Imperious Cannabis Business Expo - Phoenix, Arizona - Downtown Phoenix Convention Center - April 12-13, 2017

Speaker Lineup

Phoenix, Arizona Cannabis Business Expo

Click on a Speaker Below to Read Full Bio

Mark Cardenas

Mark Cardenas Keynote Speaker

AZ House of Representatives

Biography: An Iraq War Army Veteran, Mark served as a Sergeant in the Army Reserves and managed a multi-million dollar budget, demonstrating the importance of fiscal responsibility and safeguarding our tax dollars. As a legislator, Mark supported ground-breaking legislation to expand AHCCCS coverage and increase funding for K-12 schools. For the past 4 years, he has fought hard for increased funding for public education, expand health coverage for hundreds of thousands of low-income Arizonans, to get our veterans back to work, and to bring more jobs to all Arizonans.

As a commissioner on the City of Phoenix’s Estrella Village Planning Committee, Mark is responsible for reviewing new zoning areas and land use proposals to promote sustainable neighborhood growth. As a seasoned lawmaker, he brings fresh vision and insight to the lawmaking process to ensure we do not answer tomorrow's questions with yesterday's answers or unfairly burden future generations.

Shango Los

Shango Los Keynote Speaker

Shaping Fire

Biography: Shango is a cannabis business strategist and host of the popular Shaping Fire podcast. Before he departed to found Shaping Fire, Shango was founder and host of the Ganjapreneur.com podcast and produced 54 episodes interviewing cannabis luminaries about cannabis business and cannabis as medicine. The show was listened to by tens of thousands every week. Shango was also Director of Content and Brand Strategy for Ganjapreneur.com.

Shango is also founder of the Vashon Island Marijuana Entrepreneurs Alliance cannabis trade organization and helps cannabis entrepreneurs everywhere achieve business success.

Alexa Divett

Alexa Divett

Alexa Divett, LLC

Biography: As a successful entrepreneur, longtime marijuana advocate and medical grower, Alexa Divett understands the unique needs of the cannabis industry. Alexa is a business coach and consultant who helps cannabis business owners achieve success through the implementation of sound business practices and time-tested marketing techniques.

Alexa's achievements include co-founding Maya Media Collective, a Portland Oregon based creative firm that specializes in the cannabis industry and writing the "Marijuana Millions" Ebook series, which The Weedblog called the best marijuana-branding book to date. Additionally, Alexa speaks about marketing and branding cannabis businesses at local and national events. Alexa’s products and presentations on starting and running successful cannabis businesses have made her an in-demand and innovative expert in the cannabis business world.

Amy Diiullo

Amy Diiullo

CMH Brands

Biography: Amy Diiullo is the VP of Business Development for CMH Brands, the Colorado licensee of Willie’s Reserve. A cannabis industry veteran, Amy has spent a decade working in every aspect of medical and recreational marijuana businesses. She is currently focused on accelerating business development, growing sales distribution and revenue, developing channel marketing programming, brand strategy, and aligning consumer segmentation with new product development in and outside the cannabis space. Amy is constantly seeking out and developing new market opportunities to stay ahead of the competitive curve in this ever-growing industry.

Amy Donohue

Amy Donohue

Hybrid Social

Biography: Amy Donohue moved to Phoenix in September 2002, and started her comedy career soon after. From there, she was a radio DJ for four years on KWSS 93.9FM. A shameless self-promoter, she created a great fanbase on Myspace. As people went to her comedy shows and listened to her radio show, she realized the value in doing Social Media the right way: by being social. Amy educates business owners in the cannabis industry on social media. She has been teaching workshops for over 5 years. Her focus is on compliant social media, as networks have many rules with regards to cannabis. Amy has been a member of the Phoenix chapter of Women Grow since January 2015, and consulted on the Prop 205 campaign.

Brian Cantin

Brian Cantin

Berger

Biography: Brian Cantin graduated from the University of Guelph with a Honors Science Degree in Environmental Horticulture. He majored in Plant Physiology, with a minor in Plant Protection (plant pathology and plant entomology). Subsequently, Mr. Cantin took on a greenhouse research position with the Brooks Horticultural Research centre in Brooks, Alberta. During his tenure, he continued post-graduate studies, majoring in soil sciences and substrates, at the University of Alberta and Texas A&M University. After his studies, Mr. Cantin took a position with the R&D division of the Alberta Gas Trunk line. He collaborated with other associates to design and develop waste heat greenhouses that could harness the energy from pumping stations. Once greenhouses in Princess and Joffre Alberta were built, he continued to manage two waste heat projects.

