Our Unity 2021 Speakers!

Ryan Basen
Staff Writer, MedPage Today

Ryan Basen has been a journalist for more than a decade -- including several years as a medical journalist. Ryan earned national and state honors for investigative work as a staff writer with the Charlotte Observer, and Murrow awards for sports news reporting while freelancing for Charlotte’s NPR affiliate. He has also written for the New York Times, Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Associated Press and Leafly.com (among others). Ryan earned a master's in journalism from the University of Maryland and a bachelor's from Washington University (St. Louis). His interests include sports medicine, medical cannabis, and the practice and business of medicine. He lives in the Washington, D.C., area.

Dr. Larry Bedard
American Medical Association Cannabis Task Force

Dr. Bedard started advocating for patient's rights soon after his stint as a Naval Doctor/Lt. Commander, treating drug-addicted vets during the Vietnam War. He was instrumental in cementing our right to treatment in Emergency Rooms (this was not a right until 1989) and was a medical spokesperson for the Colorado and California legal cannabis initiatives. He currently represents California on the AMA Cannabis Task Force and advocates for patient access nationally including CA SB311 Ryan's Law, and similar initiatives building at both State and Federal venues.

Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran, CNA, HNP, CCN
CEO, Millennium Grown and Founder, The Affordability Programs

Amy Dawn Bourlon-Hilterbran is a Certified Nutritionist, Holistic Naturopath, licensed CNA and mother to 3 sons with epilepsy who are medical marijuana patients. She and her husband founded the nonprofit organization, American Medical Refugees Foundation, which helps families who relocated to legally access cannabis for their chronically or terminally ill family member. "AMR" has helped thousands of families across Colorado from 39 states and 5 different countries. She has authored numerous high profile blogs with tremendous reach, created several “uber” effective social media campaigns and is the creator of the “Talk to the 6630507 Hand” campaign, the grassroots movement that literally grew like a weed. The marketing and exposure created by her campaign took the world by storm and “The Hand” gained the support of Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson, Broken Lizard (the creators of Super Troopers, Super Troopers 2 ) and the attention of hundreds of millions across the globe. She & her company, Millennium Grown, took on the task of making Colorado a viable option for on-location shoots and movie, film premiers. Successfully collaborating with Emmy & Academy Award nominee, producer Peter Spirer, they brought the world premiere of "The Legend of 420” to Denver. Attended by celebrities, producers, media from around the globe, activists and advocates, Denver truly became “Hollyweed." The Netflix documentary aired to 100 million people in December, 2017. More recently, Amy and her family were featured in a Public Service Ad campaign that was presented for inclusion in the February, 2019 Super Bowl LIII. Though the ad was not accepted to run, the message had over 2 billion impressions within days of the ad being released to the public. Acreage Holdings committed to fund the $5.3 million, 30-second ad should it be approved to air, but after news of its rejection went public, the ad went viral and in it’s first 3 weeks had been seen by more people than the number of viewers for the last 10 Super Bowls... combined.

Andrew Brisbo
Executive Director, Michigan Marijuana Regulatory Agency

Andrew was appointed by Governor Whitmer to lead Michigan’s Marijuana Regulatory Agency (MRA) in April 2019. The agency oversees the commercial licensing under the Medical Marihuana Facilities Licensing Act and Michigan Regulation and Taxation of Marihuana Act as well as the medical marijuana registry card program under the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act. MRA’s mission is to establish Michigan as the national model for a regulatory program that stimulates business growth while preserving safe consumer access to marijuana. Andrew has been in licensing and regulation with the State of Michigan since 2004, including experience with the Michigan Gaming Control Board, Department of State, and occupational and health professional licensing.

 

Debbie Churgai
Executive Director, ASA

As the Executive Director, Debbie manages all day-to-day aspects of the organization, including ASA's Patient Focused Certification (PFC) and Cannabis Care Certification (CCC) programs. She has served as a writer, editor, and reviewer on many ASA publications including the Cannabis and Cannabis Resin Critical Review Document that was sent to the United Nations. Debbie first entered into the medical cannabis field by helping a company write their State license applications for cultivating and manufacturing medical cannabis. She worked in conjunction with horticulturists, physicians, and patient advocates and learned a great deal about the industry. She joined ASA in February of 2016 as the Executive Assistant to the Executive Director, Steph Sherer and quickly worked her way up to managing programs. Her previous work experience was in the Behavioral and Public Health fields working on projects in tobacco regulation and substance abuse prevention and treatment. She holds a Master’s degree in Psychology.

