The Ethical Cannabis Alliance founded in Portland, Oregon and the Organic Cannabis Association based in Denver, Colorado had similar missions. Their individual work was similar and through collaboration the two nonprofits believed in attaining their mission by unifying and educate. The ECA and OCA believe they will reach a larger audience and bring consistency to the industry on a national basis through their merger and the national program the Cannabis Certification Council (CCC) is now pursuing to build a robust, transparent and conflict free standard holding body.
The groups also believe that the “organic” and fair labor industry standards (in absence of the Federal Government’s involvement) for cannabis must be set and maintained by a non-profit so to avoid conflicts of interest. Together, the ECA and OCA have merged into the Cannabis Certification Council in order to establish a reliable national standard that consumers can recognize and trust.
OUR BOARD MEMBERS
Ben Gelt – Board Chair
Ben Gelt is an entrepreneur and consultant specializing in business development and strategic communications. A respected political strategist and policy expert, Ben co-founded the Organic Cannabis Association (now the Cannabis Certification Council) in 2015.
Ben has been at the forefront of cannabis policy in Colorado since 2011 when he represented the University of Colorado Toxicology Lab advocating for higher standards for testing and quality control in the cannabis industry via state rule making panels and committees. Ben currently chairs the Denver Cannabis Sustainability Workgroup and also the Certification Council which both organize the Cannabis Sustainability Symposium.
Additionally, Ben serves on the City of Denver Stakeholder Committee, the City of Denver Community Equality Committee, the State of Colorado Pesticide Stakeholder committee in addition to working with a diverse array of local, national and international clients on matters of business and public affairs.
Laura Day – Vice Chair
Laura Day is the Operations Manager at Yerba Buena Farms in Portland, Oregon. Laura graduated Summa Cum Laude from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Environmental Science focusing on Sustainable Communities.
Laura has over 20 years of experience working with cannabis across several states, with 7 years of experience in strict seed-to-sale environments. She has designed and implemented various successful business models from dispensaries to cultivation focused around environmental stewardship, organic growing practices, creating a nurturing and empowering work environment with exemplary labor practices, and contributing to the local community.
Yerba Buena was among the first eight recreational licenses to be awarded in Oregon, and was the first cannabis company to receive the 100 Best Green Companies award by Oregon Business Magazine, placing 9th in the state, just one of many accomplishments that reflect her commitment to sustainability and setting standards for best practices. In addition to her cannabis operations and dispensary management experience, Laura has over 10 years of experience in fine dining management, and is a co-founder and Director of Firefly Gathering, a non-profit music, art and yoga festival with over 3,000 attendees. Between her love of cannabis, fine wines, and intentional, inspiring events, Laura’s passionate and knowledgeable leadership has touched many lives.
Nick Richards - Secretary & Legal Chair
Nick J. Richards is a partner at Dill Dill Carr Stonbraker & Hutchings, PC and is tax counsel with Vicente Sederberg LLC. Nick advises businesses and individuals regarding Federal and State tax matters (including Section 280E) and represents them in audits, trials and tax collection matters.
He began his legal career as a trial attorney with the IRS in Southern California where he also served as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. While there, Nick represented the IRS in the U.S. Tax and Bankruptcy Courts, he conducted investigations and lead special projects, he advised revenue officers and agents, and he taught trial practice, collections and other topics to junior IRS attorneys.
His career took him from Southern California to Washington D.C. where he spent two years developing tax policy, and then to Denver Colorado where he returned to tax court litigation. After 11 years in the IRS, Nick joined a small but sophisticated tax firm and, shortly thereafter, he began representing cannabis businesses. In 2013, Nicholas was asked to teach at the University of Denver, Graduate Tax Program where he is currently an Adjunct Professor of Law.
Amy Andrle - Communications & Outreach
Amy Andrle is one half of L’Eagle Services, a Denver, Colorado dispensary and cultivation facility founded in 2010. L’Eagle specializes in clean cannabis and is the first–and currently only–cannabis dispensary to earn recognition as a Certified Green Business from the City and County of Denver Department of Environmental Health.
