Medical Cannabis Patients, Medical Professionals, Advocates, and Industry Leaders Converge at National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference in D.C.

May 22 - May 25, 2018
Contact: Debbie Churgai | 202-857-4272 x.8 | [email protected]

WASHINGTON, DC — Starting on Tuesday, May 22nd and running until Friday, May 25th, medical cannabis patients, advocates, medical and legal professionals, and industry business leaders will gather at Americans for Safe Access’ (ASA) Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity conference in Washington, D.C. to learn and exchange ideas about how to navigate and steer medical cannabis policy in this ever-changing political landscape.

What: 6th Annual National Medical Cannabis Unity Conference
Where: Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC,
When: Tuesday, May 22nd through Friday, May 25th

This year's conference will focus on the life-saving role that medical cannabis can play in the fight against the Opioid Epidemic. In 2017 ASA launched the End Pain, Not Lives campaign, to help protect current medical cannabis programs, remove barriers for people with pain, chronic pain, and Opioid Use Disorder, and to educate medical professionals, service providers, and patients about medical cannabis and pain.

Although numerous research studies show that states with medical cannabis programs have nearly a 40% decrease in opioid overdose deaths, more than 90% of Americans think that cannabis should be made legal, and 46 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia all have some form of a medical cannabis program, cannabis is still not an option for many. Due to the federal-state legal conflict, inadequacies in state laws, and lack of medical professional and patient education, even in states with operating medical cannabis programs, many patients are unable to apply, afford, or benefit from medical cannabis available in their state.

On Friday morning, May 25th, ASA will hold a special Patient Focused Certification (PFC) training Course on Federal Law Enforcement Interaction and Raid Preparedness. This training will be open for conference participants as well as non participants. This training will teach participants how to be prepared for law enforcement interactions of all kinds. Patients, providers, or anyone working in the medical cannabis industry, will learn how to handle any encounter with the law.

Overview of Schedule (link to full schedule)

8:00 pm Welcome Reception

Lobby Day
12:00 pm      Press Conference (East Front, Area 10 Capitol Hill lawn)
8:00 pm        VIP Awards Reception and Dinner (link to recipients)

Opioid Focused Plenaries
9:15 am        “The Life She Deserves” Screening and Q&A with Production Team
10:00 am      Plenaries (see list of speakers below)

9:00 am        Federal Law Enforcement Interaction and Raid Training

“We have made amazing progress in the last 16 years, but there will always be more work and improvements to make to meet our goals to help combat this crisis.” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of Americans for Safe Access, “For ASA, ensuring safe and legal access means that we keep fighting until ALL patients who would benefit from medical cannabis are allowed access to their medicine, without fear of losing any of their civil rights and protections granted to everyone else.”

**** Press Passes Now Available****

AFI for Speakers and VIP Attendees

Diana Dodson - Florida Advocate
Diana received a blood product in 1985 that contained HIV. In 1998, she developed AIDS. Diana was first recommended cannabis by her doctor in 1998 for the extreme nausea that came with taking her HIV medications. She later discovered that cannabis was mitigating the pain that came from neuropathy. Diana first became an activist for medical cannabis while caring for her brother who passed away in 1995 from AIDS. In 1999, she became a board member of the Women’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz California. Diana was at the Wamm Garden the morning of the DEA raid. She locked the gate on the DEA, and negotiated the release of Valerie and Mike Corral. Diana has spent uncounted hours sharing her story with law enforcement and legislators advocating and educating about medical cannabis. Most recently Diana has worked in Florida to help pass Amendment 2 that allows medical cannabis for patients in the state of Florida. Diana is currently a plaintiff against the state of Florida for all patients to be allowed to smoke cannabis as the medication delivery method of choice.