Mr. Cantin was then hired by Yoder as Head Grower and Manager of Technical Support. While at Yoder, he conducted applied research, which eventually turned into a consulting business, Applied Techniques.

Today, Mr. Cantin is a grower advisor at Berger, transforming his vast background in horticulture into inestimable value for the company’s customers. He helps customers to resolve their cultivation challenges and improve their growing practices. Mr. Cantin also ensures that all client trials are conducted with the highest of Berger’s standards.

Casey Rivero

Casey Rivero

Yerba Buena Farms

Biography: Casey Rivero is Cultivation Manager at Yerba Buena, a cannabis producer near Hillsboro, Oregon. Yerba Buena was the first cannabis farm to receive Energy Trust of Oregon rebates. Mr. Rivero’s background is in facility and irrigation design and maintenance. He has nearly 20 years of cultivation experience, managing indoor, outdoor, greenhouse, permaculture and light deprivation gardens on a variety of scales. He has also owned and operated a cannabis cultivation facility design firm. Casey is also on the Technological Advisory Committee for the Research Innovation Institute

Celeste Miranda

Celeste Miranda

The Cannabis Marketing Lab

Biography: Dedicated to what she does and successful in her savvy business-minded ventures, Celeste Miranda is an entrepreneur, author, founder and CEO of Miranda Marketing Labs and The Cannabis Marketing Lab. Undertaking the critical challenges of marketing an emerging industry, Miranda opened a specialized division focused on providing businesses with innovative and affordable marketing strategies. Since then, The Cannabis Marketing Lab has become a highly regarded organization in Cannabis related ventures. Comprised of a 16 person team, Celeste’s staff has years of experience and expertise in a myriad of areas such as Social Media, Search Engine Optimization, Graphic & Web Design, Creative Content Production, Advertising, PR and much more. As an efficient and knowledgeable professional, Celeste is a force of nature in the realm of entrepreneurial business and marketing.

Chris Gromek

Chris Gromek

Marijuanomics

Biography: Chris Gromek is a digital marketing expert, brand-builder, and founder of Marijuanomics. Chris has worked with a number of clients in the industry including MJIC, MJINews, Hifi Farms, Hybrid Tech, and the Resource Innovation Institute. In 2015 Chris helped produce the Marijuana Investor Summit and California Cannabis Business Expo in 2016. His message for entrepreneurs is, "Be patient, but work like hell."

Christie Lunsford

Christie Lunsford

Pro MAX Grow

Biography: Christie Lunsford brings a track record of more than 10 years in cultivation, manufacturing and medical cannabis advocacy to Pro MAX Grow. Over the past decade she has held senior level positions from notable companies such as Dixie Brands and the National Cannabis Industry Association. Most recently Christie founded Endocannabinoidology, a consulting firm providing cannabis science, technology and education management to the cannabis industry. Additionally, she was voted Cannabis Woman of the Year at the 2015 Cannabis Business Awards.

Daniel Gustafik

Daniel Gustafik

Hybrid Tech

Biography: Daniel Gustafik has 20 years of experience working on industrial power & controls, clean rooms, server centers and marijuana production facilities. In 1997 he designed and built his first cannabis facility. Since then he has worked on the largest semiconductor facility in the world along with the largest cannabis facility to date. Industry first achievements include; first approved extractor for I-502, first rebates for cannabis LED, first rebates for cannabis mechanical systems & 12 years of CEA (Controlled environment agriculture) design. With a background in electrical engineering, Dan currently holds many licenses in multiple states. As the founder of Hybrid Tech he and his design build team have completed over 90 cannabis projects throughout the US and Canada.

Dasheeda Dawson

Dasheeda Dawson

MaryJane Marketing

Biography: Dasheeda Dawson is The WeedHead - a Cannabis executive, digital growth hacker, and brand equity builder. Target to THC, she has successfully launched and managed multi-million dollar brands for companies such as Target Corporation, Victoria’s Secret and Fullbeauty Brands prior to transitioning to the Cannabis industry. Dasheeda received her MBA from Rutgers Business School and completed her undergraduate degree at Princeton University in 2001. Dasheeda currently is the President of MaryJane Marketing (MJM), a digital-focused Cannabis consulting group leading the rebranding of the Cannabis industry.

