Committee Program

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.


2020 Review and 2021 Outlook: New York and Federal Cannabis Law



Committee Chair

Aleece E. Burgio, Esq.
Barclay Damon, LLP.

Program Chairs

Elliot Y. Choi, Esq.
Vicente Sederberg, LLP.

Adam R. Dolan, Esq.
Goldberg Segalla

4.0 MCLE Credits- 4.0 Areas of Professional Practice

This program is transitional and is suitable for all attorneys including those newly admitted

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

9:00 AM – 9:10 AM

Welcome and Introduction


Aleece E. Burgio, Esq. | Barclay Damon, LLP., Buffalo, NY


9:10 AM – 10:00 AM

(dis)Harmonization of Marijuana and Hemp: Implications of USDA and DEA Hemp Rules on NY’s Hemp Program

Passage of the 2018 Farm Bill and the federal legalization of hemp was seen as a watershed moment for the cannabis industry and industry participants eagerly waited for corresponding federal regulations. However, the interim final rules published by the United States Department of Agriculture and the Drug Enforcement Administration were not well received and ultimately led to the extension of the 2014 Farm Bill. In the meantime, states such as New York continued to develop hemp regulations under the 2014 Farm Bill. Neil M. Willner of Wilson Elser will moderate an expert panel with Axel Bernabe, Assistant Counsel to Governor Cuomo, and Gary S. Kaminsky, Director of Legal Compliance at Acreage Holdings, discussing the issues caused by the IFRs, New York’s proposed hemp regulations and what this all means for the future of the hemp industry both locally and nationally.


Gary S. Kaminsky, Esq. | Acreage Holdings, New York, NY
Axel Bernabe, Esq. | Assistant Counsel, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo Albany, NY


Neil M. Willner, Esq. | Wilson Elser, White Plains, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice


10:00 AM – 10:10 AM



10:10 AM – 11:00 AM

Douglas Horn v. Medical Marijuana, Inc.: Lessons Learned

This panel will discuss a unique lawsuit currently pending in the Western District of New York – Douglas Horn v. Medical Marijuana, Inc., et al. It involves Mr. Horn’s use of a hemp-derived CBD product while employed as a commercial truck driver and the impact it had on his career. We’ll discuss the allegations brought by Mr. Horn against the defendants, the defenses raised and the court’s determination of the merits of those arguments. This case presents an opportunity to discuss a cannabis/hemp specific issue related to the use of such a product and how the courts may approach similar claims in the future as the CBD/adult use and medical cannabis use grows across the country.


Larry D. Mason, Esq. | Goldberg Segalla, Chicago, IL
Jean-Claude Mazzola, Esq. | Mazzola Lindstrom, LLP., New York, NY


Adam R. Dolan, Esq. | Goldberg Segalla, White Plains, NY

1.0 Credits in Areas of Professional Practice


11:00 AM – 11:10 AM



11:10 AM – 12:00 PM

Legalized Cannabis and Employment Law: An Update on a Rapidly Developing Area

After the recent election, no fewer than 35 states have legalized marijuana in one form or another. Our panel will discuss the main issues that employers and employees must confront as legal cannabis becomes more commonplace across the country; these include the always controversial topic of employee drug testing as well as a look at how the law is changing with regard to protections for employees who use marijuana. We also will address the implications of the new legal landscape regarding cannabis law for employers, including policies and approaches that they will need to consider adopting.


Geoffrey A. Mort, Esq. | Kraus & Zuchlewski, LLP., New York, NY
Michael Sciotti, Esq. | Barclay Damon, LLP. Syracuse, NY
Jennifer L. Mora, Esq. | Seyfarth Shaw, LLP., San Francisco, CA

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice


12:00 PM – 12:10 PM



12:10 PM – 1:00 PM

Empire State of Cannabis: Model Legislations and Adult-Use Legalization in 2021

Join Norman Birenbaum, President of the Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA), for an overview of CANNRA’s objectives and a look at how they may affect cannabis legislation and regulations in New York and the Northeast. Also featured during this discussion is special guest Axel Bernabe, Assistant Counsel to NY Governor Cuomo for Health, who will share the latest updates for New York medical cannabis and hemp, and what’s next for adult-use legalization in the Empire State.


Norman Birenbaum | Director, Cannabis Programs, NYS Executive Chamber; Inaugural President, Cannabis Regulators Association, Albany, NY
Axel Bernabe, Esq. | Assistant Counsel, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo, Albany, NY


Elliot Y. Choi, Esq. | Vicente Sederberg, LLP., New York, NY

1.0 Credit in Areas of Professional Practice


$119: Section Member | $149: NYSBA Member | $269: Non-NYSBA Member

REGULAR REGISTRATION (1/1/21 and after)

$159: Section Member | $199: NYSBA Member | $359: Non-NYSBA Member

IMPORTANT: For those of you that wish to attend multiple Section or Committee programs, we are extending a discount of 25% off the pricing of 2 or more programs, however you must contact our MRC Department directly and register over the phone.


