BEST OF THE INDUSTRY 2019: Ceres Management

BEST OF THE INDUSTRY 2019: Ceres Management


Over 1,000 Greenway readers made nominations online for the Best of the Industry 2019. This inaugural reader’s choice presentation is unique – the 2020’s is sure to look a little different.
Find features about the winners of categories in the Businesses & Professionals section in Greenway Magazine and online. For the CBD, Patient Care, and Advocacy sections, check out the categorical winners in the Spring 2020 issue of Greenway Patients Magazine and online.
Winners of these reader’s choice awards were recognized at the MoCannBizCon after party on March 2, 2020, at the incredible St. Louis Union Station.
These winners are definitive leaders in the culmination of this industry. Greenway Media congratulates each awardee on being recognized by their peers.


Ceres Management Group was chosen by Greenway readers as the best security consultant in the industry – but their services don’t stop at security. The team at Ceres includes Joe Patterson, McKinley “Mac” Johnson, Patrick Poston, Phil Gothard, and Brian Cairns – and their network of field experts extends farther. Their team is made up of military and police veterans, lawyers, and more.

“We looked at the medical marijuana industry in Missouri for several reasons,” Patterson said. “To start, Mac had already worked and been successful in the Illinois medical marijuana industry.  Secondly, the regulations in Missouri, being as stringent as they are, created an opportunity for us to provide additional services to the industry beyond application writing. Also, the ability to be in on the ground level of not only several new companies but a new industry has been exciting and motivating.”

Patterson’s background was in law enforcement, mainly undercover narcotics and gang enforcement with the FBI/DEA Task Force in St. Louis. During that time, he worked more overdose death investigations than he cares to remember.

“Over the years, I began to see a trend; the overprescribing of opioids and the patients’ eventual journey into full-blown opioid addiction,” Patterson said. “The story of the year always seemed to be the prescription would run out or get too expensive and now heroin or fentanyl were the only options to keep withdrawals at bay. The heroin use seemed to very predictably end in two possible outcomes where neither were good; jail or overdose.

“I began to think that there had to be a ‘ better way’ and was introduced to medical marijuana as a pain management alternative and did my own research and investigation. Sadly, during that time I lost both family and friends to opioid overdose. It was at the point I wanted to commit myself to be part of the solution. Although we do not grow, manufacture, or sell Medical Marijuana, we do provide important services to the industry so that those that do operate facilities can do so in a safe and compliant manner.”

They chose “Ceres [seer-eez] Management Group” to acknowledge the great agricultural legacy in the State of Missouri. Ceres, the Roman goddess of agriculture, is the statute that sits atop the Missouri State Capitol Building. The team at Ceres Management Group set a goal to be at the top of the Missouri Cannabis industry.

“We add Management Group because we want our clients and the industry to know that we aren’t just one-trick ponies,” Patterson said. “We can do a lot more than just security and have been successfully operating in Missouri for nearly a year.”

Beyond application writing and consulting, Ceres Management Group LLC. offers a wide array of services to the full industry. These services include security planning, security director/manager placement, commencement inspection preparation, off-duty police officer protection, investigations of internal theft/diversion, and a myriad of training on not only State-mandated topics, but several other topics facility operators may find valuable. These include natural disaster response, media relations, and just about anything security-related.

“As military and law enforcement veterans, service is an important part of our lives,” Patterson said. “We want to serve our clients by helping them navigate regulations, training, and commencement so they can focus more on growing their businesses. Additionally, we want to ensure our clients are compliant and successful. The best partnerships, marketing, and products mean nothing if you aren’t allowed to operate by the State of Missouri. We believe the Cannabis industry is ready for a reputation of being highly professional and reasonably regulated. We work closely with our clients to ensure just that.”

Security, although just one portion of the services Ceres Management Group provides, was a no-brainer for the team. They have worked in the most stressful and highly regulated industries in the past with success. They wanted to take that same high level of performance and bring it to the cannabis Industry.


“As a former Police Detective, I would plan security operations on a daily basis taking into account factors that most people would never even imagine being a possibility,” Patterson said. “We take that type of thinking and planning to our client’s security plans and operations.”

Eighty percent of Ceres clients won licenses – and with a less than 20 percent chance of winning a license on average, their strategy is one the ever-developing industry can note.

“First, a well-written security plan/program should be easy to understand, rely on redundancies in case an area fails or is breached, and should be followed at all times,” Patterson said. “This may seem like a burden to some operators, and at face value, it is.

“However, when you stop thinking of security as some extra burdensome cost and instead look at it as a risk management tool, things begin to change. A well written, and most importantly strictly followed, security plan will keep your personnel and product safe while also offering the potential to save a significant amount of money on insurance premiums. Your Security Plan writers should be able to effectively communicate with your insurance provider to help lower premiums. In the right circumstances, a well-written security plan could pay for itself many times over.

“Second, and this sounds the most simple, but it’s important: You have to actually make all reasonable efforts to execute the Security Plan set forth in the license application. This is not only for the safety and security of your staff and product, but also to maintain compliance with DHSS who has made it very clear they would be holding operators accountable to what they stated in their application(s).”

Patterson said two things make the Ceres team unique: one, their team, and two, their range of services.

“We have recruited top professionals for Law Enforcement, Army Rangers, Navy SEALs, White House Staffers, and winning trial attorneys.

“As the Chief Executive Officer of the firm, I am 100% the most average member of the team and I worked as an FBI/DEA Task Force Detective in some of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the country, but my team has done more and in worse situations. That may sound unimportant, but I absolutely would not have it any other way. I was raised being told, ‘If you ever find yourself as the smartest one in the room, get out of that room.’ Bringing the best people I could find into the industry was of the utmost importance.”

“Our range of services with that team also makes us unique. We can offer such a wide array of services with our multi-disciplinary team, that we can grow with a small one dispensary operation or a fully vertical operation with relative ease.”