I was born and raised in Toronto and I love this city. My personal cannabis journey started 50 years ago. I have learned about cannabis from personal experience, extensive reading and working closely with world class academic researchers and institutions. I have always placed a high value on education. After earning my bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of Western Ontario, I moved to California and earned my Juris Doctor degree at Pepperdine University School of Law. While at Law School, I did a deep dive into the California cannabis culture of the late 1970s. After graduating law school, I moved to Maui to start up an innovative retail business. While living there, I continued my cannabis education with diligent research into the legendary Hawaiian strains. After selling my retail business, I returned to Toronto and focused on starting up and operating innovative technology and resource businesses for the next 30 years.
In 2013, I cofounded Delshen Therapeutics Corp., a Health Canada Licensee that produces high quality cannabis products under the brand name 48 North. In 2017, I founded Cannadigm Corp. to provide funding and services to Plantext Ltd., a company that I served as President from 2017 – 2020. Plantext was formed to support research and development of intellectual property and products for the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease. During my tenure at Plantext, we licensed intellectual property and funded research into the anti-addiction potential of a compound related to the endocannabinoid system. This research is underway at academic institutions in Canada, the United States, the European Union and the Middle East and is being led by Professor Rafael Mechoulam, the world renowned Chemist, who first identified CBD and THC. In 2020, I started Body and Spirit Cannabis at 361 Yonge Street in Toronto, one of the first 5 cannabis retail stores licensed in Ontario under the open market system. Body and Spirit Cannabis is a community hub for learning and teaching about cannabis. Our team is knowledgeable, experienced and passionate about helping people to achieve their personal objectives through education. From the vantage point of a retail store operator in the heart of Toronto’s busy downtown cannabis market, I have observed the evolution of the oversaturated retail market, and have come to realize there are important unmet needs across the cannabis value chain.
Pictured: Prof. Rafael Mechoulam (left) Al Shefsky (right)
Real world consumer research is needed to support product development and innovation. Cannadigm Corp. is leveraging our core strengths in education and research with the launch of Lit Research, our Health Canada licensed research facility located next door to Body and Spirit Cannabis. Lit Research has been developed to provide consumers with a unique, value added sensory experience and to generate important data that empowers consumers as influencers and supports improved outcomes for producers while deepening the connection between consumers and producers.