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Representative of Law Enforcement
Richard A. Badaracco, Secretary of the U.S. Hemp Authority, is an accomplished law enforcement professional with nearly four decades of service in public safety and law enforcement, and nearly two decades of executive, command and supervisory experience. Among his varied roles and responsibilities, Rich served as an Assistant Special Agent in Charge for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in Detroit and Louisville, the Staff Coordinator at DEA Headquarters in Washington DC, the Interim Chief of Police for the Corpus Christi Police Department, the Commissioner of the Department of Criminal Investigations for Kentucky’s Attorney General, and the Executive Director of Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
Ola Lessard serves as Chief Marketing Officer for HempFusion Wellness, Inc.
Ola Lessard has worked in the natural products industry for 10 years, previously serving as Chief Marketing Officer for HempFusion Wellness, Inc., parent company for HempFusion and Probulin and VP of marketing for Barlean’s and as a strategic marketing consultant to brands like Stonyfield Organic Yogurt, Late July Snacks and Brown Cow. Prior to her immersion in natural and organic products, Lessard worked in disability civil rights and the building products industry.
Ola lives in Bellingham, Washington with her husband and two daughters.
Representative of Industry Related Trade Organization
Luis Vega is the CEO and Founder of Wepa Farms, a growing venture dedicated to quality American Hemp farming in Connecticut.
Vega is positioned to empower hundreds of farmers, and thousands of families interested in consuming hemp for wellness purposes and beyond. In addition to growing and processing high-quality hemp, Vega is an active member of the advocacy group, CURE CT aswell as Minority Cannabis Business Association and Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana, He is a founding member of the CT Cannabis Consultants, which works to establish a thriving industry entrepreneurs in the United States and the CT Cannabis Conference, an event dedicated to creating connections and encouraging social networking within the industry.
Vega’s entrepreneurial success extends back to 2003, ranging from the Hospitality and Restaurant industries to content creation, leading eventually to cannabis education for patients, caregivers and entrepreneurs alike. He is the Co-Founder of CannaCreate, a high-end meal and experience for adults interested in creating unique culinary art while tastefully experiencing cannabis too.
At the root of Vega’s business success is his Puerto Rican heritage and entrepreneurial drive. He is a true advocate for people of color, especially encouraging people from Latin America and those who identify as Hispanic, to get involved in ownership positions in the rapidly growing cannabis and hemp market. Luis was the only Latino to receive an industrial hemp license in Connecticut. Founder of Wepa! Hemp Farms, producing thousands of pounds of hemp flower for CBD products and stalk for construction, he is also co-host of Cannabis Corner: New Haven on 103.5 FMWNHH Community Radio. He is a member of Lambda Alpha Upsilon Fraternity, Inc. Alumni of University of New Haven and a member of Cosmopolitan Lodge, New Haven CT.
Marielle Weintraub, Ph.D., President of the U.S. Hemp Authority, is the Director of Scientific Research and Development for Zilis, LLC, a company focused on researching, developing endocannabinoid-based products.
Prior to joining Zilis, Marielle was the Strategic Business Development Director of the Hemp Initiative at Eurofins Food Integrity and Innovation (formerly Covance Food Solutions). In this role, she introduced the hemp industry and their needs for valid and reliable testing to Covance (2016) and continued to drive development of hemp-specific testing and standards until she left Eurofins in 2019.
Marielle is very active in many dietary supplement and hemp industry trade associations, including her role as a founding board member and the current President for the US Hemp Authority, a member of the US Hemp Roundtable – Analytical Standards Technical Committee, a member of the American Herbal Products Association – Cannabis Committee and a member of the United Natural Products Alliance – Hemp Extracts/CBD committee.
Marielle earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in Behavioral Neuroscience from Texas Christian University in 2011 and 2014, respectively, focusing her research on Alzheimer’s disease pathology, including the accumulation of amyloid-beta plaques and prevention of cognitive deficits resulting from peripheral inflammation.
Dustin McDaniel, formerly Arkansas Attorney General, is an attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas. He is a partner in the firm of McDaniel, Wolff & Benca, PLLC (www.MWBFirm.com). Dustin was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives in 2004, serving from 2005-2007. He was the only freshman lawmaker in the 85th General Assembly to be named by the Arkansas DemocratGazette to its “Top 10 Legislators” list in 2005. In 2006, Dustin was elected as Arkansas’s 55th Attorney General. At the time, he was the youngest Attorney General in the United States. In 2010, Dustin was reelected. He was selected by his colleagues around the nation to hold many leadership roles, including Chairman of the Southern Region of the National Association of Attorneys General, Co-Chair of the Democratic Attorneys General Association and Chairman of the NAAG Tobacco Project, which oversees roughly $7 Billion in annual payments between settling tobacco companies and 46 states. Dustin currently serves as Co-Chair of the Society of Attorneys General Emeritus (SAGE), which is the professional association for all former AG’s in the United States. Dustin is also proud to be the first Arkansan named as a Rodel Fellow at the Aspen Institute.
