C3’s George Smitherman steps down, organization seeks new President & CEO

| David Brown

The Canadian Cannabis Council (C3) announced today that its President & CEO is stepping down.

George Smitherman, who has served as the head of the cannabis industry organization for four years, says he is proud of his work and looking forward to new opportunities.

“(I’m) excited for new opportunities and proud of the work we accomplished over the past four years,” Smitherman told StratCann. “Looking forward to watching the continued evolution of C3 and the Cannabis sector from the sidelines.”

The organization made the announcement in an email sent to its members at 4:19 am on January 31, saying Smitherman has left an “indelible mark” on C3.

“His leadership, thinking, and indomitable spirit have been instrumental in driving positive change for our industry and fostering a culture of collaboration and excellence among our members,” wrote Rick Savone, Chair of the Cannabis Council of Canada. “We extend our heartfelt thanks to George Smitherman for his service and wish him nothing but success and joy in his future endeavours.”

“George is stepping down after four successful, eventful years as our President. C3 is now beginning a recruitment campaign to succeed him,” Savone added in an email to StratCann. “The organization has grown exponentially over George’s tenure, and our work as the leading industry association representing producers is more impactful than ever. In a few weeks, we’ll have a new organizational leader and our achievements will continue to generate benefits for our members. We’re eager for this next stage of development, both for George and for C3.” 

The Canadian Cannabis Council’s board says they will now begin a formal search for a new Executive Director and are encouraging those interested in the position to send their application to [email protected]

In the interim, C3 Treasurer Tamara Lovi and C3 Secretary Elisabeth Sieber will assume the role of Acting Co-Executive Directors, ensuring the smooth continuation of C3 operations. 

The Board says it has been working to define its strategic priorities for 2024, with a mandate to continue to push for financial viability, a level playing field with the illicit market, and enhanced communications to consumers.

The Cannabis Council of Canada bills itself as a national and international representative of the country’s licensed producers and processors of cannabis, with a mission to promote industry standards, support the development, growth, and integrity of the regulated cannabis industry, and serve as an important resource on issues related to responsible use of cannabis for medical and non-medical purposes.

Smitherman has a long history in Ontario politics. He started with C3 in March 2020. Previously, he had worked in the cannabis industry in various roles. He was also a candidate for Mayor of Toronto in 2010 and served as the Ontario Minister of Energy and Infrastructure and Deputy Premier of Ontario from 2008–2009, and the Minister of Health and Long Term Care, Deputy Premier of Ontario from October 2003–June 2008.

Smitherman was also previously a member of the Ontario legislature from 1999 to 2009, and was the first openly gay MPP in Ontario’s history.