Cannabis in California: Ending the 100 Year War Speaker Biographies

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Michael Aldrich is author of the first Ph.D. dissertation on cannabis in the U.S., “Marijuana Myths & Folklore,” SUNY-Buffalo, 1970. He founded the first college chapter of LEMAR at SUNY-Buffalo in 1967 and was co-founder of Amorphia 1969-73, which sponsored the first California Marijuana Initiative in 1972. He was curator of the Fitz Hugh Ludlow Library 1974-2002 and trained AIDS outreach workers 1989-2001. He was Executive Director of CHAMP 2001-2002 and co-founder of SPARC dispensary 2010- present.

Michelle Aldrich has spent the last 40 years working on legalizing marijuana and was awarded a lifetime achievement award from High Times Magazine . She helped draft Proposition 215, which legalized medical marijuana use in California. She has been a member of the Board of California NORML for over 25 years. She was a founding member of the Advisory Board of Patients Out of Time and the San Francisco Medical Cannabis Task Force. On Jan 12, 2012, Michelle was diagnosed with Stage 3A Lung Cancer and began an aggressive, integrated treatment plan, which included Cannabis Oil, chemo, acupuncture, diet, a great team of doctors and a wonderful support team. On May 10, 2012, the Pet scan showed no inflammation or signs of cancer.

Betty Aldworth is the deputy director of the National Cannabis Industry Association and chair of NCIA’s Women’s CannaBusiness Network. Since 2009, Betty has specialized in community outreach, public relations, advocacy, and policy reform as a consultant to cannabis-related businesses and nonprofit organizations. Prior to transitioning to the cannabis and medical marijuana fields, Betty was a volunteer leadership professional with some of Denver’s most well-respected nonprofit organizations. Most recently, she served as spokesperson and advocacy director for Colorado’s successful Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, the collaborative committee responsible for legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for adults in Colorado. Betty lives and works in Denver, Colorado.

Tom Ammiano is a San Francisco leader who has served the city four decades as a teacher, civil rights leader, educator, Supervisor and California Assemblymember. In 1975, he became the first public school teacher in San Francisco to make his sexual orientation public knowledge. Ammiano was elected to the San Francisco School Board in 1990 and to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1994. He remained on the Board until his election as Assemblymember in 2008. He has been a tireless advocate for reform of marijuana laws and will be introducing new legislation this year to regulate sales of medical cannabis.

James Anthony in 2006 started a law practice specializing full-time in medical cannabis dispensary land use law after serving as a zoning prosecutor in the Oakland City Attorney’s office. He advises dispensing and cultivation collectives on compliance with state and local law throughout California. He defends collectives from local government lawsuits trying to shut them down. He also has deep political experience writing initiatives and referenda and running campaigns in Berkeley, San Jose, Santa Ana (Orange County), and other cities and counties around the state. A licensed real estate broker, he is an expert on location analysis for new collectives. During the last CA cannabis boom (2009-10) he formed a consulting group with industry leaders. This time, he is ready for whatever comes next.

Paul Armentano is the Deputy Director of NORML and the NORML Foundation. Paul is an expert in the field of marijuana policy, health, and pharmacology, and has served as a consultant for Health Canada and the Canadian Public Health Association. He has spoken at numerous national conferences and legal seminars, testified before state legislatures and federal agencies, and assisted dozens of criminal defense attorneys in cases pertaining to the use of medicinal cannabis, drug testing, and drugged driving. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, and has appeared as an expert witness in federal court on issues pertaining to interpretation of drug testing examinations.

Dr. Larry Bedard, a career Emergency Physician, practiced at Marin General Hospital from 1979 to 2005. He is a public official, serving on the Marin Healthcare District Board since 2006. Dr. Bedard served as President of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (CALACEP) in 1986-1987 and President of ACEP in 1996-1997. In 2009 Dr. Bedard, a Delegate to the California Medical Association (CMA) authored a resolution that ultimately led to the October 14, 2011 CMA Board of Trustees unanimous decision to support legalization and regulation of marijuana. In 2010, he chaired the Health Professional Coalition for Yes on 19. Since 2011, Dr. Berdard has chaired the Public Education Programs Fund established by Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR).