Congressman Lou Correa
U.S. Representative, California's 46th  District

Congressman Lou Correa is a longtime Orange County resident, with deep local roots. To this day, he lives only three miles from his childhood neighborhood in Anaheim. He is the son of working-class parents whose hard work gave him a chance at success. Lou has spent his career fighting to protect the American Dream, and ensure anyone can reach the middle class, just as he did.

When Lou was young, his mother cleaned hotel rooms across from Disneyland, and his father held a manufacturing job at a paper mill. Through hard work, Lou’s parents gave him access to better education than they had, and a path to the middle class.

Lou credits his success to his education and the Anaheim public school system where he attended Benjamin Franklin Elementary, Fremont Junior High, and Anaheim High School. Lou graduated from California State University, Fullerton with a degree in Economics. Always striving for more, Lou returned to college and earned his Juris Doctor (JD), and Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

After college, Lou used his education to become a banker, attorney, and licensed real estate broker. His time in the private sector prepared him to compromise and find real solutions to everyday problems.

In 1996, Lou ran for the California State Assembly. Lou lost that election, but he returned in 1998 and won, becoming a voice for the middle class families in Orange County.

Over the next decade, Lou would serve Orange County on the Orange County Board of Supervisors and the California State Senate.

In Washington, Congressman Correa continues his fight to give everyone access to the same the opportunity he had. Congressman Correa is committed to working across party lines to strengthen the middle class and give everyone a shot at the American Dream by investing in education, healthcare, and our fading infrastructure.

Congressman Correa has worked to support public health and safety services, mental health care, and health and safety programs for children. He has championed affordable higher education and taxpayer equity while protecting taxpayers by fighting “waste, fraud, and abuse.” Since entering office, Congressman Correa has introduced legislation to protect the legal rights of immigrants, care for veterans, and fight against the wasteful spending of taxpayer money.

Lou lives in Santa Ana with his wife of 27 years, Esther Correa, and their four children. Lou is a member of Christ Cathedral Catholic Church.

Dr. Brandie M. Cross, PhD
Founder & Director of Research and Development at The Pot Lab

Born in Los Angeles, Dr. Cross is an award-winning, Johns Hopkins Medicine graduate and lifetime human rights activist. They have a multilateral mind which balances scientific inquiry, complex analysis and radical truth-telling through data. Dr. Cross founded The Pot Lab in 2013 to study the medical uses of raw Cannabis.

Ivory Davis, MN, RN
Cannabis Nurse Advocate

Ivory Davis is the CEO & Owner of Rosenthal Consulting Solutions, LLC. RCS is a minority, nurse-owned case management consulting firm specializing in worker’s compensation, medical record reviews, and cannabis consulting. Louisiana Cannabis Nurse Navigator is the cannabis education and advocacy arm of RCS providing a signature service of cannabis insurance claims appeals. Additionally, Ivory leads a long term care workgroup with small group of nurses across the US exploring the use of CBD to reduce psychotropic medications in dementia patients.
Ivory is the co-founder of Cannabis Nurses of Color, a grassroots organization for black and brown nurses, established as a safe place for advocacy, education and training for nurses of color in the cannabis industry.
Ivory is a member of ASA, American Cannabis Nurses Association Diversity & Inclusion committee, and Cannabis Nurses Network Advocacy committee.

Paul Demko
Cannabis Editor, Politico Pro

Paul Demko is the cannabis editor at POLITICO Pro. Previously, he spent four years on the health care team, primarily covering the insurance industry. Prior to joining POLITICO, he was the Washington bureau chief at Modern Healthcare. Demko also spent a decade reporting in Minnesota, including stints with Politics in Minnesota and City Pages. He started his career at The Chronicle of Philanthropy.

Heather Despres, M.Sc.
Program Director, PFC

Heather Despres, M.Sc. is serving as the Director of the Patient Focused Certification (PFC) program. Her prior experience in cannabis testing laboratories, as well as environmental and pharmaceutical labs, brings with it years of working to ensure that the products made for medical marijuana patients is safe. Heather has degrees in chemistry and bio-molecular science from Clarkson University as well as a Master’s in Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Denver. She has recently relocated to California with her family and is looking forward to continuing to grow the Patient Focused Certification Program.

