Betty Aldworth, Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Betty Aldworth joined the SSDP team in February 2014 as Executive Director. In 2012, Betty was the spokesperson and advocacy director for Colorado’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the first to make marijuana legal for adult use. She served as deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association in 2013, where she was responsible for developing NCIA’s then-nascent educational programming and framing the national conversation about the marijuana industry. In 2014, she became executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the international network of more than 3,000 students dedicated to ending the War on Drugs. Prior to her work in cannabis and drug policy, Betty spent a decade motivating and engaging volunteers as a nonprofit leadership professional in Denver, CO.
Brenda Book, Program Manager, WSDA Organic Food Program. Brenda Book has been with the Washington State Department of Agriculture’s Organic Program since 2002, Brenda Book oversees all aspects of the agency’s organic certification services and staff. A native of Central Iowa, Brenda grew up on her family’s third generation grain and livestock farm and has been involved in the organic industry since 1996 as farmer, researcher, retail produce manager, and farmers market manager. In addition to managing the WSDA Organic Program, Brenda currently serves on numerous local and national boards dedicated to advancing organic agriculture. Brenda holds a degree in sustainable agriculture from The Evergreen State College and studied botany at the University of Iowa. Started in 1988 the USDA-accredited WSDA Organic Food Program upholds the integrity of the organic label through certification and inspection of organic crop and livestock producers, processors, handlers and retailers. WSDA, the oldest and largest state certification agency in the country, is entirely fee-funded and currently certifies over 1,100 organic clients and registers over 900 material inputs for organic production. www.agr.wa.gov/FoodAnimal/
Eric Brandstad is the leading greenhouse and growing efficiency expert in the cannabis industry. Eric has been invited to be a speaker at many cannabis events including the keynote at Imperious Expo and the featured greenhouse expert at The Cannabis World Congress and Exposition, Cannabis Collaborative Conference, Cultivation Classic, Cannabis Energy and Water Summit, The Emerald Cup, Santa Cruz Cup, The Golden Tarp Awards, The Cali Dep Fest, Humboldt High Grade Gala, CannaCon, and the NCIA Cultivation Management Symposium. Eric has been managing Forever Flowering Greenhouses since 2007. He’s originally from San Joaquin County where his family has been commercially farming since 1862. Since starting with FFG, he has toured and consulted with hundreds of greenhouse owners to help them understand how their plants react in a greenhouse environment. After moving to Grass Valley, CA in 2000, Eric started a small organic farm with his wife Bridget. Together they grow wheatgrass for the local co-op and recently added a Certified Organic Goji Berry and medicinal herb nursery. Eric’s goal is to help improve efficiency of light dep greenhouses and to help educate growers and investors on how plants react in the greenhouse environment.
Dr. Dominic Corva is the founder and Social Science Research Director at the Cannabis and Social Policy Center (CASP), a federal 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to learning whole plant lessons about and from emergent landscapes of cannabis legalization. A Political Geographer and Public Policy scholar, he was most recently an adjunct Assistant Professor at the University of Washington (2015-2016) and visiting assistant professor in Public Policy at Sarah Lawrence College (2009-2013), and continues to be an Affiliate Researcher for the Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research (HIIMR) at Humboldt State University, Arcata, California. He has done subcontracting and consulting work for BOTEC, Americans for Safe Access Foundation (ASAF), the State of California, and various industry and civil society organizations. His content can be found on www.cannabisandsocialpolicy.
Dani L. Espinda, CPA, CGMA. Dani is a principal at ACT Resources, PLLC and Tax Manager and Cannabis Business Consultant at Rhodes & Associates, PLLC with 17 years of public accounting experience. Dani graduated from Central Washington University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting with high honors and has been a licensed CPA since 2002. She specializes in tax compliance and planning for individuals, partnerships, corporations, estates and trusts as well as financial accounting and reporting and QuickBooks consulting. She specializes in medical and recreational Cannabis, with over 160 clients in AK, CA, CO, OR as well as WA but also has extensive experience with manufacturing, real estate, professional services and construction. Dani is a member of the AICPA, CGMA, WSCPA, Marijuana Business Association, Cannabis Women’s Alliance and the Estate Planning Council of South King County and has been a certified as a QuickBooks ProAdvisor.
Dani has presented numerous business and marijuana tax workshops for clients in the business of Cannabis to prepare them for Federal and State compliance and reporting. She has also presented to Washington Association of Accounting and Tax Professionals (WAATP), the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), the Cannabis Women’s Alliance, Green River and Highline Community Colleges, several Cannabis business conferences, including CannaCon in WA and AK as well as numerous other industry groups.
