Lindy Snider won’t back down from a challenge. The daughter of late Flyers owner Ed Snider is among a select group of cannabis entrepreneurs waiting to enter the Pennsylvania market.
Despite having been rejected for a growing and processing facility, Snider has two applications pending for dispensaries in Center City and Delaware County.
“This is absolutely the perfect thing for me,” she said on a spring afternoon while talking to NBC10 at her Main Line mansion. “The benefit to Pennsylvania, overall, and Philadelphia, in particular, is staggering.”
Snider’s grand Tudor-style mansion matched her illustrious name. Dark wood and pastoral paintings adorned most of the walls. Antique medical instruments glistened behind a glass display. Several feet away, an oversized scrapbook dedicated to her father rested atop a vintage table. Photos of her family littered the sitting room and other nooks of the first floor.
“This is the party house,” she said. “It was made for entertaining.”
Underneath the Main Line trimmings is a killer instinct for what could become the state’s next cash crop: cannabis.
Snider is a longtime believer and early investor in the flourishing industry. Even before her father battled bladder cancer, she was drawn to tales of marijuana’s medicinal potential. The holistic culture surrounding cannabis plus its untapped financial opportunities seemed too great to ignore.
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“I’m a business person,” she said. “Cannabis is sort of a no-brainer.”
And so she jumped headfirst into an industry once reserved for drug dealers.
Snider’s first stop was trade shows and conferences where she was shocked by the otherwise buttoned-up nature of attendees. There was nothing fringe about it, she said. Snider met industry leaders who were pouring serious money into innovation, technology and creating a startup culture unlike any other.
“That was really eye-opening,” she said.
Some of those people eventually became business partners in her early days as an investor. In 2015 she joined the board of Kind Financial, Los Angeles-based seed to sale technology company for cannabis compliance. She also invested in Poseidon Asset Manager, a cannabis hedge fund. More recently, Snider was added to the board of Greenhouse Ventures, a Philadelphia-based marijuana business accelerator.
Her tentacular ties have earned Snider the dubious labels of “pot tycoon” and “ganjapreneur.” Not everyone in the Main Line understands her interest in the industry, she said. Snider admits certain parents gave her a sideways look when these ventures became public. One commenter in a “Main Line Today” article even branded her family as “local drug lords.”
Snider welcomed the criticism.
“I like to shake things up a bit,” she said with a throaty laugh. “I’m a rabble rouser at heart.”
Estimates vary, but Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana program could rake in more than $125 million in its first year and grow at an annual rate of 180 percent, according to market research firm ArcView Group. The program is slated to debut early in 2018.
Snider has previously credited her Libertarian father with bestowing business acumen to his eagle-eyed daughter. She does not doubt that he would have approved of her business interests, having used it himself while in palliative care in California.
“We saw him eat a really big meal after using the product when he really hadn’t been,” she said.
During his final years, Snider frequently talked to her dad about the cannabis industry. He was intrigued yet cautious. He warned against using the family name and worried that her reputation could be ruined, to which she simply answered: “I don’t have another name.”
Despite his misgivings, the elder Snider toyed with the idea of becoming a co-investor and, by the end of his life, had “dramatically” changed his perspective on the plant, his daughter said.
“Being a family that’s been very involved in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia for a long time both in business and in philanthropy, we see this as an unbelievable sort of dovetail of both those things,” she said.
It’s not just about philanthropy, however. Throwing her family’s weight behind marijuana is a form of legitimizing the industry, of raising it from a subculture to the mainstream. To that end, Snider and her husband - Dr. Larry Kaiser, president and CEO of Temple University Health System - regularly talk to their children about pot.
Snider has become the “cool mom” among her kids’ friends, she said. She tries to stay on message when the topic comes up, reinforcing the plant’s reputation as a panacea for epilepsy, autism and degenerative diseases.
“I’m a realist and I know kids are going to be kids and do things they shouldn’t do. I think it’s inherently built into every human being on the planet,” she said. “The best you can do is educate your kids and teach them to make good choices for themselves because you’re not always going to be around.”
Snider is not the only famous name to join Pennsylvania’s green rush. Former NFL player Eugene Monroe applied for a grow permit with his company Green Thumb Industries. Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Floyd Little sits on the board of Syracuse-based Terradiol, which applied for a cultivation permit in the southcentral region. And former lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania, Mark Singel, is also on the advisory team.
Coincidentally, State Sen. Mike Folmer, a Republican from Lebanon, co-sponsored Pennsylvania’s medical marijuana legislation. Like other advocates, Folmer turned to cannabis while fighting his own battles with cancer. The Republican used it while undergoing chemotherapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma and his wife used it to treat neuropathic pain. He co-wrote legislation with Democratic Sen. Daylin Leach, an even more outspoken proponent of medical cannabis.
The bipartisan nature of the marijuana industry intrigued Snider, who doesn’t anticipate federal politics will interfere with the state’s nascent program.
“I don’t think anybody wants to get into a state’s rights fight,” she said of Attorney General Jeff Sessions. “It is his job to uphold the law and I think what we need to look at is changing the federal law.”