This four year running event will connect industry executives, advocates, scientists and thinkers together to envision a sustainable future for the cannabis industry – and provide decision-makers with the tools they need to make positive changes today.
Denver’s event will be held on October 4, 2019 with future events in Massachusetts and the Bay Area being announced soon.
The organizers, the Cannabis Sustainability Work Group, convene top experts from across the country to present on the industry’s key environmental challenges and best management practices, including energy efficiency, water management, and waste minimization.
The Symposium is also an opportunity for networking and developing new collaborative opportunities to further sustainability initiatives in 2019 and beyond.
2019 Keynote Speaker
Friday, October 4th, 2019
Positioning Your Marketing to Demonstrate Sustainability
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Moderated By: Ricardo Baca, Grasslands Agency
Ricardo Baca is a 20-year veteran journalist, keynote speaker and thought leader in modern media and drug policy circles. He served as The Denver Post’s first-ever marijuana editor. In 2016, Mr. Baca launched PR firm Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency. Mr. Baca was named Marketer of the Year by AdCann in 2019.
Zach Darling, Kush CO
Zack Darling is the CEO of The Hybrid Creative, California’s leading full service creative agency for cannabis. The Hybrid serves as the branding, design and marketing team within KushCo Holdings. With 20+ years of industry experience, Zack offers unique context and perspective to the ongoing narrative of the blossoming industry.
Katie Shapiro, Senior Contributor Forbes
Katie Shapiro is an Aspen-based journalist known as “the world’s first marijuana style writer” for her work at The Cannabist, The Denver Post’s groundbreaking, award-winning online vertical. Since its launch in 2014, she’s written about the ever-evolving world of weed culture for various media outlets and pens “High Country,” a weekly column for The Aspen Times. Katie also produced the documentary "Rolling Papers,” which follows the historic first year of adult-use legalization and premiered at SXSW in 2015.
Lilli Keinaenen, ChangeMaker Creative
Lilli Keinaenen has been designing beautiful things for over 15 years. In 2016, she went all-in with the burgeoning legal cannabis industry, working with advocacy, dispensaries and distro clients, as well as craft cannabis product brands — from edibles and beverages, to topicals and smokables. She's deeply passionate about sustainable and compliant cannabis packaging. Lilli is the founder of Changemaker Creative, a Northern California creative agency, and recently joined the cannabis beauty brand Green Bee Botanicals as Chief Creative Officer.
Life before cannabis was with sustainable consumer products, environmental and social justice nonprofits, ad agency work in both Europe and the Bay Area.
Lilli is a classically trained designer with a Bachelor of Arts from her native country of Finland. She is also a self-professed reader of books, eater of tacos, font nerd and perfectionist.
Joe Hodas, Gofire
An industry leader from the early days of legalization, Joe Hodas’ interest in plant-based medicines dates back to 2010 when he was a partner at a Colorado ad agency. His firm’s work with a burgeoning product manufacturer included an extensive market research project, which piqued his interest as to how the business -- and its market -- was evolving. When adult use became law in Colorado, Hodas saw an opportunity as a marketer to help shape the future of an entire industry. So he left the agency business behind to join that client, Dixie Brands, as the company’s chief marketing officer.
Hodas’ work in the new industry helped establish Dixie as the first national brand in the space, as well as helped to shape the first adult-use market in the world. While at Dixie, Hodas drove development of multiple new products and helped expand Dixie from one state to five. Following his work at Dixie, he served as chief operating officer of General Cannabis Corp., where he was responsible for driving revenue and efficiency across the company’s existing lines of business. In addition, Hodas has served in various leadership roles for well-regarded brands such as Smashburger, Quiznos and Frontier Airlines.
As Gofire’s President and Chief Operating Officer, Hodas leads all departments, managing product development, sales, marketing and operations to help grow the company to its full potential as a change agent for plant-based medicine, pharmaceuticals and healthcare as a whole. He earned a Master of Sciences in PR/Marketing from the University of Denver and holds a Bachelor of Arts from The University of Texas at Austin.
Advanced Farming: Techniques to Capture Carbon and Regenerate Soil
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Moderated By: Jake Mitchell, Sustainabis
Jake moved to Colorado eight years ago from Berkshire County, Massachusetts and received his Bachelors degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Northern Colorado. He then continued his education by attaining a Master's degree in Environmental Management with an emphasis in Sustainable and Resilient Communities from Western State Colorado University. After doing municipal and industrial sustainability consulting for a few years, Jake moved on to start Sustainabis and dedicate his sustainability knowledge to cannabis.