Emily Febles, J.D. Industrial Hemp Program Coordinator, Washington State Department of Agriculture. Emily Febles was hired by the WSDA in July to begin Washington’s industrial hemp program. She has a law degree from the University of Iowa and two bachelors’ degrees, as well as a minor in Agricultural Policy, from the University of Florida. She served as an Agricultural Extensionist in the Peace Corps in Guatemala. She feels very honored and excited for the opportunity to help create a new agricultural program in Washington.
Ollie Garrett, Board Member WSLCB. Ollie A. Garrett, of Kirkland, was appointed to the Liquor and Cannabis Board effective August 15, 2016. She is president and CEO of PMT Solutions, a Bellevue-based collection company that provides comprehensive check collection and receivable management services for businesses. Garrett is serving her fifth term as president of Tabor 100, an association working to further economic power, educational excellence and social equity for African-Americans and the community at large. Garrett is an at-large appointee of the King County Civil Rights Commission, co-chair of the Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises and an appointed board member of the Washington State Community Economic Revitalization Board, the Employment Security Advisory Board and the Washington Economic Development Finance Authority. She is also a member of the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club Advisory Board.
Christine Masse, P.C., a partner, is the leader of Miller Nash Graham & Dunn’s government and regulatory affairs practice group and specializes in representing businesses in highly regulated industries with their transactional, regulatory, and public policy needs. Chris also leads the firm’s tribal team, providing counsel to Northwest Native American tribes and organizations on gaming, regulatory, real property, construction, financing, tax, liquor, marijuana, and economic development issues. Chris maintains a practice before the Washington State Gambling Commission relating to licensing issues and the approval and ongoing regulatory oversight of casino properties and before the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board on liquor and marijuana matters. She is a registered lobbyist in Washington State and has successfully lobbied for the passage of legislation in various areas. Before joining the firm, Chris was a judicial extern for the Honorable Thomas S. Zilly, U.S. District Court, Seattle, Washington, and clerked for the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney, in Springfield, Illinois. Chris received her law degree, with honors, from the University of Washington School of Law. She earned her bachelor’s degree in business administration, magna cum laude, at the University of Illinois.
Sam Méndez, former Executive Director, Cannabis Law & Policy Project, UW Law. Sam joined the law school in 2015 as director of the Cannabis Law and Policy Project, where he led the program’s research and planning. He directed the CLPP’s research projects that addressed issues on merging the medical and recreational markets and on keeping children from infused edibles. Prior to joining, Sam was an associate at a small firm where most of his clients were in the recreational marijuana industry. He also operates a private solo practice. Sam’s areas of focus are intellectual property, business law, and public policy.
Pat Oglesby is co-chair of the Regulatory and Tax Structure Working Group of the California Blue Ribbon Commission on marijuana legalization – a project of the Lieutenant Governor and the ACLU of Northern California, and is a co-author of the RAND Report, Considering Marijuana Legalization: Insights for Vermont and Other Jurisdictions. Pat is the founder of the Center for New Revenue, a tax policy nonprofit; and is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and before the United States Tax Court. He worked for the Joint Committee on Taxation of the United States Congress from 1982 to 1988, ending up as the International (or Foreign) Tax Counsel. From 1988 to 1990, thanks to Chair Lloyd Bentsen, he held the position of Chief Tax Counsel of the Committee on Finance of the United States Senate. Previously, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the North Carolina Law Review and as Law Clerk to the Honorable John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans. He practiced law with Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C., worked at UNC-Chapel Hill as an Adjunct Lecturer at the Business School and an Adjunct Professor at the Law School. Before law school, he taught in the Durham City and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools – mostly French.
Maxwell Salinger is the Director of Production at Solstice Grown Cannabis located in Seattle, Washington. As an Ohio native, he grew up in the ornamental greenhouse industry but in college gravitated towards controlled environment food production. He is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a bachelor’s degree in Crop Science with a minor in Plant Pathology. After spending the last five years in the hydroponic tomato and lettuce industry he made the jump to cannabis. He has experience designing and installing hydroponic growing systems, greenhouses and environmental control computers ranging from 100 square feet to 1 acre. Maxwell also has had articles in several publications including Greenhouse Product News, Greenhouse Grower and Maximum Yield Magazine.
Dr. Michelle Sexton received her Naturopathic Doctor degree from Bastyr University in 2008. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington in the Departments of Pharmacology and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. Her NIH-funded pre-doctoral and postdoctoral research was on the topic of cannabinoids and their roles in neuroinflammation and neurodegeneration. Her postdoctoral project investigated cannabis use and impact on endocannabinoids and inflammatory markers in patients with Multiple Sclerosis.
Dr. Sexton is the Medical Research Director at the Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy. serves as an editor and technical advisor for the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia Cannabis Monograph. She has presented her research internationally and is published in peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Sexton’s clinical practice, research and teaching focus is on the medical use of cannabis across a range of conditions and age groups. She is a member of, the International Cannabinoid Research Society, the International Association of Cannabinoid Medicine and the Society of Cannabis Clinicians. She maintains a small medical practice in San Diego, CA.
