Valarie Valdepeña
Executive Director

Valarie believes in transparency, inclusion, sustainable practices, preserving history, and giving credit where it is due. She travels extensively, having lived in California, Texas, Hawaii, Kentucky, and now Georgia. She believes that people with diverse views and backgrounds can work together and find consensus, creating positive change within their community.

Valarie earned her B.A. from UC Berkeley in political science and English and, in 2005, after graduating from law school, began her life’s calling. During the last eighteen years, she has practiced several areas of law, including corporate law, nonprofit law, estate planning, asset protection and management, insurance, entertainment, criminal, environmental, real estate, and cannabis law. Valarie is also a real estate educator, investor, and licensed agent who enjoys helping clients build and protect their wealth.

Valarie manages Forbidden Business, LLC, to support cannabis businesses in navigating the complex laws within the industry. Most recently, in 2020, she founded Emerald Keys, LLC, a sustainable development company in Georgia. Emerald Keys, LLC is focused on rural development, regenerative farming practices, green technology, alternative energy sources, and emerging building materials such as hempcrete.

Valarie is an avid wildlife photographer and lifelong learner, constantly reading and working on bettering herself through education. She is devoted to serving others via leadership, mentorship, and volunteerism. She believes it is important to use her diverse background, direct approach, and knowledge to guide and empower others by always striving to do what’s right.

Robert Cartree
Deputy Director

Robert has been a consumer of cannabis since 1978, and a cultivator since 1997. An illegal search of his residence in 2018 put him under threat of 55+ years in prison, but Robert refused to accept a plea bargain and eventually won at the Georgia Court of Appeals, resulting in all charges being dropped.

Robert and his wife have transformed their unjust arrests into an ongoing advocacy to end cannabis prohibition and reform the criminal justice system. He once served as an Infantryman in the 82nd Airborne, and is now semi-retired, living in Dahlonega, Georgia.  

Dr. Yolanda Henderson

Dr. Henderson is a devoted wife, a loving mother to eight children, a certified holistic health coach, a board-certified Naturopathic doctor, an author, an evangelist, a natural hair specialist, and a franchise owner of the Atlanta Academy of Cannabis Science.

Dr. Henderson is a US Army veteran who received her certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in Holistic Health Coaching and obtained a master’s degree in health Coaching (CHHC). She attended The Kingdom College of Natural Health, where she received her doctorate in Naturopathy Medicine (ND). She earned a Certification for Ecclesiastical Spiritual Attendant (CESA) through Guardian Ecclesiastical Medical Association and her Holistic Medical Practitioner license (LHMP). She is a cannabis-trained professional who holds a certificate from the Academy of Cannabis Science - DFW. Dr. Henderson is also an instructor at Clayton State University.

Dr. Henderson has a servant’s heart and does not shy away from adversity. She talks candidly about the sometimes-daunting challenges faced by her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Dr. Henderson frequently volunteers her time at the Clayton County food pantry. Through her work with the non-profit organization, The Gift of Life Community Home, Dr. Henderson offers assistance utilizing education, holistic wellness, guidance in making healthy life choices, and offering re-entry services to veterans and their families.

Todd J. Heydel
Communications Director

Todd was raised in Georgia and has lived in several states, including Florida, Mississippi, Virginia, and California. 

He is an honorably discharged US Navy Veteran who served our great nation proudly for five years, completing three deployments, and received a Good Conduct Medal and two Navy Achievement Medals.

He has been a cannabis consumer since 1994 and is passionate about strategic legalization.  He graduated with honors from The Golf Academy of America and is working on his Bachelor's Degree, in Business, from Georgia State University.  Most of Todd’s career has been in the restaurant industry. Professional restaurant critics rated him "one of the top ten servers in Atlanta" in 2002. 

Todd is a realtor and, in his spare time, enjoys playing golf, billiards, and table tennis.

Chris Quidort

Chris was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and raised in the Bay Area of San Jose, California.

When he was diagnosed with neurofibromatosis (nf1) and scoliosis, Chris faced numerous challenges growing up.  He attended and graduated from Lovejoy high school, where he played JV soccer, overcoming his physical health concerns. During his 11 years in retail customer service, he enjoyed success, ultimately earning the assistant manager position.

Through his years of advocacy work, Chris enjoys educating others about the positive aspects and healing powers of cannabis and all its derivatives. He has participated in many real-world evidence-based studies of cannabis oil.  Chris fights for other Georgia patients and hopes those who need low-THC oil will finally have access soon. Chris is also a staunch defender of veterans’ rights and access to cannabis.

In his spare time, Chris enjoys going to the gym, swimming, camping, traveling, and exploring the sights and sounds of new cities with friends and family.

Justin Jones
Community Outreach Director/Student Services Coordinator 

Justin is a professional marketer with college and community outreach expertise. He is actively involved with various organizations focusing on economic, conservation, humanitarian, and political development and/or advocacy.

Justin's primary goal is to promote individual self-sufficiency and rights. He advocates for political and social reform from the local and grassroots levels. His leadership style is to lead from the front and be aware of his arrogance.

Justin enjoys hiking, lifting weights, writing, and playing music in his free time.