David Downs
California Bureau Chief, Leafly.com

Leafly Senior editor David Downs is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author who covers cannabis policy and legalization. The former cannabis editor at the San Francisco Chronicle founded GreenState.com and is the co-author of the crop science book Marijuana Harvest (2017) by Ed Rosenthal and David Downs. Downs has guest lectured at Loyola Law School, and UC Berkeley Extension, shared in a 2018 Scripps Howard Award for Breaking News for his “Wine Country Fires” reporting, and is cited by the New England Journal of Medicine, and the Centers for Disease Control for his reporting on vaping illness.

Andrew Freedman
Executive Director, The Coalition for Cannabis Policy, Education, and Regulation

Andrew Freedman is the Executive Director of the Coalition for Cannabis Legalization, Education, and Regulation and a Senior Vice President at Forbes Tate Partners (FTP). He joined FTP from Freedman & Koski, a consulting firm dedicated to making cannabis legalization successful. Andrew was Colorado's first cannabis czar under Governor Hickenlooper from 2013 to 2017. He has since worked directly for dozens of governments including California, Canada, Florida, Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Illinois; and testified to all governments considering legalization. He has been a featured speaker at dozens of conferences including Code Conference, Summit, and Aspen Ideas Fest.

Andrew’s role in developing a successful operating model for cannabis regulation and stakeholder collaboration was identified as one of the reasons for the State of Colorado’s success in implementing adult-use cannabis legalization by the Brookings Institution. Governor Hickenlooper has gone so far as to praise Andrew’s work while on national
television, stating, “Andrew Freedman, who came in and helped us once it was passed . . . [has] done a remarkable job of creating a regulatory framework.”

Andrew has received national recognition for his leadership and was chosen as one of Fast Company’s “100 Most Creative People in Business,” in 2016. Men's Health Magazine named him one of the “30 top health influencers of the last 30 years,” labeling him “legal weed’s best friend.” He has been featured on 60 Minutes, NBC Nightly News, The
Today Show, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Politico, The Boston Globe, Governing Magazine, and dozens of local stories throughout the nation and internationally.

Andrew holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a B.A. in philosophy and political science from Tufts University.

Dr. Danni Gordon, MD, CCFP, ABOIM
Vice Chair, UK Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society

Dr. Dani Gordon is a Canadian, British and American Board Certified Medical doctor, writer, speaker and published researcher. She has treated thousands of patients with medical cannabis and has worked in North America and the UK where she trained the first UK cannabis physicians and advises various non profit groups including the Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, Drug Science and the UK Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society (MCCS) where she is the vice chair. She is the author of ‘The CBD Bible’ and regularly featured on tv and publications including the BBC, Vogue, Marie Claire, The Sunday Times and the Guardian.

Mara Gordon
Cannabis entrepreneur and TEDx speaker

Mara Gordon is the co-founder of Aunt Zelda’s™, Octopi Wellness, and Zelda Therapeutics (now Zelira Therapeutics). She specializes in the development of cannabis treatment protocols for seriously ill patients, and is a pioneer in medicinal cannabis globally.

Aunt Zelda’s™ line of products are the result of years of research & development in consultation with knowledgeable physicians and world-renowned researchers. Utilizing time-proven extraction processes improved with modern technology, Aunt Zelda’s™ products offer precisely measured potency & purity that allows patients to dose to the milligram, unlocking the therapeutic potential of cannabis. Aunt Zelda’s™ is manufactured by The Oil Plant.

Previously, Mara worked as a process engineer, helping Fortune 500 companies create intelligent software. This experience has enabled her to take a detailed & scientific approach to medical cannabis.

Her pioneering work in cannabis was recently chronicled in the Ricki Lake and Abby Epstein documentary, “Weed the People”, as well as Windy Borman’s film “Mary Janes: Women of Weed”, and Ben Daitz's "The Medicine in Marijuana".

Mara is a Director of North Bay Credit Union (NBCU). She has been the keynote speaker at numerous conferences around the globe, and holds numerous advisory board positions including Zelira Therapeutics, CannPal, House of Saka, Patients Out of Time, and Marijuana Business Daily.

Michael Hiller
Founding Member, Hiller, PC, Attorneys at Law

Trelaine Ito
Legislative Assistant, Office of U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Trelaine Ito is a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI). He is the policy lead on judiciary issues, focusing on criminal justice and prison reform, drug reform, civil rights and gun control. Trelaine is a graduate of Pacific University in Oregon, with a Bachelor of Arts in Ethics, Society and Law, and Politics and Government, and American University in D.C., with a Master’s of Science in Justice, Law, and Society with a concentration in Social Thought and Jurisprudence.