Utilizing years of experience working with both cannabis and the environment, Jake is combining his expertise to help create a more sustainable and resilient cannabis industry.
Michael Savarie, Hemp Black
Michael is the Sustainability Enterprise Catalyst for Hemp Black, a hemp technology start-up based in Philadelphia, that is creating technologies that utilise the performance and sustainability attributes of hemp. Originally from Canada, Michael has worked in sustainability for 5 years and has recently completed his M.S. in Sustainable Design, focusing on hemp.
Jim Ippolito, Colorado State University
Jim Ippolito is an Associate Professor in the Department of Soil and Crop Sciences. He earned a PhD degree in Environmental Soil Chemistry/Quality from Colorado State University in 2001, an MS degree in Soil Fertility/Chemistry from Colorado State University in 1992, and a BS degree in Plant Sciences with a focus on Agronomy from the University of Delaware in 1989.
Jim’s professional activities and research interests include soil fertility, chemistry, and environmental soil quality in a number of ecosystems such as production agriculture, rangelands, forests, burned areas, and mine lands. Among other capacities, Jim also serves the American Society of Agronomy, Soil Science Society of America, the Western Nutrient Management and Water Quality Workgroup(WERA-103), the Beneficial Reuse of Residuals and Reclaimed Water Workgroup (W3170), and the International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements Committee. He has (co)authored over 180 peer and non-peer reviewed articles.
Cody Hitchcock, Smokey's 420
Cody Hitchcock is a horticulturist and grower who has researched and performed field trials with a variety of plants and organic growing techniques in an effort to create sustainable and
economic solutions for producing high quality crops. Before entering the cannabis industry, Cody received an honorary degree in horticulture crop production from Colorado State University, and from there transitioned into the small farms sector where he managed a wide range of fruits and vegetables across multiple operations embracing organic production standards.
Cody Hitchcock now works for Smokey’s 420, where he has helped transition operations to
living soil organic methodologies with zero waste initiatives. Since the transition, Smokey’s has seen very significant and continued increases in yield and quality. Through Smokey’s, Cody continually implements field trials and ongoing education involving a diversity of approaches and continued research encompassing microbiology, nutrition, environmental systems, and IPM strategy.
Social Sustainability: What it Looks Like Inside and Outside the Cannabis Industry
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM
Moderated By: Marc Ross, Harvest HOC
Marc Ross is the Director of Community Outreach for Harvest. An experienced attorney and thought leader in the area of Corporate Social Responsibility, he is the Founder and former Executive Director of Rock the Earth, a national environmental advocacy organization that works closely with the music industry. Between 1998 and 2004, Marc was one of four in-house environmental attorneys at Alcoa Inc., serving as the company's primary water counsel and counseling the company on a wide variety of national and international environmental compliance, permitting and remediation issues. Prior to that, Marc was Assistant Counsel in the Pennsylvania DEP Office of Chief Counsel's Southcentral Region Litigation Office.
Since departing Rock the Earth in early 2016, Marc has been consulting companies, most notably in the cannabis space, on matters surrounding Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”). To that end, he has been helping to build out “purposeful” brands in both the cannabis and non-cannabis space, with an emphasis on strategic, integrated, and authentic community and employee engagement, corporate philanthropy, diversity & inclusion, and sustainability. A frequent speaker and panelist on the intersection of music, sustainability and activism, as well as CSR, Marc has curated and/or led discussions and panels at the South By Southwest Music Conference, the National Conference for Media Reform, and the Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival.
He has been a featured speaker on the subject of CSR at the NoCo Hemp Expo and at the Arcview/Aspen High conference, as well as at gatherings of the Marijuana Industry Group, the Cannabis Business Alliance, the Cannabis Sustainability Symposium, the Mile High Young Professionals, and Canopy Boulder. Marc received his B.A. in 1990 from the Pennsylvania State University and his J.D. in 1993 from the Dickinson School of Law. In 2016, Marc obtained an Executive Certificate in Corporate Social Responsibility from the Leeds School of Business of the University of Colorado (Boulder).
Harry Etra, HXE Partners
Harry Etra is the CEO & Founder of HXE Partners. Harry's experience is in advising public and private companies on their sustainability and Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategies. Harry holds an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and a B.A. in history from Yale University.
