Nico Escondido

About Nicholas Zitelli a.k.a. Nico Escondido

Mr. Zitelli is currently part-owner, Director, and Chief Cannabis Officer of Trans High Corporation (THC), the parent company for all HIGH TIMES brands, including its 45-year old flagship magazine, as well as all related media and event platforms, including the iconic Cannabis Cup. Since 2007, Mr. Zitelli has authored hundreds of articles covering all aspects of cannabis science and technology under the penname of “Nico Escondido”. In this capacity, Mr. Zitelli has garnered a reputation as an industry expert in the areas of cultivation, genetics, garden technologies, lab testing, and regulatory and compliance measures. This has led to numerous appointments as a state-hired agent for committee, legislation, and policy consultation in numerous jurisdictions across North America and the European Union.

Mr. Zitelli is also the founder and CEO of the Cannabis Genetics Institute (CGI). Founded in Amsterdam, Holland in 2014, CGI is a well-established research and development institute with a mission that focuses on the breeding of customized medicinal strains of cannabis that are ailment-specific as well as patient and physician education in these areas. Through its partnerships with Steep Hill Labs in Berkeley, CA (the first legal cannabis testing lab in the US), as well as the Nolan Kane Laboratory’s Cannabis Genomics Initiative at the University of Colorado, Boulder, CGI has been able to use marker-assisted breeding techniques, DNA sequencing, and the procurement of pure landrace genetics to explore and recreate much of the cannabis gene pool that has gone stagnant due to the modern era of feminized genetics. CGI currently conducts most of its R&D in Colorado and Northern California where Mr. Zitelli is a partner at Conscious Vitality Corp., whose medically and recreationally licensed facilities in the Bay area are home to a majority of CGI’s research gardens.

Most recently, Mr. Zitelli was named CEO of the newly formed entity Applied Cannabis Sciences, LLC, whose primary charge is the acquisition and operation of vertically integrated medical marijuana licenses along the Eastern seaboard of the U.S. with ongoing projects in New Jersey, New York, and Massachusetts.

During his tenure at HIGH TIMES, Mr. Zitelli also served as Competition Director for High Times’ ground-breaking Cannabis Cup event, successfully bringing it into the 21st century by digitizing the platform and creating a proprietary scoring algorithm for cannabis products that included both patient-driven qualitative criteria as well as lab-derived quantitative data. As such Mr. Zitelli owns and controls the world’s largest known cannabis database, containing over 30,000 cannabis strains and products that includes crucial information on product efficacy, cannabinoid levels, terpene profiles, and complete information about how each product was grown and / or manufactured.

Through his partnerships, as well as his research and development initiatives, Mr. Zitelli has consulted for cannabis companies around the world, including in Holland, Spain, Canada, Jamaica, and the US, with specialized work in genetic development/ breeding programs, lab testing, and cultivation technologies. He has lectured at institutions around the world on the technical and scientific issues surrounding cannabis as an expert in genetics, plant sciences and photobiology, including John Hopkins University, the University of Colorado, and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Late last year, Mr. Zitelli was appointed to the Board of Directors of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA), where he is tasked with aiding in the development of industry labor forces and educational programs with locally based universities.