Cherissa Jackson
AMVETS Chief Medical Executive

Cherissa Jackson served 23 years of active duty military service with 10 of those years as an U.S. Air Force Nurse. She is a veteran of both Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, having served a total of 3 combat deployments where she honed her expertise as a battlefield clinician. Jackson is the author of “At Peace Not in Pieces,” a bestselling memoir that outlines her principles of coping with her own PTSD challenges as a combat veteran and nurse. She was also named one of “25 Individuals of Influence” in the June 2018 issue of PTSD magazine and recently joined the HillVets 100 list of top influencers of 2018. Cherissa also won the “Daily Record Top 100 Maryland Women for 2016” for her efforts with PTSD. Recently Cherissa was awarded the first “Passion Award” at the AVB 2019 (American Veterans Ball). She is 2020’s recipient of “The Vettys” (Veterans Award) for excellence in Mental Health. This year, she won the “Star Nurses Nightingale Award” amongst 600 nominees in September 2020. The award was a collaboration between Washington Post and American Nurses Association.

Holly E. Johnson, Ph.D
Chief Science officer,
American herbal products association

Holly E. Johnson Ph.D., is the Chief Science Officer at the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) where she is the primary scientific resource for the organization, providing individualized technical guidance to member organizations and helping the herbal industry use the latest science, technology and research to ensure consumers continue to have informed access to innovative, safe and effective herbal products.

Dr. Janice Knox, MD, MBA
Physician, Doctors Knox

Dr. Janice Knox is a board certified anesthesiologist, endocannabinlologist and certified cannabinoid medicine specialist. Dr. Knox and her family are committed to including endocannabinology as a medical sub-specialty, cannabis as medicine and to equitable access to all aspects of health equity made affordable and reachable through cannabis.

Philippe Lucas, PhD
VP, Global Patient Research & Access, Tilray

Philippe Lucas PhD is Vice President, Global Patient Research & Access at Tilray, an international medical cannabis company based in Canada, and a Graduate Researcher at the University of Victoria. At Tilray, Philippe oversees a robust clinical and observational research program, and his scientific research includes the use of cannabis in the treatment of pain, mental health conditions and addiction. Philippe first became involved with medical cannabis as a patient, and founded the Vancouver Island Compassion Society in 1999 to serve the needs of patients who might benefit from the medical use of cannabis. He has received a number of accolades for his work, including the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for his patient research and advocacy.

Rylie Maedler
President of Rylie's Smile Foundation & CEO of Rylie's Sunshine LLC

Rylie Maedler is heading the charge of her research and development company Rylie’s Sunshine, dedicated to creating safe and affordable cannabis oils for kids living with debilitating illnesses.
In January of 2015, Rylie’s Smile Foundation was formed. The 501c3 provides cannabis education and advocates for more treatment options for sick children all while supporting the research of less toxic therapies on a global scale. Since its formation, Rylie and the 501C3 have been responsible for the passing of four current laws and are actively working on two more that have greatly improved safe access to pediatrics.
Rylie’s non-profit work led to the establishment of Rylie’s Sunshine in July of 2017. Rylie’s Sunshine cultivates, harvests and produces full spectrum products that are reliable, safe, natural and clinically tested. Her company partnered with Front Range BioSciences in order to ensure plant health is of the best quality for consumers and patients while advancing research for farmers in the MidAtlantic Region.

Parisa Mansouri-Rad
President of Fourtwenty and Founder of MjMomma Consulting

Parisa Mansouri-Rad also known as “The Marijuana Momma” is a marketing executive and Cannabis advocate whose experience as the mom of a special needs child propelled her into the industry. When spinal fusion surgery to correct scoliosis left her then 15-year-old daughter with a rare, life-threatening condition characterized by chronic abdominal pain, Parisa’s search for palliatives led her to Cannabis (Medicinal Marijuana).
After witnessing her daughter’s dramatic improvement, Parisa decided to leverage her marketing experience to re-brand the maligned Cannabis industry through ongoing advocacy and education of the public on the benefits of medicinal marijuana.
Parisa graduated with honors from New Mexico State University with a Major in Agriculture Business and a Minor in Marketing. She serves as President of Fourtwenty Collections which includes 420skincare and Medibles as well as MjMomma Consulting LLC, a Cannabis focused Marketing Agency.