Derek Riedle

Derek Riedle

Civilized

Biography: Derek Riedle (pronounced reed-lee) is the founder and publisher of Civilized - a media company that speaks to motivated, productive adults who choose to enjoy cannabis as part of a healthy, balanced lifestyle, but do not define themselves by it. He approaches life with wide-eyed curiosity and a gut feeling for what people want before they know they want it.

Derek has crafted the message and shaped the story of leading companies and winning political campaigns across North America. He founded strategic communications agency, Revolution Strategy and is the co-creator of Real Houses of… a television series showcasing some of the most interesting homes in North America and the personalities behind them. Rooted in Canada’s east coast but living in Los Angeles, he’s learned to surround himself with really great people and get out of the way. Derek loves a good story, a witty sense of humor and authentic personalities.

Ella Alpina

Ella Alpina

7 Rays Marketing

Biography: Ella Alpina is a creative and passionate marketing executive, with 10+ years of experience in startup growth marketing, branding and business development. She founded 7 Rays Marketing in 2015 with a passion for social entrepreneurism and the cannabis movement. Through her business leadership, she promotes the wisdom of this extraordinary plant medicine.

7 Rays works with cannabis brands and organizations looking to take the lead in this emerging industry. The agency employs modern digital marketing tactics and high-level design standards.

Eric Brandstad

Eric Brandstad

Forever Flowering Greenhouses

Biography: Eric Brandstad is the leading greenhouse and growing efficiency expert in the legal cannabis industry. Eric has been invited to speak at many events including The CWBExpo, 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.

George Stantchev

Dr. George Stantchev

COMERG

Biography: Dr. Stantchev holds a PhD in Communication Technology, MBA in Product Management, MS in Electrical Engineering and has numerous patents granted and pending. He is specialized in start-up ventures, international business development, operational effectiveness, technology planning, and new product developments. He is currently the CEO and founder of COMERG a company that designs and manufacture cost and process optimized extraction systems and applicable post processing. As business consultant, he has consulted a wide range of startups and Fortune 500 companies, as well as managed product design and manufacturing teams across the world.

Jane Fix

Jane Fix

Monarch Dispensary

Biography: Jane began her career in the industry in November of 2011. She began working for Monarch Dispensary in Scottsdale in April of 2013. A long-time believer in cannabis as medicine, Jane found her niche in the medical marijuana industry. She specializes in patients new to cannabis and works closely with patients to find them the most appropriate relief possible. An amazing number of seniors are currently open to using cannabis as a medication, and Jane estimates at least 8 out of 10 seniors that she works with find significant success through cannabis. Jane is a self-professed science nerd and reads various science and cannabis-related research daily.

Jane enjoys explaining the different aspects of cannabis use to both new patients and seasoned cannabis veterans alike. Many times, all that a patient is missing is knowledge of the proper method of consumption to treat their specific condition. Simple little tweaks in care that may seem obvious to some can make a huge difference to a large number of medical cannabis patients.

Jimmy Carberry

Jimmy Carberry

UNDOO

Biography: Jimmy Carberry (aka Glaucoma Jim), is a 30 year Glaucoma patient, cannabis advocate and educator. He worked for years in the paraphernalia industry and then for Compassionate Caregivers opening dispensaries in California from mid 90's till 2004... including the first in So. Cal, Hollywood, called the Yellow House. He created the first really medical style dispensaries to serve the patients and address their true medical needs. He has trained over 350 people to be professional budtenders. He knows the industry yesterday and today. He is a pioneer and a legend, able to shed light on the industry from both sides of the counter.

Ken Berke

Ken Berke

PayQwick, Inc.

Biography: Ken Berke is a California-licensed attorney with over 29 years of experience. In 2014, Ken combined his legal, business, and regulatory compliance expertise to co-found PayQwick, Inc. As PayQwick’s CEO and an attorney, he has played an integral role in creating PayQwick’s BSA/AML and state law compliance programs. This has provided him with an in depth understanding of the compliance standards banks must satisfy when working with legal marijuana businesses and how they can avoid the risk of exposure to potential liability when banking these businesses. Ken has extensive experience implementing cash management protocols for marijuana businesses, which has greatly helped PayQwick’s partner banks minimize the amount of cash they handle when working with legal marijuana businesses. He also has substantial experience advocating for marijuana banking reform before legislators, regulators, and government officials, which has given him a thorough understanding of what legislators and regulators desire with respect to regulatory compliance in general and banking marijuana in particular. Ken also hosts a radio show entitled CannaBusiness Solutions, which focuses on sharing best practices among marijuana businesses and industry experts.

