Join the Benzinga Cannabis Market Spotlight

Market Spotlight: California

This event has concluded.

Thank you to all of our attendees, participating brands, and sponsors.

Please consider joining us in Anaheim in July for

Market Spotlight: California

Culver City

The Benzinga Cannabis Market Spotlight

California, where the cannabis industry’s heart beats.

This premier event, focused on high-impact networking, offers a chance to connect and create lasting business relationships. Engage with top industry figures in structured sessions and casual mixers, turning each interaction into a potential business breakthrough. It’s more than networking: it’s where the future of cannabis in California (and beyond) is shaped.

Join us and discover

  • In-depth understanding of the current investment landscape and future opportunities in cannabis
  • Clarity on the existing policy
  • Perspectives on how the cannabis model can influence and guide emerging markets in Latin America and Asia
  • Networking opportunities with industry leaders, investors, and policymakers
  • And much more!

Who should attend?

Are you ready to cultivate growth in the cannabis industry? Join us!

This event is the ultimate gathering for entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals looking to thrive in the cannabis market.

  • Dispensary Owners & Managers
  • Cannabis Brand Leaders
  • C-Suite Leaders
  • Market Investors

Past Speakers

Morgan Paxhia,
Co-founder and Managing Director, Poseidon Investment Management

With over sixteen years experience in investing and finance, Morgan has developed a deep understanding of financial markets

Emily Paxhia,
Founding Partner & Managing Partner, Poseidon Investment Management

Emily has reviewed thousands of companies in the cannabis industry and has worked with countless founders in many capacities.

Seth Yakatan,
Co-Founder, Katan Associates

Seth Yakatan brings more than 30 years of experience as an entrepreneur, corporate finance professional and recovering investor.

Tiffany Chin,
CEO, Death Row Records Cannabis

Tiffany Chin has 12 years of experience in the entertainment space, working with world famous talent including Snoop Dogg, Eddie Murphy, and Martha Stewart.

Erin Gore,
Founder – Garden Society

Erin Gore is the founder and CEO of Garden Society, a California-based, cannabis-focused benefit corporation serving consumers in search of new, more holistic ways to rejuvenate from the chaos of their daily lives.

Wesley Hein,
Head of Global Brand Initiatives & Public Policy – Mammoth Distribution

Wesley Hein leads Mammoth Distribution’s brand initiatives, legal, and policy for Heavy Hitters/Almora. He’s CDA President, on CCMA’s board, active in cannabis committees, and has founded successful ventures like Enigma Records.

Tiffany Richardson,
Partner (National Cannabis Industry Lead) – Crowe

Ms. Richardson leads the Crowe National Cannabis Practice and is the Denver Tax Office Managing Partner. She has more than 18 years of experience providing tax consulting and compliance services

Jamie L. Pearson,
President – New Holland Group

Jamie Pearson has been a highly respected leader in the cannabis industry for over a decade. Her “in the trenches” operational success and deep, global relationships led her to be coined “Wonder Woman” in the 2023 Women of Influence issue of Cannabis Now Magazine.

Ford Smith,
Founder & CEO – Ultranative

Ultranative, a public benefit corporation dedicated to investing in and building mission-driven businesses that positively impact humanity and the planet. Ford was an early investor and partner to Eaze and Harborside and is currently interim CEO of Noble Pacific.

Paul Weiss,
CEO – PaperPlanes

Paul Weiss is the CEO of PaperPlanes, bringing passion, authenticity and skill to the role. After a career in financial services, Paul left the industry to focus on private equity investing in other sectors. Paul entered the cannabis space as an investor in 2018, and subsequently met PaperPlanes founder Carter Latimer in 2020.

Jason Osni,
Co-Founder + President – Old Pal

Jason Osni, co-founder of Old Pal and NATIV, shaped Old Pal’s lean licensing model. A Fordham Law honors grad, he’s consulted for top consumer brands and founded the fast-growing clean beauty line Haoma.