Don Duncan - Board Member, Americans for Safe Access
Don Duncan has served on the Board of Directors since he co-founded American for Safe Access in 2002. As California Director, he is coordinating the grassroots and grasstops campaign to fully implement the states medical cannabis laws, respond to federal interference, and build a broader and more powerful coalition for medical cannabis in California. Mr. Duncan was instrumental in galvanizing grassroots resistance to federal raids and in seeding local self-regulatory alliances for medical cannabis providers statewide. 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.

Kendra Fershee - 2018 Democratic Nominee, 1st District - West Virginia
Kendra Fershee is internationally recognized for her expertise in family law and serves as the Editor in Chief of the Family Law Quarterly, the scholarly journal published by the ABA Section of Family Law. Professor Fershee has been teaching law students since 2006 in the areas of Family Law, Civil Procedure, Professional Responsibility, Legal Writing, Research and Analysis, and Employment Discrimination. Before teaching, Professor Fershee worked as a litigation associate, focusing on Securities Litigation at Milbank, Tweed, Hadley, and McCloy in Washington, D.C., and New York. She also handled pro bono family law matters while in practice. Before law school, Professor Fershee worked as a political organizer in Washington, D.C., and then Los Angeles, for a civil liberties organization focusing on first amendment, public education, and civil rights issues. Her interests started to draw her toward law school, so she set out for New Orleans to attend Tulane Law School, where graduated cum laude and was elected Senior Managing Editor of the Tulane Law Review. Professor Fershee earned her bachelor’s degree in 1995 from the University of Michigan, where she studied communications and women’s studies.

Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD - Editor-in-Chief,
Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD is a board-certified physician specializing in anesthesiology, perioperative and pain medicine. She received a Bachelor of Science in biomedical engineering from Duke University School of Engineering and a Medical Degree from the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Following an anesthesiology residency and fellowship at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, she was an attending anesthesiologist at Women and Infants Hospital, Brown University Medical School. Since 2009, Dr. Fisher-Corn has served as Editor-in-Chief of In this role, she has overseen the creation of hundreds of continuing medical education courses in multiple areas of medicine, including Perioperative & Hospital Medicine, Palliative Care, Opioid Prescribing & Risk Management, Medical Marijuana and Medical Statistics. In addition, she has co-created the “New York State Practitioner Education-Medical Use of Marijuana Course,” “Florida Physicians Low-THC Cannabis Course,” “Florida Physician Cannabis Course,” “Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program Required Course,” The Massachusetts Medical Society’s “Comprehensive Cannabis Curriculum” and a six-module opioid prescribing risk management course. At the recommendation of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, the content created by Dr. Fisher-Corn and TheAnswerPage is featured in Israel’s National Healthcare Provider Cannabis Program. In 2017 Meredith Fisher-Corn, MD along with Stephen B. Corn, MD were the 2017 co-recipients of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine’s “Special Award for Major Contributions to the Reintroduction of Cannabis as Medicine.”

Trish Flaster - Executive Director, Botanical Liaisons
Trish is Executive Director of Botanical Liaisons, LLC, an ethnobotanical consulting firm providing botanical standards to industry, academicians and government agencies, international botanical sourcing, sustainable development of botanical ingredients, intellectual property rights, development and implementation of Botanical Quality Assurance programs, and botanical research that results in unique products. She collaborates with scientists on all continents. She developed the first virtual herbarium for economic plants. She is also co-founder of IDDI,, A compliance based company helping companies to confirm ID and specifications required by FDA GMPs we are focused on reviewing all documents to confirm identification, transparency and chain of custody in the dietary supplement industry. ID verified, Spec Verified, Vendor Verified, Sustainability are forms we provide compliant customers. Skilled in both botanical and chemical experience, we also consult in the Cannabis Industry on testing, supply chain and anything related to quality and research.

