Steve DeAngelo of Harborside speaks at the OMMBC

March 24, 2015 | Home

Honestly, I wasn’t planning to write about Mr. DeAngelo.  Mainly because I had covered his business partner, Troy Dayton, on LR last year, and wanted to focus on the new female speakers and the lawyers.  & ok, maybe I was a bit biased in my thinking about another man in a suit from Cali.


DeAngelo (L) answering that his dream is “so far” the only B corp that he knows of in the cannabis industry. Myself, Angela Fairless (center) with my stoked face and Potsnob Leia Flynn (R) who is assistant to attorney Leland Berger.  Photo courtesy of Sarah Duff.

However, when DeAngelo spoke, I was pleasantly surprised with what I heard and started jotting down notes.   By the end of his time I was so stoked that I was following him out to ask a follow up question.  He was not all business, but if you want to see his business, Harborside Health Center, which is possibly the most well-known cannabis facility on the west coast, click here.

I was disappointed to have to miss day 1, but happy that we can read about it.  Here is Anthony Johnson’s report on Noelle Crombie at the OMMBC, and here is a preview w/his opinion of her as the reporter on all things cannabis for the Oregonian.  Here is Noelle Crombie‘s report on her interviewing Gary Johnson at the OMMBC.  Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, was the keynote speaker on day 1 while DeAngelo gave the keynote speech on day 2.

The first thing I liked about what DeAngelo had to say was his recognition of others.  “Like Obama said in Selma of standing on the shoulders of giants, I flew here on the wings of angels, like Jack.”  Going on he mentioned Brownie Mary, (and I’m not alone in also thinking of Jim Klahr) and others who “haven’t made it here, but are a big part of why we are here.”

DiangeloHe then thanked Oregonians for voting to legalize and therefore provide us all with more hope and freedom.  He said the cannabis industry “is the fastest growing industry in the US.  People keep having to come up with bigger names to describe it all, first it was ‘the green rush’ and now its  ‘the green tsunami.'”  It has created boons in tourism, construction, software, security, real estate, and so much more.  While many people compare it to the invention of computers DeAngelo thinks its quite different because we already know so much about cannabis and how consumers want to use.  “We have blank slate; potential to create” and after referring to the power of pure potential, he continued,

“if we look back in 5 years and only see big piles of money- we will have wasted the biggest opportunity life has ever offered us.”  …chills and applause.

He asks, “how many in here know what a B-corp is?”  Myself & 10 others raise our hands and so he gives a brief overview of what a B corp is.  B is for benefit and the main difference in corps is who they are legally allowed to benefit.  One of the biggest problems that plagues our planet is how corporations are constructed in that they A. have the rights of an individual and B. have to benefit (financially) the shareholders.  This leads to a great deal of harmful practices for the sake of profit.  B corps were created with the intention of improving the world by allowing corporations to benefit the stakeholders and, essentially, the greater good.  Click here for a Time Magazine article about B-corps, the focal point of which is a successful wine company in Oregon.

“I hope we don’t see the cannabis industry become like most of the rest of corporate America.”  He went on to say that we (people in the cannabis industry) need to demand more of ourselves & each other.  “If you want to come in this industry, you have to hold yourself to a higher standard, ethically.”   The thing about consuming cannabis is that it brings you closer to spirit and further from the ego and this is part of why our industry ought be run in an extremely ethical fashion.  Or as DeAngelo said later in his speech, “cannabis welcomes spirit into your life.”  He went on to say that “every corp in this industry could be a B corp, We can do this!”

One of the ways that Harborside has made efforts towards equality and ethical business practices is by allowing felons to apply for jobs without fear that the felony alone would disqualify them.  “There is also no glass ceiling at Harborside” and about 80% of the department heads are female.  When asked if Harborside has any future in Oregon, DeAngelo replied, “there is significant resistance to outsiders coming in and I don’t want to be on the wrong side of that battle, so we don’t have a firm vision for Harborside in Oregon.  He went on to say there is a lot for Oregon to figure out still, such as exporting and out of state corps and added that “Oregon has a strong enough industry to support the state and export.”


I don’t ever go to the city without stopping at Whole Foods. This is the salad from my stop on the way home from the OMMBC. Yum! & what is better than yummy food? Yummy food that is ethically sourced, processed & sold!

When the audience had time to ask questions, I mentioned that I was pleasantly surprised to hear him speak of B corps because I had asked about them at last years conference and felt my idealistic self & bleeding heart was somewhat laughed at (being as how it is a room full of business people) and my question was if he knew of any successful b corps.  He responded that Whole Foods is a very successful B corp that could serve as a great business model.  My friend whacked me on the leg cause she knows I’m really stoked about B corps and that I really like Whole Foods.  (her daughter actually calls the store “Angela’s Heaven.” & seriously the size of my health food store is the size of where Whole Foods keeps its grocery carts, so yeah, I get excited lol)

I followed him out to ask if he knew of any successful B corps in the cannabis industry.  I was happy to hear that he is dreaming up one and has the intention of seeing that dream blossom.  Looking forward to writing about our industry’s first B corp!  :)

At one point in his keynote address, DeAngelo asked if we wanted to hear him speak on his ‘wellness theory’ or ask questions, and people hollered out wellness.  Food & fitness are a big part of wellness, but what about cannabis?  He started by asking, “What does getting high mean to you?”  He then went on to share the dictionary definition of the word “intoxication” which includes phrases like “poisoning” and “out of control.”  This doesn’t sound anything like what we experience with cannabis, certainly alcohol yes, but cannabis doesn’t make you lose control.

Cannabis improves your quality of life, takes pain (of all kinds) away.  The choice between ‘medical’ and ‘recreational’ is illusion.  The vast majority of cannabis use is in the wellness category. “This isn’t about getting high, its about being well.”

To read more of Mr. DeAngelo’s writings on wellness vs. intoxication, click here.


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