Welcome to the 2023 

Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium

Join us Saturday, April 15th!

At the University of Colorado Boulder, we are continuing our efforts to provide high quality public education on drugs and drug policy with the 2023 Cannabis and Psychedelic Symposium, to be held on April 14th and 15th. This year we are offering a virtual series of speakers, panels, a preparty, and more! The event is free and open to the public. Make sure to visit our registration page to sign up!

2023 Keynote Speakers

Wanda James

Opening Plenary Speaker

Cannabis Research at the University of Colorado and the Imperative for Racial Justice in the Industry

A current University of Colorado regent and CU alum, Wanda James is also one of the most widely respected leaders in cannabis today. As a Black woman, a veteran, and a former Fortune 100 executive, she has spent the past decade working to remove the stigma of the plant and shedding light on the racial inequities of the cannabis industry. 

Wanda is the founder and CEO of Simply Pure Dispensary in Denver. Along with her husband Scott Durrah, they became the first African Americans, legally licensed in America, to own a dispensary, a cultivation facility, and an edible company. 

A decade after the first move to legalize cannabis, Wanda is unapologetically critical of the industry that remains 97% white-owned. 

Whether it’s speaking out on the lack of Black ownership in cannabis, over-policing Black neighborhoods, or the mass incarceration that still exists for people of color, Wanda is a fierce advocate for those without a voice.

 She is also the founder and President of the Cannabis Global Initiative (CGI), a marketing and consulting firm that specializes in diversity development, regulatory framework, and marketing. The group is dedicated to providing innovative solutions through strategic alliances and business development surrounding the legalization of cannabis.

Leonard Pickard

Activist Keynote Speaker

The History and Future of Psychedelics

Alleged to have produced "90% of the world's LSD," William Leonard Pickard is a former drug policy fellow at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, research associate in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School, and deputy director of the Drug Policy Analysis Program at UCLA. With two life sentences without parole, he served 20 years in maximum security federal prisons, and was released in 2020.


His book "The Rose of Paracelsus" - written in pencil while imprisoned - will be published in Italian on April 26, 2023 by Mondadori (Milan) and by Synergetic Press (Santa Fe/ London). His 1996 prediction of the fentanyl epidemic, and recommendations for prevention, was confirmed by RAND. Currently he is a senior advisor, scientific advisory boards, of JLS Fund LP and the Fireside Project.

Monica Cadena

Closing Plenary Speaker

This is a Psychedelic Revolution, Not a Renaissance

Working at the forefront of psychedelic drug policy, Monica Cadena is an Afro-Latinx California-based artist, writer, yogi, movement worker, digital alchemist, and the co-founder of Black Healers Connect, a digital and in-person community for healers of the diasporaHer work has been featured in Yoga Journal, Rolling Stone, Vogue, Vanity Fair, and People, among others. She’s the co-creator of the podcast Healing for the Culture, alongside Heather Archer, and is the former co-founder of Wear Your Voice Magazine, an intersectional feminist digital publication with a recent investment by serial investor Mark Cuban. Monica’s passion for highlighting stories from those at the intersections of healing and social justice activism makes her a much-needed inspirational voice in the reform movement. Connect with her on Instagram at @sacred.alchemist.  

Check out our event schedule for the full list of presentations!