“Bob worked tirelessly and passionately until his last day as Chairman and CEO of MariMed to fulfill our mission of improving people’s lives”
We don’t throw the word visionary around lightly, but Robert Fireman, CEO of the Norwood-based MariMed who passed away unexpectedly on Dec. 11, was certainly something of a cannabis soothsayer. Upon hearing the news about his death, we went back to an interview we did with the longtime cannabis operator in 2019. Here’s an excerpt:
The medical program in Massachusetts, which started back in ’11 and ’12, was thrown on the Department of Health, which had no experience whatsoever. And the program never rolled out effectively to create any sort of testimonials or validity before the referendum in 2016 forced adult use recreational. That scared the shit out of the municipalities.
In two or three years, it’s going to become more mainstream. In three to five years, I think the federal law will change. But what’s good about the East, what’s different from Colorado, is that there is limited licensing. It’s not 15 on a block in San Jose.
We get the best knowledge from places like California and Colorado and bring it back here. Massachusetts is being built from the ground up. The [Cannabis Control Commission] is doing an adequate job of understanding the needs and making it work and taking the time they need to do it. The early shops are open, and all the lines will be over in six months to a year when there’s enough shops. Everyone wanted to line up for the first few, but ultimately it’s going to be mainstream. It will all blend in.
It’s not that Fireman was alone in sensing these trends, but rather that he was an ace at harnessing those observations to guide various successful businesses. As MariMed President Jon Levine said in a statement, “Bob worked tirelessly and passionately until his last day as Chairman and CEO of MariMed to fulfill our mission of improving people’s lives, much as he did as a philanthropist who cared so deeply about the people and community around him. … He was my business partner and dear friend, and I look forward to honoring his legacy by achieving our shared vision for the Company. He was one-of-a-kind and will be deeply missed by his family, his wide circle of friends, the cannabis community that he helped build, and the entire MariMed family.”
A statement from the company continued, “Mr. Fireman served as CEO of MariMed since 2017 and a member of its Board of Directors since the company’s formation. An early pioneer and visionary in the industry, under his leadership the MariMed team applied for and was awarded legal cannabis licenses in several states across the United States and developed and operated state of the art, regulatory compliant cannabis cultivation, production, and retail facilities.”
“A practicing attorney for over 30 years, Mr. Fireman’s legal acumen and entrepreneurial experience in diverse industries served were instrumental in navigating MariMed through the complex, highly-regulated, emerging cannabis industry.”
“Mr. Fireman is survived by his wife and partner of nearly 30 years, Ellen Porter Fireman.”
“On behalf of the entire MariMed family, we extend our deepest condolences to Ellen and the Fireman and Porter families,” Levine said.