Deb Kimless, MD - Medical Director, ForwardGro
Dr. Debra Kimless is the medical director for ForwardGro. She has spent the past three years to immersing herself in all aspects of medical cannabis, including scientific and medical applications for the treatment of patients. She has traveled the world studying under the most respected experts in cannabis medicine and science, most notably, in both the Netherlands and in Israel, two countries regarded as best practice models in the use of medical cannabis. Kimless is widely regarded by her peers as one of the most experienced physicians specializing in the endocannabinoid system (“ECS”), micro-dose, topical therapies, and how medical cannabis can be beneficial to help treat medical conditions as well as reduce or replace opioids for pain relief. She is frequently invited to speak at industry leading conferences and symposiums regarding the use of medical cannabis, and shares her knowledge by consulting with patients in legal states pro bono, to introduce cannabis as a medicinal option. She has first-hand experience in successfully aiding patients with various medical conditions. She helps patients tailor their treatment plans by using different methods of administration and cannabinoid ratios, which influence patient response.

Pavel Kubů - Chief Executive Officer International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI)
Pavel Kubů is an expert in the fields of medical informatics and addictology. In 2001, he graduated in general medicine with a focus on disease prevention and public health from the Third Faculty of Medicine, Charles University. Since 2005 he has been working for the Intel Corporation as a Business Development Manager, leading projects of the Intel World Ahead Programme for Healthcare in Central and Eastern Europe and Education in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.In 2006 he was appointed as chair of the Ethics Commission at the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Addiction. Pavel has served since 2007 as a board member of the Czech National Forum for eHealth, from 2012 to 2015 as a member of the steering committee of the Czech Healthcare Forum and since 2013 as a board member of the medical cannabis patients’ organisation KOPAC. In these non-profit NGOs he is primarily devoted to the education of healthcare professionals, patients and caregivers and support for the research and development of new treatment and preventive methods. In 2014 he became a cofounding member of Konomed s.r.o., a company that focuses on research and development in the field of medical cannabis.

Sarah Galbraith Laucks - Director Education and Events, Abilities Expo
Sarah Galbraith Laucks is an education and event production specialist in the disability, health and wellness communities. She is a skilled developer of education programming for conferences, events and shows. She thrives on identifying attendee interests and needs, and crafting programs that fulfill those objectives. She is also a nationally recognized expert in the planning of meetings, conferences and events that are accessible for people with disabilities. Her professional experience is in the hotel, meeting, and marketing industries. She has worked extensively with VIPs and speakers, managing details for the likes of actor Henry Winkler, figure skater Kurt Browning, Dr. Temple Grandin, and international bestselling author Rupert Isaacson. As a child her best friend was an adult with intellectual disabilities. That experience instilled in Sarah a love of diversity and respect for the abilities of all people. She has a Bachelors of Science in Education summa cum laude from Susquehanna University. She blogs about holistic wellness and children’s literature, and is an avid advocate for the importance of play in our lives. Her personal time is focused on her family and her passions – books, figure skating, and Legos.

Senator Daylin Leach - Pennsylvania State Senator, 17th District
Senator Daylin Leach (D-Montgomery/Delaware), a former attorney and professor, has been a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly since winning his seat in the House of Representatives in 2002. In 2008, he was elected Senator of the 17th District. He is currently the Minority Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of the Appropriations, Education, Environmental Resources and Energy, Labor and Industry, and State Government Committees. Daylin is the Pennsylvania legislature’s leading voice on progressive issues. He has championed countless important causes, including marriage equality, repealing the Voter ID law, environmental stewardship, redistricting reform, and campaign finance reform. He has been recognized by advocacy organizations for his work on the environment, education, animal rights, and human rights. Many of his proposals have been enacted into law, including a ban on the shackling of pregnant prisoners, new efficiency standards for PA’s fleet of automobiles, and a protocol for medical marijuana use in the Commonwealth. Daylin is a graduate of Temple University and the University of Houston Law Center. He is married to Jennifer Anne Mirak, a psychologist, with whom he has two children, Brennan and Justin.