Laura Rivero

Laura Rivero

Yerba Buena Farms

Biography: Laura Rivero is a representative/co-founder of ECA and the Operations Manager at Yerba Buena Farms, just outside Portland, Oregon and among the first eight recreationally licensed cannabis businesses in Oregon. Before partnering with Yerba Buena, Laura spearheaded various canna-ventures in Arizona, accumulating 6 years of dispensary management experience in a highly regulated seed-to-sale environment. Her business acumen in the industry is only outshined by her knowledgeable approach to accessing the medicinal powers of the plant. Laura graduated Magna Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University with an Environmental Science degree focusing on Sustainable Communities and a collection of awards for her outstanding academic performance. Laura has designed and implemented various business models around the belief that the cultivation and sale of cannabis can be achieved using sustainable growing methods, a nurturing and empowering work environment, valuing diversity, and contributing to the local community. She is committed to leading with her actions, setting the standard for the cannabis industry.

Lilach Power

Lilach Power

Giving Tree Wellness Center

Biography: Lilach Mazor Power is co-founder and managing director of the Giving Tree Wellness Center, an Arizona licensed medical cannabis dispensary. The Giving Tree’s Phoenix location is 15,000 square feet and has 11 grow rooms that hold roughly 1,000 plants. They do everything in house - from cultivating and extracting to packaging and dispensing. The former Israeli soldier earned her bachelor’s degree in business and marketing from the New England College branch in Tel Aviv before coming to the U.S. and opening the Giving Tree in Phoenix in May 2013, followed by Mesa three months later.

Lilach has been in the medical cannabis industry since it made its way to Arizona in 2010. Because the U.S. lacks the ability to do research on cannabis, Lilach travels to Israel several times a year to collaborate with some of the world’s top cannabis researchers in order to stay at the forefront of cannabis research and produce the highest quality medicine for her patients.

Liz Stahura

Liz Stahura

BDS Analytics

Biography: Liz is an expert voice on what is happening within the Cannabis market, and spotting and understanding cannabis consumer trends and retail trends. Liz has been in the business intelligence market for over 10 years, working for some of the leading names in retail sales tracking, consumer insights and market research. She is a widely recognized authority in retail sales analysis and strategic consulting, and brings with her insights learned from years in the cycling, running, outdoor and sports apparel business. During her time at Leisure Trends and NPD Group, Liz assisted the business through product launches in three new industries. Her most recent role prior to starting BDS Analytics was to lead the bike and running division of the company. Often asked to speak in front of clients and at industry events, her various works can be seen, heard and read through the numerous industry presentations, webinars, articles, white papers and trend pieces she has delivered over the years.

Marc J. Victor

Marc J. Victor

Law Firm of Marc J. Victor, P.C.

Biography: Marc J. Victor is an accomplished attorney who is often invited to speak to audiences across Arizona. He has recently addressed the Freedom Summit, the Eris Society, the AZ Libertarian Party Convention and other events aimed at protecting your rights.

Marc J. Victor has represented clients in more than a thousand major felony cases including first and second degree murder, sex cases, gun cases, major drug cases, complex white collar cases, federal appeals, and other complex state and federal matters. Jury trial experience includes several murder trials including death eligible matters as well as complex sex cases. Marc J. Victor has represented clients in many high profile and media attention cases.

Marvin Washington

Marvin Washington

UNDOO

Biography: 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. Washington is a graduate of Idaho University where he is also a 2004 inductee into the University of Idaho Vandal Sports Hall of Fame. He is a Dallas native who is involved with several charities and sits on the Board of Texas Can Charter School. He has three children, two sons; Evan 22, Isaiah 16 and a daughter; Sydney 20. His oldest, Evan Washington is following in his football footsteps playing at L.S.U.

