Industry leader, entrepreneur and cannabis advocate, Chloe Villano is pushing the movement forward through a focus on education, brand development and an emphasis on normalizing the plant. She is a nationally recognized cannabis expert and in 2009 founded Clover Leaf University, the first cannabis and hemp university approved by the department of higher education. Outside of tackling education and creating invaluable programs for individuals across the United States, Chloe has also founded the Cannabis Business Awards, honouring industry game changers, trailblazers and cannabis thought leaders.
Photographer : Annamaria Zunino Noellert
Chloe Villano, the CEO of Lion Order connected with Jay Morzaria of Sports Cannabis to chat about her movement and all things Lion Order.
Jay Morzaria :
Today you’ve joined the iconic Rohan Marley and the Lion Order Movement. Talk to us about your past industry experience and everything you’ve taken on.
Chloe Villano :
“I was one of the first cannabis business consultants in the industry. I’ve had the opportunity to set up hundreds of businesses and expand them across the United States. At the start of legalization, I consulted for the majority of the government agencies and unions, assisting them with legislative policy and regulations. Through this process I was able to pioneer the mergers and acquisitions process and standard for the cannabis industry.
Early on, I noticed the cannabis industry was expanding faster than we could have imagined and WE NEEDED EDUCATION. I founded Clover Leaf University, the first cannabis and hemp university approved by the department of higher education in 2009 and received a full accredited approval in 2013. Over the years we have had the absolute pleasure of training thousands of students that are now business owners and employees. We take great pride in being able to work with colleges, partnering with multiple research studies worldwide.
Outside of creating Clover Leaf University, I also founded the Cannabis Business Awards. I’m thrilled and excited to announce our 10 year anniversary. The Cannabis Business Awards honors industry professional, first teamed accolades as well as historic recognition for industry progression and innovation. The CBA “Globes” was the first red carpet award show in the cannabis industry, setting the standard. It’s an incredible moment, because it’s a chance to honor, celebrate and recognize the people and pioneers who have championed this beautiful plant and continue to make history.
Today, I’m excited to say, I am building out one of the first real luxury brands In the industry with visionary Rohan Marley.“
You’ve achieved a great deal in the industry, what ultimately made you pivot into Cannabis?
“I think many people choose the cannabis industry, but for myself, I believe the cannabis industry chose me. I was always a connoisseur. Unfortunately my fourteen year old brother became ill with cancer and called a dear friend of mine, who is a doctor and told him the situation we were in and his advice was; “whatever you do, give him cannabis”. It was at that point that my relationship with cannabis changed. I moved back to my home state to help take care of my brother and ended up being one of the small groups of individuals who helped pioneer the legal cannabis industry. It was my love for my brother and the pain from losing him that launched me into the incredible work that I’ve taken on. I want to be able to help as many people as possible.“
You’re making waves in the industry again, as the CEO of Lion Order. Rohan Marley has created a powerful brand and movement. Talk to us about the Lion Order movement, the mission;
“Lion Order is a movement of the highest order. It represents this industry and all that it encompasses with integrity, authenticity, equality, and justice. This is something that means so much to me being an activist who worked on the ground floor of legalization, and one of the pioneers of the industry. When I connected with Rohan, we realized that we had the same values and the synergy was there to build a monumental movement, brand, and company, we knew that this would be bigger than we ever dreamed of. With the honorable legacy that Rohan Marley carries and the consciousness of the team and partners, this brand is a true staple of leadership, encompassing luxury culture and standards the industry has not yet seen. We aim to create one of the largest most successful roots culture luxury brands in cannabis and while creating a movement of truth that changes the world!“
When we look at the cannabis industry, where do you believe the focus should be for the next 2-3 years?
“Education, decriminalization, equality, and of course industry banking. We should focus on creating real standards based on research and corporate business standards that hopefully will provide consistency throughout the national industry.“
You are also the CEO of Clover Leaf University, and was recently announced as a part of the RollingStone council. Talk to us about what this means for you and what we can expect from you in the near future?
“As the President of Clover Leaf University, it has always been in my heart to educate. I envisioned that the industry would need this support system early on. This is one of the hardest industries that an individual can be in and people need proper education and resources to help them succeed.
It is truly an honor to be a part of the Rolling Stone culture council, and connect with such an incredible group of leaders. Having the Rolling Stone culture Council stand behind my voice allows us to help us reach the masses. I look forward to sharing valuable business advice, educating, and speaking truth. The more voices we can reach the more we can touch.
We are in an opioid epidemic. We are in an environmental crisis. Cannabis saves lives and offers so many solutions. With education we can stop persecuting people for using a plant that does so much for so many people.“
The Cannabis Business Awards are hitting a milestone, celebrating a 10 year anniversary. What can we expect?
“2022 is going to be monumental. We are working with the same company that created the Grammys and the Emmys to build a trophy that will honor this industry to the fullest. The Cannabis Business Awards is one of the top luxury brands in the industry and we strive to bring people together to remember why we started and to progress and change the world… and this year we are doing the CBA in Miami with a celebrity field red carpet. It is going to be next level and hosted by myself and Rohan as well as many other guest celebrities.“
What advice can you offer to others following in your footsteps?
“Never give up. This is an incredibly challenging industry. For someone who has been in it as long as I have, it’s because we truly believe in it. We are not in the winning business, we are in the fighting business. When you get down, remember; you’ll win some days, and some you’ll lose. If you’re not a fighter those days can get really tough. Never give up and surround yourself with the best people that you possibly can. If you really love it then it was probably meant for you.“