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Cannabis 50

Cannabis 50: Knowledge & Health


One of the lesser known failures of cannabis prohibition was the cessation of research into the plant’s medical potential, and impact on individuals and society. As public opinion shifts inexorably toward support, researchers are gaining access and funding, and advocates who didn’t wait for a federal “ok” are getting the credit they deserve.

The Cannabis 50 honors a range of researchers, non-profits and businesses that are pushing the boundaries of our understanding and sharing the complexities of cannabis, hemp, and CBD with the world.

Cannabis 50 Honorees...

For creating a female-friendly network for education and advocacy
Aliza Sherman
Co-Founder and CEO, Ellementa, AK

Ellementa is a thriving, global network of educators and healers focused on cannabis wellness. Through articles, product guides, research, and guidance from doctors and naturopaths, Ellementa informs consumers on topics like CBD, the basics of cannabis, and overall health positivity. Ellementa takes a direct approach to building community by hosting events and encouraging members to become local leaders of meet-ups. This dynamic support network helps dispel myths and misinformation and break-down complex issues of health and social impact, all on the way to creating a community of educated patients and consumers.

For providing legal education and guidance to cannabis
Duane Morris
Law Firm, PA

Duane Morris was the first Am Law 100 firm to engage cannabis on a national platform. Their legal teams support clients across the cannabis supply chain, assisting with regulations, financial transactions, and general litigation. The practice is led by Partners and Cannabis Team Leaders, Jennifer Briggs Fisher and Seth Goldberg. They extend support to the entire cannabis community with their regular series of informational webinars exploring regulatory, business and financial complexities.

For pioneering new cannabis market research
Data Analytics, WA

One of the many obstacles the cannabis industry faces is the lack of reliable market and consumer data. Headset is a technology company focused on innovating the collection and accessibility of cannabis retail market data. By capturing purchase data at the point-of-sale, they provide clients with real-time data analytics across a wide range of market indicators. In 2019, Headset announced a strategic alliance with consumer research provider Nielson. The partnership has the potential to expand Headset’s capabilities and reshape our understanding of retail trends, market potential, and consumer habits.

For continuing to push the boundaries of cannabis science
Jonathan Page, PhD
CSO at Aurora Cannabis, ON

In 2018, Aurora Cannabis made a strategic play in acquiring cannabis research firm Anandia and appointing former-CEO Dr. Jonathan Page as Chief Science Officer. Dr. Page is one of the most respected and accomplished cannabis scientists, having co-led the team that first sequenced the cannabis genome, and whose research has contributed to our understanding of endocannabinoids. In his role at Aurora, Dr. Page oversees all science-related projects, including cultivation practices and product development for medical, adult-use and wellness markets. Adding Dr. Page to their roster gives Aurora a competitive advantage in research and innovation.

For supporting education and access to medical cannabis
Mara Gordon
FOunder, Aunt Zelda's, CA

As a researcher, educator, and product innovator, Mara Gordon is a true medical cannabis polymath empowering the plant’s healing potential through a wide variety of activities. Her plant-based medicine company, Aunt Zelda’s, creates extracts and infusions precisely measured in potency and purity that allow patients to accurately dose to the milligram. She also launched Calla Spring Wellness, a telemedicine platform that guides medical professionals in the latest research and treatment plans. And in 2019 her TedX presentation “Cannabis: Separating the Science from the Hype” shined further light onto the complexity and potential of medical cannabis.

For educating and supporting the business community
Publisher, CO

Few institutions have had a greater impact on the direction of the cannabis industry than MJBizDaily. Founded in 2011, this longest-running trade publication provides unbiased reporting across business, legislative, and regulatory issues. They’ve helped educate a generation of cannabis entrepreneurs and advocates. In 2019 they provided unbiased coverage of the cannabis markets’ rise and fall, treading a careful line of reporting without editorializing. Additionally, their tradeshows have become industry highlights, providing educational seminars and bringing entrepreneurs and investors together in a professional environment that builds community and empowers growth.


"The cannabis industry is not going away. It is already a juggernaut in
spite of the non-normalized business environment. It has thrived despite
that. I cannot imagine what it is going to become once we have a normalized business environment.”"

  • Cassandra Farrington, Co-Founder of MJBizDaily

For landmark research in medical cannabis
Sue Sisley, MD
Researcher at Scottsdale Research Institute, AZ

Dr. Sisley has earned acclaim for her research into the medical potential of
cannabis. She is the first doctor to lead FDA-approved research into the safety and effectiveness of cannabis use for combat veterans with severe PTSD. In 2019 she led a successful lawsuit against the DEA that directly led to the progress of stalled applications for cannabis research. She is a regular speaker and educator on industry issues and works toward putting cannabis through the full FDA drug development process to one day see it descheduled.

For supporting education and access to medical cannabis
Tracy Ryan
CEO, CannaKids, CA

Tracy Ryan learned about the therapeutic power of cannabis first-hand when her daughter Sophie was undergoing treatment for brain cancer. That experience inspired Ryan to become one of the leading advocates for medical cannabis research and access. Her story earned a national audience when it was featured in the documentary “Weed the People,” further empowering her non-profit Saving Sophie and medical cannabis company Cannakids. Ryan has emerged on an authority on patients’ rights and shares her knowledge and drive through newly launched podcast “Saving Sophie” and a variety of other educational efforts.

For launching a multi-disciplinary program to study cannabis
University of California - Irvine
Center for the Study of Cannabis, CA

In 2018, UCI’s Center for the Study of Cannabis received a $9 million dollar grant to study the impact of cannabis on adolescent brains. Led by Dr. Daniele Piomelli and Dr. Robert A. Solomon, UCI’s program is a collaborative effort between the medical and law schools. Their purpose is to provide multi-disciplinary research into assessing and understanding cannabis’ impact on the body and society. In 2019, they hosted a workshop on cannabis and driving, and launched a monthly update on the latest frontiers in cannabis research. Programs like UCI’s are at the forefront of shaping a modern understanding of the plant.

For establishing a landmark medical cannabis education program
University of Maryland, Baltimore
M.S. in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics, MD

In June of this year, the University of Maryland, Baltimore announced the creation of the nation’s first Master’s Program focused on treatment and research of medical cannabis. Based at the University of Shady Grove (USG), the two-year MS in Medical Cannabis Science and Therapeutics program is designed to be accessible to all individuals in the medical cannabis field, including physicians, nurses, regulators, and cultivators. The aim is to educate and train a generation of professionals with advanced knowledge of medical cannabis. As the first advanced degree available to the medical cannabis community, this program opens the door to further research and training opportunities.

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