30 Powerful Cannabis Attorneys You Should Know

Ariel Clark, Clark Neubert
Ariel Clark, founding partner, Clark Neubert LLP, Lawyers for the Green Frontier

Broadly defined, litigation is the process of resolving a dispute between opposing parties through the court system. In business, any relationship–with vendors, suppliers, employees, customers, or competitors–is subject to misunderstanding and miscommunication that can result in litigation. In the burgeoning legal cannabis industry, the opportunity for such occurrences is greatly pronounced.

Matters most often turning up in litigation involve issues such as ownership or partnership disputes, commercial contracts, employment disputes, trademarks and patents, real estate and landlord disputes, product liability, taxes, insurance, and even appellate advocacy, though more rarely than the aforementioned. For each such concern, there are litigating attorneys who specialize in the intricacies.

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Heather-Burke-Greenspoon-Marder-mg-magazine

HEATHER L. BURKE
Greenspoon Marder LLP, California
Practice areas: Administrative law, criminal and civil litigation, writs, and appeals
Alma mater: California Western School of Law
Hard facts: In People v. Jovan Jackson, Burke drafted motion in limine for introduction of the medical cannabis defense, which was granted for the first time in San Diego County history. In 2016, Burke co-drafted a proposed initiative for California cannabis legalization entitled The California Craft Cannabis Initiative. Her awards include “Attorney of the Year” from the Nevada County Cannabis Cup and NORML’s John Mark Flowers Scholar. (GMLawCannabis.com)

Michael-Chernis-Chernis-law-group-mg-magazineMICHAEL CHERNIS
Chernis Law Group PC, California
Practice areas: Criminal defense, regulatory law, corporate law, civil litigation
Alma mater: Fordham University Law School
Hard facts: Demonstrating his clients’ compliance with the “collective defense” created by SB420, Chernis has obtained dismissals, reductions of charges, agreements not to file charges, and returns of confiscated goods in a variety of cases. Among the most noteworthy: dismissal of Los Angeles District Attorney charges against a Berkeley manufacturer and return of its cannabis oil cartridges in 2016 and the non-filing and return of goods in a 2014 CO2 manufacturing lab raid and seizure in Riverside County. (ChernisLaw.com)

MICHAEL CINDRICH
Law Offices of Michael E. Cindrich APC, California
Practice areas: Criminal defense, civil litigation
Alma mater: University of San Diego School of Law
Hard facts: Cindrich serves as executive director of NORML’s San Diego County chapter and is a lifetime member of the national NORML legal committee. He is a San Diego regional speaker for Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), an organization of current and former law enforcement personnel in support of drug policy reform, and in 2009 was nominated to San Diego’s Medical Marijuana Task Force. (MichaelCindrich.com)

ARIEL CLARK
Clark Neubert LLP, California
Practice areas: Business law, licensing and regulatory compliance, business litigation
Alma mater: University of Calif. Berkeley School of Law
Hard facts: Clark has been recognized by Rolling Stone as one of eighteen “Women Shaping the Culture of Tomorrow” and by Cannabis Business Times as one of the top seventy-five women in cannabis. She founded and served as chair of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force, serves on the board of California NORML and the policy committee of the California Growers Association, and is a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and the California Cannabis Industry Association. (GreenFrontier.com)

Omar-Figueroa, cannabis attorneyOMAR FIGUEROA
Law Offices of Omar Figueroa, California
Practice areas: Administrative law, compliance, intellectual property, criminal defense
Alma mater: Stanford Law School
Hard facts: Figueroa’s Cannabis Codes of California, published in a Legalization edition and a MAUCRSA edition, was the first book-length compilation of California’s cannabis laws. He is a member of NORML’s Distinguished Counsel’s Circle, a lifetime member of the NORML legal committee, and serves on the board of directors for the National Cannabis Bar Association, of which he is a lifetime founding member. (OmarFigueroa.com)

Daniel-Garfield-mg-magazineDANIEL GARFIELD
McAllister Garfield PC, Colorado
Practice areas: General litigation
Alma mater: Northwestern University School of Law
Hard facts: Named among the top lawyers for marijuana law by 5280 magazine in 2016, 2017, and 2018, Garfield has represented the full spectrum of cannabis businesses. He was a voice for change to the rules of professional conduct in the Colorado Supreme Court, stressing the importance of allowing attorneys ethically to represent the cannabis industry. In 2016, he served on the working group for Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division.(McAllisterGarfield.com)

