35 Women Making an Impact in Cannabis Science and Medicine

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In honor of National Women’s Month, Josh Crossney highlights some of the amazing women that will be speaking at the first Cannabis Science Conference East show.

In honor of National Women’s Month, I wanted to feature some of the amazing women that will be speaking at the first Cannabis Science Conference East show. 2019 is already shaping up to be the year of the woman and the Cannabis Science Conference team could not be more excited to continue to do our part in making sure women’s voices are being heard in cannabis, science, and medicine. This has been a major priority for us since our inception in 2016. We have an amazing group of female presenters set to speak at our 2019 Cannabis Science Conference East coming up this April 9th and 10th at the Baltimore Convention Center. Get to know these innovative leaders before the show!

35 Women Making an Impact in Cannabis Science and Medicine that Will Be Presenting at the 2019 Cannabis Science Conference East 
(list done alphabetically)


  • Moriah Barnhart, CannaMoms
    As a lifelong advocate of human rights, cannabis was a natural cause to undertake in 2013 when Moriah Barnhart’s daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer at the age of two. Barnhart dedicated herself to saving her daughter’s life, and to helping other parents save their own children’s lives by cofounding CannaMoms in 2014. She subsequently developed Dahlia's Botanicals, a product line which includes the country’s first United States Department of Agriculture (U.S. DA)-certified organic high cannabidiol (CBD) hemp oil.

  • Laura Breit, Professional Mechanical Engineer and Managing Principal, Root Engineers
    Laura Breit is a professional mechanical engineer with experience in the cannabis industry. She received her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara and a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. Breit serves as managing principal of Root Engineers parent company, ColeBreit Engineering, which she founded in 2013.

  • Lori Dodson, MS, MT (ASCP), Deputy Director, Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission
    Lori Dodson currently serves as the Deputy Director for the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission. During her time with the commission, Dodson has been actively involved in developing policy and regulation for the medical cannabis industry, as well as developing testing criteria for the laboratories registered to analyze medical cannabis. Prior to coming on board at the commission, Dodson was a program coordinator for the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene-Office of Health Care Quality where she was responsible for regulating and inspecting forensic and clinical laboratories in Maryland. Ms. Dodson has a Master’s of Science in Biomedical Research from the University of Maryland-Baltimore and a Bachelor’s of Science in Medical Technology from Wichita State University. Dodson is married with two very active children and a dog, and loves competing in endurance sports.

  • Abby Epstein, Executive Director, Weed the People
    Abby made her film directing debut at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival with the documentary, Until the Violence Stops, featuring Jane Fonda, Eve Ensler, Salma Hayek, and Rosie Perez. The film played at the Miami, Florida; Santa Barbara, California; Maui, Hawaii, and Locarno, Switzerland Film Festivals and won the Audience Award at the Amnesty International Film Festival in Vancouver, Canada. Until the Violence Stops premiered on Lifetime Television and received an Emmy and a Gracie Allen Award. Prior to her film work, Epstein directed theater, helming National Tours and international premieres of RENT and “The Vagina Monologues.”

  • Jessie Gill, RN, Cannabis Nurses Network
    Jessie Gill, RN, is a cannabis nurse with a background in holistic health and hospice. After suffering a spinal injury, she reluctantly became a medical marijuana patient then quickly transitioned into an advocate. Her site,, educates about cannabis while challenging the stigma against marijuana use. She’s been featured on Viceland and her work has appeared on VICE, GoodHousekeeping, Cosmopolitan, MSN, and more. Gill is a member of the Cannabis Nurses Network.

  • Dr. Bonnie Goldstein, Medical Director, Canna-Centers
    Bonni Goldstein, MD, is the Medical Director of Canna-Centers Wellness & Education, a Los Angeles-based medical practice devoted to helping seriously ill patients use cannabis medicine. She has a special interest in pediatric epilepsy, autism, and cancer. She is the author of the book Cannabis Revealed: How the World’s Most Misunderstood Plant Is Treating Everything From Chronic Pain to Epilepsy. Dr. Goldstein is the medical advisor to

  • Jacklyn Green, PhD, CEO and Founder, Agate Biosciences
    Agate Biosciences CEO and cofounder, Dr. Jacklyn Green, came to the cannabis industry following 27 years as a scientist, engineer, and project manager at The National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). She earned her doctorate from The University of Texas at Austin. Now, she brings the best practices of management and systems engineering to cannabis businesses enhancing their financial and technical success in today’s stringent government-regulated environment. She is currently on the editorial advisory board of Cannabis Science and Technology magazine.

