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June 12-14, 2018, New Orleans, LA 

Join us in New Orleans for an educational event consisting of up to 7.5 CLE credits, and discounted access to the MJBizConNEXT Conference with purchase of NCBA's educational offerings! The Cannabis Law Sessions will take place over two days, with afternoon sessions on Tuesday, May 8 and morning sessions on Wednesday, May 9, which will lead into the MJBizConNEXT conference, running through May 11.

CLE Credit is available for California, Colorado, Texas*, Louisiana*, Arkansas*, Georgia*, Florida*, and materials will be provided for additional individual credit in your state. 

*CLE Applications Pending 

The Schedule has been specially created to allow for travel from the East Coast and Souther States with a minimum amount of time out of the office. Arrive on Tuesday morning for our Tuesday afternoon sessions, beginning at 12:00 noon, and finish by 12:30 pm on Wednesday for travel back home.

Scroll down for speaker biographies.

Special thanks to our sponsors:

The Evening Reception Sponsors

The Cannabis Law Sessions Sponsors:

And to our non-profit sponsors:

Tuesday, May 8

Panel One - Dan Garfield as Lead

Title: Representing the cannabis startup through early stage financing

Description: Examine the issues that cannabis businesses face during startup, including choice of entity and jurisdiction, governance, early stage financing, tax, and planning for exit. The panel will also discuss disputes that can arise from a failure to organize properly at startup and how to avoid those disputes.

Panel Two - Megan Rimovsky as Lead

Title: Intellectual Property at a High Level: Setting Up Your Cannabis Clients for Success Right from the Start

Description: An introduction to counseling intellectual property matters for all cannabis businesses, especially those in their infancy. Panelists will cover some foundational IP principals and best practices in a conversation designed to advance attorneys’ understanding of IP ownership considerations, brand protection, innovation capturing, and how to navigate nuances specific to businesses in the cannabis industry. This session will be moderated by [TBD]. 

Panel Three - Corinne Celko as Lead

Title: Finding the Right Property For Your Business

Description: An important aspect in getting your cannabis business off the ground is finding the right property for your business.  Ensuring that it is feasible for you to operate in the way you desire on your property is critical to a successful cannabis business.  This panel will take a closer look at the multitude of factors to consider when determining where to locate your business, including local government land use and zoning regulations, environmental and energy concerns, risk factors in owning or leasing property, and much more.  This session will be moderated by [MODERATOR TBD].

Panel Four - Steve Schain as Lead

Title: Risk Management: How to Make Marijuana Related Businesses Bulletproof! 

Description: Only death and taxes are inevitable.  A lawyer armed with decent risk management fundamentals can diminish most other horrible outcomes. Risk management is the identification, evaluation, and prioritization of risks followed by coordinated and economical resources application which minimize, monitor, and control unfortunate events' probability or impact.  Learn the differences between "Insurance Risk Management" and "Enterprise Risk Management".  On the insurance side, familiarize yourself with coverage available to marijuana related businesses for: Casualty; Directors and Officers: Property Title; Crop; Malpractice; and Dram Shop and Server Liability.  In the enterprise realm, acquaint yourself with: cyber security; "best practices" operating procedures; HIPPA compliance; reliance on regulation (and regulators); operating in “grey areas” (e.g. SweetLeaf looping); and litigation trends as "risk indicators". 

Panel Five - Tom Haren as Lead

Title: Effectively Representing Cannabis Clients: Things Every Cannabis Attorney Should Consider

Description: Representing cannabis clients presents a minefield of issues for the unwary lawyer, over and above questions relating to the conflict between state and federal law. Every day, cannabis attorneys struggle with questions like, what makes a good cannabis client? Can lawyers ethically represent multiple, competing cannabis clients? What terms are essential in a cannabis client engagement letter? How can lawyers ethically and effectively lobby on behalf of clients? What kinds of reputational issues do cannabis attorneys face in the industry? How should lawyers structure and accept fees from cannabis clients? The panel will walk through all of these issues and more to provide attendees with a solid understanding of both the ethical and practical considerations associated with representing clients in this exciting industry. 

