Meet our professionals:
Leif Abel co-founded Greatland Ganja, LLC, Alaska’s second licensed marijuana establishment. Abel and his family operate Greatland Ganja on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula where they cultivate 40 cannabis strains, sun-grown using organic methods and ingredients, and grown hydroponically indoors. As Executive Director of the Coalition for Responsible Cannabis Legislation and founding board member for the Alaska Marijuana Industry Association, he has been a cannabis advocate in Alaska. After passage of Ballot Measure 2, he was appointed to the Kenai Peninsula Borough Marijuana Task Force by the Mayor, where he served out his term as chairman. Abel is a licensed medical grower and a second-generation cannabis cultivator.
California Growers Association
Hezekiah Allen is the Executive Director of the California Growers Association.Through lobbying and public affairs programs, Allen works to protect the interests of a broad statewide membership made of several hundred growers and business owners. As a senior subject matter specialist and one of the most knowledgeable advocates supporting the transition from California’s non-profit and medical marijuana programs to a for-profit full recreational program, Allen acts as a liaison and voice for the existing, and vast, California cultivation community.
Kurt Badertscher is co-owner, with his wife Kerrie, of Otoké Horticulture LLC (OtokeHort.com), and authors of “Cannabis for Capitalists.” They have worked with large-scale cannabis producers for more than 5 years. Badertscher brings his 34 years of corporate experience and operations management skills to bear on the business challenges of cannabis cultivation. The Badertschers co-author a column, “Hort How-To,” for Cannabis Business Times magazine.
Principal/Chief Science Officer
Elite Botanicals/Elite California
David Bonvillain owns and runs Elite Cannabis Enterprises and Elite Botanicals out of its center of operations in Loveland, Colo. The businesses include a 25-acre organic CBD farm leveraging a low/no-till permaculture methodology, a 6-acre greenhouse property and botanical-extraction laboratory that operates year-round, producing organic CBD for regional, national and international markets through Mary’s Medicinals, Mary’s Nutritionals, Mary’s Pets, IncrEdibles, and Cheeba Chews. He is a speaker, author, consultant and High Times’ Cannabis Cup winner.
Ariel Clark is a principal of the women-owned law firm Clark Neubert LLP. As a cannabis business attorney, she helps clients navigate the emerging state cannabis regulatory program, execute complex political strategies, obtain licenses, and set up proper business structures. Ariel founded and serves as Chairwoman of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force. She is a member of the National Cannabis Bar Association, California State Bar, and the Beverly Hills Bar Association.
BioAgronomics Group Consultants
Robert C. Clarke has devoted his entire professional career and much of his personal life to the study of the cannabis plant and human-cannabis relationships. He is the author of “Marijuana Botany” and “HASHISH!”, co-author of “Hemp Diseases and Pests” and “Cannabis: Evolution and Ethnobotany” as well as several book chapters and numerous peer-reviewed articles, and has participated in many international conferences. He maintains a lengthy working relationship with HortaPharm BV in the Netherlands, specializing in industrial and medicinal cannabis breeding, and continues to serve as project manager for the International Hemp Association. He presently heads BioAgronomics Group Consultants, an international cannabis consultancy specializing in smoothing the transition into a wholly legal and normalized cannabis market.
Kansas State University - Department of Entomology
Dr. Raymond A. Cloyd is State Extension Leader for Entomology, Professor and Extension Specialist in Horticultural Entomology/Plant Protection in the Department of Entomology at Kansas State University. Cloyd has a 70-percent extension and 30-percent research appointment at Kansas State University. His expertise is on pest management in greenhouses, nurseries, landscapes, turfgrass, conservatories, interiorscapes, Christmas trees, and vegetables and fruits. Raymond is the extension specialist in horticultural entomology for the state of Kansas with a major clientele that includes homeowners, master gardeners, and professional and commercial operators.
Casey Connell has been growing medical cannabis for almost two decades. Connell has always placed a high premium on product research and development, concentrating on bio-controls, using and testing beneficial insects with cannabis in an effort to be pesticide free. He has helped other farmers achieve their integrated pest management (IPM) goals. In 2013, Connell founded Contender Gardens LLC, a regulated I-502 producer/processor in Spokane, Wash. Connell is also an executive board member of the cannabis farmer’s council in Washington State and speaks frequently about IPM.