Megan Stone

Megan Stone

High Road Design Studio

Biography: Megan Stone, owner and founder of The High Road Design Studio, is an award-winning interior designer and consultant specializing in the design needs of cannabis retail businesses. She has provided interior design and brand identity services to cannabis retailers and brands in thirteen states, for both recreational and medical markets. She is a pioneer of design-thinking in cannabis retail, helping to reinvent peoples’ expectations and perceptions of the cannabis industry in its public-facing spaces. Megan has won numerous awards for her design work, including a 2016 ARE/POPEI Design Award for Store Fixture for the TruMed Concentrate Bar, design:retail Magazine’s 40 Under 40 Award in 2016, and VMSD Magazine’s Designer Dozen Award in 2015. She is a contributing editor on design for MG Magazine. She has been featured in Forbes and Cosmopolitan Online. Megan presented on her work at the 2014, 2015 & 2016 International Retail Design Conferences, and the National Marijuana Business Conferences in 2015 and 2016.

Nancy Whiteman

Nancy Whiteman

Wana Brands

Biography: Nancy oversees Wana Brands sales and marketing efforts, leading a sales force that consistently grows Wana’s presence in CO and OR. She is responsible for strategic partnerships and licensing agreements domestically and internationally. Nancy manages Wana’s finance and accounting department. She is also responsible for the strategic vision of Wana Brands. She is an active member of the Cannabis Business Alliance’s Edibles Manufacturers Council and the National Cannabis Industry Association. Since 2010, Wana Brands has made marijuana infused products including hash, vape oil, edibles, and now WanaCapsXR, a family of extended release cannabis capsules. Based in Boulder, Colo., Wana Products also provides a variety of equipment, packaging and consulting services to the cannabis industry.

Nathan Mendel

Nathan Mendel

Your Green Contractor

Biography: Nathan is the founder and President of Your Green Contractor (YGC), a wholly owned subsidiary of Mendel and Company Construction. After YGC completed its first dispensary project in 2012, Nathan quickly realized there was a huge unmet demand for cannabis related projects that were completed in the same fashion as any other commercial project. Today, Your Green Contractor is quickly expanding across the U.S. and is recognized as one of Denver’s most trusted and well respected names in the construction of marijuana facilities. Nathan has presented to numerous audiences in multiple states speaking about the complexities of building projects in the cannabis world and has been quoted in multiple local, regional, and national publications and news stories.

Nic Easley

Nic Easley

Comp. Cannabis Consulting

Biography: Nic Easley is CEO of Comprehensive Cannabis Consulting (3C), where he promotes hemp and cannabis awareness and cultivation, prioritizing socially and environmentally responsible practices. Over the past nine years in Colorado and nationwide, Nic has helped more than 60 clients design, build, start up, and optimize their operations. His scientific background, combined with over 15 years of agricultural field and biological experience informs his sustainable practices and policies, offering the industry new realms of productivity, profitability, and professionalism.

Phillip Stuart

Phillip Stuart

Simplified Capital / Leasing

Biography: Phillip L. Stuart was introduced into the financial sector in 1997 while in the automotive sales/finance industry. Initially founding one of the largest Auto Sub Prime finance companies in the nation, he soon diversified into the B2B Equipment Lease Finance Industry. This led to his founding Simplified Leasing in the spring of 2002; Specializing in providing Equipment Financing Solutions to the Startup and Well Established Business Owners with almost any credit type. After building a portfolio of more than 100 direct lenders and private investors, establishing multiple financial solutions for manufactures, vendors and clients he established Simplified Capital a few years after. His companies have been seen in Forbes, The New York Times, Manta, NewsObserver.com, 420Property.com , MJBizDaily.com, Blazed420.com, and more.

Robert Carp

Robert Carp

Carp Law Group

Biography: Robert Carp is a former High Tech Entrepreneur of the Year and a Harvard trained government scientist. Carp works as a practicing attorney in the Boston area, and is a frequent speaker nationwide on the subject of marijuana business operations, corporate structure and tax issues in the industry. Carp is a prolific author, with his latest book, "The Marijuana Business Operations Guide" leading Amazon's category for this topic. Carp is also a tax attorney and an Enrolled Agent with the IRS practicing in tax courts around the country.