  • Dr. Mary Pat Hoffman, Clinical Director, Peninsula Alternative Health 
    Mary Pat Hoffman, PharmD, graduated from the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy and was inspired by a long time retail pharmacy patient to begin studying cannabis. She co-instructed “Selected Topics in Medical Cannabis” at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore School of Pharmacy and serves as Clinical Director at Peninsula Alternative Health in Salisbury, Maryland where she concentrates on treatment plans, education, outreach, and advocacy.

  • Hope Jones, PhD, CEO and Founder, Emergent Cannabis Sciences
    Dr. Hope Jones is Chief Scientific Officer of Emergent Cannabis Sciences (ECS) and C4 Laboratories. She is a graduate of the University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center (CEAC) where she worked to propagate endangered native species using tissue culture techniques. As a NASA scientist, Dr. Jones developed technologies and protocols to grow crops for deep space missions. Dr. Jones current work focuses on optimizing micropropagation protocols and facilities for the cannabis industry.

  • Allison Justice, PhD, VP of Cultivation, OutCo
    Allison Justice graduated from Clemson University with a PhD in plant and environmental science. Today, Dr. Justice is VP of Cultivation for OutCo, a vertically integrated cannabis producer. Justice recently founded a largescale hemp CBD extraction facility in her home state of South Carolina where her family owns and operates a 40-acre hemp farm. Through research and education, Justice is elevating the standards of cannabis and hemp cultivation both indoors/greenhouse and in the field.

  • Autumn Karcey, CEO and Founder, Cultivo, Inc.
    Autumn Karcey is the CEO and founder of Cultivo, Inc., a design firm located in Southern California specializing in industry specific solutions for the cannabis industry. To date, Ms. Karcey has built, designed, and consulted on facilities in more than 10 U.S. states and thee countries totaling over two-million square feet of canopy area. Ms. Karcey’s current designs include a 30,000 square foot facility on the Big Island of Hawaii and over 250,000 square feet currently under development in California and Arizona.

  • Heather Krug, MS, State Marijuana Laboratory Sciences Program Manager Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
    Heather Krug is the State Marijuana Laboratory Sciences Program Manager for the Laboratory Services Division of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. In this role, Krug oversees inspections of Colorado Retail and Medical Marijuana Testing Facilities for suitability for certification and compliance with the Code of Colorado Regulations. Ms. Krug acts as the technical contact for the Marijuana Enforcement Division of the Colorado Department of Revenue, to whom she provides technical assistance and regulatory/policy and enforcement recommendations. She is also responsible for the state Marijuana Reference Laboratory housed within the state public health lab.

  • Dr. Jessica Knox, MBA, MPH, CEO, The American Cannabinoid Clinics
    Jessica Knox, MD, MBA, MPH, is a preventive medicine physician specializing in clinical endocannabinology-the study of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and its applications for health and healing. Along with her family, Knox founded the American Cannabinoid Clinics, which aims to deliver precision cannabinoid medicine to patients; and ADVENT Academy, which develops comprehensive training for healthcare professionals in the ECS and clinical cannabis care.

  • Ricki Lake, TV and Film Icon, Executive Producer, Weed the People
    From acting and producing, to dancing her way into the hearts of television audiences, Emmy Award-winning television host Ricki Lake is a pop culture icon who has built a career on her graciously candid sensibility and her authentic, relatable nature. The world first met Lake in 1988 as Tracy Turnblad in John Waters’ film Hairspray. Her additional film and television credits are extensive. At age 24, Lake became one of the youngest daily talk show hosts in history with the debut of The Ricki Lake Show. She has also cowritten two books, released a four-part DVD series, and served as an executive producer of several documentaries. Lake’s legacy and perhaps her greatest love, is her role as an independent filmmaker. Her award-winning, critically acclaimed documentary The Business of Being Born debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2007 and is often hailed as the “must see” film among mothers-to-be. She is currently working on a film about hormonal birth control.