Rachel-Gillette-mg-magazineRACHEL K. GILLETTE
Greenspoon Marder LLP, Colorado
Practice areas: 280E tax matters, business civil litigation
Alma mater: Quinnipiac University School of Law
Hard facts: Gillette chairs the Cannabis Law Group Western Region at Greenspoon Marder LLP. She is a board member and former executive director for Colorado NORML, a founding member of Women Grow, and on the board of directors for the National Cannabis Bar Association. In 2015 she successfully represented the plaintiff in Allgreens LLC v. Commissioner, resulting in the IRS abating $30,000 in penalties against Denver marijuana dispensary Allgreens for not having paid its estimated taxes electronically. (GMLawCannabis.com)

MATTHEW GINDER
Greenspoon Marder LLP, Florida
Practice areas: Business law, regulatory and compliance, litigation
Alma mater: Nova Southeastern University Shepard Broad College of Law
Hard facts: Ginder co-founded and manages the nonprofit corporation Organization for Safe Cannabis Regulation, which advocates on behalf of cannabis-related businesses in Florida. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as the Annual Cannabis Law, Accounting, and Business Conference & Expo; the annual Sup-X: The Startup Expo; and the Cannabis Private Investment Summit. (GMLawCannabis.com)

SETH GOLDBERG
Duane Morris LLP, Pennsylvania
Practice areas: Commercial and complex litigation
Alma mater: Temple University Beasley School of Law
Hard facts: Twice recognized as a Pennsylvania Rising Star in Business Litigation by Philadelphia magazine—June 2011 and December 2008—Goldberg is chair of Duane Morris’s multidisciplinary cannabis practice and a contributor to the firm’s cannabis industry blog. He represented the defendants in Woodstock Ventures LC, et al. v. Woodstock Roots, concerning claims of trademark infringement pertaining to the use of “Woodstock.”
(DuaneMorris.com)

MICHAEL S. HILLER
Hiller PC, New York
Practice areas: Impact litigation, land-use/zoning and preservation, insurance litigation, business and corporate litigation
Alma mater: American University Washington College of Law
Hard facts: Named Super Lawyer for the New York Metropolitan Area by Super Lawyers magazine nine years running, Hiller oversees the firm’s cannabis practice. He was named America’s Advocate of the Year by Canna-Gather in 2018. In 2017, Hiller was lead counsel in Washington v. Sessions, in which a federal court acknowledged cannabis constitutes a safe and effective medicine for the treatment of disease. (HillerPC.com)

ROBERT HOBAN
Hoban Law Group, Colorado
Practice areas: Industrial hemp, corporate law, FDA compliance, commercial litigation
Alma mater: University of Wyoming College of Law
Hard facts: Hoban serves on the Colorado Department of Agriculture Hemp Regulation Advisory Committee and the New Frontier Data advisory board and is a founding board member for the National Cannabis Chamber of Commerce. He has tried many seminal cases, including a lawsuit against the DEA in the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of appeals resulting in a federal order conveying the Farm Bill preempts the Controlled Substances Act. From 2015 to 2017, Hoban was an adjunct professor and lecturer in the Law and Society program at the University of Denver. (Hoban.law)

Jason-Horst-mg-magazineJASON HORST
Horst Legal Counsel, California
Practice areas: Insurance, real estate, partnership, commercial litigation
Alma mater: University of San Francisco School of Law
Hard facts: Horst serves as vice-chair of the finance & insurance committee for the National Cannabis Industry Association, chairs an insurance working group for the National Cannabis Bar Association, and is a member of the insurance subcommittee of the California Cannabis Industry Association. In 2015 and 2016, he was selected as a business litigation Rising Star in Northern California Super Lawyers magazine. (HorstCounsel.com)

ORION INSKIP
Gleam Law PLLC, Washington
Practice areas: Government compliance, litigation, intellectual property
Alma mater: Seattle University School of Law
Hard facts: Inskip has successfully negotiated dozens of cases on behalf of cannabis business owners facing violations from the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board. He recently prevailed against the City of Seattle on a case wherein the city claimed his client operated a cannabis business without a cannabis business license. Inskip was the sole presenting attorney at the 2018 World CBD Expo in San Jose, California. (GleamLaw.com)

ROD KIGHT
Kight on Cannabis, North Carolina
Practice areas: General litigation
Alma mater: University of South Carolina School of Law
Hard facts: Kight authored Cannabis Business Law: What You Need to Know, published by Aspatore (a Thomson-West subsidiary) in 2015. He maintains an active cannabis law blog, Kight on Cannabis, which often is cited by other publications and is a contributor to the Cannabis Law Journal and Cannabis Law Report. North Carolina Super Lawyers magazine called him “The State’s Biggest Cannabis Advocate.” (CannaBusiness.law)

