Leaders of America's $7.1 billion cannabis industry honored with Cannabis Business Awards

12/12/2017 02:05 am ET Updated Dec 14, 2017

The Cannabis Business Awards recently celebrated leaders and trailblazers of the growing global cannabis industry, honoring those deserving of recognition and accolades for their innovative and progressive contributions. Executives and advocates engaged in America’s $7.1 billion marijuana industry (medical and recreational) came from countries spanning the globe to the birthplace of U.S. retail cannabis, Colorado.

“We need to honor the people and bring together the forces as we brace for legalization.” said Chloe Villano, CEO of Clover Leaf Consulting and the Cannabis Business Awards

“We have people coming in from all over the world for this awards show, and the cannabis businesses are in the spotlight,” said Villano.

An accomplished entrepreneur featured in People Magazine’s “Marijuana Millionaires” and one of the first and most sought-after consultants in the cannabis industry, Villano has led the Cannabis Business Awards’ rise in prominence, parallel to legal cannabis’ increased relevance throughout the United States and internationally.

The first executive to receive full accredited approval from Colorado’s Department of Higher Education Division of Private Occupational Schools for Clover Leaf University, an institution specializing in the study of cannabis Villano held the fifth installment of awards in the luxurious Seawell Ballroom of the Denver Performing Arts Complex.

“We are now celebrating five years of legalization,” Villano said of Colorado’s marijuana legislation.

“We are celebrating the visionaries that made this industry happen.”

Among the impressive guest presenters were Stormy Simon, Cannabis Consultant and Former President of Overstock.com, and Chief Greenbud, a music performing artist with a contemporary pro-marijuana focus that appeals to listeners across genres and generations.

Entertaining a hundreds of guests, NFL Super Bowl Champion and Athletes For CARE Ambassador, Jim McMahon, emceed the the highly anticipated gala, assisting Villano bestow the elegantly designed, 3-D crystal ball-like trophy. 

"It was such an honor accepting the Industry Organization Award on behalf of A4C [Athletes For CARE] at this year’s Cannabis Business Awards,” said Treyous Jarrells, CEO of Real Lyfas and A4C Ambassador.

“A4C has not only allowed me, but other former professional athletes a platform to advocate on behalf of the medical benefits associated with utilizing cannabis for both physical and mental injuries,” said Jarrells, a former Colorado State University student-athlete.

Taking home the Advocate of the Year award, Eugene Monroe said he will “continue doing what it takes so more people can realize the benefits and be healed.”

Drafted eighth overall in the 2009 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars, Monroe became an Athletes For CARE Ambassador after becoming the first active NFL player to openly advocate for the use of cannabinoids to treat chronic pain and sports-related injuries.

Unable to attend the gala resulting from an intense travel schedule taking him “all over the country this past year,” incredibles Infused-Products National Sales Director Steven Chang accepted the award on Monroe’s behalf.

“Football taught us how valuable sacrifice is,” said the advocate for medical cannabis research and policy reform in the NFL who co-authored Youth Sports: Start Here: Everything You Need to Know About Promoting Health and Preventing Injury for Your Young Athlete.

Committed to education and policy reform by serving as a board member of the NFLPA Pain Management Committee and the HealthyUNow Foundation (supporting the Autism community), the husband and father of an autistic son also serves as an Athletic Ambassador for Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.

“Understand your value, people” Monroe said.

“Understand the value of your time and commit it to something you can embrace with unwavering resolve.”

According to Forbes in 2016, legal adult recreational marijuana sales topped $998 million in 2015 compared to $351 million in 2014 -- growing 184% year-over-year. America's 2015 marijuana sales were higher than those of Dasani, Oreos and Girl Scout cookies.

North American marijuana sales grew by an unprecedented 30% last year to $6.7 billion as the legal market expands in the U.S. and Canada, according to a new report by Arcview Market Research. North American sales are projected to top $20.2 billion by 2021, assuming a compound annual growth rate of 25%.

Former NFL defensive end and cannabis advocate Marvin Washington, who won a Super Bowl ring with the Denver Broncos, is a plaintiff suing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice and the Drug Enforcement Administration in federal court.

“The cannabis industry is aware of the lack of diversity in the ownership space,” said Washington.

“We want to make sure there’s equality within the economic and social spheres resulting from properly legislated use of cannabis. We don’t want it to be the same old business as usual,” said the A4C Ambassador.

Joining Washington as plaintiffs, in an attempt to legalize marijuana, are Cannabis Business Awards Most Influential Individual Winner, Alexis Bortell; Jose Belen, an Army veteran; the Cannabis Cultural Association; and Jagger Cotte, a 6-year-old Georgia boy with Leigh syndrome.

2017 CANNABIS BUSINESS AWARD CATEGORIES

2017 Honorary Awards | Mickey Martin | Dr. William Eidelman

2017 MVPs | Jair Velleman | Ted Daniels | Josh Crosney | Ashley Smither | Shawn Honaker

Activist of the Year | Nurse Heather

Advocate of the Year | Eugene Monroe

Best CBD Product | Haleigh’s Hope

Best Edibles | Coda Signature

Best Extract | Harmony Extracts

Best Flower in a Dispensary | Mandarin Cookies

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Best Hemp Product | Nature's Root

Best Infused Product | Evolab's Angel Salve

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Best Medical Center | Kind Love

Best Retail Center | Diego Pellicer Colorado

Budtender of the Year | Gladys Solis

Cannabis Business of the Year | The Clinic

Cannabis Executive of the Year | Neil Demers

Cannabis Woman of the Year | Nichole West

Cultivation Achievement Award | Green Dot Labs

Educational Achievement of the Year | Dr. Uma Dhanabalan

Manager of the Year | Nick Jack

Most Influential Individual Winner | Alexis Bortell

Most Influential Media Source | Leafly

Most Innovative Product | AeroInhaler

Most Valuable Brand | Mary’s Medicinals

Nonprofit of the Year | Denver NORML

Organization of the Year | Athletes for Care

Political Industry Representative of the Year | Vicente Sederberg

Publication of the Year | Sensi Magazine

The Hope Award | American Medical Refugee Foundation

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