If you have questions please contact us at 800.582.2452 | [email protected]

Hours: Monday – Friday | 8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.

Axel Bernabe

Axel Bernabe, Esq.

Assistant Counsel to NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo for Health

New York, NY

As Assistant Counsel for Health to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, Axel oversees all legal and policy development in the health portfolio, and provides strategic counsel to the operations, press, and budget teams in the Executive Chamber and at the State Department of Health.

Axel also manages the development and implementation of all medical, hemp, and adult-use cannabis policy in the State. Over the past four years he has directed and supervised the expansion of the medical cannabis program and the launch of the State’s hemp program. He is also driving the administration’s proposed Cannabis Act that would comprehensively regulate all segments of the cannabis economy through a newly created Office of Cannabis Management (OCM).

Prior to joining the Cuomo administration, Axel was a partner at Constantine Cannon where he was a nationally recognized antitrust legal expert focused on healthcare markets.

Aleece Burgio

Aleece E. Burgio, Esq.

Barclay Damon, LLP

Buffalo, NY

Aleece began her legal career in Portland, Oregon, at a boutique cannabis law firm, where she represented and advised cannabis businesses on medical and adult-use regulation issues. She focuses on the complex process of structuring, licensing, and maintaining compliant cannabis businesses at the federal, state, and local levels. Aleece has worked with a wide range of individuals and entities in the public and private sectors, including state regulatory agencies, financial institutions, and licensed businesses.

Aleece is a member of the Bar Association of Erie County, the Former Treasurer of the Oregon State Bar Cannabis Section, and currently serves as the Co-Chair of the New York State Bar Association Committee on Cannabis Law.

Follow Barclay Damon, LLP @BarclayDamonLLP

Elliot Choi

Elliot Y. Choi, Esq.

Vicente Sederberg LLP

New York, NY

Elliot Choi is counsel at Vicente Sederberg LLP and corporate chair of the firm’s New York and Massachusetts offices. His practice involves representing cannabis and hemp clients, including licensed and ancillary businesses, on corporate, regulatory and licensing matters. Elliot advises corporate clients, including multi-state operators and publicly traded companies, on transactions and the legal and business considerations in the highly regulated cannabis and hemp industries. He advises on a broad variety of corporate transactions ranging from entity formation, startup funding (debt and equity issuances), equity incentive plans, commercial contracts, secured debt facilities, internal restructurings/rollups, and mergers and acquisitions. These transactions have involved New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Colorado, California, Illinois and Canadian cannabis and hemp operations, among many others. Elliot also acts as outside general counsel for numerous clients.

His regulatory practice involves advising and navigating clients through the interconnected federal, state and local regulatory frameworks. Elliot advises clients on all aspects of their operations and compliance with the different levels of regulations. He also advises corporate clients on structuring transactions, including entity ownership and control, to comply with applicable regulations and assists with obtaining corresponding regulatory approvals. Elliot also works with the VS licensing team and has successfully advised numerous clients in competitive and non-competitive application processes, including social equity applicants. His licensing practice involves analyzing license application processes and working with clients to develop strategies for successful applications.

Elliot has spoken at industry conferences and has authored numerous articles on corporate issues in cannabis and hemp transactions. He also works with advocacy groups and trade associations to advance cannabis policy in the Northeastern United States. A founding member of the firm’s Pro Bono Committee, Elliot works on restorative justice issues facing the cannabis industry with a focus on his home state of New York.

Prior to joining VS, Elliot worked as a corporate associate in the New York offices of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP, where he represented clients in a broad range of regulated industries (including laboratory testing, clinical diagnostic services, telecommunications, medical device development, cybersecurity and waste management) in connection with various corporate transactions and general corporate matters. Elliot holds an Artium Baccalaureus from Princeton University and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania. He is also the founding attorney of VS’s New York office.

Adam Dolan

Adam R. Dolan, Esq.

Goldberg Segalla

White Plains, NY

Adam R. Dolan is a tested litigator with a multifaceted practice. He co-chairs Goldberg Segalla’s Cannabis and Hemp Law group in addition to defending clients in a wide range of claims including transportation, premises liability, building maintenance actions, and more. His broad legal background includes resolving corporate disputes, dram shop actions, and workers’ compensation defense.