Aaron Smith is co-founder and executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA), the largest trade association representing legal cannabis businesses in the U.S and the only one working to advance the industry on a national level. Prior to launching NCIA, Aaron distinguished himself as a public advocate for marijuana policy reform — first under the auspices of a California-based medical cannabis advocacy group, Safe Access Now in 2005, and then as the California state policy director for the Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project until founding NCIA in 2010. Aaron has successfully built coalitions with elected officials on both sides of the aisle in order to advance marijuana law reform legislation. Aaron’s opinion pieces have appeared in major newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and The New York Times, and he has been a frequent commentator on national television news networks. Originally from California, Aaron is currently based in Denver.
Nephi Stella, PhD, Department of Pharmacology, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington. Dr Stella has studied the therapeutic value of cannabinoid-based molecules for the treatment of various diseases for over 20 years, including for the treatment of brain cancer and epilepsy. This research aims at optimizing the medicinal properties of cannabinoids for the treatment and cure of devastating untreatable diseases. In 2011, he founded Stella Therapeutics, Inc; a University of Washington start-up company dedicated to developing cannabinoid-based drugs to safely treat brain cancer. As an expert in Cannabis pharmacology, Dr. Stella served on the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board to help write the I-502 legislation, and continues to work with the University of Washington Law School on current legislative questions regarding the legalization of cannabis use.
Don Stevens is the mayor of North Bonneville, Washington, a small city with approximately 1,000 residents located about 45 minutes east of Vancouver along the Columbia River. He has been a cannabis advocate since his high school days in Oakridge, Oregon, specifically since 1973 when Oregon decriminalized cannabis possession and use. With the passage of I-502 in 2012, North Bonneville’s City Council began studying the potential effects on their community and determined the city would be best served through the creation of a Public Development Authority (PDA) to establish the first, and still only, municipally owned and operated recreational cannabis store in America. They believed this option would give them oversight of the store and ensure its compliance with both the letter and spirit of I-502. The Council felt creating the PDA would provide the potential for increased revenue for the city with the PDA acting as a granting authority should their revenues exceed expenses. Don was born and raised on the West Coast, served 4 years in the Marines, holds a BS in Computer Science and recently became the Sales Manager for Windy River Research, a tier 3 producer/processor located in Skamania County. One of his primary goals is to bring legal access to cannabis to those who live in areas that do not currently allow it and to continue to push for legalization on a national scale.
Jessica Tonani, CEO Verdabio, is a biotechnology professional with almost two decades of experience in life sciences at firms such as Affymetrix and Sequenom where she held multiple positions including management roles in strategic marketing and product management. In past positions Jessica has managed product lines with sales in excess of $100,000,000. Jessica is regularly retained by venture capital firms, Fortune 500 pharmaceutical and life science firms, as well as venture backed biotechnology companies.
Jessica has been widely quoted as an expert in the biotechnology field in journals such as Nature, Science, and Genome Technologies due to her experience and in the industry and wide range product knowledge. Jessica was a Howard Hughes fellow with an MS in immunology and a BS in microbiology.
Mitzi Vaughn, Esq. is the Managing Attorney for Greenbridge Corporate Counsel, a transactional law firm entirely dedicated to cannabis industry clients. She oversees Greenbridge’s Washington state practice, advising the cannabis industry regarding corporate, transactional, and employment matters, as well as adult-use and medical cannabis regulation. Ms. Vaughn has testified before the Hawai’i Legislature’s Joint Health Committee and has consulted with Jamaica’s Cannabis Licensing Authority regarding implementation of medical cannabis regulations. She regularly speaks at conferences and has been interviewed by radio, print, and television media.
In addition to serving as General Counsel to The Cannabis Alliance, Ms. Vaughn is on the Advisory Council of Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP), the founding committee of the Ad Hoc US Coalition for Global Drug Policy Reform, and the founding board of the National Cannabis Bar Association (NCBA).
Steve Warner, Executive Director, Washington Wine Commission. Steve Warner was appointed as President & CEO of the Washington State Wine Commission in February 2012. Steve came to the Commission from Merck & Co., Inc., where he was the Managing Director based in Bucharest, Romania. Prior to that, he held General Manager and marketing positions in global and regional marketing in the Asia Pacific region and led teams while living in Seoul, South Korea; Bangkok, Thailand; and several domestic markets. In addition to a bachelor’s degree in biology, Steve holds a master’s of business administration in international business and finance from Rutgers University. Born and raised in eastern Washington State, Steve graduated from West Seattle High School before serving in the United States military’s Special Operations Command, first as a Sergeant in Pararescue and then as a Lieutenant Commander in U.S. Navy Special Operations.