Panel Six - Shawn Hauser as Lead

Title: The New US Hemp Economy-State and Federal Legal Considerations

Description: The historic passage of the 2018 Farm Bill changed the legal landscape for cannabis, exempting hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and shifting the regulation of its production from the DEA to the USDA. With states having the option to have primary regulatory over hemp production, and the ability to have more stringent requirements than the federal government, it is critical that businesses understand the relevant federal and state laws governing the production and sale of hemp products.  With a patchwork of  rapidly changing state hemp laws, continued instances of enforcement, the USDA in the process of federal rulemaking,  FDA prohibiting the sale of CBD and other cannabinoid products, how can businesses operate in compliance with the law? Will the FDA allow CBD in food or dietary supplement products? What can businesses do as these laws are evolving? Attendees will understand the current state of the law, how it is poised to change, and how to position for compliance and success. This session will be moderated by [MODERATOR TBD]. 

Speaker Bios


Altshuler, Sherri (Partner, Aird & Berlis)

Sherri is a senior partner in the Aird & Berlis Cannabis Group. She represents a broad range of clients in the cannabis sector, including Canadian licensed producers, international producers and ancillary businesses. Sherri helps her clients navigate the existing medicinal regulatory regime in Canada and the emerging recreational cannabis market. Sherri also helps her clients achieve their growth plans, including financings, go-public transactions (initial public offerings, reverse takeovers and qualifying transactions), listing on the TSX, TSXV and CSE, collaborations, royalty agreements and M&A transactions. She also advises clients on regulatory compliance, branding and cross-border matters.


DeCaro, Lara (Partner, Leland, Parachini, Steinberg, Metzger & Melnick, LLP, NCBA Founding Board Member)

Lara L. DeCaro is a business attorney and mediator. She has concentrated her legal career in the areas of intellectual property, corporate governance and compliance, commercial transactions, real property, estate planning, and mediation. Most of her clients come from highly-regulated industries and she has translated that knowledge into a comprehensive medical cannabis practice. She has also represented event venues, entertainment providers, art galleries, authors, banks, recycling companies, investors, franchisors, an airport, and various small business owners. Whatever their industry Lara takes pride in getting to know her clients and working with them from start-up to wind-up. 

Lara received a certificate in mediation in 1999 from the American Arbitration Association through Tulane Law School. She was also a member of the New Mexico Senate Memorial 57 Advisory Council and the New Mexico State Bar Association ADR Committee, which authored the rules in New Mexico for alternative and effective dispute resolution.

Lara is licensed to practice law in California, Colorado, and New Mexico (currently inactive). She graduated with honors from both her undergraduate program at the University of Southern California and law school at Tulane.

Kyle Detwiler (CEO, Northern Swan Holdings)

Prior to co-founding Silver Swan in 2015, Mr. Detwiler was a Principal at The Blackstone Group, a leading alternative investment manager with $344 billion of assets under management.  As an early member of the Tactical Opportunities Fund, Mr. Detwiler was involved in the management or served as a board member in 7 investments with roughly $1 billion of Blackstone capital, including LocusPoint Networks (television broadcasting and spectrum), Phoenix Tower International (wireless towers in the US and Latin America), Wireless Capital Partners (real estate attached to wireless towers), Philadelphia Financial Group (insurance), One Market Plaza (commercial real estate) and a residential real estate platform in New York City.

Farrington, Cassandra (MJBiz)

Cassandra Farrington heads up the cannabis industry leading daily news website Marijuana Business Daily and its family of content resources for the B2B cannabis marketplace, including the internationally recognized family of MJBizCon conferences. Previously a Vice President at Citi, she earned her MBA from the University of Texas, McCombs School of Business. MjBizDaily was co-founded by Cassandra and her business partner in 2011. It is now the most established ongoing business to business news organization serving the cannabis industry.

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Fendrick, Sabrina (Director of Government Affairs, Berkeley Patients Group)

Sabrina Fendrick brings ten years of political, industry and advocacy experience as a cannabis professional to her current role as Director of Government Affairs for Berkeley Patients Group (BPG). She engages with political and industry stakeholders regarding various cannabis programs on both a state and municipal level, assisting with the development of local ordinances and other policy efforts in California, including the 2016 initiative to legalize adult use. Most recently, she led the successful effort to cut Berkeley’s local cannabis recreational tax rate in half. Sabrina is also the chair of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) Retail Committee.

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Figueroa, Omar (Partner, Law Offices of Omar Figueroa)

Omar Figueroa is a pioneering cannabis lawyer who has been providing legal counsel and representation to members of California’s cannabis industry since 1998. He is the author of Cannabis Codes of California, the first comprehensive guide to laws and regulations governing the California cannabis industry and is frequently quoted in the media. Omar entered the cannabis industry as a criminal defense lawyer, where he tirelessly defended individuals charged with cannabis-related crimes. With the passage of cannabis legalization in California, Omar has expanded the firm to keep pace with the industry’s legal needs. Omar has presented at countless conferences, and is widely regarded as an expert not only in the realm of cannabis laws themselves but also with regard to the proper manner of counseling cannabis companies.

