Coming together from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences, our skilled team of professionals is the backbone of Kansas Cannabis Coalition. Their ideas help shape the direction and mission of our organization as it continues to develop. Read on to learn more about some of our incredible team members.
Chairperson: Communications Committee
Chairperson: Government Affairs Committee
Representing individuals who have been injured or taken advantage of has been a passion for Barry Grissom. He hates bullies. Since 1983 he has dedicated his professional career to assisting those who need legal help. After twenty-seven years of pursuing justice for individuals he was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the United States Attorney for the District of Kansas and was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in August 2010. During his time as U.S. Attorney, he was selected to serve on the Attorney General Advisory Committee and the Blue Ribbon Panel where he, along with other U.S. Attorneys and high ranking officials, focused on the shifting of prosecutorial priorities and their effects on violent crime while addressing the issue of over-incarceration.
During his tenure, Grissom made civil rights enforcement and community outreach top priorities. Among other accomplishments, Grissom:
· Founded the Kansas Civil Rights Symposium, bringing law enforcement officers and civil rights advocates from across Kansas together annually for a day-long conference
· Founded the District’s first Human Trafficking Working Group. The group’s mission was to coordinate the work of local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as nonprofit agencies and victim service providers, to fight human trafficking.
· Directed the District’s Project Safe Neighborhood program, targeting the federal prosecution of felons who unlawfully possessed firearms.
· Oversaw the District’s Project Safe Childhood program, targeting child sex offenders for long federal prison sentences.
Since leaving the DOJ in 2016, he has focused his efforts on Criminal Justice Reform including lobbying for NORML. As part of that effort, he has written and spoken on the necessity of changing laws that relate to cannabis prohibition.
Kelly Rippel has advocated for the open access of information and utilization of cannabis since the 1990s when he found out his dad participated in cannabis research at America's first land grant school, Kansas State University. After co-founding Kansans for Hemp and helping in the legalization movement in 2018, he was appointed to the industrial hemp research advisory board under the Kansas Department of Agriculture and now serves in his third term. Kelly represented Kansas and the United States at the World Hemp Congress in Slovenia, and is founding president of Planted Association of Kansas. He works full-time as a crop adjuster with Zurich North America / Rural Community Insurance Services in the state's eastern territory.
Sarah Stephens is a third year hemp producer, CEO of Midwest Hemp Technology and President of the Kansas Hemp Consortium. Assembling an experienced team, learning from available research and committing to industrial hemp in the region, Sarah applied for and was awarded a hemp research grant this growing season. She secured several varieties of industrial hemp to study yields across more than 100 acres. An innovator in business, Sarah leads with an entrepreneur's heart. Working with farmers and processors across the state, she enthusiastically supports the growth of industrial hemp in Kansas.
While earning a Master of Public Affairs degree from Wichita State University’s Hugo Wall School, Sarah worked in politics. She managed campaigns for governor, mayor and state representative. Here, she learned to prefer the parameters of entrepreneurship. Sarah founded Safe Riders, Inc. in 2003 at the age of 25—the service drove intoxicated individuals home in their own vehicle. The business was progressive and forward thinking. It solved a very real problem that she believed could be positively affected by providing a reliable service solution. Sarah sold the business in 2010 and stayed home with her growing family for a year before securing a position with Freddy's Frozen Custard & Steakburgers as Director of Public Affairs. Sarah believes that persistence pays off no matter the project and that is especially true in the hemp and cannabis industries.
April is a registered nurse with a Master's in Public Health Nursing and has extensive experience in both acute care and public health. As a member of multiple professional organizations, including the American Cannabis Nurses Association, the Society of Cannabis Clinicians, the Hospice & Palliative Nurses Association, and the American Holistic Nurses Association, she completed the first Medical Cannabis certificate program for healthcare professionals and received hands-on training from Dr. Dustin Sulak in Maine. While education alone might illustrate April's expertise in cannabis as medicine, her focus on cannabis began when her son suffered a traumatic brain injury and she saw the positive impact of cannabis in her son's life. Over the past six years, April has been a tireless advocate for providing education, support, and advocacy to patients and the cannabis industry. Today, she serves in multiple capacities including the continuation of 1:1 patient consultations, developing and facilitating dispensary staff training, and her role teaching cannabis pharmacology at Saint Louis University. Despite wearing so many hats in the industry, April's passion for educating others is what keeps her constantly moving forward and continuing to spread science-based evidence to the industry and patients at large.
