After 25 years of working to promote and protect medical research and stem cell research in Missouri, Dena Ladd is taking a less divisive role as the new board chair of the Missouri Medical Cannabis Trade Association (MoCannTrade).
“It’s been so much easier being in the medical cannabis space than it was with stem cell research,” Ladd says. “Some of the legislators that I meet with in Missouri, they wouldn’t even talk to me when I was involved with stem cell research, or they were hesitant.”
As a public policy and community affairs expert, Ladd has invaluable experience advocating in both Missouri’s capital, Jefferson City, and in Washington, D.C.
Although Ladd only recently took on the role of board chair, she is a founding member of MoCannTrade and has spent the past four years watching the state market’s rapid expansion. She’s also the co-founder of Jaine, a Missouri-based networking and empowerment group for women working in or looking to join the cannabis industry.
With a recreational legalization initiative on the November ballot and polling at 62% approval, Ladd is readying MoCannTrade to help members transition to adult-use sales and help guide the other changes that would come with the bill, such as new research licenses and funding for veteran and drug rehabilitation programs.
“We’ll have our hands full, but I think it’s going to be really exciting for Missouri,” she says.