RAZA LAWRENCE
Margolin & Lawrence, California
Practice areas: Criminal defense, business litigation
Alma mater: Harvard Law School
Hard facts: Lawrence has been named a Super Lawyers magazine Southern California Rising Star for six consecutive years, from 2013 to 2018. His cannabis litigation has been called cutting edge, and he is known for his depth of knowledge and track record for positive results for his clients. His practice primarily focuses on trademark litigation, high profile criminal cases, and novel disputes. (MargolinLawrence.com)

Meital Manzuri
Manzuri Law, California
Practice areas: Business law, criminal defense, corporate transactions, compliance and licensing
Alma mater: University of California Hastings College of the Law
Hard facts: Author of comprehensive guide to California cannabis laws Legal Weed, Manzuri’s work as general counsel for trade association Cultivators Alliance was instrumental in the passing of Proposition M in Los Angeles. She also worked on the defense team for the federal case U.S.A. v. Ed Rosenthal in 2005, and in 2008 she wrote a winning federal brief to allow, for the first time, a medical defense to be presented in federal court in U.S.A. v. Steele Smith. (ManzuriLaw.com)

ALLISON MARGOLIN
Margolin & Lawrence, California
Practice areas: Criminal defense, branding, trademark, civil litigation
Alma mater: Harvard Law School
Hard facts: Nicknamed “L.A.’s Dopest Attorney,” Allison Margolin is a lifelong advocate for drug legalization. She is a member of NORML and involved in other industry-related organizations, including Americans for Safe Access and Advocates for Healing America. Margolin regularly is featured in publications such as Forbes, The Los Angeles Times, and The New Yorker. In one of her more notable cases, she caused a trial to be dismissed by exposing the anti-marijuana prejudices of the presiding judge. (MargolinLawrence.com)

BRUCE MARGOLIN
Law Offices of Bruce M. Margolin, California
Practice areas: Commercial and criminal litigation
Alma mater: Southwestern Law School
Hard facts: Bruce Margolin has been director of Los Angeles NORML since 1973. He was an advisor for Proposition 215 (Californians for Compassionate Use) and served as legal counsel for The California Hemp Initiative. As a candidate for California governor in 2003 and U.S. Congress in 2012, he helped establish the credibility of marijuana legalization policies. Margolin received a certificate of appreciation from the American Civil Liberties Union and has received honors for his work on behalf of the Constitutional Rights Foundation. (1800420Laws.com)

SEAN MCALLISTER
McAllister Garfield PC, Colorado
Practice areas: General litigation, regulatory enforcement
Alma mater: University of Colorado Law
Hard facts: McAllister successfully defended the nation’s first products liability case against an infused product manufacturer and won a suit against the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division regarding due process violations in the implementation of rules. He twice has been named Cannabis Business Awards MVP, and 5280 magazine named him to Denver’s Top Lawyers list three years running. (McAllisterGarfield.com)

NICOLE HOWELL NEUBERT
Clark Neubert LLP, California
Practice areas: Business law, licensing and regulatory compliance, business litigation
Alma mater: University of California Hastings College of the Law
Hard facts: Neubert is actively involved in legislative and regulatory efforts, recently serving as a member of California State Treasurer John Chiang’s Cannabis Banking Working Group. She serves as chief policy advisor for the California Growers Association and on the board of California NORML. Neubert has been named one of the top seventy-five “most important women in cannabis” by Cannabis Business Executive, a Rising Star by Super Lawyers annually since 2012, and an “attorney to watch” by Chambers and Partners USA. (GreenFrontier.com)

Aaron-pelley-Cultiva-LAw-mg-magazineAARON A. PELLEY
Cultiva Law PLLC, Washington
Practice areas: Business law, litigation
Alma mater: Willamette University College of Law
Hard facts: As an advocate for the cannabis industry, Pelley has been credited with helping build the foundation for legal protections in medical cannabis law. He has spoken at legal education seminars and cannabis conferences throughout the United States and repeatedly has been named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine and a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association. (CultivaLaw.com)

ROBERT RAICH
Robert A. Raich PC, California
Practice areas: Appellate advocacy, business law, political law, lobbying
Alma mater: University of Texas School of Law
Hard facts: Raich was the attorney in both U.S. Supreme Court cases considering medical cannabis issues: Gonzales v. Raich and United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers’ Cooperative. He has served as chairman of the caregiver issues subcommittee of the California Attorney General’s Medical Marijuana Task Force, is a professor of cannabusiness at Oaksterdam University, has taught classes about cannabis to cadets at police academies, and presented continuing education classes to colleagues. Raich is a founding board member of the National Cannabis Bar Association and was awarded the Americans for Safe Access Defenders of Justice Award. (RobertRaich.com)

