Steve DeAngelo, Founder of Harborside Health Center and Co-Founder of The ArcView Group, is really a person who needs no introduction. Steve has four decades of advocacy and activism experience in the cannabis reform movement. His vision and trailblazing actions have been featured on news platforms across the world, including the United States, France, Australia, Canada, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In addition to Steve’s successful business ventures and his media coverage, he is also an accomplished writer and sought after speaker among all cannabis business circles.
Steve’s recent book release, “The Cannabis Manifesto”, reveals the path to full legalization, how to get involved in the booming cannabis industry, why this plant should actually be looked at as a wellness product, how to become a better activist, and more. Steve is a busy man these days, but he recently took some time to share some of his journey.
You became an activist at a very young age, how have you transitioned from activism to more of a business persona as you have gotten older?
The reason I made the transition is that as an activist, I always found myself asking for funds to support the causes that were important to this movement, and I got tired of asking people for money. So in order to fund our political activities, becoming an entrepreneur became a necessity. Plus being an entrepreneur really helps you create opportunity for others, through jobs, partnerships, and other projects. So at the end of the day, I see activism and social entrepreneurship fighting for one goal.
You’ve written a new book, entitled “The Cannabis Manifesto”. What is it about?
“The Cannabis Manifesto” summarizes all the most important lessons, history, political developments, science, and opportunities about cannabis today and synthesizes them into a compelling argument for legalization.
Who is the target demographic for this book?
The book speaks to a few different groups. One goal was to provide a toolkit to activists, so that they can be fully prepared to make the arguments and bring the truth out. It’s also an introduction for people who are just beginning to turn their minds to this. There are an awful lot of people in America who haven’t really dug deep on the issue yet, so I wanted to give them a way to do that all in one place fairly quickly. And then I wanted to give a handbook to investors, regulators, parents, teachers, editors and writers to help them form their thoughts and their decisions about cannabis.
Why did you write it?
20 years had passed since the last book which seriously examined the role of cannabis in our society and the way we use it, and where we want to go with it. In that time there has been a huge amount of scientific discovery, political advances, and new history that’s been written. I felt that we really needed an updating, that we needed a new, foundational document for our movement. That’s why I wrote the book.
Other than your own, can you refer us to a book that has inspired you?
“Steal This Book” by Abby Hoffman comes to mind immediately. But I also utilized two important books in the writing process for “The Cannabis Manifesto” – “Marijuana Gateway to Health” by Clint Werner & “The Cannabis Health Index” by Uwe Blesching.
And of course, I’ve always found huge inspiration from Jack Herer’s “The Emperor Wears No Clothes“.
You’ve been in the cannabis movement since its inception – do you have a favorite moment? Maybe one where it hit you ‘Im Steve DeAngelo and Im doing this…with…?
My favorite moment was the press conference in Oakland City hall just after the federal government threatened to seize Harborside. Government officials pulled me aside and said: “I promise you’ll still be here long after Melinda Haag”. And I’m proud to say that it’s come true. Harborside is still going strong and Melinda Haag has stepped down.
Who had the biggest influence on your younger life?
As most people know, you co-founded The ArcView Group, one of the top facilitators of cannabis business investments in the country. What do you think makes a company investable?
A number of different things.
- Assemble a team with great credentials.
- You need a focused plan. Too many people in the cannabis industry try to do too much. Choose your focus and stick with it.
- Be clear about what you want from investors, what their expected returns, and when those returns can be made liquid.
On the flip side, when it comes to investing, what is a red flag for you that people should watch out for?
You need to make sure that the business actually has real business activity. There are a lot of cannabis companies who create “shell companies”, and sound really good, but don’t actually have any real business activity. You have to avoid those.
The second red flag is having too much or too little cannabis legacy. I want to see companies that have some legacy in cannabis and understand this industry. You can’t just take what happens in other businesses, and apply it directly to cannabis.
And at the same time, people who have teams exclusively comprised of cannabis legacy can get too caught up in the way things have always been, and they don’t evolve with the times.
So you really need to find the right balance of experience and innovation. I look for a good balanced combo of both.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I like to go hiking in the Oakland hills with my two chihuahua’s. I like to go swimming. I love live music. And I like to make love with my lover.
What projects are on the horizon for you? What should we look out for?
We’re expanding Harborside Health Centers in California and other states. We’re developing our supply chains with new exciting strains. And of course, we’ll keep pushing out the truth of cannabis on every platform that we can.
What’s the one question you would like to ask Steve? How do you think he has helped to shape the current state of cannabis in America? Join the conversation and comment below!