The Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF) will introduce its leadership team shortly and CBE has learned that National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) co-founder Steve Fox, President of VS Strategies, has resigned his position as a strategic advisor to NCIA’s DC lobbying efforts, after 8 years of dedicated service, to join CTF’s leadership team. VS Strategy’s sister company, Vicente Sederberg and its co-founders, Brian Vicente and Christian Sederberg, both formerly board members at NCIA, have also joined the CTF board recently.
CTF, announced last July that it would be led by industry veteran Neal Levine, Founder and CEO, who has quickly assembled a robust team of a diverse group of well-known Cannabis Industry licensees as well as major ancillary businesses as founding board members. Levine has also hired a cracker jack lobbying team in order to provide a unified voice to represent the Industry’s interests on Capitol Hill. Fox’s addition to the leadership team will help focus and direct the lobbying efforts as well as bring over 15 years of experience and strategic institutional knowledge to the rapidly expanding organization to help guide their lobbying efforts.
In addition to Fox, Levine also announced that industry veteran Heather Azzi and inside the beltway influencer and communication specialist (as well as the newest retail licensee in the DC regulated medical marijuana program) Linda Mercado Greene, will join CTF’s leadership team. Below is a summary of the backgrounds of the team members.
CTF Leadership Team Bios
Neal Levine is a nationally recognized expert in both cannabis policy and ballot initiative/independent expenditure campaigns, and a leading national advocate for the cannabis industry. Levine co-founded and serves as the CEO of the Cannabis Trade Federation (CTF), which is a national coalition of cannabis-related businesses that represent all aspects of the industry including
cultivators, dispensaries, wholesalers, distributors, and ancillary businesses.
Prior to forming CTF, Neal served as Senior Vice President of Government Affairs at LivWell Enlightened Health, one of the largest employers in the cannabis industry. In this role Levine led the company’s government affairs, public relations, community engagement, and philanthropic efforts. Neal is also a founding board member and currently serves as Chairman for the New Federalism Fund (NFF). Neal was elected to the board of directors of the National Cannabis Industry Association in 2016 and served in that role until January of 2018.
While one of the cannabis industry’s leading federal lobbyists, Levine has also worked extensively on cannabis policy reform in the states. As a former department head at the Marijuana Policy Project, and later in both private practice and leading government affairs for one of the largest companies in the industry, Neal has worked to end cannabis prohibition and set up sensible industry regulations in over 20 states throughout the country – including leading or playing a key role on many of the teams that passed the state laws that created the industry.
Heather Azzi is General Counsel for the Cannabis Trade Federation, overseeing all operations
and legal matters for the Federation. Before joining CTF, Heather held various roles at the Marijuana Policy Project, including Director of State Campaigns. While at MPP, Heather either led or assisted with drafting most of the cannabis related law that has been enacted in the U.S. since 2007. She has over 11 year’s experience drafting cannabis related laws, advising cannabis related campaigns, and lobbying for sensible cannabis policies
Heather received her J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland, OR.
Steve Fox, Esq., has been at the center of cannabis policy reform in the United States for 17 years.
While at the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) from 2002-2005 and 2009-2013, he lobbied Congress and guided numerous ballot initiative campaigns. From 2003 to 2005, as director of federal policy for MPP, he worked with Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) and Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) to arrange and build support for the first-ever pro-marijuana floor votes in the U.S. House of Representatives, on an amendment to prevent the federal government from interfering in state medical marijuana laws. This amendment eventually became law in 2014.
He was the lead author of Colorado’s historic Amendment 64 ballot measure, which made marijuana legal for all adults in that state, and managed all aspects that campaign in 2011-2012. Steve’s work in Colorado began in 2004, when he conceptualized and co-founded Safer Alternative for Enjoyable Recreation (SAFER) for the express purpose of educating the public about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol, as a means of building support for legalization. This earned media campaign generated hundreds of TV news stories, newspaper articles, and radio interviews in the years leading up to 2012.
