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© 2019 SUNY Niagara | All rights reserved.

2024 SUNY Cannabis Conference

at SUNY Niagara

Featured Speakers

January 8th, Niagara Falls Culinary Institute

Justin Deluca, All That Chocolate LLC

All That Chocolate LLC (ATC) was established by Christine DeLuca in Wilson, NY in 1997. Christine’s focus was creating specialty and artisanal chocolates and confections for retail, wholesale, and corporate clients.  Today, ATC has grown into a true family- and female-owned business now operated by Christine along with her daughter, Alexa Martin and son, Justin DeLuca.

Jordan Wagman

Meet James Beard nominated Chef, bestselling author, cannabis culinary pioneer, podcast host, philanthropist and mental health survivor– Jordan Wagman.  Jordan’s unique culinary journey began over campfires in Northern Ontario and progressed to the kitchens of some of the top chefs in the culinary world.  At the age of 12, Jordan was diagnosed with Psoriasis, an often-debilitating autoimmune disease. He was hospitalized numerous times and took medication that would have lasting negative side effects.  Jordan realized at a young age that sunshine was a huge piece to his health puzzle- fast forward to 2014, Jordan found the second piece;  a healthy diet. Following one meeting with a naturopath, Jordan removed gluten, dairy and refined sugar from his diet and began consuming cannabis and, almost immediately, his life changed and began living a much healthier existence.  Today, Jordan has a renewed focus on food, health and wellness;  Jordan travels the globe offering unique culinary experiences that redefine cannabis food and beverage, consults on the creation of CPG products, continues to author books and speak publicly while advocating for the normalcy of cannabis.

January 9th, SUNY Niagara

Jennifer Williams McVige, MD, MA,

Jennifer Williams McVige, MD, MA, is Attending Physician and Partner at DENT Neurologic Institute in Amherst, New York, where she is also Director of the DENT Concussion Center. Dr. McVige is Clinical Assistant Professor of Neurology at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo. Her clinical and research interests include migraine prevention and treatment, posttraumatic headache, concussion, and neuroimaging in pregnancy and postpartum. She has been a principal investigator or coinvestigator for more than 30 clinical trials and is a frequent presenter at national and international scientific conferences. Among numerous honors, Dr. McVige has received awards for excellence in neurology and in teaching at SUNY Buffalo, as well as Top Doctor for NY State several years in a row.

Laszlo Mechtler, MD, FAAN, FEAN, FASN, FAHS

  • Chief Medical Officer, DENT Neurologic Institute
  • Chief, Neuro-Oncology Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center
  • Founder & Chief Medical Officer, MIND Clinic, Budapest, Hungary
  • Professor of Oncology & Neurology, SUNY at Buffalo

Dr. Laszlo Mechtler is Professor of Neurology and Oncology at the State University of New York at Buffalo, Chief Medical Officer of the Dent Neurologic Institute, the largest out-patient neuroscience center in the United States. He holds board certifications in Neurology, Neuroimaging, Neuro-Oncology and Headache Medicine. His training includes institutions such as MD Anderson, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Semmelweis University. He is a past president of the American Society of Neuroimaging (ASN) and the Hungarian Medical Association of America (HMAA). He was the guest editor of the 2009, 2014 and 2020 editions of Neurology Clinics on ‘Neuroimaging”. He served on the Executive Committee for BrainPAC through the American Academy of Neurology (AAN). Former Medical Director of large cannabis MSO from 2017-2021. Dr. Mechtler has published some of the first major retrospective research trials on Medical Marijuana in Headaches and other neurologic disorders. Dr. Mechtler lectures both nationally and internationally and is recognized as a leader in the fields of Neuroimaging, Headache Medicine, Neuro-Oncology, and Medical Cannabis. He is the Director of the DENT Cannabis Clinic, which has more than 15,000 patients certified through the NYS MMJ program and continues to grow each day. Dr. Mechtler is also the Founder/Chief Medical Officer for the MIND Institute in Budapest, Hungary which opened in Fall 2020. 

Jeffrey Lombardo

BS Pharm, PharmD, BCOP, Global Program Director, Cannabinoid Drug Development Program, Research Assistant Professor, Center for Integrated Global Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo

Dr. Jeffrey Lombardo is the Global Program Director, Cannabinoid Drug Development Program, University at Buffalo’s NYS Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics & Life Sciences (CBLS). In this role he leads the coordination of a team of researchers who focus on the understanding of cannabinoid replacement therapy approaches. Specific areas of focus are cellular transport mechanisms that influence cannabinoid distribution throughout the body, clinical pharmacology mechanisms that contribute to different responses among individuals, and drug interactions between cannabinoids and commonly used medications. In Jamaica, he is partnering with the University of the West Indies on studies involving medical marijuana and pursuing new initiatives for the University at Buffalo’s medication management research network (MMRN).  Dr. Lombardo received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University at Buffalo, where he currently holds a Research Assistant Professor Title.  Dr. Lombardo has exhibited and presented his work both internationally and domestically at the University of the West Indies Research Days, American Society of Clinical Oncology, American Society of Health System Pharmacists and Value Based Cancer Care Symposiums.