  • Chanda Macaias, MBA, PhD, CEO and Owner, National Holistic Healing Center
    Chanda Macias, MBA, PhD, is the CEO and the owner of National Holistic a cannabis and hemp healthcare enterprise. National Holistic Healing Center is the leading medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C. Dr. Macias has spent 15-plus years developing knowledge of medical marijuana impact on patients. Dr. Macias contributes growth to the market through education on ailment strain alignment, aligning a medical marijuana strain with a specific condition or ailment.

  • Rylie Maedler, Founder, Rylie’s Smile Foundation/Rylie’s Sunshine
    After successfully lobbying the legalization of pediatric medical cannabis in her state at the age of 9, Rylie Maedler has gone on to change several more laws to improve access for pediatrics. These include access on school property and autism as a qualifying condition. She created a charity, Rylie’s Smile Foundation in 2015, to educate, support research, and advocate for better access. In 2017, she founded Rylie’s Sunshine in order to research and develop cannabis treatments for overlooked targets.

  • Janie Maedler, President, Rylie’s Smile Foundation/Rylie’s Sunshine
    Janie and her daughter are the driving forces behind Delaware’s pediatric medical marijuana law, SB181 (Pediatric MMJ School Law), and autism as a qualifying condition so far. Maedler is Rylie’s Smile Foundation’s BP and a co-owner of Rylie’ Sunshine. Maedler’s inspiration is her daughter who began using cannabis after an aggressive bone tumor diagnosis in 2013. Her venture into gaining knowledge about cannabis not only saved her daughter, but led her to successfully help families give their children options they may not have had.

  • Heather Manus, RN, Founding Member, Cannabis Nurses Network
    Heather Manus, RN, is a native New Mexican and registered nurse specializing in all aspects of medical cannabis care. “Nurse Heather” began her career as a registered nurse providing psychiatric home health care to patients in New Mexico. She has extensive background and experience in natural healing modalities and herbal remedies, some of which she obtained from her close association with Hispanic and Native American healers in New Mexico. Her vast knowledge and holistic approach to individualized patient care has been the cornerstone of her success as a nurse, educator, entrepreneur, and promoter of health.

  • Erin Martin, Research Program Coordinator, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
    Erin Martin is currently a research coordinator at the Behavioral Pharmacology Research Unit of Johns Hopkins Medicine, where she has been a member of the Cannabis Lab for three years. She has been involved with a number of studies in her position on the various effects of cannabis, including acute cognitive and motor effects, medicinal use, and cannabis dependence.

  • 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.

  • Scheril Murray Powell, Esq., Managing Partner, Scheril Murray Powell P.A.
    Scheril Murray Powell, Esq., is the Managing Partner of Scheril Murray Powell, P.A., a boutique agricultural and cannabis law firm. She is the former Director of Federal Affairs for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. She is also President of consulting firm Green Sustainable Strong, LLC , and an Attorney at Doumar, Allsworth, Laystrom, Voigt, Adair, and Dishowitz. In 2018, she was a recipient of the Crohn’s Foundation Blood, Sweat, and Tears Award and the Cannabis Business Award's Industry MVP Award. She was the first General Counsel for Minorities for Medical Marijuana and General Counsel for Patience with Patients.

  • Christine Paszko, VP of Sales and Marketing, Accelerated Technologies Laboratories
    Dr. Christine Paszko has more than 15 years of laboratory expertise having worked in various types of microbiology and molecular laboratories. She also has more than 30 years of experience in laboratory information management system (LIMS) and laboratory automation both as an end-user and LIMS provider. She has published more than 50 articles on LIMS and laboratory automation topics. She received her undergraduate degree in medical technology with a minor in Microbiology from the University of Buffalo, NY and her PhD in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Maryland.

  • Kim Petters, Executive Director, Delcanna
    Kim Petters serves as executive director of Delcanna, a grass roots cannabis reform advocacy group, in the state of Delaware. Petters is also a veteran who served 10 years active duty in the United States Air Force. Her history includes successfully leading the charge to passing state medicinal marijuana legislation. Today, Petters is on a mission to pass new legislation within her state in regards to medicinal and adult use cannabis reform.

