Harborside Health Center co-founder Steve DeAngelo announced his departure from the company he co-founded in 2006 on January 4.
In a three-minute statement posted at Facebook and Instagram via Radio Free Cannabis, DeAngelo explained:
"As of today, I have ended my leadership role and employment relationship with Harborside, Inc. Moving forward I will continue my work to expand the range of cannabis knowledge and freedom, with a focus on ESG (equity/sustainability/governance) opportunities. I wish Harborside the very best as it continues to promote wellness and destigmatize cannabis.
"Almost 14 year ago, a small band of fanatically dedicated cannabis activists launched Harborside Health Center. Our vision was to build a gold standard medical cannabis dispensary. The opportunity to make that vision real came in 2006 when the City of Oakland issued one of the first commercial cannabis licenses in the United States. Over time we achieved the original vision and much more. Harborside became the first cannabis company to feature tested cannabis, the first cannabis company to sell CBD-rich products and the first cannabis company to treat a child with incurable epilepsy. We were the first to welcome the news media into our shop and we were the subject of the first reality-TV show about cannabis.
"Our design ethic and service model became the role model for other dispensaries around the country. And when the federal government attacked the industry, we became its foremost defender. We won more awards than I can possibly remember and a complete list Harborside's other accomplishments would be far too long to include in this statement.
"Today, Harborside has grown from one non-profit retail establishment to many locations and added cultivation and branded products to its operations and become a for-profit publicly traded company. The credit for these accomplishments primarily go to my co-founders and to the many dedicated employees who bravely came to work even in the face of U.S. government threats to shut us down. Being their leader has been the greatest honor of my life and I thank each and every one of them for their hard work and the confidence they've had in me.
"It's been tremendously gratifying to watch many of my co-workers grow into new opportunities outside of Harborside and become major leaders of the legal industry. Now the time has come for me to join them. Moving forward, I will continue my advocacy work with the Last Prisoner Project and Radio Free Cannabis and I'll pursue business opportunities that are consistent with my values. No matter what, I will always do what I can to push forward the global frontiers of cannabis knowledge, cannabis culture and cannabis freedom. I will have no further immediate public comments. Always onward, forever free!"
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DeAngelo added in a press release issued by Harborside Inc.:
"Harborside was founded on the principle of providing safe and affordable access to cannabis for those who require it. I'm proud of the immense work that has been completed to get us to where we are today and wish the very best for the company as it continues to grow."
Harborside chair Matt Hawkins commented:
"On behalf of the Board, I'd like to thank Steve for his service to Harborside and for his history of activism in furtherance of building the robust, legal cannabis industry that exists today."
A controversial figure in the cannabis industry, DeAngleo refers to himself as "the father of the legal cannabis industry," a moniker given him by former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. DeAngelo was parodied in the Netflix comedy series Disjointed in 2018 and featured with his brother Andrew in Weed Wars on Discovery in 2011.
DeAngelo's career began as an activist in Washington, DC in the '80s and '90s where he worked with NORML and started the hemp-clothing company Ecolution with Eric Steenstra. After Ecolution failed and a marijuana arrest, DeAngelo moved to the Bay Area and launched Harborside.
Former California director of the Drug Policy Alliance and co-founder of the nonprofit Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership Lynne Lyman commented:
“What LPP is doing is so problematic because they're coming into a space and soaking up the very scarce resources that exist. What we're missing is funding. We don’t need you to come in here and reinvent the wheel. They refused to hear that message.”
DeAngelo was also recently featured in Growing Belushi, another reality-TV show on Discovery.