A celebration of cannabis advocacy

You’re invited to attend the 3rd Annual National Cannabis Policy Summit on Friday, April 17, 2020.

The Summit is free and open to the public.

The National Cannabis Policy Summit brings together a diverse group of activists and leaders from government, business, healthcare, veterans groups, and civil rights organizations to discuss today’s most pressing cannabis policy challenges and opportunities.

Timed to take place the day prior to the National Cannabis Festival, the Summit is Washington, D.C.’s premier celebration of cannabis advocacy and a call to action for American leadership in defense of state’s rights and the will of the voters, in Washington, D.C. and around the country. We hope you will join the conversation.

Registration is required for entry. Location to be announced.

Seating is limited and on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors open at 9:00am. We recommend you arrive early to ensure you get a seat.

Press RSVP



Doors Open to the Public. Seating is first-come, first-served.
Please enter via the C Street entrance.


Welcome & Opening Remarks

Caroline Phillips, Founder, National Cannabis Festival & National Cannabis Policy Summit

Video Welcome: The Honorable Barbara Lee (D-CA)

Introduction by: Nkechi Taifa, Esq., Organizer, Justice Roundtable & Founder and President, The Taifa Group

Opening Remarks: Ethan Nadelmann, Founder & Former Executive Director (2000-2017) of the Drug Policy Alliance


Fake News: The Role and Responsibilities of Journalists in Reversing the Narrative of the War on Drugs

What role has the media played in perpetuating the war on drugs and what can they do now to be a part of the solution? For years, media helped create a public image that hyper-criminalized drug users and drug sellers, and that same machine is creating the 2019 public image for the cannabis boom. How can advocates use social media to correct misinformation or bypass traditional media altogether? How do we hold members of the media responsible for reporting through a just and equitable lens?

Introduction by: Theresa Nightingale, Founder, Pittsburgh NORML

Moderated by: Terrell Jermaine Starr, Senior Reporter, The Root

Dan Adams, Reporter, The Boston Globe

Tanvi Misra, Staff Writer, The Atlantic

Ethan Nadelmann, Founder & Former Executive Director (2000-2017) of the Drug Policy Alliance

Shaleen Title, Commissioner, Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission


Introduction by: Luke Jones, Maryland NORML

Keynote Address: The Honorable Jamie Raskin (D-MD)


Leveling the Playing Field: Is the Cannabis Industry a Second Chance for Victims of the Failed War on Drugs?

In 1970, cannabis was added to the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I drug. Since 1970, the incarcerated population in the United States has increased by 700%. While cannabis use across racial groups is virtually equal, women and people of color remain underrepresented in ownership and leadership roles and overrepresented in the prison population. Cannabis is growing into a billion dollar industry, but for many looking to enter the legal cannabis industry, the bar for entry remains nearly unattainable, resulting in an industry that does not reflect the makeup of its audience. How do we reconcile capitalism, equity and incarceration? How can the cannabis industry move past the damage caused by the failed War on Drugs and become a viable opportunity for all Americans?

Introduction by: Queen Adesuyi, Policy Coordinator, Drug Policy Alliance

Reading by: Tony Lewis, Jr., Community Activist and Author, Slugg: A Boys Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Introduction by: Shanita Penny, President, Minority Cannabis Business Association

Moderated by: Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Associate Editor, Reason

Jon Blanks, Research Associate, Cato Institute

Grover Norquist, President, Americans for Tax Reform

Tsion “Sunshine” Lencho, Attorney, Hinman and Carmichael LLP

Tony Lewis, Jr., Community Activist and Author, Slugg: A Boys Life in the Age of Mass Incarceration


Cannabis in the Crosshairs: How do Big Media Companies Enforce “Community Standards” While Protecting Free Expression?

In 2018, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control Facebook page was taken down for violating Facebook community standards. Many other cannabis-related businesses saw their pages removed or become unsearchable on social media. This “shadow ban” impacted tens of thousands of patients, medical care providers, medical dispensaries and cultivation centers. At the same time, social media platforms have recently come under fire for acting as easy-access storefronts for opioid sales. As cannabis moves towards mainstream acceptance medicinally and recreationally, cannabis businesses and activists still find themselves censored online. Is the lack of guidance and legal contradictions between state and federal law forcing big tech companies to define cannabis policies on their own? How do big tech platforms reconcile the promotion and circulation of pharmaceuticals and prescription pills while effectively blocking recognized plant-based medicine? How can cannabis business owners and advocates work with social media platforms to create necessary accessibility standards for patients?

Introduction by: Debbie Churgai, Interim Director, Americans for Safe Access

Moderated by: Ricardo Baca, CEO & Founder, Grasslands: A Journalism-Minded Agency

Dustin McDonald, Vice President, Government Relations, Weedmaps

Lata Nott, Executive Director, Freedom Forum Institute’s First Amendment Center

Mike Whiter, Producer, NowThis News

Kali Wilder, Founder, Estrohaze

Video Message: The Honorable Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)




Staying Green: How Can Regulating the Cannabis Industry Help Protect the Environment?