Dustin McDonald
Interim Policy Director, ASA

Leading ASA’s policy work is Dustin McDonald, a freelance policy, government relations and public affairs expert with over 20 years of experience in advocacy. Prior to this work, Dustin spent nearly three and a half years at Weedmaps where he built and managed a 20-person international policy and government relations team, and guided associated federal, state, local and international government engagements on cannabis policy issues. Dustin joined Weedmaps in 2016 after serving for three and a half years as the Director of the Government Finance Officers Association’s (GFOA) Federal Liaison Center, where he led advocacy on municipal finance issues for a coalition of state, county and city government associations. At GFOA Dustin also served as lead staff on the GFOA’s Committee on Governmental Debt Management, working with committee members to develop best practices that promote sound financial practices for state and local governments.

Prior to his work with GFOA Dustin spent 10 years providing direct federal advocacy services to local governments and local government agencies from across the U.S., working as a member of Holland & Knight’s Public Policy and Regulation Group, as well as the government relations practice of MARC Associates. In this role, Dustin led successful advocacy campaigns on a diverse group of issues, including municipal finance and tax reform, multi-modal transportation and related infrastructure, housing and economic development, water and wastewater infrastructure improvements, telecommunications reform, public safety and manufacturing.

Before entering the private sector, Dustin served as staff in the Washington, DC office of a member of the California congressional delegation.

Max Monahan-Ellison
Co-Founder & Partner, eCB Consulting Inc. and Board Chair, Medical Cannabis Canada

Max is a seasoned healthcare strategist at the intersection of emerging therapeutics and traditional healthcare & pharma with expertise in policy, communications, marketing and public affairs. He has spent his career taking complex problems and making them digestible and actionable for clients, patients, policy makers, and healthcare professionals, and has a strong understanding of health systems. Max has also led survey research on broad patient populations and advised provincial and federal governments and regulators on medical cannabis issues.

He co-founded boutique cannabis and emerging therapeutics consulting firm, eCB Consulting Inc. and in addition to his role as Board Chair of Medical Cannabis Canada, Max is a member of the Best Medicines Coalition, and a medical cannabis columnist for The GrowthOp.

Pavel Pachta
Director for International Regulatory Affairs, ICCI

Drug Regulatory Control Consultant, former Deputy Secretary of the International Narcotics Control Board (INCB), former Chief of the Narcotics Control and Estimates Section of the Secretariat of INCB at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), contributor to several UN and WHO publications.

Rep. Chris Rabb
Pennsylvania State Representative

State Representative Chris Rabb, affectionately known as “RepRabb”, is a father, educator, author, consultant, and member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives representing roughly 63,000 people across three neighborhoods in northwest Philadelphia.

A former U.S. Senate legislative aide and staffer at the White House Conference on Small Business in the Clinton administration, RepRabb is also a former adjunct professor at Temple University’s Fox School of Business. While a visiting researcher at Princeton University in 2009-10, Rabb wrote the book, Invisible Capital: How Unseen Forces Shape Entrepreneurial Opportunity (2010) which addresses modern U.S. entrepreneurship through the lens of structural inequality.

RepRabb serves on the board of the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL), the executive committee of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL) and is a member of the National Conference of State Legislators’ Energy Supply Task Force.

A graduate of Yale College and the University of Pennsylvania, Rep. Rabb is a native of Chicago and an avid family historian and genealogist.

Rep. Yousef Rabhi
Michigan State Representative

State Rep. Yousef Rabhi is serving in his third term representing the 53rd House District, which includes parts of the city of Ann Arbor and portions of Ann Arbor, Pittsfield and Scio townships. Rabhi serves as Floor Leader for the House Democratic Caucus. In his first term in the House, Rabhi coordinated a bipartisan renewable energy legislation package, introduced legislation to protect our water, and introduced a plan for universal health coverage. He also served on the House Appropriations Committee and the Appropriations subcommittees on Higher Education, Community Colleges, and the Department of Environmental Quality.

