Board of Directors Marijuana Lifer Project: Ending Life Sentences for Marijuana
Allison Margolin, Director
Mara Felsen, Vice President
Kandice Hawes, Secretary
Ryan Greenlaw, Treasurer
Lanny Swerdlow, Sergeant at Arms
Allison Margolin, Director, Marijuana Lifer Project
Allison Margolin is a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, and freelance writer. She was Adjunct Professor of Law at West Los Angeles Law School in 2008. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School (’02), and earned her B.A. at Columbia University in 1999 with a degree in Political Science and a Certificate in Writing.
Allison was profiled on the front page of both the Los Angeles Times and the Los Angeles Daily Journal in 2006 and one of her federal cases was given two front page stories in 2013.
Throughout the last few years, she has been quoted in magazines ranging from the Los Angeles Times West to the New Yorker to US Weekly. In addition, she has has written for the LA Times online, LA Daily Journal, Los Angeles Daily News on such issues as Paris Hilton’s DUI to the war on drugs. She considers herself “Green Throat,” as Allison provides source material for newspapers and TV outlets throughout the country on social justice and marijuana issues. She has been on every major network relating to high profile cases she has handled.
Allison has also garnered much praise on the internet and has received accolades for her unique marketing. In 2004, Allison worked as a legal consultant on a reality jury show, “Second Verdict.”
Allison joined on to Marijuana Lifer Project believing this is a very real problem we can actually fix.
Mara Felsen, Vice President, Marijuana Lifer Project
Mara Felsen, a San Diego attorney and advocate for the reform of marijuana laws, primarily counsels clients on cannabis related constitutional, criminal, administrative, and licensing matters. After beginning her legal career in 1997 as a civil litigator representing primarily corporate defendants in class actions and consolidated individual actions, she joined the international law firm of Sedgwick, Detert, Moran & Arnold, focusing in the areas of business litigation, insurance coverage and bad faith litigation. Due to a severe car accident, multiple back surgeries and chronic pain halted her career. She was forced to explore alternative medicine when all else failed.
After her pain management doctor recommended she try cannabis, it became a significant factor in her healing process and allowed her to become functional again. Unbeknownst to her at the time, various municipalities in California, including her own, were then waging a war on cannabis providers. After every cannabis provider she had ever availed herself of was either shut down or arrested, Ms. Felsen was drawn into the fight, which then became her passion. Her own life experiences as a cannabis patient combined with her professional expertise as an attorney inform her unique perspective in a variety of fields.
Kandice Hawes, Secretary, Marijuana Lifer Project
Kandice Hawes founded Orange County NORML (National organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) in 2003 after losing her financial aid due to a marijuana possession charge. In the twelve years since then OC NORML has become one of the most accomplished chapters in the NORML organization earning the Outstanding Chapter of the Year Award at the 2012 National NORML Convention. OC NORML has also been instrumental in organizing the Medical Cannabis Conference for Seniors in Laguna Woods and the Know Your Rights Expo at the Anaheim Convention Center.
Kandice Hawes was named High Times Freedom Fighter of the month in November 2012 and was also named one of Orange County’s 100 most influential people by the Orange County Register in 2014.
Kandice Hawes recently served as the Principal Officer of the Committee to Support Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiative Political Action Committee. The PAC qualified a voter initiative to replace the ban on medical marijuana collectives in Santa Ana and received 54% of the vote in November 2014.
Kandice is currently a full time student at California State University Fullerton studying Political Science and Public Administration and is the Treasurer of CSUF Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Ms. Hawes is also currently a co-host on HempRadio a weekly pod cast on podomatic network and serves as the Treasurer for the Yuba Patients Coalition in Northern California.
Ryan Greenlaw, Treasurer, Marijuana Lifer Project
Ryan Greenlaw is an advocate and entrepreneur in the cannabis industry. Born and raised on the south side of Chicago, Ryan is intimately aware of the devastation that the war on drugs has had on communities dominated by both low-income and people of color. Given the various socially beneficial applications of cannabis and hemp, Ryan views prohibition as manufactured deviance that needs to be thwarted.
Ryan is a member of the California Minority Alliance, which advocates primarily for people of color to enter the industry, in addition to ensuring that those with prior cannabis convictions can participate in the legal industry. Ryan provides regular support for Hail Mary Jane, a cannabis lifestyle blog, which offers users a directory, connecting them to other cannabis businesses.
Before working in cannabis, Ryan worked with Moneythink, an educational technology firm that developed applications to build youth financial capability in our nations schools. In addition, he served as a campaign manager with Reinvent Communications, primarily advising non-profits, foundations, and government officials on strategy and social media.
Ryan is a graduate of Swarthmore College, having majored in both Economics and Sociology/Anthropology. Ryan is excited to work with those most affected by cannabis prohibition as the treasurer of the Marijuana Lifer Project as he understands that no one should be in jail for life for non-violent cannabis offenses,
Lanny Swerdlow, Sergeant at Arms, Marijuana Lifer Project
A longtime advocate and activist, Lanny Swerdlow, RN, LNC, founded the Marijuana Anti-Prohibition Project (MAPP), a medical marijuana patient support group and law reform organization in 1999. Borrowing a strategy that worked for LGBT movement, Lanny formed the Brownie Mary Democratic Club in 2012 to work within the Democratic Party to support the rights of medical marijuana patients, end marijuana prohibition, and stop the War on Drugs. The BMDC is the first cannabis club to be affiliated with a major political party. The club, one of only five statewide organizations chartered by California Democratic Party, looks to expand into every Democratic Central Committee in California and other parts of the United States.
Lanny has served as a delegate to the California State Democratic convention for the last 4 years, and was appointed with observer status to Lt. Governor Newsom’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Regulation and Taxation. Even before this organization was formed, Lanny was supporting Cheri Sicard in her efforts, and working within the California democratic party to get them to adopt a resolution calling on the President to grant clemency to ALL nonviolent prisoners serving life for marijuana.
One of the most visible and vocal voices for marijuana reform in Southern California’s Inland Empire, Lanny served for 2 years on the Palm Springs Medical Marijuana Task Force, providing oversight on the drafting of the city’s local ordinance, the only city in this region to allow collectives to operate under their zoning laws. Lanny is the former manager of the THCF Medical Clinic in Riverside, CA where he interacted with thousands of patients of all ages who used marijuana to treat a plethora of conditions. Lanny is also the host of the long running “Marijuana Compassion and Common Sense” a weekly radio show that began life as on a local San Bernardino County station before migrating to the internet to find a broader audience. (www.blogtalkradio.com/marijuananews)