Before returning to private practice, Adam was an Assistant District Attorney in the Bronx County District Attorney’s Office, where he successfully prosecuted more than 10 misdemeanor-level trials as the primary attorney. He also conducted felony-level grand jury presentations, which resulted in indictments on various criminal charges, and negotiated pleas in both felony and misdemeanor criminal offenses.

Cannabis and Hemp Law

Adam is an emerging authority in the field of cannabis and hemp law. He not only cochairs the firm’s Cannabis and Hemp Law group, but also regularly authors articles exploring liability and cannabis, CBD, and hemp law, including serving as a frequent contributor to Life Science Matters, the firm’s blog covering the life sciences and medical device industries. He brings expert analysis of the latest trends and breaking news surrounding the cannabis legal landscape to his writing, and his colleagues routinely recognize him for his thoughtful research, turning to him for strategic advice and insight into the many developing aspects of this new area of law.

Larry Mason

Larry D. Mason, Esq.

Goldberg Segalla

Chicago, IL

Larry D. Mason is a renowned trial and appellate litigator and counselor to many national and international businesses across diverse industries. Based in Chicago but with experience litigating and counseling clients through complicated and high-profile matters across the country and internationally, he dedicates most of his practice to insurance coverage, reinsurance, commercial litigation, environmental and toxic torts, and complex insurance regulatory matters. He also focuses on professional liability for clients in construction, environmental, and related industries; products liability; and identifying emerging risks. He brings his extensive experience to leadership positions in the firm, where he is chair of the Environmental and Mass Torts Coverage and Construction Coverage subgroups.

Formidable and respected as a trial and appellate litigator, Larry also regularly provides assistance to underwriters concerning policy and endorsement drafting, market strategy, and the development of new insurance products. Larry’s risk and litigation avoidance practice helps his business clients to avoid litigation by working with business leaders, risk managers, and underwriters to identify risks in developing fields and to proactively address emerging risks, devise risk management strategies and solutions, and offer general counsel to top-level executives.

For nearly three decades Larry has been a thought leader in the insurance-law community. Inside the courtroom he has been a pioneer, litigating many cases of first impression advancing new interpretations of law and new defenses. Outside he has written and spoken on the most pressing issues in insurance and related fields. And he has served as an expert witness or arbitrator in complex, multi-issue cases.

Larry’s experience includes commercial litigation involving involving multiple lines of insurance and reinsurance; first-party property and third-party liability; product liability; contracts; bad faith; toxic torts; technology and cybersecurity; intellectual property disputes; rescission; reformation; life and disability; D&O/E&O; EPL; professionalliability defense for construction companies and their executives, architects, engineers, and contractors; and complicated cross-discipline cases arising from environmental, structural, or other catastrophic damages, including business interruption and lost revenue.

Jean-Claude Mazzola

Jean-Claude Mazzola, Esq.

Mazzola Lindstrom LLP.

New York, NY

Jean Claude Mazzola is an experienced trial attorney that has brought multi-million dollar actions to verdict. He is a confident commercial litigator that is skilled at highlighting the strengths and minimizing the weaknesses of a case before a judge and jury. JC is accomplished at commercial arbitration and mediation. He has focused much of his practice on business law, credit risk, insurance coverage and RICO. He has spent significant time traveling with and advising his Chinese and UK clients. He also counsels lawyers and clients on professionalism as a member of the Ethics Committee of the New York City Bar Association.


Activities & Affiliations
• New York City Bar Association • Member Ethics Committee

Bar & Court Admissions
• New York, Florida • U.S. District Courts, Eastern, Southern, Northern and Western Districts of New York

Jennifer Mora

Jennifer L. Mora, Esq.

Seyfarth Shaw LLP

San Francisco, CA

Jennifer brings a unique combination of traditional labor and specialized employment law experience to a broad range of industries, and has devoted nearly 20 years of her career advising employers on matters impacting them most. She interned at the National Labor Relations Board, and since that time, has developed vast experience in traditional labor law matters to assist employers with strategic labor relations, planning, and dispute management, including Board litigation, union avoidance, collective bargaining, discharge and contract interpretation arbitrations, strikes, elections, and Section 301 litigation.

Jennifer’s unique practice also brings a particular depth of knowledge in:
• Advising employers and consumer reporting agencies on the intersection of federal and state background check laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting and state law equivalents, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, state and local “ban the box” laws, and other laws impacting employmentpurposed background checks.

• Advising clients on federal and state drug-free workplace and drug-testing matters, including compliance with Department of Transportation-mandated programs and medical and recreational marijuana laws.

Jennifer enjoys collaborating with Seyfarth attorneys and relying on the various subject matter experts at the firm to avoid having to re-create the wheel—the better to support and advise her clients.

Geoffrey A. Mort

Geoffrey A. Mort, Esq.