A 2017 study published in the November issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment draws the conclusion that planting cannabis for commercial production in remote locations causes environmental damage. In California, the law limits the scale of outdoor cannabis cultivation to 1 acre per parcel as a deterrent for the development of industrial-scale outdoor grows. This legislation creates a new challenge by incentivizing  an increase in small cannabis grows that can be widely dispersed, causing forest fragmentation, stream modification and soil erosion. Without effective land-use policies in place, the environmental impact could worsen. What are the specific environmental and land-use regulations that both allow cannabis crop expansion and protect the environment during this early stage in industry development? What are the long term effects of cannabis cultivation on the environment? What lessons can we learn from existing agricultural policies and how can they be applied to the cannabis industry?

Introduction by: Kate Strickland, Hoban Law Group

Presentation: John Kagia, Chief Knowledge Officer, New Frontier Data

Video Message: The Honorable Jacky Rosen (D-NV)

Moderated by: Brentin Mock, CityLab

Andrew Black, Executive Director, Sun+Earth Certified

Dr. Sweta Chakraborty, Founder & Principal, Adapt to Thrive

Winona LaDuke, Founder, Winona’s Hemp

Dr. Joseph Romm, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress


“If” to “How”: How Can the Path to Federal Legalization Inform State Law?

According to a 2017 Lake Research Partners Public Opinion on Marijuana poll, 60% of all likely voters are ready to embrace legalization regardless of party identification. As public opinion shifts, congress has been slow to catch up. If the majority of American voters are ready for decriminalization and legalization, why won’t congress take action? What are the remaining obstacles stopping Congress from enacting full legalization? How should cannabis advocates navigate the path to end prohibition?

Introduction by: Michelle Rutter, Government Relations Manager, National Cannabis Industry Association & Justin Strekal, Political Director, NORML

Video Message: The Honorable Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Moderated by: Jon Fasman, Washington Correspondent, The Economist

The Honorable Carlos Curbelo, U.S. Representative to Florida's 26th District (2015-2019) & Strategic Advisor, Cannabis Trade Federation

Nathan Kasai, Senior Policy Counsel, Third Way

Celinda Lake, President, Lake Research Partners


2019 Change Makers Award Presentation

Introduction by: Jenn Michelle Pedini, Executive Director, Virginia NORML

Award Recipient: The Honorable Siobhan Dunnavant, MD (R-VA)


Thank You for Your Service: When Will Congress Let Veterans Use Medical Cannabis?

Medical cannabis is currently legal in 31 states, D.C., Puerto Rico, and Guam, and 46 states have some form of medical cannabis law; however, it remains illegal at the federal level. Around the country, veterans are required to take drug tests, forcing them to decide between their personal well-being and strict legal compliance  in order to maintain federal employment, even in states where cannabis is legal. On February 1, 2018, Maine became the first jurisdiction in the nation to protect workers from adverse employment action due to their use of medical cannabis. On July 26, 2018, Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL) and Congressman Drew Ferguson (R-GA) introduced The Fairness in Federal Drug Testing Under State Laws Act (HR 6589), a bill that would protect the rights of patients in states where medical cannabis is legal. Do current laws amount to discrimination against veterans who use cannabis instead of pharmaceuticals? Does HR 6589 bridge State and Federal law and create a path to full legalization?

Opening Remarks: Jose Belen, Veteran, United States Army and President & Founder, Florida Mission Zero

Video Message: The Honorable Charlie Crist (D-FL)

Moderated by: Meghann Myers, Army Times

Dan Anglin, Veteran, United States Marine Corps and CEO & Co-Founder, CannAmerica Brands

Melissa Bryant, Chief Policy Officer, Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA)

Dr. Sue Sisley, President and Principal Investigator, Scottsdale Research Institute

Video Message: The Honorable Jeff Merkley (D-OR)


The New Cash Crop: Can America Keep Up on Cannabis?

Around the world, more countries are legalizing cannabis and the United States is rapidly falling behind. Our neighbors in Mexico are following Uruguay and Canada’s lead towards full legalization, but in the U.S., federal law still classifies cannabis as a Schedule 1 Drug – the same classification as heroin – placing restrictions on medical research, interstate commerce and banking. North American companies are at a disadvantage for expansion in both domestic and international markets. On the border, the United States denies entry to people in the cannabis industry traveling for business, preventing potential international trade and the free exchange of ideas by treating cannabis as a banned substance and participants in the cannabis industry as drug traffickers. How should the U.S. work with countries where cannabis is legal? Can the United States be competitive in the global cannabis industry with a state-by-state approach to legalization instead of a federal one? What lessons can we learn from challenges other countries are facing when establishing their own cannabis regulations?

Introduction by: Betty Aldworth, Executive Director, Students for Sensible Drug Policy

Video Message: The Honorable Lou Correa (D-CA)

Moderated by: Liz Crampton, Agriculture & Food Policy Reporter, Politico

Giadha Aguirre de Carcer, CEO, New Frontier Data

Kayvan Khalatbari, Partner, Denver Relief Consulting

Dr. Chanda Macias, CEO, Women Grow

Bryan Riley, Director, Free Trade Initiative, National Taxpayers Union

*Times and speakers are subject to change

WATCH: Scroll down to see the agenda and full panel videos from the 2018 Summit.