Steve D’Angelo: 5 Most Influential People in Cannabis

Steve D’Angelo: Cannabis Advocacy & Cannabis Business

Steve D’Angelo has emerged as an iconoclastic figure on the twenty-first century cannabis scene due to an infusion of business sense, advocacy efforts, and media attention. D’Angelo first entered the cannabis limelight in 2006 with the founding of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, CA. The operation is the largest, and most controversial, non-profit medical marijuana dispensary in the United States to date. In more recent years, D’Angelo has expanded on his hard-won cannabis industry knowledge by co-founding the Arcview Group, one of the most established cannabis business investments firms in the market. However, Harborside Health represents D’Angelo’s original vision and genius within the cannabis space. The dispensary simultaneously signifies a great business model that has also served as an inspiration for cannabis legalization efforts.

Steve D’Angelo HistorySteve D'Angelo

In 1996, with the passage of Proposition 215 California became the first state in the union to legalize the medical use of cannabis. With this momentous legislation, the state was immediately moved onto the forefront of marijuana activism on the global stage. California’s unprecedented decision to legalize medical marijuana set the foundation for the development of a legal cannabis industry—over a decade before states like Colorado, Washington, and Oregon decided to follow suit. As a result, when D’Angelo opened the expansive Harborside Health in 2006, the sheer size of the dispensary immediately put him in the public and media limelight. According to media sources, Harborside Health generates annual revenues of $25 million and has compiled a patient list topping 200,000 people. Therefore, the scope of the operation at Harborside Health propelled D’Angelo to the frontlines of California’s cannabis legalization battles, in turn making his name synonymous with cannabis on a worldwide scale. It’s worth noting, as well, that publically running a marijuana dispensary is an act of civil disobedience in itself. This notion was rapidly heightened in the George W. Bush era when Harborside Health first opened its doors.

Steve D’Angelo in the Headlines

As the cannabis space slowly began gaining mainstream media attention in the mid 2000’s, D’Angelo capitalized on the public interest by featuring Harborside Health in a number of television documentaries. For starters, the California cannabis dispensary was the primary focus of the Discovery Channel’s eight-part series titled “Weed Wars.” The show featured footage and documentation of the day-to-day operations in Harborside Health, garnering national attention of California’s medical marijuana industry. Similarly, CNN’s hit show “Inside Man” featured Morgan Spurlock working within Harborside Health, again giving the nation a glimpse of a highly taboo industry. While D’Angelo’s intentions for featuring Harborside Health in mainstream media had to with cannabis advocacy and the spreading of public awareness, the television programs partially attracted the wrong sort of attention.

In 2012, the federal government came down on D’Angelo and Harborside Health—with U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filing a property seizure injunction against the dispensary, claiming it was operating in violation of federal marijuana law. In addition, Haag also alluded to the notion that Harborside Health was abusing CA State medical marijuana law for monetary gains. The reasoning behind Haag’s claims were that Harborside Health was providing cannabis to individuals without substantial medical needs. D’Angelo’s subsequent struggles to keep Harborside Health open, as well as stay out of prison himself, lasted in a four year court battle. As seen with many state law vs. federal law cannabis cases, D’Angelo’s legal struggle was steeped in confusing litigations, appeals, and reversals—a notion reflective of a nation undergoing rapid evolutions in both thought and legislation concerning cannabis. Finally, the federal ent dropped their case with Harborside Health in 2016. This was due largely to the passage of the Farr-Rohrabracher Amendment, a bill which restricts federal law enforcement spending on states with medical marijuana programs.

Steve D'Angelo

D’Angelo Today

Today, D’Angelo is one of the industry’s prominent cannabis professionals. He continues to be on the cutting-edge of the business in California and beyond, taking a pro-active approach to business outside of Harborside Health. To this end, the Arcview Group is one of the most predominant finance companies in the market. The group funds some of the best and brightest individuals that the modern-day cannabis space has to offer. Many of the up-and-comers from these cannabis companies are starting to shape the industry themselves: Eaze, Medicine Man, Flowhub, MJ Freeway, Mjardin, Greenbroz, Grocentia, Wurk, and Mass Roots.


This article originally appeared in the December 2017 / January 2018 edition of HydroLife Magazine.

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