Kraus & Zuchlewski LLP

New York, NY

Geoffrey Mort is of Counsel to Kraus & Zuchlewski LLP, where he represents individual employees and specializes in employment discrimination litigation as well as separation and employment agreements. He previously served as an Assistant Corporation Counsel in the New York City Corporation Counsel’s Office and as an Assistant Circuit Executive for the United States Second Circuit. Mr. Mort has extensive litigation experience, primarily in the Federal Courts, and has tried numerous cases to verdict or bench decision. In addition, he has conducted arbitrations before the American Arbitration Association, FINRA and the New York Stock Exchange. Mr. Mort is admitted to practice in New York and Colorado, as well as in the U.S. Second Circuit and Southern, Northern and Eastern Districts of New York. He is a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, and also is a regular contributor to the “Outside Counsel” column in the New York Law Journal.

Additionally, Mr. Mort is co-chair of the Workplace Rights and Responsibilities Committee and a member of the Executive Committee of the New York State Bar Association (“NYSBA”) Section on Labor and Employment Law, as well as NYSBA’s Committee on Cannabis Law. He has spoken at NYSBA annual meetings, Labor and Employment Law Section Fall meetings, and conferences of the National Employment Lawyers Association/New York. Mr. Mort also is a member of the New York City Bar Association and the American Bar Association, where he is a member of the Employee Rights and Responsibilities Committee. He graduated from Brooklyn Law School, where he was Commentaries Editor of the Law Review, and magna cum laude from the University of Denver.

Michael Sciotti

Michael Sciotti, Esq.

Barclay Damon, LLP

Syracuse, NY

Michael is a trusted advisor, trainer, and litigator to hundreds of employers on labor and employment matters. His practice includes defending employers, owners, and members of management in all types of discrimination, harassment, whistleblower, and retaliation claims brought under Title VII, ADEA, ADA, FMLA, GINA, NYS Human Rights Law, and Labor Law. Michael also defends wage-and-hour actions and claims, including classaction lawsuits, brought under federal and state law. He has tried nearly two dozen cases to verdict in federal and state court and before the NYS Division of Human Rights.

Michael also provides day-to-day counseling for employers on all aspects of labor and employment law and conducts internal investigations; audits; and supervisory and employee training , including sexual harassment-prevention training, on a regular basis. He has given over 700 labor and employment presentations to organizations that include the Society for Human Resource Management, the American Payroll Association, the American Corporate Counsel Association, the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants, the Northern District of New York Federal Bar Association, the New York State Bar Association, and Lorman Education Services.

Bar Associations -American Bar Association -Northern District of New York Federal Court Bar Association, Pro Bono Committee Chair and Former President, Vice President, and Trustee -New York State Bar Association, Labor Law Section -Onondaga County Bar Association -Washington DC Bar Association
Selected Memberships & Affiliations -US District Court for the Northern District of New York, Alternative Dispute Resolution Committee Member and Court-Appointed Mediator -American Payroll Association -Society of Human Resource Management

Neil M Willner

Neil M. Willner, Esq.

Wilson Elser LLP

White Plains, NY

Neil Willner is fast gaining a stellar reputation for representing clients within the cannabis industry, including medical professionals, growers, processors, insurers, distributors and vendors as well as ancillary businesses impacted by the perpetually evolving state and federal regulatory landscape. In addition, Neil defends a full range of medical malpractice cases, centered on complex litigation. He has handled appeals in the New York Appellate Division, First and Second Departments.

Areas of Focus

Cannabis & Hemp Law
Neil is a member of Wilson Elser’s Cannabis Law practice team and leads the firm’s Northeast efforts, helping clients navigate new risk management challenges, business practices and the insurance landscape presented by the rapidly developing area of cannabis and hemp law. Neil works with licensed cannabis operators to comply with obligations under state law and to develop risk management best practices. He advises companies across the supply chain on the quickly evolving hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) landscape and the interplay with the U.S. food and drug laws. Neil also works with insurance companies covering cannabis-related risk on developing policy and programs.

Neil is a prolific writer, authoring more than a dozen articles and client alerts about hemp and CBD laws and New York’s cannabis policy. Neil has been quoted by various news outlets including The Guardian, Corporate Counsel, and Business Insurance Magazine for his insights into state and federal issues.

Medical Malpractice & Health Care
As a member of Wilson Elser’s Medical Malpractice & Health Care team, Neil has successfully defended a variety of medical facilities and medical professionals in complex high-exposure cases. Neil represents hospitals, long-term care facilities and their affiliated physicians, and other health care professionals in cases involving a broad range of medical and surgical disciplines, including psychology, gastroenterology, cardiology, neurology and oncology

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