Mskindness Ramirez, MA.Ed
Founder, Club Kindness

Mskindness B. Ramirez is the Founder of Club Kindness, a membership association committed to normalizing Cannabis use through Consumer Education & Responsible Brand Messaging as well as the CEO of EBK Apothecary, her organic hemp-derived CBD line established in 2016. Fueled by over 20 years in the public education sector and a passionate desire to share inclusive health practices with her community, Mskindness lends her pedagogical skills to various projects in and around the Cannabis space. She is the official Emcee for the Women Empowered in Cannabis event series, and Women of Color Community Group leader. She is the host of Elevated Chats, a web series featuring interviews of critical thought leaders whose work seeks to uplift others. And her most recent co-creation with the inspiring women of Tokeativity…
BRIDGES: A Monthly Conversational Event Series designed to foster collaboration and healing, that holds safe and unique spaces for discussions around charged topics like race, equity, inclusion and intersection of them all.

In her Faculty role for the Los Angeles Community College District, Mskindness has manifested her passion for Cannabis Education into the development of a series of programs for higher learning, focused on history, business and social equity. And this bold mom’s new children’s book, “The Root Family’s Very Special Garden” is currently sparking canna-conversations among generations.

Nicole Redler
Senior Community Affairs Manager, Eaze

Nicole Redler is Senior Community Affairs Manager at Eaze, California’s largest legal cannabis marketplace and the state’s largest cannabis employer. Nicole leads Eaze’s patient and veteran advocacy programs, building meaningful relationships to amplify community voices on important policy issues across California. To date, Eaze has completed over seven million deliveries, breaking down barriers to access and building community through industry-leading social impact and equity programs.

With a focus on supporting marginalized communities, Nicole works closely with the Social Impact team to bolster Momentum, Eaze’s business accelerator for BIPOC, veteran, LGBTQ and female founders. Nicole was instrumental in building public and industry support for Senator Scott Wiener’s SB 34, which restored compassionate care programs in California; today, she leads Eaze Compassion, which provides free medical cannabis to low-income Californians fighting cancer, glaucoma, chronic pain, PTSD, and other debilitating health conditions.

Gus R. Rosania, PhD
Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Michigan College of Pharmacy

Gus R. Rosania, PhD is Principal Investigator of an NIH-funded research group that studies the mechanisms underlying Adverse Drug Reactions resulting from chronic drug use. He collaborates with clinical investigators in the Department of Anesthesiology, looking at the relationships between the concentrations of different cannabinoids in the blood and their effects on pain signaling and signal processing mechanisms in the central nervous system. Three years ago, he began teaching Pharmaceutical Sciences 420: “Medicinal Cannabis” –one of the first courses that is entirely devoted to educating undergraduate, graduate and professional students on the medical aspects associated with Cannabis use. Gus was the first faculty member to ever speak at the Ann Arbor Hash Bash in 2018, advocating for the importance of the Proposal 1 (adult non-medical use) ballot initiative in terms of allowing medical research on Cannabis in Michigan. Since then, he has been a driving force behind hemp research at the University of Michigan and throughout the state. Most recently, he published a landmark, systematic review article of clinical trials in Pharmacotherapy, looking at the effects of food on the pharmacokinetics of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), effectively demonstrating that oral CBD should be administered with a large meal in order for it to be consistently effective.

Abbey Roudebush, Esq.
Senior Manager, Government Relations & Advocacy, Epilepsy Foundation

Abbey is the Senior Manager of Government Relations & Advocacy at the Epilepsy Foundation. She leads various state and federal legislative issues, including the Seizure Safe Schools Act and access to care issues like medical cannabis and CBD. Abbey joined the Foundation in January 2018 after working on state-level legislative issues, including substantial work on the New York Compassionate Care Act. Abbey earned her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English Writing from DePauw University and her Juris Doctorate from Albany Law School. She is a member of the Washington D.C. bar.

Dr. Nandakumara D. Sarma, RPh, Phd
Director, Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines, U. S. Pharmacopeia (USP)

Dr. Nandakumara (Nandu) Sarma is the Director for the Dietary Supplements and Herbal Medicines program at US Pharmacopeia (USP) responsible for strategy and external stakeholder engagement for new and innovative projects, working with global stakeholders and expert volunteers in the development of quality standards (monographs and general chapters) for dietary supplements and herbal medicines that are published in the USP Dietary Supplements Compendium and the Herbal Medicine Compendium.
Before joining USP 2006, he was a post-doctoral fellow at National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, and Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia and was a Senior Scientific Officer at The Himalaya Drug Company, India. His research experience includes isolation and analysis of active components of botanicals and their biologic activity. He published more than 25 scientific articles in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Sarma holds a Pharmacist degree and a Ph.D. in pharmaceutical sciences (pharmacognosy) from Banaras Hindu University, India.

