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The 2024 Impact List

Find out who's making an impact in the Cannabis world with the Leaf Nation's 2024 Impact List.

Photo by Emiliano Granado

Check out the Leaf’s list of the people who are currently making a major impact in the world of Cannabis.

United States Senator Cory Booker


As a former contender for the Democratic nomination for president, U.S. Sen. Cory Booker hauls political heft in Washington, D.C., and while the senator from New Jersey hasn’t always been entirely on the right side of the Cannabis debate, he has long been a supporter of decriminalization.

In May, he reintroduced a Cannabis decriminalization bill that he previously put before Congress a decade ago and has been making the rounds in support of the initiative. Leaf Magazines caught Booker in May on his visit to Natura, a cutting-edge Cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif. Booker was there to speak on decriminalization and to take a tour of the large-scale facility.

 “[Cannabis is] an important plant that has been a godsend to people who are suffering from everything from PTSD to insomnia to more serious challenges, like Dravet Syndrome, and other things that make people fall into seizures,” he said.

“We are in a weird place in our country where we’ve had this Prohibition that has lasted for generations, that has really punished folks, and especially punished folks like in the community I’m from in Newark, where marijuana enforcement has been disproportionately focused on low-income people, people of color, people who are suffering, people who are struggling,” he said. “We have this perverse reality in America where we have people with criminal convictions for doing things that presidents, and congresspeople, and senators have admitted to doing. The hypocrisy of that is maddening, and it’s hurt our economy. There are billions of dollars that we could be having in a regulated business that could be helping a lot more communities.”

Photo by Emanuel Cobain

Unlike some of the less fortunate in his home community, Booker attended top-tier universities. After that experience, moving back to New Jersey cast the disparity in attitudes surrounding Cannabis into stark relief.

“When I was going to places like Stanford and Yale, I saw lots of people using marijuana and selling marijuana with no consequence. But then, back 25 years ago, I moved into a low-income neighborhood below the poverty line, [where I see] people who’ve been punished by this Prohibition and had their lives destroyed. We are in a country that prides itself on freedom. And this is one of those things where the people are ahead of the politics. So I’m going to continue to fight in this space,” Booker said.

Whether his efforts will move the needle remains to be seen, and it will take hard work beyond the boundaries of a fiercely contested election cycle for his words to transmute into real political progress. But hearing someone of his stature make these points while visiting a 12-acre California Cannabis campus certainly feels like an impactful step in the right direction. –Tom Bowers @megabombtom

Anna Willey


Anna Willey was the first woman to open a dispensary in Colorado when she founded the original CAM (Colorado Alternative Medicine) in 2009. In 2018 when California legalized adult use, Willey brought her expertise west and relaunched it as California Artisanal Medicine. Since then, she’s spearheaded CAM’s meteoric rise through the ranks, becoming one of the most beloved flower brands in the country’s most competitive market. 

Anna is widely regarded for her ability to cultivate highly sought-after old-school Cannabis genetics but with modern potency levels and flavor profiles. CAM is known for classic hits like Lemon Cherry Gelato and Permanent Marker, as well as newer, on-trend iterations like Lemon Cherry Z. In the last year, Anna continued making epic moves that will expand the brand, most notably, building out a new 2,500-light facility in Sacramento. Once they flip the switch, it will make Anna one of the highest-producing female cultivators in California’s recreational scene. And as if that wasn’t badass enough, she’s also the General Contractor on all of her own projects. Anna has truly paved the way for women working in any area of the Cannabis industry, from retail and cultivation to construction and leadership. –Katherine Wolf @katadellic

Emily Eizen


Emily Eizen is a multimedia artist and creative director working across painting, sculpture, photography, home decor and more. Her signature psychedelic-inspired style is reminiscent of the ’60s, featuring crazy colors, trippy textures and groovy graphics. With common themes of tolerance and self-love appearing in her art, Emily can adapt to different styles and aesthetics across the wide spectrum of gender and sexuality. Her works are said to showcase the “beauty, freedom and diversity Eizen considers essential to establishing equity in the Cannabis space and beyond.”