In 2010, seeing the need to raise the profile of the nascent cannabis industry in Washington, DC, Steve conceptualized and co-founded the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). For the next eight years, he served as a strategic advisor to NCIA and, in early 2017, helped the organization launch its Policy Council, which he directed. Steve is of counsel at the Denver-based law firm Vicente Sederberg LLC and is president of VS Strategies, an affiliated cannabis policy consulting firm.
Linda Mercado Greene, Owner/Board Chair/CEO LMG Holdings, Inc. dba The Linda Greene Group, CEO BCG Holdings, Inc. dba Anacostia Organics
In the nation’s capital, public relations consultants and strategists who are well versed in their trade are sought after for their ability to bring together various people and businesses from around the world for a particular cause. Celebrated for her uniqueness, creativity, detailed messaging, planning, and strategy increasing her client’s visibility and cause, Linda Mercado Greene brings all of that and more to CTF’s leadership team.
Greene is also the Co-Founder, Chair of the Board, and CEO of BCG Holdings, Inc. incorporated in the District of Columbia, which actively focuses on the emerging cannabis industry including her involvement in several national cannabis organizations. She is the Owner and CEO of Anacostia Organics, a medical marijuana dispensary that opened last week in Historic Anacostia in Washington, DC. Considered a Washington insider, Greene has been influential in shaping the cannabis industry in Washington, DC and on Capitol Hill working both sides of the House and the Senate.
She serves on the Board of Directors of the Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA), co-chairing the Membership Recruitment Committee, serves on the Policy Committee and successfully organized their first Congressional Black Caucus Lobby Day. Linda is a member of the Marijuana Policy Project and has served on the Steering Committee of the National Cannabis Festival since its inception.
Greene’s diverse career spans from serving as a political advisor, strategist, and fundraising consultant to many members of the United States Congress, to planning national events, to serving as publicist to internationally acclaimed entertainers, to representing and providing consultation to African Heads of State and other official delegations, to being a senior executive of an institutional investment firm, as well as serving on numerous nonprofit boards.
In her home base of Washington, DC, she has orchestrated political victories and volunteered on local campaigns, planned and managed Mayoral Inaugural events, served on Mayoral and Council transition teams, and proudly served as Chief of Staff to The Honorable Marion Barry. In 2016, Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Greene to serve a three-year term on the Historic Reservation Review Board.
Greene has a long and storied history of non-profit involvement servicing the Washington, DC community, as well as nationally and abroad. Her efforts on behalf of DC residents date well back over forty years and have grown to include a global commitment to human rights causes across the country and the globe. Linda has served on many boards such as the DC Chamber of Commerce, the Casey Trees Endowment Fund, Covenant House Washington, the Levine School of Music, The Washington Performing Arts Society, The Friends of Soweto, the Notae Media Group, and Opportunities Industrialization Centers International Women in Development. She is a member of organizations such as Leadership Greater Washington, The National Forum of Black Public Administrators, and other cultural, business and nonprofit entities. She has developed strong relationships with the African Diplomatic Corps, and has represented African heads of state to include the late President Nelson Mandela and His Majesty Otumfuo Osei Tutu II, Ashanthene.
Greene has utilized her friendships and client representations within the entertainment and sports industries to support her clients’ causes. Such clients have included: Davis Bain & Associates (clients including Michael Jackson, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Mike Tyson, and Serena Williams), Mary Wilson (original member of The Supremes), the legendary Dionne Warwick, multi-Grammy award winner MC Hammer (and his publicly traded company Hammertime Holdings, Inc.).
She has appeared on C-Span, CNN and on the PBS/WHMM-TV broadcast, “Evening Exchange.”, and has been profiled on local radio and television shows around the country. Linda was featured in Big Buds Magazine, the Washington Post, the Washington Times, the Washington Afro-American Newspaper, the Final Call., Washington Entertainment, Washington Dossier, Washingtonian Magazine, and Living with the Law. Amongst her many honors are the selection by MEA Magazine as one of the top “50 Women of Influence and Power”, The Council of the District of Columbia Government’s Linda Greene Recognition Resolution for “her many years of outstanding public service and her stellar contributions to the District of Columbia”, and is listed in “National’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals” and “Who’s Who in Black Washington.”