Company: From the Earth Missouri
Nate Ruby’s journey to become the president of Illicit Gardens and From the Earth Missouri took approximately 15 years.
“I’ve been interested in the cannabis industry since the eighth grade but there was never really a way to get into the industry in the Midwest — especially not in Missouri,” he says.
But in 2017, a campaign to legalize medical marijuana in the Show-Me State began to make serious headway through a petition-driven initiative. Ruby was in his first year of law school at the time. The state legalized medical marijuana in 2018, and three months before the application window closed for prospective business owners, Ruby and his mother submitted their own license applications.
“At the time, I was told by a lot of people that my chances of winning would be unlikely due to high barriers to entry, my age and lack of business experience and access to capital,” he says. “After we won licenses in the beginning of 2020, we were able to secure financing and deploy that capital for the build-out and ongoing operations for five dispensaries, a 14,000-square-foot manufacturing facility and a 100,000 square-foot cultivation facility.”
Ruby completed his law degree in 2021 but did not take the bar exam.
From the Earth Missouri became one of the first medical marijuana operators to open in Missouri and Ruby helped it grow from 16 employees to 120 in less than two months alongside his Illicit Gardens brand, which is now one of the leading flower brands in the state.