As a Psoriatic Arthritis patient, 11 year industry participant, and a native Kansan, Chris Issinghoff has prioritized patient centered service and community engagement in his cannabis experience. He specializes in retail dispensary operations and regulations, but has assisted licenses of all types in applying and becoming operational and compliant. He currently owns a small pig farm in Berryton, Kansas while consulting in the cannabis industry and assists in maintaining ongoing operations as VP of Operations for Peake ReLeaf, an independent dispensary in Rockville Maryland.
Senator Mary Ware
Senator Mary Ware received her education in the healing power of the hemp plant as the owner/operator of one of the first CBD retail stores in Wichita, Kansas. She is honored to have played a part in the ever-rising number of people who have found profound relief with this simple plant. She is dedicated to it's future in Kansas. During her time in the Kansas Legislature, Senator Ware has been a leading champion for all aspects of the hemp industry. Mary believes that with our climate, our soil and our history, Kansas is poised to be a leader in all things hemp!
Lisa has been advocating for Kansas patients for over ten years. She is the President and one of the Founders of Bleeding Kansas Advocates. She has helped write several medical cannabis bill for Kansas and she worked as an unpaid lobbyist for many sessions of the Kansas legislature. She has helped found and grow numerous Kansas reform organizations and has mentored many other leaders in the Kansas reform movement.
As the Global CEO of Harvest 360, Todd brings strong leadership, global vision, and strategic direction to our multi-disciplinary team of business experts, scientists, and cannabis professionals. His energy is drawn from his passion for the cannabis plant and a deep-seeded desire to unpack all its possibilities to heal patients and our planet, He is convinced that cannabis in all its forms can legitimately contribute to a global economy, and bring social justice to our society. He is committed to creating an effective and responsible legal cannabis market on a global scale.
Todd has developed a vast network of decision-makers, scientists, business leaders, and activists throughout Europe who are influential in forwarding new policies and initiatives on cannabis law, industry, and social initiatives. He is available to assist companies in developing their strategies and forwarding their strategic objectives throughout North America, Europe, and beyond.
Dr. Bryon Adinoff
Bryon Adinoff, MD is an addiction psychiatrist and academician. He was appointed Clinical Professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine following his retirement as Distinguished Professor of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and as a psychiatrist for 30 years with the Department of Veterans Affairs. He has published over 175 papers and book chapters on the neurobiology and treatment of addiction and is Editor-in-Chief of The American Journal of Drug and Alcohol Abuse. In his semi-retired status, he is evolving from focusing on the consequences of substance use itself to the consequences of the drug war. As a Founding Member, his commitment to the goals of DFCR arises from his desire to ensure that the harsh, punitive prohibition of cannabis use is replaced by a regulatory system that protects both the individual and society.
Heather Hobbs Steppe
Heather Steppe helps to lead Kansas Cannabis Coalition with the vision and drive to help drive a comprehensive medical marijuana program in the state of Kansas. As a mother to four, she sees the importance of quality and accurate cannabis education to help shape the future of the industry. She co-owns KC Hemp Co.® with husband Kyle in Overland Park, KS. She also serves on the Young Professionals Board at Safehome, and on the Leadership team for InnovateHER KC. Her passion lies within engaging her community in the education of cannabis.
As Vice President of the Kansas Cannabis Coalition, Heather's goal is represent patients and businesses alike in driving the efforts for a fair, inclusive and comprehensive medical marijuana program in Kansas.
Leigh Carr, BSN, RN, a highly sought after speaker, advocate and educator in the medical cannabis industry, delivers alternative healing products and services that support the mind, body and spirit and address a host of common health conditions. Leigh is the CEO/Founder of Hari Om Hemp.