Graham Boyd is counsel to the philanthropist Peter B. Lewis, helping design and coordinate national, state and local campaigns for marijuana law reforms, as well as opinion research in support of those campaigns. Before working for Mr. Lewis, he was the founder and director of the ACLU Drug Law Reform Project.

Nate Bradley, during his 6 years in law enforcement, spent most of his career proactively working with his community to reduce crime and neighborhood problems. He loved police work, but being a first hand witness to the war on drugs let him see that it was hurting, not helping society. After Nate was laid off in 2009, Nate began using cannabis medicinally as replacement for the 6 prescription pills a day he was taking for PTSD. Nate is now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and is the founder of Lawmen Protecting Patients, a non profit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the rights of medical cannabis patients. He has just published his first book: The Medical Marijuana Survival Guide. Find out more at and

Gordon Brownell became involved in the marijuana movement by joining AMORPHIA, the Cannabis Cooperative, as its political director in 1972. He also served as Statewide Political Coordinator for the California Marijuana Initiative that year. After CMI, he became California’s first registered marijuana law reform lobbyist in 1973. Gordon opened the California NORML office in 1974, serving as West Coast Coordinator until 1981 and Chairman of the National NORML Board of Directors from 1981-1985. In a prior life he was a Republican activist, working in campaigns for Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and serving on the Nixon White House staff.

Chris Conrad is a court-qualified expert witness on cannabis (marijuana) who has testified more than 250 times in state, military and federal courts. He is an internationally recognized expert on industrial hemp, commercial activity, cultivation and religious, personal and medical cannabis use. A curator of both the Hash-Marijuana-Hemp Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, as well as the Oaksterdam Cannabis Museum in Oakland CA, he grew and processed cannabis legally in Europe and worked at the famous Cannabis Castle. Conrad is author of Hemp: Lifeline to the Future, Shattered Lives: Portraits From America’s Drug War, and other books.

Stacia Cosner is the Associate Director for Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Working in Washington, DC she loves her job managing outreach, communication and development for SSDP. From 2006-2008 at the University of Maryland, she led the campus SSDP chapter that remains one of the largest and most active chapters in the country. In 2011, administrators implemented a Good Samaritan policy that she introduced as a University Senator in 2007. On Wednesdays during the summer, you can find Stacia playing softball on the national mall with The One Hitters, a co-ed congressional league softball team comprised of DC drug policy reformers and friends.

Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group (AVG). Troy founded AVG with Steve DeAngelo to facilitating the emergence of ancillary businesses in the cannabis industry via projects like The ArcView Angel Investment Network, Cannassure Insurance Services, and MyDispensary Mobile App. Formerly he was the Marijuana Policy Project’s top fundraiser and lead liaison to the legal cannabis industry. Troy co-founded Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and helped launch Renewable Choice Energy and the Interfaith Drug Policy Initiative. He was the promotional director for the Flex Your Rights film “Busted” and formerly the director of development at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS). He is a founding board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and part of the leadership team at the Interchange Counseling Institute.

Steve DeAngelo is Executive Director of Harborside Health Center in Oakland, and a cannabis industry leader, movement strategist and lilong activist. Steve writes and speaks widely on the subject of cannabis, and his creation of the world’s model medical cannabis dispensary has been extensively covered in national and international news media. He organized I-59, Washington D.C.’s medical cannabis initiative; Hemp Tour, which brought hemp to the heartland; and Ecolution, Inc., which produced hemp garments and accessories 1990-2000. Steve is a founding, charter member of ASA (Americans for Safe Access); on the board of the Emerald Growers Association; and the star of the Discovery Channel miniseries, “Weed Wars” which is currently rolling out internationally.