Beyond making an impact on inclusivity in Cannabis media, in the last year, Emily spoke on a “Greening the Cannabis Industry” 420 Panel at Coachella (goals, right?), took behind-the-scenes photos of tokers at Hall of Flowers, and shot campaigns for powerhouse brands like Puffco. She’s also contributed to publications including Insider, Los Angeles Times, Rolling Stone and Forbes and graced the cover of Cannabis Now’s Women of Influence Issue. Oh, and we can’t forget about our February 2023 Culture Issue, where Emily shot legends Cheech & Chong for one of the most iconic covers in Leaf Nation history. –Katherine Wolf @katadellic

Luna Stower


A lifelong advocate for the plant and people, Luna Stower brings 20-plus years of experience in building Cannabis companies to the table with deep roots in community activism. She’s played a vital role in growing some of California’s most successful legacy brands and now serves as the Chief Impact Officer at Ispire Vape Technology, the first vaporizer hardware company to initiate an IPO on NASDAQ. With a master’s in teaching and a bachelor’s in social justice, Luna also travels the world sharing her knowledge and works tirelessly to normalize and decriminalize all forms of plant medicine. 

Luna has been a panelist, speaker and moderator at B2B events and consumer expos worldwide, appeared on podcasts and shows, and judged events from the Emerald Cup to the Women’s Canna Awards. Among many other accolades, she’s been named the 2021 “Cannabis Culture Advocate of the Year” by the Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, made Green Entrepreneur’s list of “100 Most Important Women in Weed” in 2020, and won “Best Activist” at the California Cannabis Awards in 2023. Most recently, Luna traveled to Columbia and South Africa to discuss innovation in vape technology, drug policy and social equity in our industry. –Katherine Wolf @katadellic

Jocelyn Sheltraw

@jocybossy / @budist_official

Jocelyn Sheltraw is a recognized entrepreneur, public speaker and thought leader focused on the California Cannabis market. Active in policy and regulation reform, she’s collaborated with numerous state associations and received recognition as one of the “100 Most Influential People” by Global Cannabis Times. At the heart of Jocelyn’s work is a focus on fostering community development — by hosting interactive events and building a following of nearly 30k across social media, she’s become beloved for her unique ability to bring Cannabis brands and consumers together. 

As a co-founder of Budist, she recently launched the world’s first social review platform for the Cannabis industry in early 2024. Currently live on the App Store and Google Play, the platform is groundbreaking as it centralizes and shares product reviews from Cannabis experts — a team of certified Ganjiers (like a sommelier of Cannabis), competition cup judges, journalists and connoisseurs referred to as the “Budists” — and mainstream consumers with a 100-point rating scale. Some are even dubbing it the “Rotten Tomatoes for the Cannabis space.” This approach is so impactful because it empowers consumers to make informed decisions while creating a space for open conversation and community building. –Katherine Wolf @katadellic

Hash Holes 

“Hash Holes” (aka “Donuts”) recently skyrocketed in popularity amongst high-grade connoisseurs. Setting ablaze the Cannabis market is no easy feat, and these slow-burning party starters offer discerning enthusiasts a unique and premium smoking experience. 

A Hash Hole is a Cannabis joint filled with a core of solventless hash or rosin. When burned (best with a torch), it creates a distinctive burning pattern of a ring of ash around the hole, resembling a doughnut shape. This unique construction enhances flavor and potency and, if enjoyed properly, ensures a smooth, consistent smoke. 

In the U.S., Hash Holes were popularized by brands like Fidels, Dan’s Roll Ups and Connoisseur Grade Only. Fidels sparked this new wave of product after founder Shant Damirdjian brought the smoke to the 2018 Spannabis trade show and soon after to the Bay Area market. While not the first to put hash in a joint, Fidels props Bobby Trill and Lorenzo at Terps Army for inspiring his approach.

This rising popularity reveals consumer demand for high-quality, artisanal Cannabis products that offer aesthetic appeal and superior effects. As consumers continue to seek out luxurious Cannabis experiences, the Hash Hole stands out as a symbol of premium craftsmanship and design. –@adhddead

Carmelo Anthony


Photo By Emiliano Granado

On its face, equity in the Cannabis industry may look better than it does in many industries. The messaging of equitable business operation certainly is loud, but there is still a tremendous amount of work to be done. The cause needs a champion. Enter NBA superstar Carmelo “Melo” Anthony.

Partnering with Jesce Horton – owner of powerhouse Oregon brand LOWD and founder of the Minority Cannabis Business Association – and marketing guru Brandon Drew Jordan Pierce, Melo is using the star power he built during his 19 years in the NBA to fuel Grand National, an agency to give equity business operators, well, agency.