Under the Arkansas Constitution, Dustin was term limited for life as AG at the end of his second term. In 2015, he formed the law firm of McDaniel, Richardson and Calhoun, PLLC which quickly established a successful national attorney general practice managing investigations, litigations and general government affairs with AG’s and governors. The firm also navigated regulatory and political affairs, as well as litigation in Arkansas on complex issues including education, manufacturing, healthcare, technology, medical cannabis, tobacco and casino gaming.
In 2019, McDaniel Richardson & Calhoun, PLLC merged with the Little Rock tax law firm of Wolff & Ward, PLLC and the criminal defense firm of Benca & Johnston, PLLC to form McDaniel Wolff & Benca, PLLC.
Dustin and his wife Bobbi have three children. Both are active in the community. Dustin is a member of 50 For the Future and serves on the boards of The University of Arkansas Alumni Association, The UALR Wm. H Bowen School of Law Dean’s Advisory Council and The U.S. Hemp Authority. Bobbi works as a client advocate at the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance. Dustin graduated cum laude with his Juris Doctor from the Bowen School of Law, where he served as Honor Council Prosecutor and as Assistant Articles Editor for the UALR Law Review. The law school presented Dustin with its “Young Alumnus Award” in 2002 and its “Distinguished Alumnus Award” in 2019. He is a graduate of the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, where he was Interfraternity Council President and a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. In 2004, Dustin was an honor graduate of the Arkansas Law Enforcement Training Academy as a Patrolman for the Jonesboro Police Department. He has maintained his law enforcement certification to this day, serving as a volunteer deputy sheriff in Poinsett County, Arkansas. In 2008, The Arkansas Sheriff’s Association named Dustin “Arkansas’s 76th Sheriff,” an honor previously bestowed only once to the late Lieutenant Governor Winthrop Rockefeller.
Representative of Retail Industry
Dr. Guru Ramanathan is President of his Global Healthcare Innovation Advisory Services company, currently serving on Corporate and Advisory Board’s for established and early-stage companies in Global Food, Nutrition, Pharma, OTC, Digital Health and Primary Care Medicine industry sectors. He is very active in Nutrition Industry initiatives having been a founding member and current Chairman of the ‘Supplement Safety & Compliance Initiative’ (SSCI). He currently serves on CRN’s OWL Registry advisory board, as well as the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine’s Advisory Board.
Dr. Ramanathan is an Adjunct Professor at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge Louisiana.
Dr. Ramanathan is a globally recognized expert on Innovation Management and his advisory concentrations include Scientific Affairs, Regulatory Compliance, Quality Assurance and Control, Clinical Trials Design & Management, Technology Acquisition, Alliance Management, Product Development and Manufacturing in the Global Health and Wellness Industry.
Dr. Ramanathan’s industry experience spans Clinical care, Pharma, Consumer health, Animal health and the Retail sectors. His most recent appointment was with Pittsburgh based General Nutrition Corporation (GNC) as its Chief Innovation Officer, Senior Vice President and Member of the Executive Committee. Prior to that Dr. Ramanathan was a Senior Director for the US subsidiaries of Nutricia (Danone). Before this he was Medical Director for the US subsidiary of Scotia Pharmaceuticals. He has also held various industry consulting, research and teaching appointments in India and the US.
Dr. Ramanathan holds an MBA from Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business focused on global business practices. He earned his Ph.D. from Tufts University in Healthcare Innovation Management.
Annie Rouse was nominated to serve on the Authority Board by the Hemp Industries Association, for which she serves as Secretary and Director. Annie has been at the forefront of the US hemp industry since 2009 with experience across the three industry sectors: grain, fiber and cannabinoids from farm to finished product. In 2013 she received a US Fulbright Scholarship to study Canada’s hemp supply chain. Annie is a serial entrepreneur, with start-ups across the CBD sector including Overcome (formerly Nature’s Hemp Oil), a US Hemp Authority Certified lifestyle CBD brand as well as Anavii Market, an e-commerce retailer for verified CBD. In 2019 she co-founded OP Innovates, a hemp formulations company dedicated to delivering the world’s most effective cannabinoids.