Robert Eddy has 25 years’ experience managing state-of-the-art research greenhouses, growth rooms and growth chambers at Purdue University and Dow AgroSciences. He’s specialized in developing plant growth methods that are repeatable, reportable and scalable. His e-pubs on optimizing greenhouse production of corn, rice and Arabidopsis have been downloaded more than 50,000 times around the globe. He is currently a consultant with CEA Consultancy, advising vertical farms, hydroponic growers and cannabis operations.
Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions
Rino Ferrarese is the Chief Operations Officer of Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions (CPS), one of four licensed medical marijuana producers in Connecticut. Ferrarese has experience as a compliance officer working in FDA regulated industries under the guidelines of current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMP) for the production of prescription, Over-The-Counter (OTC), and homeopathic human drug products. He is a certified Six Sigma Black Belt and ISO auditor.
Ferrarese also works with Elite Cannabis Enterprises developing and submitting competitive medical marijuana license applications for clients across the United States.
Law offices of Omar Figueroa
A pioneering cannabis lawyer with more than eighteen years of experience providing legal counsel and representation to members of California’s cannabis industry, Figueroa is an expert in California cannabis law. He is a graduate of Yale University and Stanford Law School, is a member of several law and cannabis industry groups, and is a Founding Lifetime Member of the National Cannabis Bar Association. Most recently, he was selected to serve as a member of Sonoma County’s Cannabis Advisory Group.
Founding Board Member
Cannabis Certification Council
Ben Gelt is a strategic consultant and entrepreneur with a wide range of experiences including over a decade in politics, working in start-up cultures and with corporate and small business clients. Gelt has been recognized as an emerging leader in the political and business worlds, winning awards from groups like the MacArthur Foundation and appearing on all the major television networks and in publications such as The New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today and Rolling Stone. Currently, he works as a founding board member with the Organic Cannabis Association, as well as offers strategic consulting on business development, executive advising, investor relations and public affairs representing public officials, major corporations, start-ups and small businesses.
Guske & Company Inc.
Dean Guske, CPA has over 30 years of experience in the areas of taxation, accounting and business consulting. He has a passion for entrepreneurship and this allows him to effectively serve others pursuing their business dreams, whatever they may be. Dean serves several hundred clients in the cannabis industry and is at the forefront of developing successful tax strategies for industry entrepreneurs. He is also a frequent speaker and author on the complex tax issues facing the industry. Dean holds a Master’s degree in taxation from Golden Gate University and a Bachelor of Arts in business from the University of Washington. He is a member of the AICPA and WSCPA. Dean is a licensed CPA in the states of Washington and Oregon.
The Buddhi Cooperative
Todd Hill has served as CEO of four technology companies and as a member of the Board of Directors of eight companies and four industry associations. He has significant experience with public companies, VC and bootstrap financing, as well as guiding companies in rapidly changing markets. His recent direct cannabis industry experience includes: local cannabis transport permit (renewed 6/17); development of membership delivery service; equity-ready cooperative formation and development; process consulting and KPI development, ISO 9001/14000/17025 systems development specifically for cannabis industry. He also has extensive experience dealing with a multitude of regulatory and permitting authorities, and leading industry technology companies.
David Holmes has a Master’s Degree in Mathematics and was an award-winning adjunct mathematics professor. He was awarded a fellowship to conduct research at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. Holmes was inspired to cultivate marijuana in 1999 after a visit to a high-tech indoor garden. He launched his first large-scale commercial facility in 2007. Shortly thereafter, Clade9 was formed to meet demand for cultivation experts. Applying his expertise in grow room design and management, as well as world-class nutrients, Holmes focused on medical marijuana strain breeding. He has developed over a dozen strains including the Ying Yang, a high-CDB strain with superior seizure-reducing capacities.
Panacea Valley Gardens
Jesce Horton is the owner of Panacea Valley Gardens, a medical cannabis cultivation center, and co-founder of Panacea, an award-winning dispensary in Portland, Ore. He is also co-founder and Chairman of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), the first non-profit organization founded to create equal access and economic empowerment for cannabis businesses, their patients and communities most affected by the war on drugs.
Currently, he is developing Saints Cannabis, a vertically-integrated cannabis campus that will house adult-use (recreational) retail, cannabis lounge, indoor and greenhouse cultivation, processing and R&D operations on one flagship property in Portland, Ore. He sits on numerous state and city appointed committees that oversee rules and regulations shaping the Oregon cannabis industry.