The first project out of the gate for the Grand National group is Melo’s own brand, STAYME7O, which is launching in Oregon this year in Black- and Native-owned dispensaries Natural Wonders and Green Muse. The launch takes place in partnership with NuProject, the nonprofit led by Jeannette Ward, who seeks to help marginalized communities build generational wealth in the Cannabis industry. A portion of the proceeds of all STAYME7O sales will go to fund NuProject’s efforts.

For more information, visit grandnationalagency.com and stayme7ocannabis.com. –Tom Bowers @megabombtom

Dr. Miyabe Shields


Dr. Miyabe Shields is a trailblazer in the world of education and research, known for a dynamic approach that merges modern consumption with scientific rigor. Holding a Ph.D. in endocannabinoid pharmascience, Dr. Shields’ current work can be boiled down to something like “Cannabis & psychedelics risk reduction educator and consultant,” or even self-summarized by their latest science fiction book title, “High Hopes: Quest of a Queer, Neurodivergent, Stoner, Scientist.” But neither description does this dynamic educator justice. 

As an influential associate professor at Northeastern University’s Center for Drug Discovery, and with an equally influential presence on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, Dr. Shields’ reach is growing far beyond the research community. This presence can be felt especially among a particular subset of Cannabis consumers where Dr. Shields welcomes discussions and facilitates studies from a “neurodiversity-affirming perspective.” 

In their latest groundbreaking endeavor, Dr. Shields co-founded the Network of Applied Pharmacognosy, where they serve as chief scientific officer. The organization is focusing its current projects on “collecting and amplifying the lived experience of the Cannabis community, the effects of chemodiversity on the endocannabinoid system, the science of smokability, and seeding science advocacy.” –Terpodactyl Media @terpodactyl_media

Dr. Riley Kirk


Dr. Riley Kirk is a natural product chemist with a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences. She brings a robust background to her research that has often focused on antibiotic resistance and alternative pain options like Cannabis. On her personal education and advocacy Instagram platform @Cannabichem and her Bioactive Podcast, Dr. Kirk gracefully guides viewers and listeners alike through the science behind “Cannabis, psychedelics, and other bioactive substances.”   

Among many distinguished roles, Dr. Kirk is a Cannabis educator and research scientist working alongside Dr. Shields as co-founder at the Network of Applied Pharmacognosy. Together, their research rallies around “unique formulations in Cannabis smoke, writing theory and dosing protocols.” Much like Dr. Shields, Dr. Kirk’s work has wide reach and she’s continuing her commitment to harm reduction through education as an assistant adjunct professor at the University of Rhode Island’s College of Pharmacy.

As we mark more years of modern consumption trends and a move toward global medicinal acknowledgment, Dr. Kirk is looking closely at aspects of Cannabis that provide important insight. Her focus on the plant’s secondary metabolites and how they’re affected by the process of smoking has great potential to impact our ability to predict pharmacological outcomes. –Terpodactyl Media @terpodactyl_media

Dr. Machel Emanuel


Photo By Chris Romaine

Dr. Machel Emanuel is a man of many accomplishments (of note: a bachelor’s degree in zoology and botany, a master’s in plant production and protection, and a Ph.D. in botany). But it’s his passion for reviving and preserving unique Caribbean landrace cultivars and Cannabis culture that originally caught our attention. 

As a lecturer and researcher at the University of the West Indies (Mona, Jamaica), he’s been studying and collecting cultivars like the legendary “Lambsbread,” which are deeply rooted in Jamaican culture and Rastafarian tradition. His work not only sheds light on the cultural significance of these plants but also explores their health benefits and the best practices to maximize therapeutic potential.

Beyond the lab, Dr. Emanuel is a strong advocate for sustainable farming and ethical practices in the Cannabis industry, even striking a recent landmark partnership between the University of West Indies and Biobizz Worldwide Organics. His efforts are helping to ensure that, as the Cannabis market grows, it does so in a way that respects both the environment and the rich heritage of these unique strains. –Terpodactyl Media @terpodactyl_media

Abstrax Tech


Abstrax Tech is a company specializing in the research, development and production of strain-specific Cannabis and botanical terpenes. Its production model provides a multifaceted perspective and platform for the research side of the company, which in turn allows it to analyze well over 400 compounds found in Cannabis. This invaluable collection of data has been put to use for the greater good, as Abstrax publishes publicly available studies that send our understanding of the plant in fresh directions.  

