Steve DeAngelo is a globally recognized cannabis leader who was dubbed “the father of the legal industry” by former Speaker of the California Assembly Willie Brown. From grassroots community campaigns to appearing on national television networks and every uphill battle for legalization in between, his trailblazing work and creation of a model medical cannabis dispensary that set best practices for an entire industry make him one of the world’s top cannabis experts, foremost thought leaders, and recognized entrepreneurs.
Steve is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Harborside, now a publicly-traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange with dispensary locations in Oakland, San Jose, and Desert Hot Springs-only the second dispensary in California to feature a drive-thru. The vertically integrated California cannabis company, founded in 2006, has more than 300,000 registered patients. Rooted in Steve’s belief that cannabis use should be wellness-centric, Harborside was one of the first in the nation to support comprehensive cannabis education for seniors, veterans, and families with severely ill children. Featured in numerous high profile media pieces and winning multiple awards, including Best Dispensary in California (2017), Harborside continues to set the industry gold standard and is a leading advocate for diversity, environmental sustainability, and economic justice in the cannabis sector.
Steve is also Co-Founder of Steep Hill, Inc., the first commercial cannabis lab in the country, and Co-Founder of Arcview Group, the first cannabis investment firm. Steep Hill has grown to become a world leader in cannabis science and technology with extensive expertise in lab testing, remote testing, genetics, research and development, and intellectual property licensing. Arcview angel investment network now includes more than 600 accredited investors and has raised over $270 million for 200 cannabis-related companies to date. Steve formerly served Arcview as Vice President; the firm remains dedicated to galvanizing progressive drug policy reform by empowering a responsible, profitable industry.
Early on as an activist, Steve was skipping school to attend anti-war demonstrations and eventually dropped out to join the Youth International Party – also known as the Yippies. He went on to become the lead organizer of the annual Fourth of July Smoke-In in D.C., carrying the position for a decade. Steve graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland. He also opened a legendary D.C. counter-cultural gathering place that became known as a refuge for local cannabis and peace activists during the Reagan-Bush era, including William Kunstler, Wavy Gravy, and author Jack Herer.
Steve helped Jack Herer edit and publish the manuscript for his soon-to-be-famous book, “The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” and became a lead organizer of the first Hemp Museum and Hemp Tour. He created his first cannabis business, Ecolution; the company was one of the first to ride an industrial hemp boom, manufacturing hemp clothing and accessories for retail sales in 50 states and 21 countries during the ’90s. Continuing to stand tirelessly for legalization and decriminalization of cannabis around the globe, Steve remained at the forefront of the cannabis reform movement, playing a pivotal role in the passage of Initiative 59-Washington D.C.’s medical cannabis law. After a legal battle lasting four years with the U.S. Department of Justice, he ultimately succeeded in defending their multiple attempts to close Harborside. He helped to pass Prop 64, California’s adult-use law, and making history on January 1, 2018, made the first legal cannabis sale in California’s first moments of legal recreational use.
As an industry pioneer and progressive leader, Steve attracts global invitations to present and appear before audiences of thousands, reaching beyond cannabis and inspiring action toward restorative justice, individual and community wellness, and cultural change for the sustainability of earth and humankind. At SXSW 2019, he gave the first-ever cannabis-themed keynote to be featured at the conference and was invited to return as a featured presenter the very next year. A reputable and known American cannabis leader, advocate, and educator, he appeared by invitation to the renowned Oxford Union in Great Britain for the 2017 ‘War on Drugs’ debate sessions. Appearing before audiences around the world is a natural progression of Steve’s life work. As a prime advocate of diversity, sustainability, and social justice, he carries his message to help build a world that lives by the same values cannabis can teach.
Steve is the author of The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness, and an originator of the wellness approach to understanding cannabis. His acclaimed book is a compelling account of a personal journey with cannabis that outlines numerous solid arguments for legalization while presenting research-backed benefits of the plant. In its first week of release, the title became number one bestseller in the Wellness category on Amazon-the book’s guiding statement: “Cannabis is not harmful, but prohibition is.” Steve DeAngelo’s special feature presentations for keynote delivery include The Cannabis Renaissance Global Edition, Whole Plant Medicine is the Best Medicine, North American Roots: The Cannabis Plant & Prohibition’s Truth, and The Cannabis Creed (debuting at SXSW 2020).
Steve’s great success and persevering advocacy draw top tier national media attention. In 2009 he was the subject of a NY Times cover, the first-ever by the publication to include a feature story on legal cannabis. He has appeared nationally on all major media outlets, including FOX, CBS, CNN, NBC, CNBC, and extensively in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today. Special feature media projects include a starring role in Weed Wars, the first cannabis-oriented reality T.V. show (Discovery Channel), Ask Steve DeAngelo weekly web series by Green Flower Media, and development of entertainment works under DeAngelo Bros. Productions, a company founded by Steve DeAngelo and brother Andrew DeAngelo. A podcast and weekly television show documenting Steve’s travels to cover cannabis culture globally are coming in 2020 to Free Speech T.V. (FSTV), a 24-hour independent television network currently available in 37 million U.S. homes.
Steve is the recipient of the 2015 High Times Lester Grinspoon High Times Lifetime Achievement Award and was named one of the most influential people and “gatekeeper of the industry” in 2015 by the International Business Times. In 2016 he was named one of the seven “Most Powerful People” in America’s cannabis industry by Fortune. Most recently, he was honored with the Peter Tosh Equal Rights Award and inducted into the Marijuana Business Daily Hall of Fame. Steve believes that an ethical and politically engaged industry will be the most powerful force in spreading cannabis reform to every corner of the planet. As Founder of the Last Prisoner Project (2019), he will not stop until the last cannabis prisoner is free.