Attorney at Law
Nicole Howell Neubert is a California cannabis business attorney and principal of Clark Neubert LLP. Actively engaged in the regulatory implementation of California’s medical and adult-use licensing statutes (MCRSA & AUMA), Nicole serves as Policy Committee leadership for California Growers Association, on the board of California NORML, and as one of 16 members invited to serve on State Treasurer John Chiang’s Cannabis Banking Working Group. Nicole regularly speaks on California cannabis law and teaches courses in legal business structures and regulations at Oaksterdam University.
Vice President, Cultivation
Allison Justice is the V.P. of Cultivation for OutCo, a vertically integrated cannabis company in San Diego, CA. Since joining OutCo, Justice has helped reduce costs through resource-backed solutions, including by implementing a beneficial insect regime and switching to LEDs with double-stacked rolling benches. After graduating from Clemson University with a Ph.D. in Plant and Environmental Science, she developed a system to mass rear beneficial nematodes for commercial use that led her to consulting on integrated pest management nationwide.
Sunnabis: Humboldt's Full Sun Farms
Wendy Kornberg, CEO and founder of Sunnabis: Humboldt's Full Sun Farms, runs a family-owned and -operated sustainable cannabis farm in Southern Humboldt County. As a second-generation cultivator, Kornberg draws from genetics that have been in her family since the 70s. Her artisanal farm also houses an area for research and development, which has led to Sunnabis winning numerous awards for flowers, salves, tinctures, and bath and beauty products.
Director of Cultivation
LeafLine Labs, LLC
Emily Kowalski is the Director of Cultivation at LeafLine Labs, LLC, one of two medical cannabis companies serving the patients of Minnesota. She utilizes her 10 years of experience in propagation, greenhouse production, and outdoor nursery production to cultivate consistent, healthy cannabis in LeafLine’s state-of-the-art indoor facility. Kowalski never settles for status quo and digs deep into data to drive quality and efficiency within her operation. She received her B.S. in Horticulture from the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
Richard Kwesell is the co-founder of Heartland Industries and Strawberry Fields along with his brother, Mike. After starting their company with three plants in a friend’s spare bedroom, the brothers are currently producing 14,000 lbs. of medical and recreational cannabis every year in Colorado.
Kwesell designed, built and currently operates a 90,000-square-foot greenhouse located in Pueblo County, Colo. He currently oversees all cultivation and production, development of internal controls, commercial grow room design, and integrated pest management (IPM) program design at Strawberry Fields. Prior to that, Kwesell worked in commercial agriculture on a greenhouse in northern Israel and became proficient in nutrient administration, IPM and high-volume plant management with quota-based production.
Black Diamond Biotech/Ascendant Management
Andrew Lange is the Founder and CEO of Ascendant Management. After attending the University of Iowa for Bioengineering, he moved to Washington where he started designing facilities for the medical cannabis market. Currently, Ascendant has over 1,000,000 sq. ft. of cultivation and processing facilities under design around the world. Ascendant specializes in designing cultivation and processing facilities that lead the industry in energy efficiency and automation. Andrew is also COO of Black Diamond Biotech, which operates a 70,000 square foot aeroponic cultivation facility in Washington State.
Cultivation Sector Consulting
Jennifer Martin is the winner of the 1998 San Francisco Bay Area Cannabis Cup, and a pioneer in the US Cloning Industry, having supplied Harborside Health Center and Berkeley Patients Group for many years. She is one of the few cultivators with over 15 years’ experience running a legitimate cultivation business, with over 20 employees at a time under her management. She currently works as an indoor cultivation site designer on the west coast, with expertise in vertical LED flowering, commercial cultivation methods, nutrients, genetics and workflow.
Washington's Finest Cannabis
Crystal Oliver is co-owner/founder of Washington’s Finest Cannabis, an outdoor cannabis farm licensed by the WSLCB since August 2014. She also serves as Executive Assistant for Washington NORML and sits on the Cannabis Farmers Council Executive Board. She has been an advocate for small business and family farm friendly regulations in Washington State, and has represented cannabis farmer’s interest as a member of the Washington State Building Code Council’s Cannabis Issues Technical Advisory Group, Spokane Clean Air’s Marijuana Advisory Committee, and Spokane Conservation District’s Voluntary Stewardship Program. Oliver is regarded as an expert in navigating land use issues for cannabis farming and frequently serves as a resource for officials, regulators, policy-makers, and business owners.