Omar earned his Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from Yale College, his juris doctor from Stanford Law School, and is a proud graduate of Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College. Omar also trained under legendary San Francisco trial lawyer Tony Serra. He is a Founding Lifetime Member of the National Cannabis Bar Association, a Lifetime Member of the NORML Legal Committee, as well as a proud member of the American Bar Association, the California State Bar.


Goldman, Andi B. (Principal, ABG Advisory/Equitas Partners Fund)

With 20 years of institutional investment experience in private equity and lending, Andi’s managed $2Bn of investments across numerous industries. In cannabis, Andi’s been an advisor, angel investor and executive. As a financial executive, Andi was instrumental in raising and negotiating significant capital for FLRish’s California cannabis holding company and cultivation operations and gained significant exposure to Harborside’s dispensary operations. Andi’s a Chartered Financial Analyst and former corporate/securities lawyer, is currently advising a variety of cannabis companies across the US and launching a cannabis investment fund, Equitas Partners Fund. Andrea is a frequent industry speaker, member of the Arcview selection committee and WomenGrow, and holds an MBA from Yale and JD from Duke.

Hasan, Afzal (EVP, Corporate Development and General Counsel, CannaRoyalty)

Mr. Hasan obtained a Juris Doctor (J.D.) and a Bachelor of Science (B. Sc.), Commerce and Human Biology, from the University of Toronto, Canada. Prior to joining CannaRoyalty, Mr. Hasan worked as a securities lawyer at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, where he developed a broad spectrum of experience providing advice to both public and private companies on transactions in diverse industry sectors.

Mr. Hasan’s experience prior to his career in the private legal practice includes a secondment at the Mergers and Acquisitions Group in the Corporate Finance Branch of the Ontario Securities Commission, working with the United Nations and the wholesale banking division of a major multi-national bank in Thailand and completing independent research in microbial genetics at the University of Toronto.


Jennings, John M. (Harter Secrest & Emery LLP)

John Jennings practices in the Government Affairs department of the Business Unit. He focuses on representing a variety of businesses and professional associations in the New York State Legislature. His practice includes:

  • Drafting legislation on behalf of clients.

  • Monitoring and reporting on the status of pending legislation.

  • Analyzing potential effects of pending legislation on clients’ interests.

  • Communicating clients’ positions to members of the State Legislature, State Agencies, and the Governor’s Office.

  • Assisting clients with strategy regarding the availability of and access to a variety of government funding mechanisms and other programs.

  • Advising clients regarding a myriad of government relations compliance issues, from procurement regulations to campaign finance laws.

Before John joined the Government Affairs department, he practiced for several years in the trial department, where he honed his writing and advocacy skills representing clients in commercial litigation matters.

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Lanier, Colleen Keahey (Executive Director, Hemp Industry Association (HIA))

Colleen K. Lanier entered the industrial hemp scene in 2013 when she approached the Hemp Industries Association (HIA) to develop a state chapter program to bolster advocacy efforts in Tennessee.  As a former legal assistant turned publishing and marketing coordinator for a water and wastewater trade association, Colleen dedicated her talent and executed a successful strategy to legalize hemp in Tennessee.  The campaign included a widely shared educational component that reached 20 million people on social media.  In 2014, Vote Hemp recruited as National Outreach Coordinator.  She's worked with activists, policy writers, regulators, legislators and industry stakeholders to identify pathways for the hemp industries.  

In 2017, Colleen became Executive Director of the HIA.  She works with the Board of Directors to lead the vision and execute strategies for the association in the interest of the hemp industries.  Protecting opportunities for hemp in agriculture and commerce remain a critical focus.  Colleen led the engagement with Hoban Law Group to facilitate swift board action resulting in HIA v. DEA III.  Colleen is also working to establish a legal defense fund for the industries and envisions the normalization of hemp farming and the crop's commodities in the marketplace and the home. 

