Why do we keep pushing in this industry? What are the accomplishments, despite the challenges?
What human capital challenges keep you up at night? What are your current and planned strategies to improve your recruiting and retention issues
Proactive vs. Reactive – What reframing do we need to do, as an industry, to educate and advocate with regulators to create standards?
Where do we go from here?
Chris served as the founding editor of MJBiz during the company’s launch in 2011, becoming the first journalist in the United States to focus exclusively on covering the business of cannabis. As CEO of MJBiz, he now guides the strategic vision of the company while educating mainstream industries about the marijuana and hemp sectors. He’s also the host of the podcast Seed to CEO. Chris has been quoted as one of America’s foremost cannabis industry analysts by dozens of media outlets, including Harvard Business Review, CNBC and the New York Times. He earned an MBA in international business from Regis University.
Jocelyn Sheltraw is the CEO of Budist, a cannabis product reviews and ratings platform launching soon. Prior to Budist, Jocelyn spent 4.5 years as the Head of Industry Relations at Headset, the leading data and analytics company for the cannabis industry.
Jocelyn currently serves on the Board of Directors of the California Cannabis Industry Association, the Advisory Board for American National Standards Institute, and lectures at StartSe University, an international business school. She is a recognized industry thought leader, influencer, and public speaker, as well as one of the creators of the ‘CannaPac’, a monthly meetup for cannabis founders and executives.
Prior to the cannabis industry, Jocelyn spent 10 years working in mobile advertising and technology developing advertising and monetization strategies for apps including: Flipboard, Spotify, SoundCloud, Pandora, and Uber to name a few.
Sarah Otis is the Director of QA and Special Projects for Anresco Laboratories in San Francisco, California. Sarah is an analytical chemist with over a decade of experience in the cannabis industry spanning multiple legalized States. Sarah’s expertise is in quality assurance and regulatory compliance, and for the last 7 years she has been focusing her skill set and efforts on advancing regulatory and R&D testing and laboratory operations for cannabis and hemp testing laboratories. Her experience and knowledge also branch into other aspects of the industry such as licensing, cultivation, extraction, and cannabis infused product formulation and production.
Former commissioner, Deborah Miran, was a member of the Natalie M. LaPrade Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission from 2013- 2016. While serving on the commission, she was also a member of the executive committee, policy, and research subcommittees, and was chair of the education subcommittee. She was responsible for developing education programs for doctors and patients, and was also an integral part of crafting the current regulations. Prior to the commission she was president and founder of Miran Consulting, Inc. There she advised both brand and generic drug makers on the FDA approval process. Ms. Miran was senior director of regulatory affairs for Alpharma, a generic drug manufacturer, where she directed the submission activities for new and abbreviated new drug applications to the FDA. She has spent over 30 years in the US pharmaceutical industry. Ms. Miran received her bachelor of science in chemistry from Iowa State University.
If my career could be summed up in a sentence, I am a creator, problem solver, and solutions provider across verticals and on a national and international level. With 30 years of legal, business, and public service experience, I have enjoyed serving as a federal prosecutor, presidential appointee, and US delegate and worked as a corporate attorney, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and turn-around expert. I also have been engaged in mentoring and philanthropy most of my adult life. These experiences give me a unique and well-informed perspective which I bring to the nascent cannabis industry.
In my business life I have acquired and operated companies steeped in chaos and tangled in regulatory and financial difficulties and restored them to fiscal health and compliance, creating jobs along the way. I have insisted on the highest ethical standards for the many businesses I have owned, led, or advised. And, most of all, I am an expert in making order out of chaos and navigating change, with the deep understanding of the disruption inherent in any transition.
Hennesy oversees Wana Brands’ R&D program, new product design, educational training content and partnerships with emerging cannabis technologies. He led the team in creating Wana’s new line of fast-acting Quick gummies, that rank in the top 10 best-selling edibles in Colorado, and use an innovative encapsulation technique to increase the bioavailability of cannabinoids and take effect quickly. Hennesy directed the development of Wana’s unique proprietary terpene blends. He also created Wana’s online interactive training program that covers the science of the endocannabinoid system. Previously, Hennesy managed Wana’s sales team of seven, where the quickly growing business proved demanding but rewarding as his team expanded Wana’s shelf presence in the vast majority of Colorado’s dispensaries with a three-year growth rate of 203%. In 2021, Hennesy graduated from the nation’s first Master’s Program for Cannabis Science and Therapeutics at The University of Maryland’s School of Pharmacy.
David Kessler is Chief Science Officer at Agrify, the most innovative provider of advanced cultivation and extraction solutions for the cannabis industry. He has 20+ years of cannabis cultivation experience including 10 years of CEA (closed environmental agriculture) indoor farm design. David’s focus on the application of technology to optimize process & workflow while reducing operational costs are a common theme throughout his prolific industry publications. David has written for such companies as Sunlight Supply, Maximum Yield Magazine, Botanicare, and Hawthorne Gardening Company. David also regularly lectures at many cannabis industry events including MJBizCon Las Vegas, Cannabis Science Conference Baltimore, and Michigan’s Cannabis-Aid.
