Chief Executive Officer
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. Neal 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 Neal 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, Neal 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.
Neal got his start in politics as a volunteer for one of the biggest upsets in modern American political history, Jesse Ventura’s victorious campaign for Governor of Minnesota in 1998.
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 (MPP), 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 years of 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, Oregon. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her family and small pack of rescue dogs.
Carlos Curbelo was born in Miami, Florida in 1980, to political refugees who fled tyranny and oppression Cuba. He was educated in the public school system and then at Belen Jesuit. From there he became a student at the University of Miami where he obtained a Bachelor's in Business Administration while majoring in Political Science. He later returned to UM for a Masters in Public Administration.
In 2002, after earning his first college degree, Carlos founded a media and public relations firm which he managed successfully for over 10 years doing work for a wide array of local and international companies as well as political campaigns and policy initiatives. In 2009, Carlos took leave from the firm to become State Director for U.S. Senator George LeMieux and an advisor on Latin-American policy. He served in this role until late 2010, when he was elected to the Miami-Dade County School Board, overseeing the fourth largest school district in the country. Carlos was part of a board that reduced taxes and administrative expenses, increased teacher pay, and expanded school choice while winning national accolades for improved student performance.
In 2014, Carlos was elected to represent his community in the U.S. House of Representatives. He served on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the Education and Workforce Committee, the Small Business Committee, and the powerful Committee on Ways and Means where he co-authored the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017 - comprehensive tax reform legislation that delivered historic tax relief, drove investment to challenged communities, and made American businesses more competitive.
While in Congress Curbelo also led on climate policy, immigration reform, and gun safety. He co-founded and co-chaired the bipartisan Climate Solutions Caucus, served in a leadership role in the Problem Solvers Caucus, and led the Brazil Caucus to strengthen the bilateral relationship with Latin-America's leading economy. In 2017, Curbelo was honored by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation with the New Frontier Award for his work promoting bipartisan cooperation on environmental policy. In 2018 he filed the landmark Market Choice Act, ambitious legislation that would invest nearly a trillion dollars in American infrastructure while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by pricing carbon. Also in 2018, he led a discharge petition initiative that forced the U.S. House to debate and consider comprehensive immigration reform legislation - including a path to citizenship for Dreamers - for the first time in a decade. He was ranked the fourth most bipartisan Member of the House where he represented South Florida until returning to the private sector in 2019.
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
Linda Mercado Greene is the Co-Founder, Chair of the Board, and CEO of BCG Holdings, Inc., incorporated in Washington, DC. The company focuses on the emerging cannabis industry and is active in several national cannabis organizations. Considered a Washington insider, Linda has been very influential in shaping the cannabis industry in Washington, DC and on Capitol Hill working both sides of Congress. She is the Chair of the Board of the DC Medical Cannabis Trade Association, serves on the Board of the Minority Cannabis Business Association, organizing MCBA’s first Congressional Black Caucus Lobby Day, serves on the Steering Committee of the National Cannabis Festival, and is a member of other national cannabis organizations. BCG Holdings, Inc. was recently awarded a license to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in the District of Columbia, in one of the city’s most economically challenged areas void of access to medication. Anacostia Organics held its grand opening and ribbon cutting with DC Mayor Muriel Bowser and Congressional Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton on January 24, 2019 in Historic Anacostia. Linda was also instrumental in identifying that longtime residents and minorities were excluded from the city’s awards of licensing in vast percentages. As well, none of the licensed dispensaries were location in economically challenged communities, which ironically held the largest number of medical marijuana cards. Thus, Linda took it upon herself to give the city an opportunity to amend this oversight by successfully lobbying the Executive and Legislative branches of the city government resulting in emergency legislation, passed unanimously by the City Council and immediately signed by Mayor Bowser. This legislation required the Department of Health to reopen the application process to allow at least two medical marijuana dispensaries to be located in those economically challenged areas with a priority scoring included for minorities, longtime DC residents, and Certified Business Enterprise (CBE) companies. Linda’s company, BCG Holdings, Inc., was the first cannabis CBE company in the District of Columbia. BCG Holdings, Inc. was one of two companies awarded.
Linda is also a nationally and internationally established public relations consultant, strategist, and entrepreneur. Celebrated for her uniqueness, creativity, detailed messaging, planning, she is recognized for her ability to bring together various people and businesses from around the world together for a particular cause. The Linda Greene Group (a subsidiary of LMG Holdings, Inc.) was established in Washington, DC in 1989 providing full-service public relations for local, national, and international clients. Linda’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 representing and providing consultation to African Heads of State, including the late President Nelson Mandela, His Majesty Otumfou Osei Tutu II (Asanthane) and other official delegations, to being a senior executive of an institutional investment firm, to representing many acclaimed entertainment and sports figures. Additionally, she actively serves on numerous nonprofit boards, locally, nationally, and internationally. Linda is known for building binding relationships on both sides of the aisle in the United States Congress, regardless of party affiliation.
She has orchestrated many political victories in her home base of Washington, DC, planned and managed Mayoral Inaugural events, served on Mayoral and Council transition teams, and proudly served as the Chief of Staff to The Honorable Marion Barry. Mayor Muriel Bowser appointed Linda to serve to the Historic Preservation Review Board which was unanimously approved by the Council of the District of Columbia.
Linda has appeared on many television broadcasts and has been profiled in numerous magazines and newspapers. Amongst her many honors are the selection of 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 contribution to the District of Columbia”, and listings in “National’s Who’s Who in Executives and Professionals and “Who’s Who in Black Washington”.