Joey Brabo,
Co-Owner and COO – Respect My Region

Joey Brabo, COO of Respect My Region, creates content with Buzzfeed and Univision, penned 600+ articles on music and cannabis, and offers marketing tips for cannabis brands, featured on Yahoo!

Jon Cappetta,
VP, Content – High Times

Jon Cappetta, VP of Content at High Times, is a strategist and award-winning writer on cannabis subcultures. He’s judged top cannabis competitions and produces a monthly product feature, the Stone-Cold Cop List, despite a self-admitted poor memory and green thumb.

Luke Anderson,
Co-Founder – Cann

Luke Anderson, ex-math teacher and Stanford grad, co-founded Cann Social Tonics with Jake Bullock, introducing sessionable THC drinks. Former Bain consultant and Harvard MBA, he’s now on a mission to offer a guilt-free social buzz to new cannabis consumers.

Alice Moon,
Publicist & Influencer Marketing Manager – Trailblaze

Alice Moon, a cannabis PR and marketing expert in LA, specializes in LinkedIn strategy, ghostwriting, and executive coaching. Featured in Forbes and High Times, she secures client coverage from LA to NY Times and manages influencer relations at Trailblaze.

BJ Carretta,
Senior Vice President, Marketing – TerrAscend

Mr. Carretta, with 20+ years in marketing, has been a top strategist in cannabis, holding roles at Columbia Care and MedMen. He’s consulted for various brands and previously led digital marketing at Fender and NBC Sports Group. He’s a Purdue alum and ex-D1 basketball player.

Jesse Redmond,
Managing Director – Water Tower Research

Jesse, MD at Water Tower Research, covers cannabis and natural products. Ex-co-founder of hedge funds and a top California dispensary, he’s allocated over $1B in hedge fund strategies. With a UC Santa Barbara degree, he offers a unique cannabis investment perspective.

Lauren Carpenter,
Co-Founder & CEO – Embarc

Lauren Carpenter, co-founder of Embarc shops in California, leverages her background in government and regulatory affairs. Formerly Chief Strategy Officer at Sweet Flower and Director at MedMen, she excels in creating synergies between business and policy.

Graham Farrar,
Co-founder, President & Board Director – Glass House Brands

Graham, an entrepreneur, co-founded, went public in ’99. Involved in Sonos founding, served on boards like Seacology, Heal the Ocean. Founder of Elite Garden Wholesale in cannabis tech. Currently on the Board of Directors at Santa Barbara Bowl Foundation.

Dustin Milner,
CEO – Talarya Brands

Dustin Milner, CEO of Talarya Brands, leads with a decade of cannabis industry experience. His leadership elevated Cream of the Crop to a Top 10 brand in California. Formerly CEO of Potentia Labs, he won a grant from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs for mental health innovation.

Lauren Estevez,
Managing Associate – Dentons

Lauren, a recognized attorney at Dentons, specializes in global cannabis law. Notable work includes advising Weedmaps on a $1.5 billion IPO and counseling diverse clients from lenders to tech companies on cannabis policies. Law360 recognized her as a Rising Star in 2023. Based in Los Angeles, Lauren has been involved in cannabis and hemp law since California’s adult-use legalization.

Matt Krishnamachari,
Founder/CEO – Purple Lotus

Matt Krishnamachari founded Purple Lotus in 2010, growing from a $15,000 startup to a $25 million+ revenue, community-centered cannabis success in California. His entrepreneurial journey started in steel and renewable energy sectors. A proud father, Matt is also active in youth initiatives and homeless services in San Jose.

Joshua Hirschey,
President – Timeless Refinery

Josh Hirschey, President of Timeless Refinery, leads a prominent cannabis brand house across multiple states. Previously, he achieved significant growth at Amphenol Broadband Solutions, a Fortune 500 company. With 18+ years of experience, Josh excels in general management, global manufacturing, and M&A. An Arizona State University graduate, he values family, travel, classic cars, and sports.