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McDougal, Amy (JD, CCEP) (President, CLEAResources, LLC)

Ms. McDougal is an attorney and certified Corporate Compliance and Ethics Professional. She founded CLEAResources, a corporate resource for compliance and ethics. She is Of Counsel with Ward & Berry in Washington DC and is a Director of the International Association of Independent Corporate Monitors. She also chairs the Ethics Committee of the NCBA. Ms. McDougal served as a Special Assistant US Attorney and Air Force Judge Advocate. She graduated from Vanderbilt Law School and Johns Hopkins (Bachelor of Music, Flute). She is licensed in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and the District of Columbia. She is admitted to practice before the US Supreme Court and US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.

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Moran, Courtney (Founding Principal, Earth Law, LLC)

Courtney N. Moran, LL.M. founding principal of EARTH Law, LLC and chief legislative strategist for Agricultural Hemp Solutions, LLC is the leading expert on industrial hemp law championing legal policy for sustainable Cannabis hemp agribusiness development. Courtney’s article, Industrial Hemp: Canada Exports, United States Imports was published by the Fordham Environmental Law Review. She participated in the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on the world drug problem in April 2016. In October 2016, Courtney testified before the Senado de la República in Mexico City, Mexico. She successfully lobbies for the Oregon Industrial Hemp Farmers Association passing legislation, HB 4060 (2016), SB 1015 (2017), and HB 4089 (2018), protecting Oregon hemp agricultural interests. She authored H 3559 (2017), establishing the South Carolina hemp program. Courtney provided foundational language for SB 119 (2017), establishing the Wisconsin hemp program. Courtney strategically guided drafting SB 6 (2017-2018), establishing the Alaska hemp program. She also provided pivotal strategy in drafting pending Missouri hemp legislation SB 547 and HB 2034. Courtney is also co-petitioner of the Relegalizing Industrial Hemp Project, a formal administrative rulemaking petition to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that will remove industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act. Courtney currently serves on the Oregon State Bar Cannabis Law Section Executive Committee; as Second Vice Chair on the national NORML Board of Directors; on the Board of Directors for Verified Life Cycle, Friends of Hemp, and the South Carolina Hemp Farmers Association; and is the national Hemp Industries Association Legislative Review Committee Chairwoman.

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Nichols, Jack (General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer FLRish, Inc.)

Prior to joining FLRish and Harborside, Jack Nichols enjoyed a law enforcement career. Jack began his career with the NYPD that spanned two decades and took him from the streets of Bedford-Stuyvesant in New York as a Patrolman, through twelve years as a detective with local and State law enforcement agencies before obtaining his law degree. The culmination of his law enforcement was as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney in the District of Maine, prosecuting firearms and narcotics violations in Federal court. Most recently, he worked for a private company as in-house counsel, where he assisted government agencies in the formulation and enforcement of medical cannabis regulations. 

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Romano, Valerio (Partner, Vicente Sederberg)

Valerio Romano, Esq. is a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLC. After graduating from the University of San Francisco School of Law, Valerio worked with cannabis pioneers at Pier 5 law offices in San Francisco to defend against the government’s overreach into the marijuana industry. Since 2012, with VGR Law Firm, PC, and now Vicente Sederberg LLC, Valerio has worked to site cannabis businesses in Massachusetts and across the country. Currently representing numerous cannabis business licensees and hopeful licensees from the Berkshires to Cape Cod, Valerio’s practice is focused on all aspects of land-use and municipal law. He works with clients through the application and licensing process, helping to site and secure real estate and maintain ongoing regulatory compliance. He also works regularly with mayors, city councilors, selectmen, planners, police chiefs, and state officials to resolve issues cannabis businesses face with host communities.


Rudick, Lauren (Member, Hiller PC)

Lauren Rudick, a Member of Hiller, PC, has a wealth of knowledge in multiple facets of law and is responsible for a wide variety of complex commercial matters. For ten years, Lauren practiced litigation exclusively, where she successfully represented clients in a variety of business, licensing, intellectual property, and Internet/media disputes, while contributing to the Firm’s land use and zoning practice. With a trained and sensitive eye for keeping clients out of litigation, Lauren has refocused her career on commercial and secured transactions. In 2015, Lauren was named a Rising Star among Top New York Metro Attorneys, as featured by Superlawyers®.

Among other things, Lauren serves as outside general counsel for investors and tech-driven startups, prepares and negotiates commercial, employment, and pre-litigation settlement agreements, vigorously protects clients’ intellectual property rights, and provides guidance to clients on grey areas of Internet Law, privacy, publicity, and advertising. She further specializes in interpretation of corporate documents, business organization or reorganization, and all forms and stages of corporate finance. And Lauren has a developed a niche in salvaging deals that have turned south, mitigating against legal exposure, and identifying and remedying abuse or misuse of corporate power and form.

