Legalization to Licensing: Opening Virginia’s Adult-use Retail Market

October 14, 2022 | 2:00 pm | Room 1 | Retail

This panel discussion will provide an honest look at the looming obstacles and potential pathways to adult-use retail in Virginia. Hear from the state’s foremost experts at the center of the Commonwealth’s cannabis conversation including consumer, medical, hemp, and entrepreneurial perspectives.
Panelists will answer the most asked questions about legalization in Virginia:
1. When can sales actually begin?
2. What are the real obstacles?
3. Is there any path to a legislative win in 2023?

JM Pedini, Development Director, NORML

JM Pedini is the development director of NORML. JM oversees NORML’s global chapter affiliate network and ensures availability of resources and tools necessary to leverage the organization’s powerful grassroots support. They also serve as the executive director of the state affiliate, Virginia NORML, where their work has directly resulted in the legalization of medical and adult-use cannabis, decriminalization of personal marijuana possession, and the establishment of the Virginia Legislative Cannabis Caucus and the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority. Appointed to the Governor’s Marijuana Legalization Work Group and as co-chair of the Legal and Regulatory Subcommittee, their current focus is on the Commonwealth’s continued effort to establish a fair and equitable adult-use cannabis regulatory structure that prioritizes consumer safety. Prior to drug policy reform, they enjoyed a successful entertainment and media career with The Walt Disney Company.

Anthony Mijares, President, Old Manchester Hemp

Mr. Mijares currently Kloud Enterprise, AKA Old Manchester Hemp Co. and Old Manchester Cannabis Co. Anthony is a disabled U.S. Army Veteran who served 8 years as a Combat Medic during several combat tours in Kosovo, Iraq, Kuwait, Korea and several other countries. Recently elected to the Board of Directors for Virginia NORML. Along with teaming up with Decriminalize Nature of Virginia to push for decriminalizing psilocybin. Old Manchester Hemp Co. and Old Manchester Cannabis Co. employs women, minorities, veterans, and returning citizens seeking opportunities. Through Manchester, Mijares holds a growing, dealers, and processing license for hemp through the Virginia Department of Consumers and Agriculture. Old Manchester’s 7,000 square foot seed-to sale facility operates in the heart of Richmond, VA

Ngiste Abebe, VP of Public Policy, Columbia Care

Ngiste is Vice President of Public Policy at Columbia Care, one of the nation’s leading medical cannabis companies. She serves as the President of the New York Medical Cannabis Industry Association and on the board of the District of Columbia Cannabis Trade Association. Prior to that, she was co-founder of Undaunted Ventures, a political consulting firm which specializes in innovative narrative, training, and leadership coaching services, and which grew out of her work training progressive organizations and working on campaigns across Virginia. She is the co-founder and co-director emerita of New Leaders Council Virginia, a progressive leadership institute. Ngiste holds a BA in Public Policy from the University of Chicago and a Masters in Public Policy and Management from Carnegie Mellon University.