Steve Council,
Founder – Council Collective

Operating Council Collective, a high-level cultivation consulting company. We specialize in comprehensive training, optimizing harvest success. With direct links to commercial suppliers, we secure 20% average monthly savings for clients. Offering services from design consultation to staff training, equipment upgrades, and more. Leveraging global knowledge, we prioritize efficiency, consistency, and progress in all endeavors.

Ricardo Baca,
Founder & CEO – Grasslands

Ricardo Baca, a 20-year journalist and cannabis expert, pioneered cannabis coverage as The Denver Post’s first cannabis editor. Founder of Grasslands in 2016, he advises regulated industries. Appointed to Colorado’s Natural Medicine Advisory Board in 2023, he shapes psychedelics policy. Recognized by Fortune and AdCann, Ricardo hosts panels, contributes columns, and is a sought-after thought leader at national events and media outlets.

Anthony Alegrete,
Co-Founder & COO – 40 Tons

Anthony Alegrete, Operations Director at 40 Tons, a Black, woman-owned cannabis brand. His advocacy for cannabis prisoners, including lifelong friend Corvain Cooper, led to Corvain’s release. Anthony, with a unconventional education path, holds a Bachelors in Business Marketing and a Masters in Organizational Leadership. Combining over two decades of entrepreneurial experience with meaningful activism, Anthony contributes to 40 Tons’ growth and social impact mission.

Cameron Clarke,
Co-Founder & CEO – Sunderstorm

Cameron Clarke, CEO of Sunderstorm, co-founded KANHA, an award-winning cannabis brand. A serial entrepreneur, he pioneered electronic courtrooms, internet video streaming, and augmented reality for pilots. Clarke’s ventures extend to social projects, including the Blue Nomad Foundation and biohacker spaces. A Stanford University graduate, he combines technical innovation with impactful applications.

Mark Russ,
Chief Revenue Officer – Gold Flora

Mark Russ, Chief Revenue Officer at Gold Flora Corporation (NEO:GRAM), is a seasoned leader with success in cannabis, including roles at Calico Group and Curaleaf. His extensive experience spans executive positions at Lowell Farms, Constellation Brands, and Red Bull. With a track record of driving rapid revenue growth, implementing effective sales strategies, and building world-class teams, Mark brings valuable expertise to Gold Flora.

Ben York,
CEO – Genetica

Ben York, Genetica’s CEO and cannabis industry expert, advised Ensemble Brands and directed corporate strategy at RampRate. With experience at Arcview Group, he assessed thousands of cannabis companies. Ben mentors at Founder Institute and Eaze Momentum Accelerator, providing guidance to early-stage founders on business development and fundraising.

Aaron Edelheit,
CEO – Mindset Capital

Aaron M. Edelheit, CEO of Mindset Capital, specializes in cannabis investments. He played a crucial role in growing and selling FLO Technologies and previously led The American Home. An author and speaker, Aaron is involved in non-profit boards and Social Venture Partners. Featured in major publications, he’s a recognized figure in business and entrepreneurship.

Bill Levers,
Founder – Beard Bros Pharms

Bill, Co-Founder of Beard Bros Pharms, pioneers in cannabis since the 1980s. Their award-winning RSO products are in California and Massachusetts dispensaries, with expansion plans. Bill advocates for the plant, running a culture-based website and newsletter known for authentic reporting and cannabis insights.

Guy Rocourt,
CEO & Co-Founder – Papa & Barkley

Guy Rocourt, Papa & Barkley CEO, a 25-year cannabis veteran. Founder of GR Consulting, he crafted compliant cannabis facilities and cared for Montel Williams during his MS battle. Leveraging his expertise, Guy creates wellness products, aiming to unlock the plant’s power for people’s well-being.

