Business Development Manager, National Cannabis Industry Association
Tahir Johnson is a Business Development Manager for the National Cannabis Industry Association. He is responsible for driving membership and expanding the organization’s presence on the East Coast.
Prior to joining NCIA, Tahir spent most of his career in Wealth Management and had clients that included corporate executives, entertainers, business owners, and other high-net-worth individuals. He began his career with Morgan Stanley where he served on the Diversity Council.
Passionate about cannabis he left his career as a financial advisor and began working as a patient counselor and social media director at a local dispensary. Having started several ancillary businesses, along with his experience as part of a team that has applied for cultivation and processing licenses, he has a unique insight into the needs and challenges of business owners in the industry.
Tahir was born in Trenton, NJ and has resided in the Washington, D.C. area since attending Howard University, where he majored in Marketing.
Special Counsel, Foley & Lardner LLP
Brian P. Sylvester is Special Counsel at global law firm Foley & Lardner LLP where he focuses his practice on Food & Drug Law. Brian guides companies through every stage of the production and distribution lifecycle – from premarket clearance through manufacturing, advertising, labeling, recalls and unanticipated regulatory scrutiny. He has authored and co-authored a number of timely articles on trending legal issues and has been quoted by The Wall Street Journal, Food Navigator-USA, and Inside Health Policy, among other leading publications. Brian obtained his undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and his law degree from Cornell.
Associate Director, Compliance and Regulatory Counsel
Areal Allen-Stewart is Associate Director, Compliance and Regulatory Counsel for Ross Stores, Inc. Within her practice, she advises on federal and state CBD regulations and reviews Hemp and CBD product labels.
Areal remains active in her community and serves as the General Counsel to the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA). In addition, she serves on the steering committee of the Apollo Young Patrons, is a member of the Alvin Ailey Young Patrons, and is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Areal received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Connecticut and minored in African American Studies and Business. She received her J.D. from New York Law School, where she serves as a Director on the Alumni Association Board.
Chief Strategy Officer, Plant Inspired Future
Landon Dais is an experience cannabis executive, attorney, political strategist, & public speaker. Dais is the Chief Strategy Officer for Live PIF, a multi-state cannabis company that is POC owned. As CSO Dais is leading the charge for the groundbreaking cannabis company – Live PIF is only one of seven POC owned multi-state cannabis companies. As the CSO he is creating the strategy for Live PIF to gain market share and additionally licenses in the valuable cannabis industry. Dais is also the co-owner of Plush Green,LLC. Plush Green is a medical cannabis and hemp company based in Missouri. Before Live PIF, he was the
National Director of Partnerships for mega cannabis company MedMen. Before being promoted to Director, he was the Political Affairs Manager and Compliance Manager for MedMen’s operations in New York. MedMen is the largest marijuana company in the United States and premier company in the luxury marijuana industry.
Dais managed MedMen’s New York legislative agenda, lobbying, and campaign strategy; and oversaw the New York compliance department. Before joining MedMen Dais was the Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project of New York (“MPP of NY”). At MPP, Dais became known for his in-depth knowledge of marijuana policy, with a specialty in social equity programs. Recently, Dais was given the prestigious NAACP Roy Wilkins Award in recognition of his work in cannabis policy, law and advocacy. Dais is Of Counsel at Forchelli, Deegan and Terrana LLP. He specializes in Cannabis Policy, Employment, and Construction Litigation and is admitted in the 1st Department of New York. In 2015, Dais was named Pro- Bono Attorney of the year by Touro College Jacob D. Fuchsberg Law Center for his work handling marijuana
convictions and arrests. Before, law school, Dais was a successful political strategist. He worked on federal, state and municipal campaigns. His experience as a political strategist gives him tremendous access to elected officials who will impact the future of cannabis laws and policies.
Before his legal and political career, Dais worked in the construction and real estate development industry. As a project manager and engineer at Turner Construction.