Annie is a thought-leader on the theories behind cannabis prohibition, which she has unfolded through years of extensive archival research and published within her podcast series, Anslinger: The untold cannabis conspiracy – an interview-narration style podcast.
Annie also serves the industry in various capacities including as President and Founder of Friends of Hemp, an industry non profit, as well as serving as an Executive Committee Board Member to the Hemp Industries Association where she assists as ASTM liaison to the D37 Cannabis Committee, State Chapter Task Force Co-Chair and US Hemp Roundtable co-liaison.
Beyond start-ups, research and organizational work, Annie is a published author and an experienced public speaker on hemp, with her most renowned engagements on the Today Show, at Natural Products Expo East & West and DEFCON.
Annie received her BS in Economics and holds a Masters in International Environmental Policy and an MBA. To explore more about Annie and her journey visit her blog, Think Hempy Thoughts.
Representative of Hemp Farming Organization
CEO & Founder of Agrarian Group / Co-Founder of Agrarian Supply, F1 Genomics, Agrarian Research Solutions & Agrarian Farms / US Hemp Authority Board Member / Texas Hemp Coalition Executive Board Member.
Currently Kyle is the CEO of Agrarian Group and actively participates on the board of directors for several agricultural and pharmaceutical companies. He specializes in brand management, business development, agricultural production, and emerging markets. Kyle is a licensed Pest Control Advisor and Qualified Applicator in the state of California as well as a National Certified Crop Advisor.
At the start of his career Kyle spent 6 years in organic farming and fresh food production as a Sales Manager at Earthbound Farm. In 2012 Kyle joined Wilbur-Ellis Company where he held the positions of National Specialty Crop Portfolio Manager, Retail Branch Manager & Pest Control Advisor. After leaving Wilbur-Ellis in 2018 Kyle took his collective agricultural experience to the hemp and cannabis industries where he co-founded Agrarian Supply with his partner Scott Knippelmeir.
Kyle has over 16 years of Sales, Strategy and Management experience. Over the last 6 years he has dedicated most of his time developing go to market strategies for the entrance of hemp and cannabis into the traditional agriculture industry. Kyle currently leads the Agrarian teams focused efforts in stewarding these two game-changing crops into a sustainable future. His goal is to assist farmers in growing the highest quality and maximum yielding hemp and cannabis possible to provide versatility, sustainability, and profitability for the American farmer. Kyle has a vision for the Hemp and Cannabis industries and wants to help write the playbook for the “seed to harvest” commercialization of both crops.
Kyle holds a degree in agricultural business and management from California Polytechnic State University- San Luis Obispo where he met his wife of 20 years Jennifer. Together they are raising two boys, Michael age 6 and Bradley age 8.
Dr. Andrea Wong is Senior Vice President, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs, at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), the leading trade association representing the dietary supplement and functional food industry. She leads CRN’s science and regulatory affairs department, responding to emerging regulatory issues, as well as advocating for science-based nutrition. Dr. Wong provides scientific expertise in evaluating research relevant to the benefits and safety of ingredients and dietary supplements, and in support of CRN’s nutrition policy activities. She also leads proactive self-regulatory initiatives, including the development of best practices guidelines for industry on product labeling and formulation. Prior to joining CRN, she worked as a senior scientific and regulatory consultant for the firm Intertek (Cantox). Dr. Wong earned her B.Sc. in Life Sciences from Queen’s University and her Ph.D. in Toxicology from the University of Toronto.
Leadership of the Kentucky Hemp Industry Coalition (KHIC) determined that it was essential to develop a self-regulation organization (SRO) for the industry. Not only was it important for any agricultural commodity to promote high standards, best practices and self-regulation; hemp had a particular burden because of its association with the more controversial marijuana. For policymakers to support full legalization, and for bureaucrats to reject over-regulation, an SRO was a necessary
The KHIC hired David Bossman – a veteran of SROs in the agricultural space with no financial ties to the hemp industry – to develop a process to establish and credential such an organization. Bossman held dozens of conversations with industry leaders – from companies representing the crop from seed to sale, and from organizations that represented grassroots activists who had been advocating for legalization for decades. He also held in-person meetings at the HIA conventions in Denver and Lexington, where dozens of industry leaders participated.
In early 2017, KHIC reconstituted into the US Hemp Roundtable, and it established a formal process to develop a Guidance Plan for hemp growth, cultivation and processing.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable asked its members, which at that time included about 30 leading companies in the hemp industry, as well as all of its major grassroots organizations – HIA, NHA, AHPA and Vote Hemp – to send representatives to form a Technical Committee to develop, edit and refine the Guidance Plan. HIA and NHA’s representatives were especially involved in the details and nuances of these scientific and policy discussions. AHPA’s standards were employed for critical elements of the program. In-person meetings of the Technical Committee were held in Kentucky and Colorado, and more than two dozen organizations participated in those meetings.
