Ten Years in the Oregon Cannabis Industry

Last month, I spent a Saturday scraping together a syllabus for the Cannabis Law and Policy class I teach at Lewis & Clark Law School here in Portland, Oregon. In one unit, we go through the regulatory history of Oregon cannabis. From an academic perspective, it’s amazing to look at all the things that have happened over the years. From a lawyering perspective, it’s almost unbelievable.


I was a second-year lawyer at a business firm downtown when a medical cannabis dispensary owner came through our office. The shop was here in Portland (with a grow in the back) and the owner had been passed along by two other law firms who felt uncomfortable advising him. This gentleman had received a bankruptcy trustee’s notice on his door, advising that his landlord was in a Chapter 7 (I think). He desperately wanted to stay in the building. Maybe even buy it, somehow.

We looked at the lawyer ethics rules, called the State Bar Association, read the Ogden memo, etc., and it was unclear whether we could service the client– even regarding compliance with state and local laws. It was unclear whether our malpractice insurance extended coverage. It was unclear whether our

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