Dais has a JD From Hofstra Law School, MS in Real Estate Development from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning & Preservation and a BA in Business Management from
JASON C. GROVE
Sr. Policy Analyst, Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in Government & Community Relations
Jason C. Grove is a native of Newark, New Jersey and has been identified as one of New Jersey’s most politically powerful African Americans by Insider NJ. He currently serves as Sr. Policy Analyst at the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in Government and Community Relations. In this role he evaluates major capital projects, business diversity and civil rights initiatives. Prior to his service at the Port Authority, Jason served as Policy Advisor to Mayor Ras J. Baraka. During his tenure in the mayor’s office, he led the Newark’s legislative and policy initiatives. Notably, its first ever ordinance guaranteeing low income renters with free legal representation in landlord tenant court.
He currently serves as a board trustee at the Chad School Foundation, helping to improve the city’s college going culture through scholarships, policy and advocacy. He is a member of the National Urban League and the former chapter president of the Urban League of Essex County Young Professionals. He holds a Master of Arts from the City University of New York-Queens College in Urban Affairs and a Bachelor of Science degree from Norfolk State University. Jason is a Fall 2007 initiate of Alpha Phi Alpha, Fraternity, Incorporated and member of the Newark Chapter. Jason currently resides in New Jersey with his fiancé, Lauren and son, Mason.
Ryan M. Magee is an associate and one of the founding members of Riker Danzig’s Cannabis Law Group. In his cannabis practice, Ryan provides clients with advice on the spectrum of issues that arise in the emerging cannabis industry, including the enforceability of federal anti-drug, anti-money laundering, and banking laws, as well as regulatory and compliance requirements for lawful cannabis businesses. As a former criminal prosecutor, Ryan relies on his understanding of the criminal justice process to advise clients navigating the uncertainty presented by discordant federal and state controlled substance laws.
Ryan has counseled numerous clients on license applications to cultivate, manufacture and dispense medical cannabis. He has played an integral role in securing municipal support for license applicants and devised community outreach programs for aspiring cannabusinesses. Ryan has previously been included on the “250 Cannabis Law Experts” list published in the Databird Research Journal, recognizing individuals “shaping this fast-growing space.”
Ryan has also provided appellate counsel to unsuccessful license applicants challenging the New Jersey Department of Health scoring criteria and application evaluation process. He also frequently provides guidance to businesses navigating the unclear legal landscape surrounding cannabidiol (CBD) and industrial hemp products.
Prior to joining Riker Danzig, he served as an Assistant Prosecutor in the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office where he oversaw the Special Prosecutions Unit. He also served as liaison to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Anti-Money Laundering Task Force.
Prior to joining the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office, Ryan served as a judicial law clerk to the Honorable Eugene H. Austin, Superior Court of New Jersey, Criminal Division. Ryan received his J.D. degree from Seton Hall University School of Law in 2010, where he was a member of the Seton Hall Circuit Review. He received a B.A. in Public Relations from Hofstra University Honors College in 2007.
Associate, Litigation & Regulatory Practice Group, DLA Piper LLP
Marcus A. Sandifer is an Associate in the Litigation & Regulatory Practice Group at DLA Piper LLP. He obtained his B.S. in Business Administration from Florida A&M University, where he was a National Merit and Presidential Scholar and later graduated from Emory University School of Law where he was a Sutherland Scholar, Dean’s Fellow, and recognized as the Most Outstanding 3L at Commencement. His experience includes advising clients on Cannabis and CBD related issues in all various aspects of the law including, labor & employment, FDA and business transactions.
While in law school, he served as Vice Chair of the Law Student Division for the American Bar Association, Director of Community Service for the National Black Law Students Association, and Vice President of the Emory Law Student Bar Association. He also completed two externships with The Coca-Cola Company and FOCUS Brands In-House legal departments.
Over the last several years he has gained experience defending clients in commercial litigation disputes, pharmaceutical products liability claims, and building material products liability matters. He has also gained significant experience in food and beverage false advertising and mislabeling class action cases and SEC civil investigations.