In September 2017, David Bossman presented the first draft of the Guidance Plan at the HIA convention and provided HIA attendees with a timeline and process to complete the Guidance Plan.
In March 2018, the U.S. Hemp Roundtable released the first draft of Guidance Plan 1.0 and emailed more than 20,000 hemp industry leaders, stakeholders and activists, asking for their comments on the draft plan. The HIA and others published this public comment opportunity with a live link through social media channels, and the Guidance Plan was added as a clear link on the U.S. Hemp Roundtable site. The group also reached out to every hemp pilot program participant across the country for whom contact information was publicly available.
After widespread solicitation of requests for comment, the process managed to capture feedback from three critical groups: leaders in the fight to pass the 2018 Farm Bill (represented by U.S. Hemp Roundtable members), grassroots activists with long histories in hemp, and the people who were literally tilling the ground creating this new industry.
David Bossman personally reviewed all of this input, made revisions and improvements to the draft plan, and brought the comments and suggested changes to the attention of the Technical Committee. The Board of the U.S. Hemp Roundtable, which at that point included more than 50 companies and all of the hemp grassroots organizations, then voted to approve the updated plan.
The U.S. Hemp Roundtable released the final draft of Guidance Plan 1.0 in May 2018. Again, the Roundtable sent emails seeking comment to its growing distribution list (now 28,000+), and the HIA and others promoted comments through social media channels. Again, Bossman compiled the comments and used the feedback provided to bring a new draft to the Technical Committee for edits, securing further approval from the U.S. Roundtable Board.
Once the US Hemp Roundtable approved the final version of what is now titled the Guidance Procedures, it provided $200,000 for seed funding and handed off administration of the program to a newly created, fully independent organization: the US Hemp Authority. The Board of the U.S. Hemp Authority was originally constituted as:
The US Hemp Authority’s Board of Directors hired an independent certification body to ensure transparency and lead, without political or financial interference, a third-party auditing process.
On March 1, 2019, the Authority announced the first awardees of its Certification Seal to companies that met the stringent standards of Guidance Procedures 1.0 and successfully passed the third-party audit.
In 2020 the US Hemp Authority set out to revise its Guidance Procedures version 2.0 (its certification standard) according to Terms of Referenceestablished by the Board of Directors The first round published for public comment in October, 2020, with the recommended revisions published for the public comment period for the second round concluding on December 31st, 2020. In January 2021, the Technical Committee finalized version 3.0, which was then ratified by the Board of Directors.
The changes from v2.0 to v3.0 are a clarification of the expectations intended by v2.0, with the added insight of another year of experience gained by the program. Operations certified in good standing to v2.0 will therefore find little in the way of new requirements. Changes are summarized as follows:
Further inquiries about the Standard’s development process may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 1, the U.S. Hemp Authority® launched Guidance Procedures 2.0, for use in 2020, aimed at applying the lessons of the initial launch of the program and taking even greater input from stakeholders in the hemp industry on how to improve the program and its standards. This effort included in-person meetings in Anaheim with the natural foods industry and with the U.S. Hemp Farming Alliance, as well as a renewed online effort of seeking public comment.
After this initial public consultation, the draft Version 2.0 was prepared by the Technical Committee and released for public comment on July 25, and the comment period ended on September 15.
The U.S. Hemp Authority® received more than 2,000 comments from hemp industry stakeholders, consumers, and academia for additions and corrections to the Guidance Procedures and audit checklists.
On November 1, Guidance Procedures 2.0 was released, reflecting several significant policy changes made in response to the public comment. These included:
In December, the U.S. Hemp Authority partnered with FoodChain ID to be the exclusive certifying body for its Certification Program
In 2021, the U.S. Hemp Authority board of directors expanded to include additional industry experts- Dr. Guru Ramanathan and Dr. Andrea Wong. Dr. Ramanathan is a longtime expert in the dietary supplement industry and currently serves as President of Global Healthcare Innovation Advisory Services company, currently serving on Corporate and Advisory Board’s for established and early-stage companies in Global Food, Nutrition, Pharma, OTC, Digital Health and Primary Care Medicine industry sectors. Dr. Wong is Senior Vice President, Scientific and Regulatory Affairs at the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), a leading trade association representing the dietary supplement and functional food industry. She leads CRN’s science and regulatory affairs department, responding to emerging regulatory issues, as well as advocating for science-based nutrition.
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