Alexa Alianiello,
US Sales & Partnerships – X

Alexa, a growth specialist at X, focuses on cannabis initiatives, bringing over 10 years of experience from Twitter. Leading X’s US Sales & Partnerships, she launched and scaled various verticals, now spearheading efforts for the most inclusive cannabis advertising policy. Alexa’s mission is to drive new business initiatives and foster growth, aligning the X platform with industry needs.

Rachel Wright,
Managing Partner 420 CPA; Host Highly Capitalized Network News

Rachel Wright, CPA MST, is a proactive business leader with over 10 years in cannabis. Co-founder of AB FinWright LLP, she excels in operational, financial, and tax compliance, including cross-border and M&A work. Rachel’s hands-on approach and strategic planning contribute to her proven track record in the cannabis industry.

Simmon Saraf,
Co – Founder & CFO – Satya Capital

Simmon, Co-Founder and CFO of Satya, has a background in hedge funds and private equity. Motivated by his mother’s battle with cancer, he leads Satya’s financial and operational functions. Simmon successfully built a vertical cannabis infrastructure, achieving a 6x revenue multiple and sustained profitability, showcasing his prudent capital allocation skills.

Kyle Kazan,
CEO – Glass House Brands

Kyle Kazan, Co-founder, Chairman & CEO, brings over two decades of private equity expertise. After a successful career in real estate, he shifted to the regulated cannabis industry, founding Glass House Brands. Kyle, a vocal advocate for police reform and ending the War on Drugs, is also a guest professor at top business schools and a graduate of the University of Southern California.

Abbey Higginbotham,
Events Columnist – Benzinga

Benzinga’s Events Columnist, Abbey Higginbotham, covers the latest in cannabis, digital assets, and events. Drawing from her print and broadcast journalism experience, she provides up-to-date event coverage.

Dustin Blitchok,
Senior Editor – Benzinga

Dustin Blitchok is senior editor and is proud to have been part of Benzinga’s newsroom since 2017. His journalism career began at a daily newspaper, The Oakland Press, and has included investigative work and reporting on government, crime, courts, business, entertainment and more. Outside the newsroom, he’s an avid photographer.

Wendy A. Berger,
Board Director – Green Thumb Industries

Wendy Berger, Green Thumb Industries Board Director since 2015, is a real estate developer, cannabis investor, and advocate for women in the industry. With over 30 years’ experience, an MBA from Northwestern University, and a BS from Syracuse University, Wendy is deeply engaged in community boards and co-founded Illinois Women in Cannabis.

Jonatan Cvetko,
Executive Director – UCBA

Cvetko, a lifelong LA County resident, passionately advocates for responsible cannabis regulations. His initiatives include establishing an advisory committee, offering tours for education, hosting seminars, and leading expungement clinics. As the Executive Director of the United Cannabis Business Association, he works on state legislation, recently introducing a bill to reduce the cannabis tax rate.

Mark Collins,
CFO – Grupo Flor

Mark is a versatile leader with extensive experience in global companies like P&G and JDE. Since 2015, he’s played key roles in cannabis firms like Bloom Farms and MedMen, raising over $100MM. Serving as Grupo Flor’s CFO and president of Highly Capitalized, Mark excels in finance, CPG/Retail, capital raise, M&A, and strategy. A licensed professional based in San Diego, he brings diverse expertise to the cannabis industry.

Shawn Credle,
CEO & President – Pineapple Express

Shawn, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran, brings a wealth of experience to his leadership role at Pineapple. With a background spanning military, corporate, and academic sectors, he draws on his unique blend of skills and knowledge. Holding multiple Master’s degrees in business, organizational leadership, information technology, and education.

February 22nd Agenda


Registration & Networking Breakfast


State of the State California Cannabis

An overview of the outlook for the California cannabis market in the coming year, focusing on capital markets, regulatory, and market trends.