Steph Sherer
Founder, ASA

Steph Sherer is founder and President of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the largest national member-based organization of patients, medical professionals, scientists, and concerned citizens promoting safe and legal access to cannabis for therapeutic use and research.

Her direct experience with the medical benefits of cannabis and her political organizing background led Steph to form ASA in 2002 with the purpose of building a strong grassroots movement to protect patients and their rights. As a powerful advocate, a skilled spokesperson, and an energetic initiator of campaigns, Steph has trained over 100,000 individuals across the country on civic engagement.

Steph has become the foremost international leader and expert on medical cannabis patient advocacy and, alongside American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), has created the first industry standards in the areas of distribution, cultivation, analytics, and manufacturing, packaging and labeling.

Lenita Y. SimsSpears, Esq.
Sr. Regulatory Compliance Consultant, LYS Compliance Consulting

Lenita is an accomplished Attorney and Regulatory Compliance professional with domestic and international experience. During her 30+ years in the medical device and pharmaceutical industry, she has been front-line in helping companies in navigating the complex requirements to maintain compliance with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) and other regulatory rules. Much of her time has been spent developing and implementing strategies to manage FDA-initiated enforcement actions, consent degrees of permanent injunction. Today, she uses that background to solve the challenges that confront her clients in the cannabis space, leveraging decades of experience to help prepare them for full federal legalization which will bring scale-back of DEA oversight and the inevitable Food Drug and Cosmetic Act regulatory ramp-up by FDA.

Élan Sudberg
CEO, Alkemist Labs

Élan M. Sudberg is CEO of Alkemist Labs, a passionately committed contract testing laboratory specializing in plant authentication and quantitative analytical services to the Food & Beverage, Nutraceutical and Cosmeceutical Industries. He is a staunch advocate of best practices, and a vocal champion of what he calls “next generation transparency,” which includes revealing product testing results to consumers. He is a board member of AHPA, as well as AHPA’s Education and Research on Botanicals Foundation, and past chair of the Hemp and Medical Marijuana committee. Elan is also chair of the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine Master of Science in Nutrition Business program Leadership Advisory Council, on the National Animal Supplement Council Board of Trustees and an advisor to the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia. Elan holds a degree in chemistry from California State University Long Beach, and has authored numerous articles on phytochemistry and analytical techniques for the natural products and nutraceutical industry. AHPA honored him as an Herbal Hero in 2013 and he received the 2019 NutraIngredients-USA NutraChampion award for advocacy of best testing practices. In 2020, Alkemist Labs received Nutritional Outlook’s 2020 Best of the Industry Awards: Service Provider.

Dr. Dustin Sulak, D.O.
Founder, Healer.com & Integr8Health

Dustin Sulak, D.O. is an osteopathic physician, licensed in Maine as a general practitioner. He is an expert in integrative medicine, the intelligent combination of conventional and alternative approaches to healthcare. He has long been fascinated by mind-body medicine, spirituality in healthcare, and natural approaches to promoting health and healing. He is an expert in cranial and biodynamic osteopathy, a clinical hypnotherapist, Reiki sensei, practitioner of chi kung and yoga, and has studied with numerous conventional and alternative healers and physicians.

Dr. Sulak’s clinical practice focuses on treating refractory conditions in adults and children. He received undergraduate degrees in nutrition science and biology from Indiana University, a doctorate of osteopathy from the Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine, and completed an osteopathic internship at Maine-Dartmouth Family Medicine Residency. Dr. Sulak is the founder of Integr8 Health and Healer.com, a medical cannabis education resource. He is a passionate teacher of clinicians, patients and industry professionals, and sits on the board of directors of two nonprofits focused on cannabis education, The Society of Cannabis Clinicians and Patients Out of Time.

Sheri L. Tarr, JD
Founder & Chief Advisor, '68PARTNERS

Uniquely positioned at the intersection of cannabis, commercialization, and regulatory compliance, Sheri Tarr is the Founder and Chief Advisor of ‘68PARTNERS, and Director of the New York City Cannabis Industry Association. A former pharmaceutical industry sales and marketing executive responsible for launching products worldwide, Sheri has amassed over three decades of real-world experience operating in an FDA-regulated environment. After her pharmaceutical career, Sheri flipped the script and became an attorney who spent her career in the courtroom holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for deceptive marketing and defective manufacturing. More inspired by medical innovation than litigation, Sheri founded , a strategic consultancy dedicated to helping cannabis brands and license applicants build sustainable businesses that have a transformative impact on consumers, patients, and the economy.