Alan Lewis, Natural Grocers
Alan Lewis navigates government affairs and food and agriculture policy for Natural Grocers, a Colorado based health food chain founded in 1955 with over 150 stores in 19 states. At the federal, state and local level, Alan engages on food, agriculture, nutrition, rural economic development, blockchain, trade and health issues. Alan is active in several trade and advocacy organizations and has been a speaker and panelist at many events, including a talk at TEDx Boulder in 2014.
Long a student of political activism, his focus is on communicating with stakeholders using frameworks that are non-confrontational and inclusive. Alan has lived oversees for extended periods, which lends to his understanding agriculture in varying social and political contexts. He oversees organic certification and compliance for Natural Grocers while advising dozens of food, natural product, and ag-tech start-ups across the country as part of his effort to reinvigorate regional food systems, rural economies, and local supply chains.
Katie Pribyl Dobbins, Wana Brands
Raising the Bar: Vetting Sustainability Through Certification and Benchmarking
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Moderated By: Ben Gelt, Cannabis Certification Council
Ben Gelt is an entrepreneur and consultant, focused on public affairs and business development. A respected political strategist and policy expert, Ben co-founded the Organic Cannabis Association in 2015.
Ben has been at the forefront of cannabis policy in Colorado since 2011, when he worked with the University of Colorado Toxicology Lab to advocate for higher standards of testing in the cannabis industry. He currently serves on the City of Denver Industry Stakeholder Group, The State of Colorado Pesticide Stakeholder Committee and is a principal with Par, LLC. In addition to his efforts in cannabis, Ben works in real estate, public affairs and general business development. Ben lives in Denver, CO.
Rick Peterson, Responsible Cannabis Advisory/Blu Advisory
Rick was described in Marketing magazine as “one of the world’s leading experts in corporate responsibility and, in 2011, published Voices for Sustainabilty. He recently co-founded the Global Cannabis Partnership and authored the Responsible Cannabis Framework. Rick was previously EVP Corporate Citizenship for one of the world’s largest apparel companies and was on the Advisory Board for the Carbon Disclosure Project.
Jacob Policzer, Cannabis Conservancy
Jacob has committed his career to learning about sustainable cultivation systems worldwide. He has worked on farms and research projects on six continents, specializing in permaculture, ecosystem management, eco-village design, and natural building.
Jacob received a B.Sc. in Environmental Studies at Emory University and a M.Sc. in Environmental Science, Policy and Management through the MESPOM consortium focusing on Urban Agriculture Sustainability and Environmental Justice. Prior to co-founding TCC, he founded Urban Environmental Innovations, which provided sustainability consulting for local food organizations, restaurants, and craft breweries.
He is a member of the Denver Department of Environmental Health’s Cannabis Sustainability Work Group. Throughout his career, Jacob has strived to find innovative and pragmatic solutions to the world’s complex environmental problems and is now applying his knowledge and experience to address the environmental issues pertaining to the cannabis industry.
Derek Smith, Resource Innovation Institute
Derek Smith is Executive Director and Co-Founder of Resource Innovation Institute (RII), a national non-profit whose mission is to promote and quantify energy, carbon and water conservation in the cannabis industry. Prior to RII, Mr. Smith ran Clean Energy Works, a residential energy efficiency program that blended utility, public and private dollars to deliver whole-building retrofits while generating carbon emission reductions along with equitable economic development outcomes.
Clean Energy Works was hailed as one of the most successful US Dept. of Energy funded stimulus programs in the country. Mr. Smith has also led energy programs with the City of Portland Bureau of Planning & Sustainability, served on the management team of a Zero VOC start-up paint company and developed an award-winning corporate sustainability program for a national retailer.
Tim Gordon, Functional Remedies
Tim Gordon became President at CBDRx and Functional Remedies in 2017 and is now serving as Chief Science Officer. Born and raised in Canada in a Cannabis farming community, Tim’s love for sustainable cannabis farming is only eclipsed by his love for the cannabis plant. Tim oversees hemp operations and the Functional Remedies product division. Tim has developed an aggressive cannabis breeding program, an industry leading agricultural operation, and state of the art laboratory and production facility.
Tim serves as a technical adviser on the board of the National Hemp association and is also President of the Colorado Hemp Industries Association. Tim has written and researched the cannabis plant for nearly 20 years and has been highlighted in news programs and in magazines and periodicals. Functional Remedies is the world’s leader in cannabinoid hemp production while leading the way in eco-sustainable hemp farming.
A Domestic & Global Perspective on IPM & Use of Pesticides
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Moderated By: Leslie McAhren, Dr. Of Public Health, University of Colorado
About Dr. McAhren
Perspective on Integrative Pest Management
More to come.