Speakers: Lauren Estevez, Seth Yakatan



Speakers: Kyle Kazan, Dustin Blitchok


Lessons From Leadership: The New Growth Paradigm

This panel will feature leading cannabis executives sharing comprehensive best practices, business insights, and foresight into the industry’s growth strategies.

Speakers: Jamie L. Pearson, Tiffany Chin, Graham Farrar, Sahar Ayinehsazian, Mark Russ

Gold Flora Corporation


Networking Break


The Innovators: Insights on Brand Building

Key figures from top-selling cannabis brands will discuss marketing and growth strategies that have proven successful in building and sustaining brand recognition.

Speakers : Luke Anderson, Erin Gore, Jon Cappetta, Cameron Clarke, Joshua Hirschey, BJ Carretta



Retail Revolution: Optimizing Your Tech

Speakers : Rachel Wright, Matt Shterenberg


Exercising Discipline: How to Maximize Profitability in Retail

Experts will delve into retail and customer experience trends, offering best practices for maximizing profitability in the cannabis retail sector.

Speakers: Lauren Carpenter, Ricardo Baca, Guy Rocourt, Mark Collins, Ben York



Speakers: Jonatan Cvetko


Networking Lunch


Cannabis Capital: From Seed to Scale

An in-depth conversation on the nuances of raising capital in California, aimed at small businesses seeking funding in the competitive cannabis market.

Speakers: Tiffany Richardson, Aaron Edelheit, Morgan Paxhia, Ford Smith, Paul Weiss


Fireside: Leveraging A Strong Social Media Presence to Drive Business

A focused discussion on the power of social media in the cannabis industry and how a strong online presence can drive business growth.

Speakers: Alice Moon, Steve Council, Manny


Dominating Crowded Markets: The Shelf Space Factor

Panelists will explore the challenges and opportunities in crowded markets, discussing strategies for gaining and maintaining shelf space.

Speakers: Jason Osni, Simmon Saraf Joey Brabo, Dustin Milner, Shawn Credle



Speakers: Jesse Redmond, Micah Anderson


Effective Strategies To Convert Illicit Market Consumers

A candid conversation about strategies and solutions to transition consumers from the illicit market to the legal market, addressing economic challenges and opportunities.

Speakers: Wesley Hein, Matt Krishnamachari, Anthony Alegrete, Bill Levers, Elliot Lewis



Speakers: Emily Paxhia, Alexa Alianiello, Abbey Higginbotham, Wendy A. Berger


Cocktails & Networking

The Venue

BioScience LA, Culver City, California

Founded in 2018, BioscienceLA is the innovation catalyst for life sciences in the greater Los Angeles region. The independent not-for-profit organization was seeded by LA County and has backing from Amgen, PhRMA, Richard Lundquist, Richard Merkin, City of Hope, and Cedars-Sinai, among others. Its mission is to ensure that Los Angeles has a collaborative, well-coalesced ecosystem and to advance the region’s capacity and pace of innovation by harmonizing the efforts of all stakeholders.

Address: 4130 Overland Avenue Culver City, CA 90230 United States

Ticket Pricing



General Admission – Come see the Who’s Who of the California cannabis industry as they gather all in one room. This ticket is for brands, retailers, dispensaries, manufacturers, and processors.


This Market Spotlight event took place in February 2024 but please consider joining us in July at the Cannabis Market Spotlight in Anaheim. Learn more

Free – This pass is for institutional and accredited investors ONLY, see below for criteria. In order to qualify for an Investor Pass, you must meet the following criteria:

1. Must represent a professional investment firm:
– Private Equity or Venture Capital Fund
– Family Office
– Hedge Fund
– Asset Manager
– Pension Fund
– Foundation
– Sovereign Wealth Fund

2. Must provide a corporate email address with an active URL connected to the firm represented.

If you qualify for a free ticket, please email


Partners, Sponsors, and Participating Brands

Gold Flora Corporation

Interested in sponsoring or participating?