As a pharmaceutical executive-turned litigator, Sheri has a deep understanding of the complex business, organizational, and regulatory challenges faced by cannabis industry stakeholders. She knows first-hand the tension between profit and risk, and has witnessed the adverse consequences to companies and consumers that result when these priorities are misaligned. Using her business savvy and regulatory know-how, Sheri collaborates with clients of to develop practical commercialization and compliance strategies that strike a healthy balance between financial goals and foreseeable risk.

Sheri’s specialties include holistic business advisory; commercialization planning and regulatory guidance; cannabis license applications; product safety from lab to label™; review of promotional materials including packaging and labeling; alliance-building and strategic partnering; and advocacy before regulators, investors, and other critical audiences. Over the course of her expansive career, Sheri’s work has covered the spectrum of cannabis and life sciences, including CBD- and hemp-derived products from topicals to tinctures to edibles; medical devices; clinical laboratory testing and equipment; pharmaceuticals; cancer diagnostics and therapeutics; personalized medicine; and biomarker technologies.

A University of Michigan alum and Illinois Institute of Technology-Chicago-Kent College of Law graduate, Sheri serves on the Boards of life sciences companies, frequently speaks about building sustainable brand equity in an FDA-regulated environment, and is a long-time voting rights advocate.

Chaney Turner
Founder, Beyond Equity

Chaney Turner is an entrepreneur, organizer and equity thought leader. Born and bred in East Oakland, CA. They have been an organizer for over twenty years, with a specific focus on Black and Brown communities who are often left out of the conversation. Chaney believes in accessibility, equity, and a dedicated, transparent investment in the economic, social and political lives of those most impacted by gentrification & state sanctioned violence. In 2016, Chaney founded Town Biz Oakland, a local cultural & social justice brand that provided safe space for the community. That same year they co-founded The People’s Dispensary in Oakland where they lead cannabis policy & culture. For their work, Chaney is the recipient of numerous honors and awards including; East Bay Express Best of The Bay(2016), Oakland Rising Business of the Year (2017) & Oakland Indie Award “Ripple Effect” (2018). In 2020, Chaney founded Beyond Equity, an organization whose mission is to insure equity in the still developing cannabis industry. Chaney’s work and leadership embodies the belief that those most impacted by inequities should have the power to implement grounded, sustainable and community-driven solutions. Chaney currently serves as Commissioner At- Large on the Oakland Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

Marvin Washington
Athletes For CARE Ambassador, NFL Super Bowl Winner & Cannabis Advocate

Marvin Washington is a retired NFL player who played a total of eleven years with three teams: the New York Jets, Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. He was a member of the Denver Broncos 1998 Super Bowl winning team and was voted by Sports Illustrated as the 36th best N.Y. Jet of all-time.

A voice for former NFL players in the NFL’s concussion lawsuit, Washington addresses the truth about the outcome as well as the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). An advocate for all-natural, non-habit forming cannabis, Washington is speaking out on the topic of using cannabinoids as neuroprotectants as well as an avenue to alleviate the nation’s #1 health epidemic: prescription opioid abuse and addiction. He has also lobbied the NFL Players Association to push for changes in the sport’s drug policies. Washington is a graduate of Idaho University and a 2004 inductee into the University of Idaho Vandal Sports Hall of Fame. After football Washington worked for William Small Wealth Management Group as a Financial Advisor. At Williams advised high net worth individual investors and Professional Athletes in the NFL and NBA. Washington worked in financial services for 10 years focusing on financial planning, retirement planning and estate planning. Now a serial entrepreneur, Washington is focused on the cannabis industry. He is an investor and co-owner of a number of cannabis ventures. Washington is also a NFL league ambassador for Athletes For Care and is a member of the Board of Directors.

Mona Zhang
States Cannabis Policy Reporter, Politico

Mona Zhang is the States Cannabis Policy Reporter for POLITICO. Before joining POLITICO, she founded and edited the daily cannabis newsletter Word on the Tree. She was also a freelance journalist on the cannabis beat, and her work has appeared in Forbes, The Outline, Vice, High Times, and more.

 

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