In January, we wrote about one piece of groundbreaking research released by this team (see our online archives for “The Stinky, the Sweet and the Science of Cannabis Compounds”). It details an entirely new class of compounds responsible for some of the most popular aromas and flavors found in our favorite flowers. This discovery of volatile sulfur compounds (among other things), altered the entire community’s understanding of the plant’s previously presumed terpene-predominant profiles and cemented Abstrax firmly in our timeline of impactful Mary Jane moments.  –Terpodactyl Media @terpodactyl_media

Jair Velleman

worldofcannabismuseum.com | dli.nl

Whether he’s storytelling around a Michelin-rated table or showing off his hash collection, Jair Velleman lives and breathes Cannabis. The boisterous behemoth of bud built a reputation as the founder of Gavita, a leading lighting company for Cannabis cultivators, before selling that company and taking a break from the business. Before jumping back into lighting with his new company Dutch Lighting Innovations (DLI), he started a passion project devoted to the plant. Dubbed the World of Cannabis Museum, the endeavor seeks to collect and collate the history of Cannabis through artifacts and storytelling. He brought on Bobby Black – former High Times and current Leaf Magazines legend – and the rest, you can say, is history. You can find the fruit of that cooperative cultivation in the Cannthropology column in the pages of the Leaf and also within the minutes of the podcast of the same name. While Velleman continues to add to his collection with the dream of one day opening the doors of a grand museum to the public, he simultaneously strives to build DLI into a beacon of boutique, quality lighting for growers like himself. –Tom Bowers @megabombtom

David Downs


Photo by Mike Rosati

A former writer for WIRED, Rolling Stone and the New York Times, David Downs has been delivering the lowdown for Cannabis news website Leafly as their Senior Editor since leaving the San Francisco Chronicle back in 2018. Downs has traveled the world reporting on exciting new genetics/products and interviewing industry leaders. This year, Downs created SF Weed Weed, a seven-day-long celebration kicked off by city mayor London Breed. He’s currently working on the follow-up, SF Hash Week. Recently, Grove Bags released “The Reporter’s Notebook”, a mylar bag designed by Downs and released during his curated art show on Cannabis packaging. –Matt Jackson @actionmattjackson



Stefan Brending

Cannabis has always been popular in the hip hop world, and Reginald Noble, better known as Redman, is no stranger to the culture. Better yet, he has been making strides with his organization the National Cannabis Party to shift the narrative in the nation’s Capitol surrounding Cannabis and the rights of the people. In an interview with HipHopDX, Reginald said, “The reason why you never see a Redman product, a Redman vape pen, a Redman strain, anything, [is] because I’ve been holding my brand for the bigger purpose, which is NCP, the National Cannabis Party. We are about giving the plant back to the people. We are about the structure of this Cannabis industry. We are about education for our people. Don’t matter who it is, black, white, or green. If you an alien and you need education, we are about having the right platform to deliver that to you.” So far, the NCP has been meeting with politicians and even created a bill surrounding Cannabis regulations in New York that has been accepted by the state. It’s exciting to see someone trying to put the power back in the hands of the people especially when it comes to the Cannabis industry. –Wyatt Early

Mike Tyson


Pedro Rivera SKYP3R Photography

Landing knockout punches made him famous, biting the ear of Evander Holyfield made him a cultural legend, and making an edible gummy in the shape of an ear with a missing bite gives Tyson the ultimate troll crown, but in a fun way! Beyond his fighting for titles, the Champ continues to speak out in support of psychedelics, sharing with the world how psilocybin and DMT saved his life. Using his fame to share the truth about Cannabis and entheogenic medicines makes Tyson worthy of an impact, but hold the punches, please! –Wes Abney @beardedlorax

Shawn Kemp


The Reignman was known for slamming dunks as a member of the legendary Seattle Supersonics, but he’s also returned to the rainy city to build a dispensary and Cannabis brand. An exceptionally kind and gentle soul, Kemp is larger than life and is setting an example by sharing how Cannabis helped him in the NBA and continues to help as he hits new high scores in life. And don’t miss his wonderful interview on his career and much, much more, on our Leaf Life Podcast — Show #182 – NBA and Cannabis. –Wes Abney @beardedlorax

This article was originally published in the June 2024 issue of All Magazines.

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