Interview with Michael Sassano, CEO of Somai Pharmaceuticals

Interview with Michael Sassano, CEO of Somai Pharmaceuticals

Although Michael Sassano’s exciting career has led him to be involved in the fast-paced worlds of international real estate development, high-level banking, and cutting edge tech-investing, it is the cannabis space where he has shined the brightest. Michael is well known as one of the original movers and shakers in this sector, celebrated prominently in both mainstream business and cannabis media as an authority on large-scale cannabis cultivation, a pioneer of technology that affects entire markets, and an internationally respected expert on predicting long term industry trends. You can read about his advice and progress

In July 2020, Michael led a merger of the cannabis cultivation company he built, Solaris Farms, with The Sanctuary, a local Las Vegas brand operating two dispensaries and an extraction facility. In four years with its beginnings in private equity, Michael was able to build Solaris out from a bare lot of land into one of the largest and most well-respected cannabis cultivation operations in the state of Nevada, and then further merged it into one of the top ten vertically integrated cannabis companies in the state. Michael remains on the advisory board and will help sell the new vertical to a larger company in the future.

Michael has otherwise shifted focus to his role as CEO and Chairman of the Board for Somai Pharmaceuticals LTD, an Ireland-based company that focuses on the cultivation and extraction of cannabis, and producing EU-GMP certified cannabinoid formulations for pharmaceutical distribution. Taking with him the superior cultivation and product development knowledge learned while operating a successful company in the hyper-competitive western U.S. market, Somai will be one of the first American-run companies operating across legal European markets.

Michael is currently building scalable high out-put cultivation and extraction facilities in various strategic countries in Europe. The idea is to carefully develop processes for scalability and get proper registrations in order to expand as new countries legalize medical cannabis and new markets and demographics become available. The flexibility of his methods is intended to help mitigate any potential issues of government adoption by opening up avenues for adaptation and expansion as the EU market develops. As the continent ultimately comes fully online, Somai will be positioned as a top global pharmaceutical distributor of medical-grade, EU-GMP-certified cannabis.

Where did the idea for Somai Pharmaceuticals come from?

Michael Sassano: Solaris Farms was the first ground-up hybrid-greenhouse in Nevada when there were not many high-tech greenhouses in the entire cannabis universe. We wanted to capture the sun. My European company Somai Pharmaceutical is play off of Brave New World Soma and Japanese for soft to bring cannabis slowly to the European community.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

Michael Sassano: I am a hands-on owner who has an open-door policy and works solving issues in the grow, production area, and out the door with sales.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Michael Sassano: I factor in the risks and make calculated decisions. Then monitor our results to decide how much further to take the “idea”.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Michael Sassano: Formulating major and minor cannabinoids to achieve medical-style results for consumers.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Michael Sassano: I read and respond to everyone in my universe daily.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Michael Sassano: Manage expectations of your investors as you see fit, not what the markets are telling investors.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Michael Sassano: Profits in cannabis are elusive.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Michael Sassano: You need to know every facet of your business from cleaning to sales better than anyone who works for you. And if they know more, you aren’t taking the time to learn.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Michael Sassano: Making bold decisions. When issues arise, which is daily, you need to make a decision and keep your business moving forward. When expanding whether it is geographical or product lines, do your homework and go forward without hesitation.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Michael Sassano: We wanted to make at least one genetic perfectly, and pheno hunting can be very costly. After much time and effort, despite investor woes, we developed a high yielding and ranking strain and now we are developing many. Time, money, and drive.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Michael Sassano: Servicing the Cannabis industry is growing and has less risks than asset-rich growing or production. There are so many services we need from packaging to marketing to delivery services. If you want to be in the industry, chose a service we need and build your client base.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Michael Sassano: I just bought a magnifier for my iPhone camera. You can look right into the bud and take pictures of the inside of trichomes or even of pests. Best $85 I ever spent.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Michael Sassano: Excel is still my guiding light. I wish someone made software that was more tailored for our business and connects to the metric better.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Michael Sassano: The Cannabis Encyclopedia series is still the reigning champ of cannabis education.

What is your favorite quote?

Michael Sassano: With his brows knit, his mind made up, his will resolved and resistless, he advances, crashing his way through a host of weak, half-formed, dilettante opinions, honest and dishonest ways of thinking, with their standards raised, sentimentalities and conjectures, and trample them all into dust. See how he prevails: you don’t even hear the groans of the wounded and dying. LESS – David Thoreau

Key Learnings:

Michael Sassano:

  • Proformas never come true
  • Everything takes longer than you are told
  • Everyone has limitations, know theirs and yours
  • Being kind is not weakness, being strong requires knowledge
  • Know more than everyone in the room, or identify and learn from the smartest in the room

Originally published on

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