David has also worked as a consultant to Universities and the Hollywood film industry, working on several blockbuster Hollywood films including: The Hunger Games, The Divergent film franchise, and Marvel’s Black Panther.
David’s decades of experience with horticultural lighting have allowed him the opportunity to be a product tester for companies such as Sharp Electronics and the Horticultural Lighting Group. David has worked with independent 3rd party laboratories to provide unbiased testing data comparing the performance of a multitude of horticultural lighting manufacturers.
Additionally, David is the proprietor of Willowbrook Orchids, an orchid nursery specializing in Paphiopedilums and Phragmipediums.
Bio coming soon
I am a highly effective multi-functional leader with both trained and lived consumer engagement experience. I set strategic direction and oversees execution while gaining internal and external trust and alignment, and communicate vision and directs strategy using data-informed messaging and narratives, integrated strategic planning, media training, c-suite speech writing and counseling, government affairs, corporate social responsibility knowledge, media relations, marketing, and events. I drive vision and motivate teams while encouraging collaborative strategies and plans that support program goals and focus on niche communities and programs that have an equity or social component to engage disenfranchised communities while deploy strategies that increase revenue.
As the CSO and co-founder of Vertosa, Dr. Harold Han spearheads the development of industry-leading, customized active ingredients for infused product makers, offering pre-suspended aqueous solutions to create incredibly homogeneous, stable products while maximizing bioavailability, clarity, and taste. His work at Vertosa combines his storied background in emulsion chemistry and science with curiosity and fascination in the rapidly growing cannabis industry. Developing nano and micro emulsions his entire career, Harold holds a Ph.D. in Surface Chemistry from NYU and is the author of two patents in emulsion chemistry. Before founding Vertosa, Harold was the senior emulsion scientist at Bio-Rad Laboratories, where his team scaled emulsification oil and supplied products to over 90 countries.
Daniel Sondheim is the Director of Medical Platform Initiatives at SōRSE Technology, working with groups interested in the medical application of cannabinoids, providing guidance and information on applications that require further evaluation than that of nutritional supplements and food. In his time at SōRSE, Daniel has also developed intellectual property and worked with attorneys to file patent and trademark protections. He is a member of the AOAC advisory panel helping to develop standards and testing methods for the cannabis industry.
Prior to SōRSE, Daniel worked at the University of Washington as a Research Scientist Engineer for GU Cancer Research. He supervised a team of two pre-clinical researchers and created protocols that adhered to regulations for simultaneous preclinical studies. He also served as the team leader for tissue acquisition necropsy for the Prostate and Bladder Cancer Donor program.
Mr. Patel leads the strategic vision, financial health and global growth of PathogenDx, a Scottsdale, AZ based company which provides disruptive DNA-based pathogen testing technology and solutions for the cannabis, botanical, food and agricultural industries.
Previously, Mr. Patel spent over 25 years working with large public, small private and entrepreneurial companies in numerous fields from the life sciences, to biotechnology, to government services and the automotive industry. Milan served as COO/CFO of GMSbiotech. He also was CFO of 2020 Company, LLC, a leading premier professional services firm that delivered business and technology solutions to the government, in the areas of health, education and science.
Mr. Patel also worked at Intel Corporation in Sales & Marketing, Finance and Manufacturing. He has extensive experience in corporate finance, mergers and acquisitions, business strategy and planning, infrastructure and organizational development, and controls, compliance and audit and has led several company exits.
Milan earned his BS in Electrical and Electronics Engineering from the University of Detroit Mercy; a MS in Biomedical/Medical Engineering, University of Michigan; and a MBA in Finance and Marketing, University of Detroit Mercy.
Dr. Andrea Holmes is the Chief Science Officer at KD Pharma, the global leader in pharmaceutical grade omega 3 and API grade phytocannabinoids manufacturing. As a chemistry professor, Dr. Holmes has founded several cannabis science and technology based companies including testing labs and special formulation companies that focus on minor cannabinoids. Holmes explores the needs of the current cannabis industry and identifies the markets that have great potential for rapid growth. Dr. Holmes is also an expert in testing and quality of cannabis consumer products. She serves as a worldwide subject matter expert and consultant, including in the US, Brazil, UK, and Thailand. Dr. Holmes has given local, national, and international lectures and has published two cannabis textbooks, more than 50 peer-reviewed articles and cannabis textbooks on terpenes, endocannabinoid system, major and minor cannabinoids, extraction methods, niche markets like using CBD for the pet industry, and unique topics that involve the rapidly emerging cannabis industry.
Michael Correia is director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association. His focus is raising awareness and building support for the cannabis industry’s issues on Capitol Hill. In addition, Michael works with other national organizations to increase the cannabis industry profile nationally. Prior to joining NCIA, Michael spent many years working on Capitol Hill, including working for Rep. George Radanovich (R-CA), who retired in 2010, and the House Committee on Resources, serving three different Chairmen. Previously, he was director of federal affairs for the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and senior project manager for the Committee for Responsible Federal Budget. In both positions, he advocated for policies in Congress. A campaign veteran, he has worked and volunteered on numerous political campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels over the past two decades. Michael is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego. A native of San Diego, he resides in Washington, D.C.