Nic Easley, Denver, Colorado

Nic Easley’s introduction to medical cannabis came courtesy of injuries he sustained serving his country. The doctors at the VA prescribed medications to help him, but in 2006, four years after his honorable discharge from the Air Force, Nic turned first to the mountains then to cannabis in hopes of better results.

He found them.

What he also found, to his surprise, was that the caregiver who was cultivating and providing that cannabis knew little about agriculture. Nic, on the other hand, had grown up in the farmland of Wisconsin where he had the opportunity during middle school to work on field studies with a PhD Botanist before obtaining college degrees in Environmental Studies and Biology. A casual question to his caregiver -- “How do you grow this?” -- got him a look at the operation.

“It was amateur,” Nic says. “I wondered, how is this medicine being grown by people who have no idea about agriculture or pesticides?”

The advice Nic gave his caregiver led to referrals to other growers who needed guidance. That was the start of his business, 3C Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting. The 2009 explosion in medical cannabis businesses in Colorado became his focus, putting his scientific background and 15 years of agricultural field and biological experience to work helping emerging entrepreneurs implement best practices.

“I realized I could have my biggest impact as an advocate through business structures, compliance and standards,” Nic says. “Everyone deserves sustainably sourced, responsibly produced cannabis, particularly patients with compromised health.”

An avid outdoorsman and surfer who has worked as a Grand Canyon river guide and a backcountry ski guide, Nic passion for the environment animates his concern for minimizing pesticide use and the carbon footprint of cannabis production. 

“We’re already dealing with stigma,” Nic says. “We don’t need to add to that with bad practices that come from an illicit-market mentality.”

Nic’s background is science, but as his consulting business took off, he was able to hire people with strong business skills to address how to create a sustainable, socially just industry. 3C currently has clients in 26 states and 11 countries. Nic has also started a cannabis investment fund, Multiverse Capital, of which he is also CEO and managing partner. He has served on several state regulatory boards responsible for everything from agriculture and pesticides to business practices and public health.

“My goal is a safe product that’s not going to cause additional harm,” Nic says. “That’s why I like ASA’s Patient Focused Certification guidelines so much. In states without mandated testing, we have to educate people and work in the market to resolve problems and revise policies.”

Looking forward, Nic sees accelerating change but a long process. A uniform federal approach would allow for consumer-friendly developments such as organic certification, but that’s still at least five to seven years out, in his view.

In the next year or so, Nic expects four to six states to make significant progress on implementation and another three to five expanding beyond limited access to more robust programs as regulators see the benefits for jobs, revenue, and patients. As individual states each create their own rules, a range of options are being tested, but it creates uncertainty and other challenges for businesses seeking to meet patient needs.

“I work so hard for the triple bottom line of patients, industry and investors,” Nic says. ”I find the needs of the cannabis industry and those of investors have a unique axis where investments can soar and amazing patient-focused businesses can prosper.  It's adapting traditional business methodologies to this industry which is allowing us to change how business is done. I find this mutualism to be most intriguing and worth dedicating my life to.

This profile was originally published in the August 2018 ASA Activist Newsletter