates on Morón, follow her on LinkedIn.

11. Thomas Spanos

Thomas Spanos has played a pivotal role in New York’s legal industry development, regularly advising clients on the details of the New York Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA).

He regularly writes about state regulators, informing how they should expand the market to best benefit operators, consumers, and legislators alike.

For more updates on Spanos’s initiatives, follow him on LinkedIn.

12. Kristin Jordan

Kristin Jordan is the founder and CEO of Park Jordan, a commercial real estate brokerage and advisory services firm that services the cannabis industry’s operators as licenses are distributed and dispensary locations are sourced.

Named one of the “Fifteen Powerful and Innovative Women in Cannabis Right Now” by Forbes in 2019, Jordan brings decades of experience working as an attorney in real estate to New York’s cannabis industry.

To stay up to date on Jordan, follow her on LinkedIn.

13. Dasheeda Dawson

Officially known as The WeedHead™, Dasheeda Dawson is a global cannabis advocate, public speaker, and author.

She is the Founding Director of Cannabis NYC, City of New York's first cannabis czar spearheading the support of the growing cannabis industry in NYC. 

To stay up to date on Dawson’s progress in New York’s legal industry, follow her on LinkedIn.

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