Prior to pursuing a career in law, he worked as a National Director of Human Resources for PepsiCo and Nestle Waters and as a HR Manager for Cox Enterprises Inc. Marcus has been recognized by Black Enterprise Magazine’s top 100 “Modern Men” and The National Black Lawyers as “40 Under 40.” It is his dream to build a Legal Incubator/ThinkTank for underprivileged youth where they can discover the exciting world of the law and tech.
A couple fun facts about Marcus is that he's been to the top of Burj Khalifa in Dubai, produced award winning tv series, and wrestled Hulk Hogan when he was 10 years old for charity. He has also met 4 of the 5 living U.S. Presidents.
Executive Council, Network of Bar Leaders
Tanya N. Blocker is a litigator and trial attorney with significant federal practice experience. A Senior Counsel in Labor & Employment, Ms. Blocker has extensive experience litigating management-side employment matters. This includes federal and state anti-discrimination laws, state and local wage and hour, and class and collective actions. Ms. Blocker has successfully tried cases in both state and federal court and has significant experience litigating race, gender, age, disability, and retaliation actions. Prior to joining Gordon & Rees, Ms. Blocker served as Senior Counsel in the Labor & Employment Law Division of the New York City Law Department, Office of Corporation Counsel.
There she successfully co-chaired a trial on significant First Amendment retaliation claims, defended numerous depositions in various employment and retaliation matters on behalf of municipal agencies, led the defense of a class/collective action involving a 50,000 employee municipal agency against gender discrimination and pay equity claims, and litigated an equal pay action involving executive compensation resulting in a favorable settlement for her client. Ms. Blocker is also a complex commercial litigator. Preceding her tenure at the NYC Law Department, Ms. Blocker was an associate at the law firm Kaye Scholer LLP, where she concentrated on white collar criminal defense, securities litigation, and government and corporate investigations. Ms. Blocker played a key role in successfully defending a fraudulent inducement/conveyance action on behalf of the firm’s Fortune 500 client.
Recognizing the importance of community engagement and leadership, on November 1, 2017, Ms. Blocker was installed as the twenty-second President of the Association of Black Women Attorneys (ABWA), a non-for-profit bar association, established in 1976, committed to promoting and supporting both the personal and professional development and growth of Black women attorneys. Notably, the New York Law Journal recognized Ms. Blocker as a Distinguished Leader in the 2018 edition of the journal’s Professional Excellence Awards for her exemplary leadership of the organization.
Ms. Blocker also spent a significant portion of her time in West Africa engaging in diversity and governance work as well as presenting on international employment law. Ms. Blocker was recently selected to participate in the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) Abshire-Inamori Leadership Academy (AILA) 2019 Fellowship program—a flagship leadership program designed to equip aspiring global leaders to be effective and ethical changemakers. In addition, Ms. Blocker has volunteered a significant portion of her time serving as a mock trial coach for a public school in Harlem, New York, and she is a former board member of the After- School All-Stars (ASAS) NY/NJ Chapters—a not-for-profit organization committed to sustaining after school programing for middle schoolers. Ms. Blocker currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association (MBBA) Labor and Employment Law Section, is an Executive Council for the Network of Bar Leaders, and is a member of the New York City Bar Association Labor and Employment Committee.
Cristin M. Boyle is an associate in the Firm’s Governmental Affairs Group and Cannabis Law Group at Riker Danzig Scherer Hyland & Perretti LLP. Her practice includes general litigation, litigation for and against government agencies, condemnation and eminent domain litigation, representing and advising state agencies and local authorities and governments, assisting private clients regarding state regulatory compliance and permitting issues, land use, and white collar defense.
Cristin is founding member of the Cannabis Law Group at Riker Danzig. As a member of this Group, Cristin has:
· Counseled a client establishing a fund for the purpose of investing in legal cannabis opportunities regarding the domestic and extraterritorial application of the Controlled Substances Act and other federal criminal laws;
· Assisted in overseeing the preparation, drafting, and submission of clients’ applications for alternative treatment center licenses in the 2018 and 2019 Request for Applications administered by the New Jersey Department of Health;
· Advised a state independent agency with land use authority regarding the regulations governing the location of alternative treatment centers;
· Advised municipal clients regarding the impact of proposed adult-use legislation;
· Provided counsel to a client seeking to invest in a company marketing and selling products containing cannabidiol (CBD); and
· Advised clients regarding issues relating to employees’ use of medical cannabis and compliance with federal requirements.