Don Duncan has served on the Americans for Safe Access Board of Directors since he co-founded ASA in 2002. As California Director, he coordinates the grassroots and grasstops campaign to fully implement the state’s medical cannabis laws, respond to federal interference, and build a broader and more powerful coalition for medical cannabis in California. He has worked closely with elected officials, law enforcement, collective operators, and community members in local implementation efforts in several California cities and counties, and is currently working with lawmakers in Sacramento to adopt legislation to expand rights for patients.

Joe Elford is Chief Counsel for Americans for Safe Access. After graduating from Yale Law School in 1996, Joe served as a law clerk for the Honorable Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California. In 2003, he assisted in the defense of Edward Rosenthal, and successfully litigated his appeal. After joining ASA, Joe compelled the California Highway Patrol to revise its policy regarding the seizure of medical marijuana from qualified patients through a civil action in 2005, and later established through a published decision in Garden Grove v. Superior Court that patients whose medical marijuana is seized are entitled to the return of their medicine. Recently, Joe won the appeal of Jovan Jackson in San Diego, which creates precedent establishing the legality of medical marijuana dispensaries in California. On October 18, 2012, Joe argued a case to reschedule marijuana before the District of Columbia Circuit. Visit the ASA website for more information at

Omar Figueroa is a Constitutional and criminal defense lawyer based in Sebastopol. Mr. Figueroa has been defending cannabis cases for over a dozen years in both federal and California courts, and he regularly teaches Continuing Legal Education (CLE) courses for lawyers on the topic of California medical marijuana laws. He was a Co-Proponent of the Repeal Cannabis Prohibition Act of 2012, and the California Cannabis Initiative of 2010. He is a board member of the ACLU of Sonoma County, and represents numerous activists and protesters pro bono.

Dale Gieringer has been the state coordinator of California NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) since 1987. He is also Vice-Chairman of the national NORML board of directors, director of the California Drug Policy Forum (DPFCA) and treasurer of the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance (OCLA). Dr. Gieringer has published research on medical marijuana usage, marijuana smoke harm reduction, potency testing, marijuana and driving safety, and drug urinalysis. He has testified before the legislature and in court on issues concerning personal use of marijuana. He was one of the original co-authors of California’s medical marijuana initiative, Prop. 215, and the proponent of Oakland’s Measure Z cannabis initiative in 2004.

John Gilmore is an entrepreneur and civil libertarian. He started as a programmer, and built a fortune in several computer businesses, which he is now spending to preserve and extend civil rights for all. He co-created the first successful free software business (Cygnus Support); the Electronic Frontier Foundation (; the Cypherpunks; the DES Cracker; much free software including GNU Tar, GNU Radio, Gnash, and the GNU Debugger; and the Usenet’s “alt” newsgroups. When you get an IP address, you’re probably running the protocol he co-designed, DHCP. He’s spent 35 years doing programming, hardware and software design, management, philosophy, philanthropy, investment, strategy, and tactics. He is a board member of various nonprofit and for-profits. His advocacy on drug policy aims to reduce the immense harm caused by current attempts to control the mental states of free citizens.

Debby Goldsberry is a pioneer of the medical cannabis industry, with 25 years experience. Recently, she co-founded Communicare Centers, a collective dedicated to creating standardized cannabis medicines. Ms. Goldsberry also co-founded the Berkeley Patients Group (BPG) medical cannabis collective, which she directed for 11 years, and several non-profit organizations, including Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the Medical Cannabis Safety Council (MCSC), and Cannabis Action Network (CAN). She is a volunteer for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) Woman’s Alliance, and is a former board member of the Marijuana Policy Project. Ms. Goldsberry was twice designated High Times Freedom Fighter of the Month and was given NORML’s Paula Sabine Award for Woman in Leadership. Ms. Goldsberry served as HIGH TIMES Freedom Fighter of the Year, 2011-2012.

