Job title: Co-founder, Chief Cultivator and First Alternate Person in Charge, Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc.
Why he's a 2016 Top 40:
As co-founder and chief cultivator at Alberta’s only licensed producer of cannabis for therapeutic purposes, Mayerson is a pioneer in the field of medicinal marijuana in Canada.
Photograph by Erin Brooke Burns. Photographed at the Taylor Institute for Teaching and Learning at the University of Calgary.
When Chris Mayerson attended a birthday party with one of his daughters recently, another parent asked what he did for a living. Mayerson went on to describe the company he co-founded but the questioner still looked confused. So the Calgary-born father of four used plainer language: “I grow weed.”
That’s as close as Mayerson comes to joking about Aurora Cannabis Enterprises Inc., Alberta’s only licensed producer of medical marijuana. Mayerson is all business when it comes to the company. Outside of his joking comment at the party, he avoids the words “weed” and “marijuana,” preferring “cannabis” instead.
Mayerson is Aurora’s chief cultivator and the “First Alternate Responsible Person in Charge” — roles that require him to oversee all aspects of growing, drying, curing and packaging at Aurora’s 55,200-square-foot, high-tech facility 45 minutes outside of Calgary, which is undergoing an expansion to add another 600,000 sq. ft. He also serves as the company’s chief liaison with provincial and federal governments, Health Canada and law enforcement.
Mayerson describes himself as a “cannabis enthusiast.” In 2006, he applied for and won a licence to cultivate 15 plants in his home to grow cannabis for one patient. After that, he followed federal developments with medical marijuana closely, consulted with Health Canada and law enforcement and increased his patient population as the legislative hurdles came down.
In 2013, when federal legislation allowed for larger, for-profit production of medical marijuana, Aurora became one of the first organizations to gain a licence. Today, the company is traded on the Canadian Stock Exchange, employs more than 100 people full time and ships to more than 7,000 patients across Canada. One-month sales in July reached $1 million.
“Aurora was my dream and I’m filled with gratitude to be living it on a daily basis,” says Mayerson, who spends his spare time in the winter volunteering as a ski instructor with the Canadian Disabled Ski Association.
Mayerson and his wife, Amanda, have four daughters between the ages of one and seven. But don’t expect to see Mayerson, who sports six earrings, one nose ring and an unknown number of tattoos (“I don’t count them, but I measure them in body percentage,” he says), driving a minivan.
“A minivan may be more convenient in many ways, but we’re still driving a third-row SUV,” he says. — Christina Frangou