Cristin is a member of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Special Committee, and recently served as panelist on Fordham University School of Law’s Bridge the Gap Cannabis Law Panel. Thomson Reuters included Cristin on the New Jersey Super Lawyers “Rising Stars” list for Litigation and State, Local and Municipal Law in 2019.
Cristin received her law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2013, where she served as a Board Member and Competitor for the Brendan Moore Trial Advocates, a Teaching Assistant for the Legal Writing Program, and an associate editor of the Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal. She has served as an adjunct professor at Fordham Law School, teaching trial advocacy skills to students as part of the Brendan Moore Trial Advocacy program. Cristin graduated from New York University, cum laude, with a B.F.A. in Drama and B.A. in English and American Literature. Prior to law school, Cristin was a professional actor – including playing the role of “Glinda” in the Chicago company of Wicked -- and worked at several New York casting and talent agencies.
Natalya G. Johnson is an attorney with the law firm Riker, Danzig, Scherer, Hyland &
Perretti, LLP. She focuses her practice on the representation and counsel of management
in employment law and business litigation. She handles matters on behalf of financial
institutions, not-for-profit organizations, and Fortune 500 companies. Natalya frequently
speaks and writes about employment law, social media, and diversity in the law.
Natalya earned her J.D. from Cornell Law School and a bachelor’s degree with honors and
distinction in Government, graduating magna cum laude from Cornell University. Natalya
is a past member of the Executive Board of Directors of the Cornell Law School Alumni
Association and is heavily involved in alumni activities.
Natalya has held various leadership roles. She serves on the Garden State Bar Association (GSBA), co-founded a women’s network called the Advancement Initiative (AI), which reaches
approximately 200 attorneys in the tristate area, and is President of the Cornell Black
Lawyers Alumni Network (CBLAN).
Committed to pro bono service, Natalya started her legal career as an attorney fellow with
Volunteer Lawyers for Justice (VLJ). At VLJ, she helped clients with criminal records
address the civil legal barriers that serve as obstacles to successful community
reintegration through its Criminal Record Expungement Clinic.
Earlier this year, Natalya was named by the National Bar Association to
its 40 under 40 Nation’s Best Advocates List. Natalya has been included in the Super
Lawyers “Rising Star” list published by Thomson Reuters every year since 2016.
President, Metropolitan Black Bar Association
Jason Myles Clark is an assistant attorney general in the New York State Attorney General’s Office. In this role, he serves a large constituency by investigating and prosecuting violators of New York State’s labor, consumer and civil rights laws. He represents the hardworking people of the State of New York by bringing justice to a community with pressing needs for legal services. Prior to becoming an AAG, Jason prepared draft-opinions for United States District Judge George B. Daniels and worked as a commercial litigator at an international law firm. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the University of Michigan Law School.
As President of the Metropolitan Black Bar Association of New York City, Jason has made diversity and inclusion, as well as criminal justice reform his priorities. Under Jason’s leadership, the MBBA is organizing the first ever MBBA Judiciary Training Academy to prepare the next generation of jurists for federal and state judicial opportunities. He is also working with city and state legislators to identify legal reforms that will reduce inequities in the New York justice system. To provide greater exposure for MBBA members, Jason launched “Raising the Bar with the MBBA,” which is a weekly television show on public access television. On Raising the Bar, guests discuss issues affecting the African American community while also providing exposure for their legal practices.
Prior to becoming President of the MBBA, Jason served on his community board in Harlem, New York. In this role, he organized the board’s first legal clinic and various programs aimed at helping justice-involved individuals successfully re-integrate into society. Outside of law, Jason is the founder of DREAMChasers. DREAMChasers provides low-income students from underrepresented backgrounds with professional tutoring and mentorship for the NYC Specialized High Schools Test (specialized high schools are public schools for high achieving students).