Mike Gray’s Chicago-Based Film Group chronicled the political violence of the 1960’s, including the award-winning feature documentaries, AMERICAN REVOLUTION II, and THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON. After moving to Hollywood in 1973, Gray wrote the original screenplay for the eerily prophetic CHINA SYNDROME. His years of research were confirmed less than two weeks after the movie’s release by the accident at Three Mile Island. In 1998, Gray’s seminal book, DRUG CRAZY: How We Got Into This Mess and How We Can Get Out, was published by Random House. The detailed factual history of drug prohibition had a major impact on the drug war debate.

Stephen Gutwillig is Deputy Executive Director, Programs, for the Drug Policy Alliance. He leads DPA’s public policy program, which includes seven offices across the country and a staff of 40. Based in Los Angeles, Gutwillig served as DPA’s California director from 2007 to 2011, overseeing the organization’s statewide legislative agenda, “model city” initiative in San Francisco, and marijuana reform efforts, including advocacy on behalf of Proposition 19 on the 2010 ballot. He has appeared on NBC Nightly News, CNN, Telemundo, and Fox News as well as in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, and dozens of other media outlets. He has served since 2006 on the Community Funding Board of the Liberty Hill Foundation, the leading social change grantmaker in Los Angeles.

Kandice Hawes founded Orange County NORML in 2003 after losing her financial aid due to a possession charge. In the ten years since then OC NORML has become one of the most accomplished chapters in the NORML organization earning the Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award at the 2012 NORML Convention. OC NORML has also been instrumental in organizing the Medical Cannabis Conference for Seniors in Laguna Woods and the Know Your Rights Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center. Currently Kandice Hawes is also the Principal Officer of the Committee to Support Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative Political Action Committee. The PAC is running a voter initiative to replace the ban on medical marijuana collectives in Santa Ana, the county seat of OC. Find out more at

Liana Held has more than fifteen years experience in the medical cannabis industry, with a specialized background in compliance and accounting issues. In 2009, she founded Liana Limited (LLTD), a business management and development consultancy. Previously, she served as co-director of the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative, finance director at Berkeley Patients Group, and accountant at the Law Office of Jerome D. Handley. She currently serves on the board of California NORML. She can be reached at (415)528-7050 or

Alison Holcomb is Drug Policy Director of the ACLU of Washington. Alison was the primary drafter of Initiative 502 and director of New Approach Washington, the campaign supporting its passage. At the ACLU, she has been involved in passage and implementation of three bills expanding and strengthening Washington’s medical marijuana law in 2007, 2010, and 2011. Before joining the ACLU in 2006, she represented clients in state and federal courts for more than a decade, with an emphasis on drug and civil asset forfeiture defense. Alison received her B.A. from Stanford University and her J.D. from the University of Washington School of Law.

Sebastopol Vice Mayor Robert Jacob is also the founder and Executive Director of Peace in Medicine, a model medical cannabis dispensary in Sebastopol, California. A diligent community leader and visionary entrepreneur, Robert was named in the Top 40 Under Forty list by the North Bay Business Journal for his leadership and business acumen. He is also a member of the Chamber of Commerce, Sebastopol Rotary Club, and Sonoma County Democratic Party. Robert developed and led non-profit organizations serving disenfranchised youth and patients, formed a chain of salons, and even ran an award winning charter school. Before being elected to City Council, Robert served as the Chair of the Sebastopol Planning Commission.

