Rich Cardinal

40 Under 40

For the past five years, the Marijuana Venture staff has compiled an annual list of some of the brightest young leaders and influencers in the cannabis industry. As in past years, we have narrowed the list from hundreds of worthy candidates to present 40 individuals from the vast and ever-changing business in the United States and Canada.

It is our honor to share their stories.

Nicolette Pavilis

Ryan Smith

Edwin Fowler

Aaron Riley

Rich Cardinal

Age: 35

Company: Next Big Crop

Title: Vice President of Cannabis Operations

After more than 11 years, one thing that Rich Cardinal has learned about doing business in the cannabis industry is that there is always room for improvement.

Cardinal says that even if an operator has been running a compliant and profitable business for years “that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the best way to do it.”

The vice president of cannabis operations for Next Big Crop has been helping cannabis businesses in numerous states do everything from securing a license to designing and building out facilities to developing standard operating procedures and maintaining compliance since he co-founded the Denver-based consulting firm in 2013. Cardinal says he thrives on helping businesses overcome the challenges unique to their region and assisting them in finding the inefficiencies that slow production and drain resources.

When a challenge is presented, Cardinal says he loves taking a step back and brainstorming with his team to find new and efficient ways to handle the problem.

In 2015, Cardinal sold Next Big Crop to General Cannabis Company. The parent company allows the consulting firm to continue assisting cannabis operators across the country as it always has, but also utilizes its expertise to integrate and optimize the company’s latest acquisitions.

Through Next Big Crop, Cardinal has authored applications and secured licenses for clients in 14 states. Among those he’s helped, a Maryland applicant stands out in Cardinal’s memory because its application received a higher score than all the other applicants, which not only landed the client the license but also kickstarted the company’s journey to becoming one of the country’s largest multi-state operators.

“It’s so rewarding to pop back into an operation that we were instrumental in launching and see everything working smoothly,” Cardinal says.

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