Andrew DeAngelo

  • Global Cannabis Consultant & Strategic Advisor / Executive Coach.
  • Founder of Andrew DeAngelo Consulting

“I build organizations.”  — Andrew DeAngelo is a visionary leader with a proven track record of enacting systemic social change and developing best practices in cannabis. Andrew lends his vast cannabis business and political expertise as a consultant for hire to the global cannabis community at large, including several strategic partnerships with the world’s leading cannabis-centric service firms. Over three decades as an activist, Andrew worked on a variety of voter initiatives which legalized medical and adult-use cannabis in San Francisco, Washington D.C, and the State of California. As a co-founder of Harborside, Andrew has pioneered legal cannabis business processes and provided groundbreaking political engagement and thought leadership to the cannabis community — leading the design and development of gold-standard cannabis retail by innovating many “firsts” for the industry. This includes: introducing CBD medicines to heal severely epileptic children, implementing the first lab-testing program in the history of cannabis dispensing, creating child-resistant packaging for edibles, standardizing inventory tracking, initiating senior outreach, and successfully preventing the federal government from seizing Harborside in forfeiture actions against the company in 2012. Andrew began his political career as an activist while studying for his MFA in acting at the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. He has starred in several films and runs an entertainment production company, DeAngelo Brothers Productions (DAB), with his brother Steve. Andrew is co-founder of the non-profit Last Prisoner Project (LPP) and a founding Board of Directors member of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) where he served from 2013 to 2020. 

Justin Esquivel, CEO/Geneticist; Green Luster Phenos

Esquivel, CEO & Geneticist, Green Luster Phenos LLC, has been an influencer and leader in the cannabis industry for fourteen (14) years. Esquivel was the head grower and geneticist of a 20,000 sq. ft indoor commercial-scale cultivation operation out in Colorado back in 2012. Justin has consulted with 76 cannabis facilities, 54 of which operate commercial canopies. He brings standard operating procedures to a gold standard. Esquivel also specializes in Cannabis Tissue Culture & Selective Homozygous Breeding, enabling his company to bring tailored offspring to growers globally!

Tim Blake; Founder of the Emerald Cup

Tim Blake has utilized cannabis for fifty three years, both personally and professionally. Tim created and has continued to produce the Emerald Cup for the past twenty years. The Emerald Cup is the longest running cannabis competition and gathering of the cannabis community in the world. Tim sponsored and helped produce the first event in the country where law enforcement and cannabis farmers came together to openly discuss how they could co-exist in a legal and peaceful way. He was the co-founder of the Mendocino Farmers Collective and also Healing Harvest Farms, both local cannabis dispensaries designed to help facilitate getting outdoor cannabis into the dispensaries across the state. He was a founding member of Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform (CCPR), which evolved into ReformCA (Prop 64), and was also a founding member of the Mendocino Cannabis Policy Council (MCPC). Tim was on the steering committee for the Mendocino Heritage Initiative (Measure AF), which was on the county ballot in 2016. Tim was a founding member of The Mendocino Cannabis Industry Association (MCIA). Tim has written two books that are with his literary agent and publishers at this time. Tim has signed a deal with Hertz, Lichtenstein, Young, and Polk to produce the TV show.

Patrick King, CEO Founder of Soil King LLC

Patrick King is the creator of Big Rootz soils and King Kashi Compost. He is a pioneering entrepreneur and advocate for sustainable agriculture, known for his innovative businesses and dedication to promoting eco-friendly farming practices.  Raised in a farming community, The Soil King developed a deep-rooted passion for agriculture from an early age. Witnessing the challenges faced by traditional farming methods, he became determined to find innovative and sustainable solutions to support farmers and protect the environment.  Patrick King is one of the 12 original council members that wrote the curriculum for the Ganjier program.  He also founded Canremediate LLC in California. This groundbreaking business focuses on cannabis remediating for microbials through radio frequency.  The Soil King also established, a platform that has become a trusted source for farmers seeking help with chain of command in the cannabis market.  Recognizing the demand for high-quality and solventless cannabis concentrates, he developed cutting-edge rosin extraction technology with Rosintech Labs.  His visionary approach, dedication to environmental consciousness, and promotion of sustainable farming practices have inspired countless growers worldwide.

Swami Chaitanya; Founder and CEO of Swami Select Brand (Legends of legacy Panel)

Swami Chaitanya is a legacy cannabis farmer, sometimes referred to as a “Triple OG!” Swami sold his first “lid” on Haight Street in 1969 and grew his first plants on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco. After many years living as an ex-pat hippie in South America and India, where he was initiated into a Hindu sect as “Swami”, he moved to the mountains of Mendocino County in 2003. That’s where Swami Select brand was born a few years later. “Our ranch is both a sanctuary and a cannabis farm,” he explains. Swami is a craft cultivator whose flowers are grown using regenerative techniques in living soil, with locally sourced amendments primarily from his own land. Swami and his wife Nikki have been judges in The Emerald Cup since it began in 2004 and are both founders of the Ganjier program. Their passion is to share knowledge about this precious plant as they raise consciousness about her many benefits. Grown under the full Sun, Moon & Stars™ with lots of extra love and care, Swami proudly grows some of the finest flowers on the planet.

