Steve DeAngelo (born June 12, 1958), is an American cannabis rights activist and advocate for cannabis reform in the United States. DeAngelo is a globally recognized cannabis leader who was dubbed “The Father of the Legal Cannabis Industry” by former Speaker of the California Assembly & 41st Mayor of San Francisco, Willie L. Brown, Jr. He has organized grassroots community campaigns and appeared on national television networks advocating for legalization, and created a model medical cannabis dispensary.
DeAngelo is Co-Founder and Chairman Emeritus of Harborside Inc., a publicly-traded company on the Canadian Securities Exchange. The vertically integrated California cannabis company has dispensary locations in Oakland, San Jose, San Leandro and Desert Hot Spring-only the second dispensary in California to feature a drive-thru. Harborside Health Center, was founded in 2006 as a non-profit medical cannabis dispensary and had more than 300,000 registered medical patients. Rooted in DeAngelo's belief that cannabis use should be wellness-centric, Harborside was one of the first in the nation to support comprehensive cannabis education for seniors, veterans, and families with severely ill children. In 2016, the company rebranded as Harborside Inc. in preparation for the new legal adult-use market in California. Featured in numerous high-profile media pieces and winning multiple awards, including Best Dispensary in California (2017), Harborside continues to set the industry gold standard and is a leading advocate for diversity, environmental sustainability, and economic justice in the cannabis sector.
DeAngelo is also Co-Founder of Steep Hill, Inc., the first commercial cannabis lab in the country, and co-founder of Arcview Group, the first cannabis investment firm. Steep Hill has grown to become a world leader in cannabis science and technology with extensive expertise in lab testing, remote testing, genetics, research and development, and intellectual property licensing. Arcview angel investment network now includes more than 600 accredited investors and has raised over $270 million for 200 cannabis-related companies to date. DeAngelo formerly served Arcview as vice president; the firm remains dedicated to galvanizing progressive drug policy reform by empowering a responsible, profitable industry.
DeAngelo is the author of The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness, and an originator of the wellness approach to understanding cannabis. His acclaimed book is a compelling account of a personal journey with cannabis that outlines numerous solid arguments for legalization while presenting research-backed benefits of the plant. In its first week of release, the title became the number one bestseller in the Wellness category on Amazon-the book's guiding statement: “Cannabis is not harmful, but prohibition is.”
Early on as an activist, DeAngelo was skipping school to attend anti-war demonstrations and eventually dropped out to join the Youth International Party – also known as the Yippies. He went on to become the lead organizer of the annual Fourth of July Smoke-In in D.C., carrying the position for a decade. DeAngelo graduated summa cum laude from the University of Maryland. He also opened a legendary D.C. counter-cultural gathering place that became known as a refuge for local cannabis and peace activists during the Reagan-Bush era, including William Kunstler, Wavy Gravy, and author Jack Herer.
DeAngelo helped Jack Herer edit and publish the manuscript for his soon-to-be-famous book, “ The Emperor Wears No Clothes,” and became a lead organizer of the first Hemp Museum and Hemp Tour. He created his first cannabis business, Ecolution; the company was one of the first to ride an industrial hemp boom, manufacturing hemp clothing and accessories for retail sales in 50 states and 21 countries during the ’90s.
Continuing to stand tirelessly for legalization and decriminalization of cannabis around the globe, DeAngelo remained at the forefront of the cannabis reform movement, playing a pivotal role in the passage of Initiative 59-Washington D.C.’s medical cannabis law. After a legal battle lasting four years with the U.S. Department of Justice, he ultimately succeeded in defending their multiple attempts to close Harborside. He helped to pass Prop 64, California's adult-use law, and making history on January 1, 2018, by making the first legal cannabis sale in California's first moments of legal recreational use. DeAngelo believes that an ethical and politically engaged industry will be the most powerful force in spreading cannabis reform to every corner of the planet. In 2019, he founded the Last Prisoner Project, a non-profit advocacy organization. Through intervention, advocacy, and awareness campaigns the Last Prisoner Project will work to redress the past and continuing harms of these unjust laws and policies. he will not stop until the last cannabis prisoner is free.
DeAngelo's great success and persevering advocacy draw top tier national media attention. In 2009 he was the subject of a NY Times cover, the first-ever by the publication to include a feature story on legal cannabis. He has appeared nationally on all major media outlets, including FOX, CBS, CNN, NBC, CNBC, and extensively in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and USA Today. DeAngelo and Harborside were also featured on the premiere episode of CNN's Inside Man with Morgan Spurlock. Special feature media projects include a starring role in Weed Wars, the first cannabis-oriented reality T.V. show (Discovery Channel), Ask Steve DeAngelo weekly web series by Green Flower Media, and development of entertainment works under DeAngelo Bros. Productions, a company founded by DeAngelo DeAngelo and brother Andrew DeAngelo. Appearing before audiences around the world is a natural progression of DeAngelo's life work. As a prime advocate of diversity, sustainability, and social justice, he carries his message to help build a world that lives by the same values cannabis can teach.
As an industry pioneer and progressive leader, DeAngelo attracts global invitations to present and appear before audiences of thousands, reaching beyond cannabis and inspiring action toward restorative justice, individual and community wellness, and cultural change for the sustainability of earth and humankind. At SXSW 2019, he gave the first-ever cannabis-themed keynote to be featured at the conference and was invited to return as a featured presenter the very next year. DeAngelo's special feature presentations for keynote delivery include The Cannabis Renaissance:, Modern Science Meets Ancient Knowledge at SXSW 2019, North American Roots: The Cannabis Plant & Prohibition's Truth, and The Cannabis Creed: Divinity, Evolution & Salvation (debuting at SXSW March 2020). A reputable and known American cannabis leader, advocate, and educator, he appeared by invitation to renowned Oxford Union in Great Britain for the 2017 ‘War on Drugs' debate sessions.
DeAngelo is the recipient of the 2015 High Times Lester Grinspoon Lifetime Achievement Award and was named one of the most influential people and "gatekeeper of the industry" in 2015 by the International Business Times. In 2016 he was named one of the seven “Most Powerful People” in America's cannabis industry by Fortune. Most recently, he was honoured with the Peter Tosh Equal Rights Award and inducted into the Marijuana Business Daily inaugural Hall of Fame.
- DeAngelo, Steve (2015). The Cannabis Manifesto: A New Paradigm for Wellness. North Atlantic Books. p. 230. ISBN 978-1583949375.