Chanda Macias, PhD, MBA - Owner and General Manager, National Holistic Healing Center Medical Marijuana Dispensary (NHHC)
Chanda Macias, PhD, MBA is the CEO and the owner of National Holistic Healing Center (NHHC), the leading medical marijuana dispensary in Washington DC. Dr. Macias has spent 15+ years developing knowledge of medical marijuana impact on patients. Under her leadership, NHHC has earned $6.5M in annual revenues in 3 years with 98% retention, and adding 100+ new patients/month. Dr. Macias contributes growth to the market through education on ailment strain alignment, aligning a medical marijuana strain with a specific condition or ailment. Dr. Macias serves on the Board of Directors for the Minority Cannabis Business Association focusing on the growth of the industry in existing and emerging markets. She also educates through her outreach platform with Women Grow with a national educational reach impacting over 50,000+ people and potential patients. Dr. Macias is a proud member of Americans for Safe Access, promoting safe and legal access to medical marijuana for research purposes. In her local market, she serves as the Treasurer and Secretary of DC Medical Cannabis Trade Association that proactively engages in legislation, regulations, and compliance with the Department of Health. Finally, Dr. Macias serves on the Advisory Board of Southern University, a state-funded university, which was granted a license to cultivate medical cannabis in Louisiana.

Debby Miran - Former Commissioner, Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission
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.

Daniel O’Donnell - New York State Assemblymember, 69th District
Daniel O’Donnell, the first openly gay man elected to the New York State Assembly, has been a progressive voice advocating fair and sensible legislation since he was elected to represent the 69th District in 2002. His district includes Manhattan Valley, Morningside Heights, and the Upper West Side. Born in Queens and raised with his four siblings in Commack, Long Island, O’Donnell put himself through college and law school, earning a B.A. in public affairs from George Washington University and a law degree from CUNY Law School. After seven years as a public defender at the Legal Aid Society, he opened his own public interest law firm on the Upper West Side. During his tenure in the Assembly he has been the prime sponsor of several trailblazing bills, most notably the Marriage Equality Act, a bill O’Donnell led to passage in the Assembly five times before it was finally signed into law in June 2011. He was also the prime sponsor of New York’s anti-bullying legislation, the Dignity for All Students Act, which requires public schools in New York to combat bias-based bullying and harassment. He and his husband, John Banta, live in Morningside Heights.

Julie Prom - Director & Veterans Outreach Coordinator, Illinois Women in Cannabis
Julie Prom has over 30 years of advocacy and education experience in the causes of child safety, medical cannabis, and Veterans issues. She is intimately familiar with PTSD and the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Julie has been a medical cannabis patient since the mid-80s to treat her PTSD and traumatic brain injury symptoms and chronic pain from multiple other injuries suffered in a car crash. Julie currently serves as a Director and the Veterans Outreach Coordinator for Illinois Women in Cannabis and the Illinois Liaison to Americans for Safe Access. Since 2013, Julie has assisted in writing multiple successful medical cannabis applications, standard operating procedures, and compliance documents for over twenty companies in six states. She has assisted opening dispensaries in New York and Illinois.

Ezra Pryor - Heidolph North America Applied Market Specialist
Ezra Pryor is an Applied Markets Specialist and Immediate Past Chair of the Cannabis Chemistry Subdivision of the American Chemical Society. Ezra brings both his own experience and the wisdom of Heidolph to the table. For over seven decades, Heidolph has developed a wealth of experience by working in highly regulated pharmaceutical labs, agriculture industry and academia. The new Heidolph Botanical Extraction (HBX) business unit is focused on providing unique solutions that are both efficient and compliant with cannabis industry regulations.

Jeffrey C. Raber, Ph.D. - Founder, The Werc Shop
Dr. Jeffrey C. Raber received his B.S. in biochemistry from Lebanon Valley College, PA and subsequently a Ph.D. in organic chemistry from the University of Southern California with an emphasis on developing new synthetic methodologies useful in pharmaceutical drug discovery and manufacturing. Driven by a desire to make a positive contribution to society while creating American jobs Dr. Raber founded The Werc Shop in 2010, an independent laboratory focused on botanical analysis, product development and sustainability with an initial emphasis on serving the unmet public health and safety needs within the medical cannabis community. Dr. Raber’s detailed investigations into the chemistry of cannabis as a medicine have provided him with a unique perspective and knowledge base useful in assisting state and local regulators in the construction and implementation of effective regulatory solutions for the safe and sustainable delivery of medical cannabis to qualified patients. Today The Werc Shop is widely recognized as a leading scientific pioneer and educator in medical cannabis that continues to further everyone’s understanding of the plant and its possible product developments.