Challenges and Opportunities for Cannabis Waste
2:30 PM - 3:30 PM
Moderated By: Brandon Rhea, Native Roots
Brandon Rhea is a production compliance officer at Native Roots Dispensary, where he coordinates inventory and regulatory compliance at cultivation and processing facilities. Brandon has worked in the cannabis industry for 5 years, with an emphasis on compliance and sustainability, including participation in the Denver Cannabis Sustainability Work Group and co-chairing the Native Roots Sustainability Committee. Brandon continues to strive to develop new and innovative strategies to reduce waste, improve energy efficiency and promote a culture of environmentalism and social responsibility at Native Roots and within the cannabis industry as a whole.
Prior to working in the cannabis industry, Brandon received his Master’s in Conflict Resolution from the University of Denver and worked in the alternative dispute resolution field, focusing on courtroom mediation, community engagement facilitation and conflict skills training. He also actively volunteers with programs focused on outdoor conservation and social justice.
Tiffany Goldman, The Health Center
Tiffany Goldman is the Chief Operating Officer and Co- Owner for The Health Center and Nuhi Distribution. She graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder with a degree in International Affairs with an emphasis in International Economics and International Business. She has studied in Spain and is fluent in Spanish. She was an administrative assistant for the owner of Wild Oats later bought buy Wholefoods. This position enabled her to help facilitate the Health Food Industry movement in the production of some of the first Vegan chocolate bars for the company’s private label. She later moved to New York City and became a Financial Manager for high end clients such as Big Fat Productions.
Tiffany has been on the forefront of new industry as well as created financial security for many clients. She later owned and operated a successful restaurant in Boulder, CO for 13 years. Her forte is in the architect of structure, management, financial security and negotiation. She has been intrigued by the challenge of the complexities presented by the marijuana industry, which include banking, ever changing laws, and regulations. Tiffany has been named a legislative champion by her colleagues.Tiffany has a strong voice in this arising industry for creating a legitimate foundation. Her passion is to continue to develop and execute a sustainable model for the world to base.
Kerry Flickner, Blue Terra Waste Solutions
Co-Founder and Managing Director of BlueTerra Waste Solutions, Kerry is an astute practitioner with 15+ years’ multinational experience. Proficient in development and implementation of holistic solutions for regenerative waste reduction/diversion systems and renewable energy, facilitating economically feasible and environmentally effective market-based mechanisms through community stakeholder integration, education and technology innovation.
John Whiteside, IHR
TBD, Recycle CO
Best Practices in Packaging: Choosing the best materials for your region and other tips on how to reduce your packaging environmental impact
3:45 PM - 4:45 PM
Moderated By: TBD
Sandra Elkind, STO Responsible
Sandra Elkind is Co-Founder & Chief Creative Officer of STO Responsible, a Boulder-based sustainable packaging solutions company serving the cannabis industry. She serves as head of product research and development and oversees the marketing of the STO brand.
Sandra brings a deep commitment to environmentalism and a background in conceptual design to STO’s development of sustainable packaging. As a medical marijuana patient herself, she’s experienced firsthand how plant-based medicine can change lives.
Sandra’s design education informs her work at STO Responsible. She holds a master’s in Fine Arts from Parsons School for Design—The New School. She previously worked as a professor at Colorado State University-Global and Central Texas College.
Ron Basak-Smith, Sana Packaging
Ron Basak-Smith is the Co-Founder and CEO of Sana Packaging, a startup that designs and develops differentiated, sustainable, and compliant packaging solutions for the cannabis industry using 100% plant-based hemp plastic. Sana Packaging is proud to be a “Made in the U.S.A.” company that supports domestic agriculture and domestic manufacturing.
Ron earned a B.A. in Sociology from Ithaca College in 2011 and an M.B.A. in Sustainability, Entrepreneurship, and Finance from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2017. Ron’s goal is to support the sensibility and soft skills of his Sociology degree with the hard skills of his M.B.A. in order to bring positive social and environmental change to his business endeavors.
Stephen Barmore, Corners Packaging
Stephen is the Director of New Business Development at Curtis Packaging and has managed the Corners Packaging brand for just over a year. A 2018 Yale Graduate, Stephen was hired by Curtis Packaging to aid in New Business Development, and has operated mainly in the Cannabis space to bolster growth.
Maximizing Sustainability Through Design
3:45 PM - 4:45 PM
Moderated By: Amy Andrle, L'Eagle
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.
