Our Purpose

The purpose of the VCA includes promoting a safe, regulated, and inclusive recreational market for adult-use cannabis that maintains the principles of fair competition, accessibility, and quality and prioritizes Virginia-based businesses.

Executive Board

Jason Blanchette

Jason is a third generation greenhouse grower and agricultural expert with a proven track record of success in the horticulture industry. By day, he owns and operates a large multi store garden center/grow operation in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia with over 150 total employees. By night, after helping his wife put his three girls to bed, he oversees his organic hemp farm. He also interacts daily with legislators as the acting president of the Virginia Cannabis Association and Vice Chair of the Virginia Beach Cannabis Task Force. He grew up in Newport News, Virginia and is a graduate of the University of South Alabama. Jason is also an active board member of the Virginia Peninsula Boys and Girls Clubs and a volunteer youth AAU basketball coach.

Derek Wall

Derek Wall grew up in Southwest Virginia and eventually went on to graduate from Virginia Tech. After years away from the area, he moved back to SWVA to manage Hotel Floyd and later to own and operate Thomas & Wall Real Estate. He founded in 2019 with 3 others “The Buffalo Hemp Company”. With a passion for entrepreneurship and the opportunity to be in the beginning stages of an emerging industry, Derek developed a business model to grow, work with local processors, and retail at locations in SWVA. This business has evolved over the past 4 years into one of the leading hemp businesses in the region. Derek is one of the founding members of the VCA.

Phil Louer

Phil Louer is a multi-faceted business owner/operator in Southwest Virginia. A long time Class A Virginia contractor, he has built premium quality custom homes from Blacksburg to Smith Mountain Lake. Louer is active in the hemp/cannabis industry: he is a co-founder of New River Extracts which manufactures premium USDA certified organic hemp products, co-founder of the Virginia Cannabis Association and owner of Homestead Farms in Riner Virginia, cultivators of premium hemp and related crops.

Brad Wynne

Brad graduated from Princeton University and received a Masters of Arts from University of Virginia. Upon returning to Virginia Beach, he started Veg Out Gardens, which focuses on large residential and commercial organic vegetable and herb garden installations & maintenance. In 2019, he found Veg Out Pharm, which is a USDA certified organic hemp grower & USDA certified organic hemp processor. In 2020, he found Veg Out Organics, which provides a full line organic skin care products.

Ben Turner

Dr. Ben Turner is the chief scientist and head of manufacturing for TruHemp Solutions, the hemp processing and manufacturing component of a vertically integrated hemp operation in Christiansburg. Dr. Turner has over 30 years of research, consulting, industry, and teaching experience in science and engineering fields, and he has assisted many entrepreneurs with cutting-edge scientific support. His current passion is bringing innovative hemp and cannabis products to market for the benefit of Virginians.

Tanner Johnson

Tanner Johnson, CEO and founder of Pure Shenandoah, leads a pioneering cannabis brand in Virginia’s health and wellness sector. Armed with a degree in Intelligence Analysis with a business concentration, and a minor in economics, Tanner navigates the industry’s complexities adeptly. He steered Pure Shenandoah’s growth from a 5-member team to a 25-strong, multimillion-dollar enterprise. Tanner’s understanding of systems dynamics offers profound insights into the cannabis realm, from its past to its promising horizon.

Jason Johannessen


Jason Johannessen is a dynamic professional with a BS in Political Science from Radford University. He’s served as an Operations Officer in a number of startups, including one of the first vaporizer businesses in the early 2000s and a high volume food manufacturing business. Since 2020, he’s served as Operations Director at Nutrac Hemp. Jason has diverse expertise in the technical aspects of cannabis / hemp manufacturing and regulation.