Rosie Mattio

Rosie Mattio

RMPR

Biography: RMPR is a Seattle based, full -service, boutique, public relations firm specializing in Cannabis and the businesses that are moving the industry forward. As one of the first publicists in the rapidly growing space, RMPR has also established itself as one of the premier agencies for Cannabis businesses in Seattle and throughout the country. Current clients include: High There!- the Cannabis Social Network, Headset - Market Intelligence Platform for the Cannabis Industry, Seed & Smith - Denver based chain of Dispensaries, and botanicaSEATTLE- top producer of Cannabis Edibles

Ryan Hurley

Ryan Hurley

Rose Law Group

Biography: Ryan Hurley is a partner at Rose Law Group in Scottsdale, AZ and heads up the firm’s Marijuana Practice Group. He has a background in land use and zoning law, environmental and water issues, renewable energy and a wide variety of regulatory compliance and administrative law issues. Ryan and the Marijuana Practice Group assist clients with all aspects of AZ’s Medical Marijuana law including employment and criminal issues but primarily focus on the business of MMJ and helping clients apply for and secure dispensary licenses from the AZ Department of Health Services.

Sarara Corva

Sarara Corva

UNDOO

Biography: Sarara Corva is a patient, a caregiver, a consultant and a cancer survivor. Sarara teaches professionals and patients about how to responsibly use Marijuana as medicine, with emphasis on alternative healing and senior first time (or first time in a long time) use. Sarara is the co-producer of the medical education conferences: Marijuana for Medical Professionals 2014 and 2016. (a CME accredited program) She was also a speaker and moderator for the program.

Ms. Corva has influenced and inspired many people through teaching "Cannabis 101” classes, and “Overcoming Cannabis Stigmas”. She also teaches budtenders how to understand and relate to patients. Sarara is the volunteer CEO of CANNAhealNOW.

Seibo Shen

Seibo Shen

VapeXhale

Biography: After a successful career in a number of revenue-generating roles in the Silicon Valley with 4 successful exits (Data.com, Successfactors, E2open, Yammer), Seibo Shen founded VapeXhale in 2010 and has served as CEO since the company’s inception. An active leader in the vaporizer community, Seibo works closely with VapeXhale’s product team to shape the technology behind the company’s products. The approach behind VapeXhale’s flagship product “The Cloud” was Seibo’s original concept, a technology that won five “Best Product” awards its first year on the market. Seibo received a Bachelor of Science in Ethnic Studies from University of California, Los Angeles.

Sheldon Broedel

Dr. Sheldon Broedel Jr.

Athena Environmental Sciences

Biography: Dr. Sheldon E. Broedel, Jr., founder and CEO/CSO of Athena Environmental Sciences, Inc., earned doctoral and master's degrees from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in Microbial and Molecular Genetics and a B.S in Biology from the State University of New York at Geneseo. He also holds positions as Associate Graduate Program Director and Adjunct Professor for the MPS: Biotechnology at UMBC, Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University, as well as residing on scientific advisory boards for several universities and private biotechnology companies. Using his experience with advanced bioseparation techniques, Dr. Broedel is developing novel and efficient techniques for purifying cannabinoids.

Taylor West

Taylor West

NCIA

Biography: Taylor West is deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association. She has spent nearly 15 years in communications and leadership positions in the political, policy, nonprofit, and business arenas. Taylor came to Denver after four years in Washington, D.C., where she worked first as a strategist for a variety of policy and regulatory reform efforts, and then as communications director for National Journal, a highly respected national media organization. She is also a veteran of several high-profile political campaigns and has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, Fox News, and CNBC. Taylor first became involved in drug policy reform 18 years ago with an internship at DRCNet, now known as StoptheDrugWar.org.

Trista Okel

Trista Okel

Empower BodyCare

Biography: Trista Okel has been an active medical cannabis advocate since 2004. In May 2013, Trista founded Empower® (End Marijuana Prohibition. Organize Women. Enact Reform.) BodyCare with a mission to help people ease their pain and lessen the use of harmful pharmaceuticals through providing natural, healthy pain-relieving alternatives. By creating well-branded, high-quality cannabis-infused topical products, Trista succeeds in marketing Empower® to a diverse, mainstream audience including professional athletes, trauma survivors, and “conservative grannies.” Empower® has been featured in leading publications, such as High Times, Massage Magazine, and Vogue.com, and was named Best Topical Brand at the Dope Industry Awards in both 2016 and 2017. Trista believes topicals will normalize cannabis and hopes her work within the cannabis industry continues to improve the quality of life for many in the future.