It’s been nearly three years since WW first looked at the personalities shaping Oregon’s recreational cannabis industry, then in its infancy. Since then, the state’s weed market has blossomed—perhaps too much, if you ask growers saddled with a surplus they can’t sell. The rapid expansion has brought new power players to the fore. Here are 10 people who have moved to the front of the pack.
Can industry giants control the rights to Girl Scout Cookies and Sour Diesel? Not if Beth Schechter can stop them. An Atlanta native who moved to Portland in 2015 from San Francisco, Schechter runs a nonprofit formed in 2015 to combat patent claims on common cannabis strains. It was a response to filings for patents by a company called Biotech Institute LLC, which has since secured three patents relating to the breeding, production and processing of cannabis. While the company hasn’t acted on any of those patents, Schechter and many pot lawyers think they are indefensible. The move spooked many in Oregon’s cannabis industry. (GQ unmasked a Los Angeles cosmetic tycoon, Shawn Sedaghat, as the primary funder of the patent-seeking company.) Schechter speaks on the issue, collects genetic and chemical data, and is building a database to undermine Biotech Institute LLC’s looming claims. Her database will help growers patent new strains, but also protect growers cultivating strains that have been around for decades or more. “So much of the documentation about cannabis is hidden because we’ve had prohibition,” she says. “The patent examiners don’t have the info they need to say whether this plant existed before or not. We’re collecting all of that documentation.”
What people say about her:
“She’s determining what is actually an innovation worthy of being protected.”