JOE ROGOWAY
Rogoway Law Group, California
Practice areas: Contract dispute, asset recovery, intellectual property, trade secret litigation
Alma mater: University of San Francisco School of Law
Hard facts: Named a Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine four consecutive years—2015 through 2018—Rogoway’s successful appeal in Parent on Behalf of Student v. Rincon Valley Union Elementary School District allowed a five-year-old Dravet patient access to medical cannabis while at school. He is a longstanding member of the California Cannabis Industry Association, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and the NORML legal committee. (RogowayLaw.com)

LAUREN RUDICK
Hiller PC, New York
Practice areas: Land-use and zoning, commercial litigation
Alma mater: New York Law School
Hard facts: As part of a continuing effort to prove the Controlled Substances Act unconstitutional in Washington v. Sessions, Rudick and team next will appear in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Named New York Metro Rising Star by Super Lawyers magazine (2015, 2016), Rudick provides pro bono legal services to Compassionate Care New York, Drug Policy Alliance, and Cannabis Cultural Association Inc. She also serves on the board of directors and as treasurer for the National Cannabis Bar Association. (HillerPC.com)

ANDREW SACKS
Sacks Weston Diamond LLC, Pennsylvania
Practice areas: Medical marijuana law, personal litigation
Alma mater: Dickinson School of Law
Hard facts: Sacks is a successful lobbyist and continuing legal education (CLE) speaker about all aspects of Pennsylvania medical marijuana and hemp law. He has served as co-chair-of both the Pennsylvania and Philadelphia Bars’ medical marijuana and hemp law committees, which earned a 2018 Committee of the Year award. He represents MJ Freeway, winner of Pennsylvania’s multimillion-dollar seed-to-sale contract, and is preparing a suit against U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for ongoing violation of medical marijuana users’ Second Amendment rights. (SacksLaw.com)

ERIC SHEVIN
Shevin Law Group, California
Practice areas: Business law, criminal defense, appellate advocacy
Alma mater: University of San Diego School of Law
Hard facts: Shevin is listed as one of America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys and repeatedly has been named a Southern California Super Lawyer by Super Lawyers magazine. He also was listed among the nation’s Top 100 Trial Lawyers from 2013 through 2017. Shevin is a lifetime member of the NORML legal committee, has taught courses in cannabis law and policy to judges and lawyers throughout the country, and frequently is consulted by media outlets for his industry expertise. (ShevinLaw.com)

IAN A. STEWART
Wilson Elser, California
Practice areas: Product liability, commercial litigation, intellectual property, regulatory compliance
Alma mater: St. Louis University School of Law
Hard facts: As co-founder and chair of the Wilson Elser cannabis law practice, Stewart led the firm’s team on U.S. due diligence for the MedMen initial public offering on behalf of Canadian broker-dealers. He currently serves as chair for the National Cannabis Industry Association’s finance and insurance committee, vice-chair for the California Cannabis Industry Association’s insurance committee, and is a member of the National Cannabis Bar Association. (WilsonElser.com/Cannabis)

HEIDI URNESS
Cultiva Law PLLC, Washington
Practice areas: Administrative violation defense, corporate and partnership disputes
Alma mater: University of San Francisco School of Law
Hard facts: Urness is a member of the Washington State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Section and has been appointed to the board of governors for its editorial advisory committee. She also is manager of Cultiva’s law blog, where she recently published an in-depth analysis of the Hemp Farming Act of 2018 and Hemp Industries Association, et al. v. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. (CultivaLaw.com)

HENRY G. WYKOWSKI
Wykowski Law, California
Practice areas: Business law, business litigation, tax law, criminal defense
Alma mater: Tulane University School of Law
Hard facts: As counsel in Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems (CHAMP) v. Commissioner, Wykowski established important precedents recognizing the right to deduct cost of cannabis sold and limiting the punitive applicability of Internal Revenue Code Section 280E. He is a founding member of, and general counsel to, the National Cannabis Industry Association while also serving as general counsel to both the national association and California Cannabis Industry Association. (WykowskiLaw.com)

KATY M. YOUNG
Ad Astra Law Group LLP, California
Practice areas: Partnership disputes, breach of contract, investor issues
Alma mater: University of San Francisco School of Law
Hard facts: After having served on the board of directors for the National Cannabis Bar Association, Young is now the elected president of the organization. Northern California Super Lawyers magazine has named her a Rising Star in business litigation annually since 2014, and she is on Benchmark Litigation’s Top 40 Under 40 hotlist. Young also sits on the executive committee and board of directors for the Cannabis Affinity Group. (AstraLegal.com)

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