Ones to Watch 2020: Mark Habbas


The inaugural Greenway Ones to Watch class were nominated by their peers as those will be some of the most responsible for setting the tone of Missouri’s newest industry. From activists to consultants to operators themselves, the following industry influencers are responsible for determining not only how the industry overcomes the obstacles of 2020, but how the industry will be better for it. The same questions were asked of all; submitted answers and related information edited for grammar and clarity.


NAME: Mark Habbas

COMPANY: John Bardgett & Associates

OPERATING FROM: St. Louis, Jefferson City

TITLE: Lobbyist, Consultant

BACKGROUND: Paramedic-Firefighter for 25 years; Lobbyist/Consultant for 13 years


Why cannabis?

I became passionate about cannabis in 2014 after watching the documentary called Weed: By Dr. Sanjay Gupta. I never knew that cannabis had the health benefits it contains until I watched how it helped Charlotte Figi, the child in the documentary experiencing numerous seizures, when all other medications did not help. It was an eye opener for me.

As if it was meant to be, weeks later I received a call by a gentleman, now friend, named Matt Cook from Colorado asking if I would be interested in lobbying for medical marijuana. Without hesitation I said yes. I was then introduced to Page Figi, Charlotte’s mother, through Cook. Page was working to get CBD oil legislation passed at the federal level and also helping with other states. I spoke with then State Senator Eric Schmitt about the possible benefits of CBD oil because his son also suffers from seizures. Senator Schmitt thought it was a great idea if it could help kids with epilepsy and together, we got a CBD oil bill in Missouri to the governor’s desk in less than 40 days. Bardgett and I worked on the bill pro bono because we wanted to help kids suffering from seizures and felt that it was not right that families had to move to Colorado just get access to the oil. Page and Matt were awesome to work with and they taught me so much about cannabis. The next year I was lobbying a medical marijuana bill with a great team of advocates and legislators who also seen cannabis as a healthier option for people dealing with debilitating medical issues. I became a true believer in cannabis because I became educated about the plant.

What is your vision of the industry in Missouri?

I see a medical marijuana industry with its ups and downs like every other industry, however in my opinion we are very fortunate that the industry is being led by Lyndall Fraker, whom I have known for a long time. It is very important that we have someone like him running the department who listens, works with everyone, and tries his best to do what’s right for patients and those who will be providing for those patients. He has always been honest and transparent, and this industry needs that in order to be successful. We will have our growing pains here in Missouri and I hope that those involved will view this as a journey that we will all share together as operators and administrators.


I believe in a very promising future for cannabis where many of the operators will now be able to showcase what they have been talking about for years… being able to grow and provide quality flower and marijuana infused products to people in Missouri. You can feel the excitement from people who love the industry and I have also spoken with many people who are excited for the opportunity to be able to go to a dispensary and purchase great quality cannabis without getting it from unregulated markets or travel to other states.

What opportunity/opportunities does the industry create in Missouri?

I personally believe this industry will create opportunities for people who believe in alternative medicines as a way of life and who have become passionate about cannabis. I have friends who are thrilled at the opportunity to grow cannabis and work with these plants. They love the environment it creates and are planning for a career change that will provide them happiness and a sense of well-being even if it means they will make less money than their current profession.

I also see the industry as an opportunity for those looking to invest in new markets and are infatuated with what the cannabis industry could provide financially. These are people who believe that hiring the right grow/management team to operate their facilities will yield them additional revenue from a new market. And there also those in supporting markets like packaging and labeling, security and transportation etc. that are excited to expand their business because of this industry. Whatever the case is, this industry will create new jobs and opportunities for Missourians.

What is one thing you wish all Missourians knew about cannabis?

I wish people in Missouri would understand how cannabis makes people that use it feel. Some still view it as a street drug for people who are stoners and they ignore the benefits it has provided for many who are trying to cope with everyday life.  I use the word passionate a lot because that’s what I feel when I talk to those who believe in the power of this plant. I have spoken with so many who have told me cannabis has changed their life for the better. I also see the excitement from medical professionals who want to learn more and more about cannabis and how it can help their patients. As this industry continues to grow so does that passion.

See more Ones to Watch 2020 profiles here