Ethan Russo, MD - Director of Research and Development International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI)
Ethan Russo, MD,is a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher. Previously, from 2015-2017, he was Medical Director of PHYTECS, a biotechnology company researching and developing innovative approaches targeting the human endocannabinoid system (“ECS”). From 2003-2014, he served as Senior Medical Advisor, medical monitor and study physician to GW Pharmaceuticals for numerous Phase I-III clinical trials of Sativex® for alleviation of cancer pain unresponsive to optimized opioid treatment and initial studies of Epidiolex® for intractable epilepsy. He is a former president of the International Cannabinoid Research Society and former Chairman of the International Association for Cannabinoid Medicines. He serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for the American Botanical Council. He is author/editor of seven books on cannabis and medicinal herbs, and has also published numerous book chapters, and over fifty articles in neurology, pain management, cannabis, and ethnobotany. He has consulted or lectured on these topics in 38 states and provinces and 33 countries.

Thomas Sadilek - Director of Government Affairs International Cannabis and Cannabinoids Institute (ICCI)
Mr. Sadilek recently joined the ICCI in the position of Director of Government Affairs. He brings with him extensive experience from the Office of the Government of the Czech Republic in the field of Legal and Illegal Drugs: Represented the Czech Republic in the Horizontal Group on Drugs in Bruxelles; represented the Czech Republic in all drug related meetings in United Nations institutions (Vienna, New York); responsibility for the negotiations of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) Outcome Document on behalf of the Czech Republic (held in Vienna from December 2015 – March 2016); represented the Czech Republic in meetings in EU area, Eastern Partnership countries area, occasionally the US; these are related to UN meetings, Council of the EU meetings, Council of Europe meetings.

Christine Stenquist - President Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE)
Christine Stenquist is a brain tumor patient turned medical cannabis advocate. In 1996, she was diagnosed with an Acoustic Neuroma and removal was attempted; 60% of the tumor remains and with it a host of complications. After a decade and a half of a house-bound and bedridden life she approached her doctor about medical cannabis. Finding cannabis to mitigate most of her symptoms she sought out how to gain access. Being a daughter of a narcotics officer she was faced with the dilemma, break the law or change the law. In 2015, she lobbied and testified in support of SB259 Medical Cannabis Act, which failed in the Senate by one vote. After this narrow loss, Christine’s passion was further ignited to see cannabis legislation passed within the State of Utah, and she was determined to make an even greater impact during the following legislative session. Realizing the need for patient lobbyists on Capitol hill, the citizen lobbyist group, TRUCE, Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education, was formed to help raise awareness for the need of safe, legal access to cannabis. In the 2016 legislative session, Christine brought patient and caregivers from differing ideologies and conditions together to effectively lobby in support of SB 73, Medical Cannabis Act, outcome yet to be determined. Federal rescheduling of cannabis has also become an area of interest for Christine.

2018 Award Winners (link to award descriptions)
Patient Advocate of the Year - Jennifer Collins
Elected Official of the Year - State Senator Richard Ojeda, West Virginia
Affiliate of the Year - Together for Responsible Use and Cannabis Education (TRUCE) Researcher of the Year - Ryan Vandrey, PhD
Medical Professional of the Year - Carlo Tornatore, MD
Journalist of the Year - David Hodes
Partner Advocate of the Year - Orrick
2018 Courage Award - The Zartler Family
End Pain Not Lives Champion of the Year - U.S. Pain Foundation

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