Jeremy Attema, Stok
Mariana Pickering, Emu Systems
Mariana Pickering, Co-Founder of Emu Systems, is a recovering architect and an expert in communicating the construction industry’s movement towards a better understanding of building science and sustainability. With over a decade of work on high-performance projects and products across three continents, she is passionate about translating data, results, and needs into stories that help shift the cultures and mentalities of building professionals towards change.
She manages strategic partnerships and the licensing of Emu’s CPHT curriculum, has worked on the Presidential Climate Action Plan, was a founding member of Passive House Rocky Mountains, is the elected Chair of the Denver Chapter of the Colorado Renewable Energy Society, and organizes both the Colorado Passive House Happy Hour and the Green Drinks Denver meetups.
Anthony Mollins, AJ's Farm & GrowGeo
Cultivator in California under prop 215 since 2005. Founded, owned and operated THC Tahoe Herbal Care from 2009 to 2014. Created a network of growers and built out more than 30 grow facilities since 2005. Founded AJ’s and GroGeo LLC in 2015 in Boone, CO. Designed the Geolab which is a large scale sustainable cultivation facility.
The New Power Grid: Renewable Energy and Carbon Offsets That Work for Cannabis Companies
3:45 PM - 4:45 PM
Moderated By: Kaitlin Urso, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Kaitlin Urso works as a free environmental consultant for small businesses for the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. For 2018-2020, Kaitlin is focusing on providing pro-active environmental assistance to the cannabis industry by furthering research and developing innovative strategies and tools to help assist the cannabis industry in becoming more environmentally friendly.
Becky Alter, Climate Innovations Consulting Group, LLC
Michelle McGinty, Green-e/Center for Resource Solutions
Michelle McGinty is the Program Outreach Manager at Center for Resource Solutions, a nonprofit that administers Green-e®, North America’s leading renewable energy eco-label and certification program. She initially developed an interest in Corporate Social Responsibility while studying at UC Berkeley, where she graduated with a B.S. in Business Administration. Michelle was later exposed to renewable energy while working at Sungevity, a national residential solar provider, and continues to enjoy helping organizations reduce their climate impact.
Amy George, Earthy Labs
Amy George is founder and CEO of Earthly Labs, a carbon capture IOT company with a vision to capture, convert and avoid 1 billion metric tons of CO2 emissions. Earthly Labs provides hardware and software to capture and monitor CO2 from small scale emissions sources like craft brewing, with a vision to expand to other markets like cannabis.
Earthly Labs was a Carbon XPrize finalist (2016), featured at NYTimes ClimateTech as a top start-up to watch (2017) and selected by ABInBev 100+ sustainability accelerator to reduce CO2 emissions (2018). For the past 20 years, George has delivered impact through her entrepreneurial leadership at diverse ventures - from artificial intelligence software that reduced industrial emissions to local farmers markets to reusable consumer products that reduced waste from disposable alternatives.
George has been recognized by Forbes and Fast Company and her products have been awarded "Top 100 Green Products for the World." George holds an MBA with a focus in entrepreneurship and environmental management from The University of Texas and is a mom of two boys, who are her inspiration.
Pamela Epstein, Green Wise
Pamela is the Founder of Green Wise Companies – Green Wise Legal & Green Wise Consulting, California’s premiere full-service cannabis consulting company and law firm, providing a range of legal, consulting, business development and application permitting services to every facet of the cannabis industry. Pamela’s diverse background, inclusive of legal, land use, and environmental work, places her in a unique position to lead and advise Green Wise clients and the cannabis community in general.
Pamela has become known as a fearless advocate for local cannabis businesses along the supply chain guiding them through the ever-changing legal and regulatory landscape. Recognized as an expert in her field, Pamela serves as a featured speaker, providing energetic and compelling commentary focused on topics such as land use and zoning, regulatory compliance and environmental issues. Pamela’s current mission is to advance the importance of supply chain agreements.
Pamela is a trusted resource for local governments looking to effectively regulate cannabis within their jurisdictions and has served as the Special City Attorney for the City of Hollister regarding their Commercial Cannabis Ordinance. Along with providing her clients with exceptional service she is proud to serve as an Advisory Board Member for the Foundation Of Cannabis Unified Standards (“FOCUS”), a member of the Appellation Rights Subcommittee of the International Cannabis Bar Association (INCBA), a Board Member with the Orange County Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA-OC), Co-chair for the CCIA Special Events Committee, and Advisory Board Member for Annabis, a cannabis fashion company.
2019 Symposium Series
In 2019 we expand our symposium series to include events in Massachusetts and the Bay Area in addition to our annual Denver event.