2023 CCIA Board of Directors
CCIA Board President
CAREN WOODSON -- KIVA CONFECTIONS
Director, Licensing & Compliance
Caren Woodson is a nationally recognized marijuana policy expert with over twenty years of experience advising policymakers at all levels of government about transforming law and policy. Her unique perspective on managing compliance risk comes from her combination of employment with national drug policy reform organizations, licensed marijuana operations, and the State of California. She pioneered relationships with elected officials resulting in strategic gains for the cannabis industry during her tenure with Drug Policy Alliance and Americans for Safe Access; she lobbied early support for the Hinchey-Rohrabacher amendment, organized the first and only electronic dance party on Capitol Hill, facilitated adoption of medical marijuana laws in seven states, and played an integral role in the adoption of San Francisco’s landmark medical marijuana dispensary ordinance.
Ms. Woodson’s success stems from her ability to forge strategic partnerships. She guided favorable policy endorsements from the American Medical Association, National Association of Boards of Pharmacy, and American Public Health Association. Her collaboration with medical and scientific organizations led to the creation of the American Herbal Products Association’s Cannabis Committee and the subsequent production of operating guidelines which many states have used to develop regulations. She has advised marijuana industry leaders across the nation on license acquisition and regulatory compliance. Her ability to design efficient compliance programs and mitigate risk is informed by her previous work as an environmental regulations specialist with the State of California. Successful navigation of complex regulations and consumer expectations has helped her clients strengthen brand reputation and value.
Born in California and raised in Las Vegas, Ms. Woodson received her degree in Political Science from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and her Master’s Degree in Public Policy from the American University in Washington, DC. She is a natural resource volunteer, avid cyclist, and enjoys backpacking in the high Sierras.
Pamela Epstein | Eden Enterprises
CCIA Vice President
Nicole Phillis | Davis Wright Tremaine
Nicole Phillis is a commercial litigator at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP (“DWT”) and co-chairs DWT’s Cannabis Industry Group. She has represented some of the largest brands, investors, and enterprises in the cannabis industry in a wide range of litigation matters, including supply chain disputes, trademark and trade dress litigation, breach of contract and corporate governance disputes, unfair competition disputes and class actions, trade secret actions, and defamation matters, among other things.
In addition to her litigation practice, Nicole advises clients in both the cannabis and hemp industries on speech, advertising, and compliance-related issues. She has written extensively on cannabis advertising and been featured on multiple panels based on her advertising and speech expertise, including most recently for the LACBA Cannabis Section’s Second Annual Litigation Salon (2021), the LACBA Cannabis Section’s Cannabis Advertising CLE (2021), and the International Bar Association’s panel on Cannabis Trends in the Americas (2021).
Nicole is also very active in industry advocacy spaces, serving as a co-chair for CCIA’s Risk Management Committee (2021-Present) and as an executive board member and former VP of Communications for the Los Angeles County Bar Association Cannabis Section (2019-Present). She focuses much of her pro bono practice on serving social equity applicants and licensees in the cannabis industry.
In her civic life, Nicole is an elected commissioner and past chair of the Santa Monica Rent Control Board, a municipal office to which she was first elected in 2014. Nicole has also served as a delegate to the California Democratic Party (2017-present), the Los Angeles County Democratic Party (2017-2021) and previously chaired Santa Monica’s Commission on the Status of Women (2013-2017).
In her personal life, Nicole is a dog-mom to three Golden Retrievers (Loki (12.5 years), Parker (11 years), and Georgia (7 months)) and a Maine Coon cat (Theo, 8 years). Nicole is also an avid Settlers of Catan player and won her first Catan tournament in 2021!
Whitney Collie | Pacific Stone
As Vice President of Compliance at Pacific Stone, a leading flower and pre-roll brand in California, Whitney Collie oversees all aspects of the brand’s compliance.
Since 2019, she has entitled five properties, been pivotal to the acquisition of four, secured countless licenses, and guided key policy. Her expertise in compliance has been recognized in private and public sectors; The METRC program she developed at Pacific Stone has been used as training for regulators at both state and local levels.
Whitney also served as the President of CARP Growers in 2022, a local trade association formed by responsible cannabis cultivators in Carpinteria. As President, Whitney advanced community outreach on the historic cooperative odor agreement reached the year prior. She continues to serve on their Board of Directors.
Born and raised in Rhode Island, Whitney moved to California in 2015 with her husband and their pup Sally. She spends her free time enjoying the sunshine with her family which has grown to include a chiweenie named Moose.
Michaela Sweatt is Licensing and Compliance Director and Chief Operating Officer at Austin Legal Group/ALG Strategies. Michaela delivers local permit, state licensing, and compliance services to a large portfolio of cannabis clients from small operators to large MSOs. She is known as a problem solver when working with local jurisdictions and the California Department of Cannabis Control (DCC). As a California regulatory compliance consultant Michaela assists clients by providing up-to-date knowledge of the laws and regulations that affect the cannabis industry so that cannabis business owners have the information they need to make business decisions.
Michaela is currently Co-Chair of the Agriculture and Manufacturing Committee of the California Cannabis Industry Association (CCIA) where she shares her expert-level knowledge of licensing and compliance while working with other industry professionals to provide input into proposed legislation, regulation, and best practices in the ever-changing cannabis industry.
Prior to joining the cannabis industry in 2017, Michaela was a product-launch consultant and entrepreneur. She co-founded Nurture Connect, a company that created a distribution and sales platform for digital health technology companies to launch their health, safety and communication technology products and services for healthcare professionals, senior care organizations and family caregivers. She gained her business experience at start-ups and Fortune 500 companies from Stanford Healthcare, GreatCall’s launch of the Jitterbug cell phone (now owned by BestBuy), Microsoft, Intuit, and The Walt Disney Company’s “Disney Interactive” software division where she provided her deep consumer insights into winning customer experiences.
Josh Wurzer | SC Labs
Josh is a cofounder and serves as the President of SC Labs where he is responsible for managing technical operations, research and development, regulatory compliance, and intellectual property. Founded in 2010, with facilities in California and Oregon, SC Labs is one of the longest running cannabis testing laboratories in the nation. Josh also serves as co-chair of the CCIA's Quality Control Committee. He has a background in analytical and synthetic chemistry and spent his early career in the pharmaceutical and electronic materials industries and has managed cannabis testing laboratories since 2009.
As a long time patient and cannabis activist, he is committed to the continual development of quality and safety standards for cannabis and cannabis products. Besides his role on the CCIA QC Committee, he serves on the U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP) Cannabis Expert Panel, is a founding member of the AOAC CASP advisory group on cannabis, and is a founding member of the American Council of Independent Laboratories (ACIL) cannabis committee, as well as other cannabis and hemp trade associations and committees.
Josh has served as a flower judge for the Emerald Cup and regularly presents his research with regard to cannabis chemistry at conferences and trade shows. Josh received his Bachelor's degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin Green Bay.