  • Nique Pichette, MSN, RN, Founding Member, Cannabis Nurses Network
    Nique Pichette, MSN, RN, is a two-time breast cancer survivor, veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Master Prepared in Nursing Leadership, cannabis advocacy and patient. The Cannabis Nurse Navigator is a professional registered nurse with cannabis-specific knowledge who offers individualized assistance to patients, families, and caregivers to help overcome healthcare system barriers. Developed by Nique Pichette MSN, RN, while she was a student in the “Entrepreneur For All” program in Massachusetts in 2016, the Cannabis Nurse Navigator provides education and resources to facilitate informed decision making in a timely fashion to quality healthcare providers knowledgeable in cannabis therapeutics and psychosocial care throughout all the phases of the cannabis therapeutics continuum.

  • Gail Rand, CFO and Patient Advocate, FrowardGro
    Gail Rand immersed herself in medical cannabis advocacy on behalf of her son who has epilepsy and autism. She played an integral role in passing the legislation in Maryland. In 2015, Rand became CFO and patient advocate for ForwardGro, the first of 15 companies licensed to cultivate cannabis in Maryland. In 2017, she had the honor of speaking in the halls of Congress at the Marijuana Big Thinker Talks.

  • Tracy Ryan, CEO and Founder, CannaKids and SavingSophie
    Tracy Ryan is the CEO of CannaKids, a California-based brand with a focus on supplying medical cannabis oil products to “Patients of All Ages.” With her sights set on clinical research, Ryan has partnered with some of the leading research scientists to study cannabis' effects on cancer and in our own bodies. It is Ryan's mission to uncover the mysteries behind this plant in hopes to formulate disease-specific cannabinoid formulations.

  • Dr. Sue Sisley, Researcher, Scottsdale Research Institute
    Dr. Sue Sisley, MD, is an Arizona-based physician practicing internal medicine and psychiatry. She works as independent medical director for medical cannabis license holders in 17 different states from Hawaii to Florida to New Jersey. Dr. Sisley serves as President of Scottsdale Research Institute and Principal Investigator for the only U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved randomized controlled trial in the world examining safety and efficacy of whole plant marijuana in combat veterans with severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Her other areas of current Institutional Review Board (IRB)-approved research includes supervising studies evaluating cannabis for pain management, cannabis as substitution therapy for opioids, and also a safety study looking at cannabis edibles. Dr. Sisley was also awarded a government grant as principal investigator to build a robust nationwide medical cannabis patient registry.

  • Dawn-Marie Steenstra, Founding Member, Cannabis Nurses Network
    Dawn-Marie Steenstra learned about cannabis as a healthcare option 10 months post-breast cancer and thereafter jumped headlong into the industry. She has since worked with Cannabis Nurses Network, American Cannabis Nurses Association (ACNA), Americans for Safe Access, United Patients Group, and most recently became the Patient Outreach Coordinator for Mission Dispensaries. She coproduced season 2 of The Sacred Plant docuseries with John Malanca and continues every day to educate doctors, nurses, patients, and the public about the amazing potential of this plant.

  • Melanie Yelton, PhD, VP of Research, LumiGrow, Inc.
    Melanie Yelton’s goal is creating new ways to elicit desirable crop characteristics using light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Previously, she served as a lecturer and scientist at Stanford University studying plant signaling. She earned her PhD from the University of California, Davis, in plant molecular biology; an MS in biochemistry from the University of South Carolina, and a BS from Virginia Tech. Yelton holds a patent for work involving filamentous fungus. She also served as director of sequencing at the Stanford DNA Sequence and Technology Center.

Honorable Mentions

The following list of amazing women will not be presenting at the conference, but all play an instrumental role in our success on a daily basis. I would like to give special thanks to them for their continued support. Female empowerment in cannabis is more than just women lifting up other women. It’s also about smart men lifting up women and playing their part to make sure female voices are being heard. I like to think of myself as one of those men.

  • Leah Hesie, ESQ, Strategic Advisor, CSC Events, LLC

  • Meg L'Heureux, Editor-in-Chief, Cannabis Science and Technology magazine

  • Elizabeth Lunt, Co-Founder, Spark! Maryland

  • Andrea Peraza, COO, CSC Events, LLC

  • Stephanie Shaffer, Publisher, Cannabis Science and Technology magazine

  • Stormy Simon, Board of Directors, High Times

I invite you all to join us for our 2019 Cannabis Science Conference east this April 9th and 10th at the Baltimore Convention Center. Come learn from these amazing female leaders in cannabis and from many other global experts. Please visit to register and learn more!