Dale Sky Jones, Oaksterdam University’s Executive Chancellor is focused on developing education courses and enhancing cannabis policy reform. With the retirement of founder Richard Lee, Dale has also taken over operations as President and CEO. She is the Chairwoman of the Board for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, previously spokeswoman for the Prop 19 Campaign in California. Dale is serving on the board of directors for the National Cannabis Industry Association, and the steering committees for the Californians to Regulate Medical Marijuana Unity Coalition, and the C20 Cannabis Council. Dale has interviewed with hundreds of news, entertainment and journalism sources and is featured in many other publications and documentaries both foreign and domestic. Her remaining time is spent in research and policy conferences, legislative meetings, community gatherings and debates. Find out more about Oaksterdam University at

Rob Kampia is co-founder and executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a non-profit organization working to eliminate criminal penalties for marijuana use. Founded in 1995, MPP quickly established itself as the leading organization on Capitol Hill calling for the repeal of marijuana prohibition. Over the years, Rob has testified before numerous legislative committees and routinely debated prohibitionists about the need for marijuana policy reform on national TV. In addition, Rob helped author most of the medical marijuana laws that are now on the books in 18 states and the District of Columbia. In 2012, Rob oversaw the campaign to regulate marijuana in Colorado, which successfully made the state the only place in the world to have legalized the possession, use, production, distribution, and personal cultivation of marijuana. For more info about MPP, visit

Beau Kilmer co-directs the RAND Drug Policy Research Center. His research lies at the intersection of public health and public safety, with a special emphasis on substance use, illicit markets, corrections, and public policy. His work has been published in leading journals such as the American Journal of Public Health, Foreign Policy, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and his co-authored book on marijuana legalization was recently published by Oxford University Press ( He is regularly quoted in national and international media outlets including Al Jazeera, BBC, CNN, Marketplace, NBC, New York Times, and Rolling Stone. Before earning his doctorate at Harvard University, Kilmer received a Judicial Administration Fellowship that supported his work with the San Francisco Drug Court.

Khurshid Khoja is Principal at Greenbridge Corporate Counsel, advising start-up and established social enterprises working toward environmentally conscious and politically progressive goals. Prior to founding Greenbridge, Khurshid practiced corporate law at two AmLaw 100-rated international law firms. Khurshid serves as General Counsel to the Emerald Growers Association, whose mission is to promote sun-grown medical cannabis from the Emerald Triangle and public policies that foster a sustainable medical cannabis industry. Khurshid also serves as General Counsel to The ArcView Group. He received his J.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, and has been named to the Northern California SuperLawyers Rising Stars list.

Ellen Komp has been a hemp/marijuana activist since 1991 and is currently Deputy Director of California NORML. She edited the 9th edition of The Emperor Wears No Clothes by Jack Herer and was a volunteer petitioner for the California Hemp Initiative (1993, 1994) and Proposition 215 (1995). Komp was Deputy Director of Community Outreach & Communications at The Lindesmith Center in San Francisco (now Drug Policy Alliance) and sat on the Humboldt County medical marijuana task force, resulting in a county ordinance to implement SB420. For the past 10 years, Ellen has gathered information about prominent cannabis connoisseurs at her website,

David Lampach, President and Co-Founder of Steep Hill Lab, has been working in the medical cannabis industry for over eight years. An expert outdoor grower, Lamapach developed the cutting-edge potency testing regimen that the lab currently uses, based on his experience in GC/MS analysis of various compounds. With Lampach’s vision and dedication, Steep Hill has championed public health and began the movement to mandate that medical cannabis adhere to the same standards as other foods and drugs.

Ann Edwards Lee grew up in Ponchatoula, La., a very small town 50 miles north of New Orleans. She finished Ponchatoula High School in 1946, and left Louisiana for Texas to enter the University of Texas. There she met Bob Lee, who made her not only a Texan, but a Republican. They were married in April of 1951, had five sons and have lived in Houston since 1956. In 1990 they had a “C-change” in their lives when Richard, #4 son, told them that marijuana was good for him. Earlier that year Richard had had an accident that put him in a wheel chair as a paraplegic. Ever since, she has been involved in educating anyone who will listen about the evils of the drug war. She founded RAMP, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition, in 2012. Find more information at

