images of four people

The Green Rush


Marijuana’s transformation from counterculture vice to venture-capital darling may seem to have happened overnight. But for many in the burgeoning cannabis industry, the plant’s rehabilitation has been a long time coming, and it still has a way to go. True, cannabis is now fully legal for adult recreational use in 18 states and available for medical use in 36, creating a U.S. market projected to be worth $43 billion by 2025. But in other states, users continue to be arrested and imprisoned, a reality often disproportionately affecting people of color. And cannabis remains a controlled substance under federal law, creating a host of legal and financial complexities for emerging businesses.

In this industry full of contradictions, controversies, and opportunities, a number of Williston alums are playing pivotal roles. We spoke to four: a reform leader, a former government relations liaison, a public relations professional, and a cannabis grower. While their career paths vary, they share a connection to Williston, and to a school culture that they say encouraged them to pursue their passions and gave them the courage to advocate for their beliefs, even if their choice was unconventional.

Sal Pace ’95
The Pioneering Reformer

Victoria Gates ’10
The PR Professional

Shaun Chapman ’98
The Government Relations Liaison

Francis Maguire ’07
The Cannabis Grower