11 October 2016
Here’s the introduction to the profile and interview….
We recently interviewed Anne to learn about her experiences serving cannabis entrepreneurs in the Northwest. In the following interview, Anne shares her legal background and talks about making the transition to cannabis law from a more mainstream industry. She talks about the most common cannabis-specific issues that she and her firm face, discusses the importance of compromise in legal battles between industry participants, and much more.
Ganjapreneur: What were your reasons for going from a mainstream industry to the cannabis space, and when did you make that shift?
Anne van Leynseele: Prior to launching my practice in marijuana law, I was a federal attorney advisor in Washington DC and worked on the Affordable Care Act. When I returned to Seattle, I was inspired by a two sentence bit in Newsweek magazine that stated the Federal Bureau of Reclamation was denying water rights to legal marijuana growers in Colorado and Washington. This peeked my curiosity. I found many DUI and criminal lawyers were advertising as marijuana lawyers, but I realized that this new industry in a highly regulated environment needed me. My background in the Los Angeles entertainment industry, Seattle’s corporate communications market, and as a business management consultant in Sydney, Australia gave me the business acumen to support the legal work in a holistic and strategic way that would sustain my clients’ success.
Would you say that specializing in cannabis law is more demanding than other industries?
Yes, my experiences are creating a new body of law and cannabis law changes so rapidly that absorbing and interpreting the daily dose of new information is challenging. Fortunately, in our firm we have a remarkable team; each have specific areas of expertise. By “playing zones” we are able to share knowledge with each other and provide our clients with integrated information. One example of this working well happened prior to the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board changing a policy last summer. Because I encourage our team and our clients to communicate regularly by not charging for non-substantive exchanges; we all benefit from discussing small changes that foreshadow shifts in the industry. I am then able to proactively send analyzed or triangulated information that often saves our clients from potential financial hardships.
Are there any drawbacks to focusing on cannabis law?
I am affected by some of the same stigma that all cannabis businesses face; difficulty with banking; being subjected to everyone’s political or moral rants about the issue whether they are for or against legalization; and what I call “green gouging” or over priced services because based on news reports, everyone thinks that we are all marijuana millionaires. And I am committing multiple felonies every time I come to work.
How many people are employed at your law firm?
We have a core team of five lawyers, two paralegals and an additional team of specialist lawyer that integrate into our comprehensive strategic planning as needed.
Anne Van Leynseele http://www.nwmjlaw.com/anne-van-leynseele/