Company: Leaf Nation
Title: Co-founder and principal owner
Even as the legalization movement has hit a tipping point in the United States, Reefer Madness is alive and kicking. It’s what keeps Wes Abney committed to advocacy journalism and pushing for cannabis business owners, patients and consumers to be treated equally to every other member of society.
“Ironically, the need for activism and education has only gotten stronger,” says Abney, the co-founder and principal owner of Leaf Nation, a Washington-based publishing company that has grown to encompass events, products and hospitality transportation. “Pre-legalization, we were just fighting for legitimacy and helping patients stay out of prison. Even on the West Coast, we’re still fighting for legitimacy and still in a state that considers a single plant a felony … and parts of the country are still 10 or more years behind the West Coast.”
Abney used a $1,600 loan to print the first 10,000 copies of Northwest Leaf in 2010.
“By month three, we were making money and we’ve never turned around,” Abney says. Since then, the company’s publishing arm has expanded with Oregon, Alaska and Maryland versions of the Leaf (Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania are coming later this year), now totaling 65,000 copies of the free magazines each month.
“We’re there for more than just making money,” Abney says. “We’re there for positive influence, in an industry that’s very focused on money at this time.”
In addition to publishing five regional magazines, the company’s Leaf Chews edibles are available in three states and it also hosts events like Danksgiving and Tannins & Terpenes, among other products and services.
“This was originally a project to take me to law school and instead, here I am nine years later still doing it,” Abney says. “Depending on how my journey goes, I still may end up in law school to fight for these issues on a larger level.”