Exclusive: Former MTV and Conde Nast Exec Takes Cannabis CEO Role

The influx of top business talent is perhaps the clearest sign that cannabis is growing into a major industry.
Exclusive: Former MTV and Conde Nast Exec Takes Cannabis CEO Role
Image credit: Scott Gries
Michael Klein
VIP Contributor
cannabis, biotech and entrepreneurship reporter
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With cannabis going mainstream by the minute, and support for legalization in the U.S. at record highs (above 60 percent, according to Pew Research Center and Gallup), an increasing amount of highly-trained, seasoned executives are getting into the cannabis industry. From NYU grads, to Yale MBAs, to former U.S. House Speakers, talent is flooding the space.

In the latest move of this kind, Entrepreneur learned exclusively that veteran media executive Michael Klein has joined medical cannabis-focused digital media company cannabisMD.com to fulfill the Chief Executive Officer position. Klein brings more than 20 years of experience in mainstream media to the table, having served as in top executive jobs at Viacom-owned MTV, Condé Nast Entertainment, SundanceTV, Travel Channel, TLC and Discovery.

According to a representative of cannabisMD.com, Klein will “oversee all creative and business operations for the company, launched in April 2018 by co-founders and chairmen G. Scott Paterson and Rory Millikin.”

Related: 7 Hottest Jobs in the Cannabis Industry Right Now

Why Klein?

CannabisMD.com said Klein is their pick for CEO based on the exec’s experience building and growing media companies, as well as his extensive editorial and creative expertise.

“We’re in the early days of an enormous cultural shift in thinking around the therapeutic and wellness benefits of medical cannabis and CBD, and a new world of consumers is looking for unbiased, quality information to help them make the right choices for their individual needs and lifestyles,” said Klein. “We want to grow cannabisMD into a one-stop destination for comprehensive information and trusted voices, presented in the most compelling ways, so consumers can be smart about deteriming the benefits of medical cannabis and CBD for their loved ones and themselves.”

Related: The Evolving Cannabis Market Offers Limitless Opportunities

A growing trend

The news of Klein joining cannabisMD responds to a trend of seasoned executives migrating into the cannabis industry, but also to another tendency in the industry: the emergence of educational resources aimed at debunking stoner stereotypes and promoting the therapeutic benefits of marijuana. Other websites undertaking a similar endeavor include:

  • Video-focused Green-Flower.com
  • Culture publication Civilized.life
  • NORML.org, the sive for the famed advocacy group

“I’m impressed with the volume of original content out there,” Klein said when prompted about cannabisMD’s peers. However, he added, most of the existing content “seems to focus on the adult consumption market."

Klein believes that what differentiates his company is having identified a “real need among a fast-growing, underserved audience for unbiased information on the potential benefits of medical cannabis and CBD.

“For me personally, it's really exciting as I can apply what I've learned about content and storytelling to help audiences make smart, informed decisions in this rapidly emerging area of health and wellness,” he told Entrepreneur.

Related: John Boehner Succeeded in Politics Opposing Marijuana but in Retirement Has Joined the Medical Marijuana Industry

The ‘Deats’

By this point in the conversation, we’d discussed the quality of cannabisMD’s content extensively. However, we still didn’t have a clear picture of the kind of programming the site will be creating, and what the actual reach will be.

“At the heart of cannabisMD is storytelling -- from doctors and researchers sharing their latest findings; to myth-busting videos that educate and surprise; to personal stories and experiences of individuals from all walks of life,” Klein answered. “This is urgent, timely programming on the potential benefits of medical cannabis and CBD that is honest, authentic, unfiltered and unbiased."

“As we strive to create a safe environment for consumers and brands, we do not see any barriers to distribution,” he supplemented.

By means of conclusion, the new CEO mentioned that cannabisMD has a unique opportunity to “become the authority for premium, unbiased content in the fastest growing space in health and wellness.

“Cannabis can be a provocative, intimidating subject, but there's no reason it has to be,” he said. “We're creating a safe environment for consumers to explore this space and make choices that are right for them while brands can use the platform to reach this fast-growing, premium audience.

“Health and wellness has never been more important to consumers, and cannabisMD will seek to drive the cultural conversation around the emergence of medical cannabis and CBD with the help of some of the best thinkers and creators in the space.”

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