Richard Lee was the founder of Oaksterdam University and Proposition 19 co-proponent. He has been working to end cannabis prohibition for 17 years. In 1992, he co-founded Legal Marijuana – The Hemp Store in Houston, Texas, one of the first hemp products retail outlets in the United States. Lee moved to Oakland in 1997 and co-founded the Hemp Research Company, supplying cannabis to the Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Club and researching efficient and environmentally friendly cannabis horticulture. In 1999, he opened the Bulldog Coffeeshop, the second cannabis outlet in “Oaksterdam.” In 2003 Lee founded the Oakland Civil Liberties Alliance, the PAC that passed Oakland’s Measure Z making private sales, cultivation, and possession of cannabis the lowest law enforcement priority and mandating that Oakland tax and regulate cannabis as soon as possible under state law. In 2007, he founded the first cannabis college in the United States, Oaksterdam University. His dedication to ending cannabis prohibition played a crucial role in the revitalization and economic growth of Oakland.

Senator Mark Leno represents the 11th Senate District of California, which includes San Francisco, Daly City, Colma, Broadmoor and portions of South San Francisco. Prior to his election to the Senate, he served on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors from 1998–2002, and six years in the State Assembly. Senator Leno has advanced hemp legalization and medical marijuana employment rights legislation in Sacramento, and was the author of the 2010 marijuana decriminalization bill signed by Gov. Schwarzenegger.

Michael Levinsohn worked as a public defender his first two years in San Diego, trying approximately twenty jury trials, and has been in private criminal defense practice ever since. He practiced in the Bay Area from 1992 to 2004, and then moved to Los Angeles. He has essentially a “no-deals” approach to defending medical marijuana cases, and has cleared a number of defendants of marijuana charges, money laundering, and “deposit structuring.” He has a particular affinity for marijuana-related child endangerment charges, including the case of Daisy Bram in Butte County.

John McCowen’s family came to California by wagon train in 1857 and moved to Ukiah in 1880. He graduated from Chico State University with a BA in English and worked as an instructor at Butte Community College. In the past twenty-five years he has worked as a property manager and served on the Board of Directors of several local non-profit organizations. He served four years on the Ukiah City Council, a year on the City Planning Commission and nearly eight years on the County Planning Commission. He is currently a Supervisor in Mendocino County.

Kyndra Miller graduated from Lincoln School of Law in Silicon Valley, California in 2002 and worked as a volunteer attorney for Americorps for one year. Miller then opened an Entertainment law firm in Los Angeles. Currently, she is President and CEO of CannaBusiness Law, Inc., a wireless professional law corporation that provides Business Law services to medical marijuana patients. She is on the Board of Directors for national NORML and is Co-Vice Chair of the NORML Women’s Alliance.

Kristin Nevedal is the Chair of Emerald Growers Association (EGA) which resulted from the union of Humboldt Growers Association and MendoGrown in early 2012. A long time southern Humboldt organic gardner and mother, Kristin is an accomplished wellness practitioner and instructor of Chinese medicine, nutrition, and herbology. She has roots in the nursery industry and organic farming resulting in expertise in CA Department of Agriculture organic regulatory reporting and compliance. As Chair of EGA, Kristin is crafting agricultural regulation for two states and multiple local governments, including Humboldt and Mendocino Counties, City of Sacramento, Lake County, City of Clearlake and an ever-expanding list of others.

Mikki Norris is Managing Editor and Publisher (with her husband, Chris Conrad) the West Coast Leaf newspaper. She is director of the Cannabis Consumers Campaign, coordinator of the Human Rights and the Drug War exhibit project ( and co-author of Shattered Lives: Portraits from America’s Drug War. Norris and Conrad were grassroots coordinators of the Prop. 215 petition drive. In 2006, Norris was a political consultant to the lowest law enforcement priority initiatives and ordinances that passed in San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood. She is currently developing the Tell Mi