Prior to working in the cannabis industry, she was an executive director in cultural art and historic preservation organizations. Amy, who has experience serving with a variety of non profit boards, currently dedicates time to the City of Denver’s Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, and as a founding board member of the Cannabis Certification Council.
She is dedicated to evolving the cannabis industry and provides consulting services for cannabis companies looking to improve sustainability in their operations. Amy holds a Master Degree in Non-Profit Management from Florida Atlantic University and a BA in Spanish.
Siobhan Danger Darwish - Board Member
Siobhan Danger Darwish is a second generation cannabis farmer. She and her husband own and operate Blessed Coast Farms. Their family farm received a commercial cannabis cultivation permit in Humboldt County in June of 2016. This is the first official permit of its type in California.
The family proudly practices sustainable farming techniques and cultivates organic cannabis with a focus on medicinal strains. Amending and Planting into native soil the family of Blessed Coast Farms is honored to carry on traditional horticulture applications of cannabis into this emerging legal industry.
With a lifetime passion for cultivating and understanding the many medicinal facets of the cannabis plant, her passion for this industry’s growth is exponential. Siobhan is featured in Cannabis Business Times, Marijuana Business Conference and Expo’s Show Daily, National Geographic, Sungrower Magazine, High Times and is published in Terpenes and Testing Magazine. Siobhan and her sister launched The Grow Sister’s YouTube Channel, a series of instructional grow videos from Blessed Coast Farms. Siobhan’s passion truly resides in Growing Your Own, and supporting small family farms.
Adam Duke - Board Member
Adam Duke is Director of Operations of the Midwest Sustainable Sungrowers Association and is in charge of cultivation and processing at Sunflowered. Sunflowered is a vertically integrated, clean cannabis company in Detroit focused on opiate reduction strategies and chronic pain relief for patients.
Prior to working in the cannabis industry Adam worked at an organic cut-flower farm in Detroit with a mission to re-purpose vacant lots around the city into productive, vibrant, community spaces. Adam also founded and sold an energy consulting company that retrofitted homes and buildings to be more energy efficient. While studying at Michigan State University (Go Green!) he won two national championships in water polo.
Andrew Myers - Board Member
Andrew Myers is the co-founder and CEO of ProGrowTech. In addition to establishing and executing the company’s overarching vision, he is instrumental in driving the implementation of operational, research and product development activities to help expand the company’s footprint nationwide.
Charting new territory in lighting science, Andrew and his team are revolutionizing the way LED technology is used with large-scale indoor growing operations. Under his leadership, ProGrowTech has developed the world’s most efficient and uniform agricultural LED lighting solution for indoor growing all types of crops. The company continues making advancements and is on the cusp of other lighting science breakthroughs that will further help growers increase profitability, yield and energy efficiency. Andrew’s commitment to innovation in cannabis, horticulture lighting and beyond hasn’t gone unnoticed – he was recognized as one of Greenhouse Product News’s 40 Under 40 in 2018.
Prior to founding ProGrowTech, Andrew’s illustrious career spanned state and national political scenes more than 14 years. His foray into the continually evolving LED lighting industry took root during these public policy days. As one of the authors of the 2010 Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, he served as campaign manager and chief spokesperson for Proposition 203, the successful effort to make medical marijuana legal in Arizona. Following the campaign, he co-founded the Arizona Medical Marijuana Association, a 501(c)6 organization for licensed medical marijuana dispensaries and worked closely with the Arizona Department of Health Services to create the rules package that accompanied the AMMA. He also served as the Executive Director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association.
Before becoming involved in the state’s medical marijuana initiative, Andrew was a C-level officer for a publicly traded defense technology firm that worked on the development of tactical armor solutions for the U.S. Department of Defense leveraging nanotechnology and other advanced materials solutions, and as a political aide or consultant to many prominent policy makers, including former President Barack Obama and former Secretary of Homeland Janet Napolitano.
Andrew graduated with honors, earning a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill. and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Arizona Dispensaries Association. He lives in Phoenix with his wife and two young children.
Interested in learning more about our Board and how you can get involved? Send us a note!