Positive Nelson; Virgin Island’s Governor’s Policy Advisor on Cannabis (Legends of legacy Panel)

Positive T.A. Nelson, is a man of the people. He currently serves as the V. I. Governor’s Policy Advisor on Cannabis. First elected to serve in the Twenty-Sixth Legislature of the Virgin Islands, he served seven terms until the Thirty-Second Legislature, from the island district of St. Croix. He was the senior sitting Senator for 3 terms. “Positive” he says, is not just a name but an attitude towards life. It is that kind of perspective that has earned Mr. Nelson a reputation as an honest, efficient, and responsive leader. This is also expressed in his registered trademark, “Positive Is How I Live,” which he says is his non-secular way to bring people to living righteously.

Dan Herer; Son of Legend Jack Herer  (Legends of Legacy panel)

Biography coming!

Dr. Daniela Vergara PhD: Emerging Crops Specialist, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Dr. Daniela Vergara is an evolutionary biologist, data analyst, educator, scientific writer, and public speaker. In addition to her multiple publications, she founded and directs a non-profit organization, the Agricultural Genomics Foundation (AGF; AGF aims to make hemp and cannabinoid science available to a broad public. Vergara has been part of scientific teams at private companies including Steep Hill, Inc. who are a global leader in agricultural testing, and the biotech company Front Range Biosciences. Dr. Vergara recently joined the Harvest New York Extension Team from Cornell University as an ‘Emerging Crop Specialist’ to help hemp farmers with their crop.

Dr. Vergara’s scientific publications include the comparison of the cannabinoids by the federally produced Cannabis to that produced by the private market. These results were featured in news platforms such as The Atlantic, Science, and FiveThirtyEight.  Some of her other scientific publications are a compilation of the existing genomic tools available for Cannabis research that was featured in Science, and the maternally inherited genomes (chloroplast and mitochondria). Vergara has authored these publications along with collaborators from the private sector in the Cannabis industry as well as academics from several institutions worldwide.

Nikki Lawley, Patient Advocate

Nikki Lawley is a patient advocate, speaker, and founder of Nikki and the Plant. She personally discovered cannabis as medicine after suffering a life-changing injury while working as a pediatric nurse.   In October of 2016, Nikki was a 46-year-old woman whose life changed in literally a second.  Going from being a medical professional to becoming a patient was a major adjustment and almost cost this vibrant mother, wife, and career professional to contemplating taking her own life after becoming a victim of the traditional medical system, seeing over 50 doctors, and was on cocktails of drugs that each had more and more side effects. Four months after her injury, Nikki found plant medicine.  

Nikki and the Plant is a pillar of medical cannabis advocacy and a champion for the importance of sharing patient stories.  She is planning on creating the first product line focusing on cannabis and the science behind why cannabis helps support for her chronic pain, cognitive function, anxiety, and depression.     Nikki is on the Patient Advisory Board for NY State Americans for Safe Access and for Cannabis BPO. Nikki is considered a leading voice in the community, chronicling her journey from being a healthcare provider to a patient to an advocate. She hopes to bring worldwide awareness to invisible illness and disability. She has been a guest on multiple podcasts and shows including “Let’s Be Blunt with Montel Williams.”

TJ Arnovick;  Founder and CEO of Industry Processing Solutions and The Original Resinator

TJ Arnovick is a founder and CEO of Industry Processing Solutions and The Original Resinator. His pioneering trimming and extraction technology has helped to shape the way the industry processes its biomass. He is a long time industry advocate and cultivator in addition to being an inventor. The first Original Resinator was built in 2011 and has been innovating ever since to help growers and processors make the most of their material in a rapidly evolving industry.”

Brandi Hester-Harrell, M.Ed; Adjunct professor at Genesee Community College

Brandi Hester-Harrell, M.Ed, stands as a distinguished educational consultant, acclaimed publisher, and committed policy advocate. Drawing on over 15 years of experience in educational reform, Brandi, in collaboration with her partner Precious Brown, is at the forefront of introducing innovative approaches to education, hospitality, and community outreach through their company, EEWC.

Brandi’s expertise spans the realms of education, policy, and cannabis, propelling her mission to redefine postsecondary coursework, particularly in communities impacted by cannabis prohibition. Her efforts closely align with the evolving landscape of cannabis legalization, propelling educational reform through policy initiatives and financial advancements.

In her latest educational endeavor, Brandi proudly serves as an adjunct professor at Genesee Community College. In 2024, she will be teaching courses such as Advancing Entrepreneurship: Cannabis Business Dynamics and Cannabis Branding and Marketing, aimed at supporting SUNY institutions in preparing community members for roles in this burgeoning industry.

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