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Rutledge, Scot (Partner, Parallax Strategies, and Argentum Partners)

Scot began his work in politics when he moved to Las Vegas in 2004 to work on federal, state and local campaigns. He has been involved in dozens of successful electoral, issue advocacy and legislative campaigns throughout his career.

In 2006, Scot took the helm of the Nevada Conservation League and over the course of the next eight years, helped build the organization into one of the most effective and politically viable advocacy organizations in the state. Their non-partisan lobbying efforts at the Nevada State Legislature helped create long-lasting relationships with many of the state’s elected leadership and their public education campaigns reached tens of thousands of Nevadans.  Electorally, Scot served as the Finance and Political Director for Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus. He was responsible for the day-to-day fundraising efforts, social media, and political outreach, including developing and stewarding key relationships for her within the Nevada business, nonprofit, and political communities.

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Schain, Steve (Senior Attorney, Hoban Law Group)

Steve runs global cannabis law firm Hoban Law Group's PA and NJ practices and Chairs its Financial Services Group.  With 14 offices and 42 lawyers, Hoban is only practice 100% devoted to cannabis and hemp law.  Steve represents entities, governments and individuals in choosing a structure, preparing and submitting license application, regulation, compliance and litigation, and drafting legislation.  A nationally recognized consumer finance litigation, banking and cannabis law expert, Steve is a The Legal Intelligencer, New Jersey Law Journal, and Cannabis Business Executive columnist, frequent lecturer and court appointed judge pro tempore and arbitrator. 


Segilia, Joe (General Counsel, Terra Tech)

Joe Segilia is the General Counsel of Terra Tech Corp., the country's first publicly-traded cannabis company, where he oversees the company’s legal department, including mergers and acquisitions, financings, regulatory compliance and government relations. Prior to joining Terra Tech, he was a partner at a boutique New York City law firm where he represented a number of cannabis companies. Joe has a JD from NYU Law and an LLM from University College London.

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Simms, Kimberly (Law Office of Kimberly R. Simms)

Kimberly R. Simms earned her law degree from Thomas Jefferson School of Law and became a member of the California State Bar in 2009. Kimberly started her own law practice immediately after law school focusing on the legal and political needs of the medical marijuana community. In her law practice, she has fought relentlessly for patients’ rights, negotiated with government officials to craft reasonable and effective regulations that allow for safe access, litigated complex land use and zoning cases, and advised hundreds of medical cannabis entrepreneurs. Kimberly is a recognized expert in this emerging area of law. She has taught courses and lead seminars which focus on how to comply with the ever-changing legal and regulatory requirements of the cannabis industry. She is considered a trusted source by the media and has been interviewed by NPR, CNN and many San Diego media outlets.


Westbrook, Elizabeth (Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney PC)

Liz Westbrook serves as Government Relations Advisor at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in Washington, DC. Her practice focuses on healthcare policy, with particular expertise in cannabis and health information technology. Prior to joining BIR, she worked on regulatory matters for Deloitte Consulting’s federal practice, serving health agency clients like the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, and the Veterans Administration. She has also held various state and federal campaign roles working with current and former Members of Congress. Westbrook caught the political bug while studying at the University of Southern California and pursued that passion to DC where she earned her JD from George Washington University Law School. In addition to her client work, she is the Co-Chair of Congressional Outreach for Women in Government Relations – the premier professional association for women working in government. Outside the office – or off Capitol Hill – you can find her swim-bike-running morning and night as a competitive triathlete and trainer.

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Wykowski, Henry (Partner, Wykowski & Associates)

Henry Wykowski is recognized as one of the most respected cannabis attorneys in the country, and widely considered the counsel of choice for the most significant challenges facing the industry.

As lead attorney, Henry has orchestrated the successful defense of the industry’s most important cases, including the forfeiture actions filed by the federal government against Harborside Health Center (the nation’s largest dispensary), Berkeley Patient's Group (the oldest operating dispensary) and Shambhala Healing Center. Henry has also distinguished himself in the representation of dispensaries in actions brought by the IRS. As counsel in Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems (CHAMP) v. Commissioner, he established important precedents recognizing the right to deduct cost of cannabis sold and limiting the punitive applicability of IRC Sec. 280E.


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