Co-Founder & CEO
Location: Cook County
Year Founded: 2013
Industry Group Specific: Cannabis
When Illinois legalized medical cannabis in August 2013, Charlie Bachtell immediately recognized that this nascent industry needed leaders with his exact background and capabilities. As a former General Counsel at a mortgage company during the height of 2008’s Great Recession, Bachtell recognized that the cannabis industry’s launch read like a new chapter in the same book.
“Both cannabis and mortgage banking faced fractured and quickly changing regulatory structures, low stakeholder trust and high consumer stigmatization,” said Bachtell. “I knew that a regulatory, compliance and stakeholder-focused organization could help normalize and profesionalize this industry that had already existed for 5,000 years.”
With his co-founders, Bachtell applied for a license to grow medical cannabis in Illinois and was one of the first individuals to win cultivation licenses in Illinois in 2015, selling Cresco Lab’s first product in January 2016.
Today, Cresco Labs is a leading wholesaler of cannabis brands and has grown to 3,0000 employees, 13 cultivation/production sites and 70 dispensaries across eight states.
As a leading multi-state cannabis operator, Cresco Labs mission is to normalize and professionalize the cannabis industry through a CPG approach to building national brands and a customer-focused retail experience while acting as a steward for the industry on legislative and regulatory-focused initiatives. The company also operates highly productive dispensaries nationally under the Sunnyside brand that focuses on building patient and consumer trust while delivering ongoing education and convenience in a wonderfully traditional retail experience.
“I’m in a very unique position as a leader in the normalization and legalization of a currently illegal $100 billion+ industry and I constantly remind myself of the mission and vision of the organization,” said Bachtell.
This drive aids him as he strives to make a mark in the industry. Bachtell is a founding member of the Illinois Cannabis Bar Association, cannabis industry trade associations and is a board member of the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce. He shares his knowledge at Northwestern University’s Pritzker School of Law, teaching a course on legal and regulatory issues in the cannabis industry. His efforts have landed him the Captains of the Industry Award from the American Trade Association for Cannabis Hemp and Cresco Labs has been recognized as the Best-Led American Company by Inc. Magazine.
As a leader, Bachtell said that it’s important to understand that the obstacle is the way. “Every roadblock is an opportunity to flip your perspective and find creative solutions to complexity,” he said. “In fact, these challenges aren’t actually roadblocks – they’re advantages.”
For his passion for the industry and commitment to making legislative progress, Bachtell has been named a Titan 100.
My work-life integration. Being incredibly passionate about my work may sometimes bring more complexity to my life, but I’m doing something I really care a lot about and it shows my family that you should do something you love, work really hard and enjoy every moment together all at the same time.