James R. Ott has worked in nearly every position in the Ag and food research, production and processing systems over the course of his 30-plus year career in Agriculture. He has extensive experience in genetics, plant science, biotechnology, research and development, and executive management for agribusiness companies around the globe, including international executive management for Syngenta, a multi-billion-dollar Swiss agriculture and biotechnology corporation. After years of improving the production and business models of agricultural and vegetable crops, Ott chose to apply his plant science, research and business experience to develop a model for genetic trait development, production optimization and business sophistication for cannabis.
RD Industries/Rare Dankness
Scott Reach is the founder and COO of RD Industries, parent company for Rare Dankness (one of the most well-known brands in cannabis) and the owner of a brand-new 54,000-square-foot cultivation facility/ dispensary in Denver, called House of Dankness. Rare Dankness strains are grown and traded worldwide thanks to its international seed banks. Reach also has consulted on more than 300 grows over the last five years and countless more before that. His new Denver facility is one of the most high-tech, automated cultivation sites in the world.
Director of Horticulture Science
Yan Ren-Butcher is the Director of Horticulture Science at Illumitex. A native of Shanghai, China, she earned her Ph.D. Degree in Horticultural Sciences from Texas A&M University. After graduating, she joined Philips Research Asia -Shanghai as a Plant Physiologist to work on its Horticulture LED lighting research project. In addition to managing research projects with universities, she co-published the results of multiple studies in international peer-reviewed journals. Yan has dedicated her career to helping bridge the science of lighting with horticulture.
BioAgronomics Group Consultants
Mojave Richmond settled in the Netherlands in the early 1990s and became involved in the country’s newly emerging marijuana industry and breeding cannabis for specific therapeutic properties. Richmond developed the award-winning strain S.A.G.E., which served as a springboard for creating many notable cultivars, including Zeta. As laws began to relax in the U.S., Richmond moved back to California and began working as a cannabis farming consultant, designing custom hydro-organic cultivation facilities. He continues to breed and develop new critically acclaimed varietals that present specific therapeutic attributes without compromising agronomic viability. He currently serves as an advisory board member for a National Institute of Health cannabis study based in Los Angeles and is a founding member of the international consulting company BioAgronomics Group.
Lead Cultivation Manager
Casey Rivero is the Lead Cultivation Manager at Yerba Buena, one of the first eight cannabis businesses recreationally licensed in Oregon. Casey is the mastermind behind Yerba Buena’s cultivation facility, which has been called the most state-of-the-art in Oregon by multiple leaders in the industry, and dubbed the “Cadillac of Grows” by the OLCC. Casey has 20 years of experience in cannabis cultivation and facility design, and has experience using a variety of different grow systems.
Vice President, Extraction
Markus Roggen is organic chemist who took the plunge into the cannabis world by establishing a testing laboratory. He also built an extraction facility for large volume supercritical CO2 extraction.
Roggen is deeply interested in the molecular properties of the plant, including testing, extracting, and the transformation of active ingredients. As a strong proponent of basic research, Markus constantly tests the limits of current cannabis science and is always willing to help others with their research.
Dr. Nadia Sabeh is founder of Dr. Greenhouse, an engineering consulting firm that specializes in the design, specification and analysis of environmental control systems. Dr. Sabeh is a licensed Mechanical Engineer in California and received her Ph.D. in Agriculture and Biosystems Engineering from the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC).
Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions
Tom Schultz is a Wall Street lawyer and investment banker turned pharmaceutical executive. In 1996, Schultz completed an IPO-oriented merger of the last major producers of witch hazel, the EE Dickinson Company and the TN Dickinson Company. Witch hazel is a heavily used botanical product in the health, wellness, and beauty industry. He assumed leadership of Dickinson Brands Inc., the resulting firm, until 2014. By 2003, Schultz had led the buyout of the EE Dickinson interests and managed the acquisition of Humphreys Pharmacal Incorporated, a company that marketed witch hazel to Central and South American markets. Since 2013, Schultz has served as President of Connecticut Pharmaceutical Solutions, one of four licensed medical marijuana producers in Connecticut.
Resource Innovation Institute
Derek Smith is Executive Director of the Resource Innovation Institute, a non-profit whose mission is to promote and quantify energy and water conservation in the cannabis industry. He has been a leader in triple bottom line ventures in the public, private and nonprofit sectors for 15 years. Most recently, he founded and led Clean Energy Works, a nationally-recognized nonprofit organization that facilitates residential energy efficiency upgrades throughout Oregon and Washington. He has directed energy programs for the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability and also created an award-winning sustainability program for a national retailer.