Vince Sliwoski Partner

"He is outstanding to work with, very collaborative and practical." -Chambers USA

Contact Vincent

About Vince

Vince is a business lawyer, problem solver and dealmaker. His clients range from individual investors and entrepreneurs to widely held domestic and international corporations. Vince is Harris Sliwoski’s managing partner and he has received accolades from Super Lawyers and Chambers USA for his work.

Vince strives for efficient and optimal client results in every transaction. He has expertise in business/corporate law, commercial real estate, and intellectual property law.

His advice is guided by a heightened awareness of all possible outcomes: in his litigating days, Vince tried civil cases and conducted numerous arbitrations and mediations. This litigation experience helps him foresee pitfalls and negotiate favorable terms in transactions, ensuring his clients are well-protected.

Vince is also a leading practitioner in Oregon’s rapidly evolving cannabis and psychedelics industries. He regularly confers with key regulators and has been hired by the Oregon State Bar Professional Liability Fund and private parties as an expert witness in several cannabis-related business disputes. He runs our law firm’s award-winning Canna Law Blog.

Business Lawyer, Problem Solver and Dealmaker

Vince is a frequent presenter and commentator on legal aspects of controlled substances issues. He has been cited by many sources over the years, including U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker in correspondence to the U.S. Attorney General. From 2017 to 2021, he taught one of the first law school courses nationwide on Cannabis Law & Policy.

Vince actively supports Oregon’s creative and non-profit cultures. He serves as general counsel to some of the state’s signature events, including the Pickathon Music Festival and the Waterfront Blues Festival. He is a former columnist for the Portland Mercury and a past President of the Hollywood Theatre’s Board of Directors.

Vince enjoys spending time with his wife and kids, reading, writing, and hosting friends for a Manhattan in his basement bar. Don’t get him started on fly fishing. He also loves recreating his childhood with an annual ice fishing trip to North Dakota.

Contact Vince

Fast Facts

Education

  • Lewis & Clark Law School (J.D.)
  • Minnesota State University (B.A.)

Languages

  • Spanish (Proficient)

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Oregon State Bar (2010)
  • Multnomah County Bar (2010)
  • U.S. District Court, Oregon (2012)

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Business Structuring and Corporate Transactions

  • Advised business owners on entity selection, liability protection, business structuring, capitalization, general operations and a diverse array of business transactions.
  • Represented borrowers and lenders in financing matters, including equity, debt, and hybrid transactions.
  • Represented buyers and sellers in business mergers and acquisitions.
  • Represented companies and individuals in the purchase, sale, lease, and securitization of real property.
  • Advised privately held businesses, banks and credit unions on trademark and intellectual property issues.
  • Represented entertainment and music industry clients on performance, licensing, publishing, and distribution agreements.

Cannabis and Psychedelics

  • Represented cannabis clients on general business operations, including regulatory compliance, contracts, and real property issues.
  • Represented cannabis and psilocybin clients on regulatory compliance and controlled substances issues.
  • Advised U.S. National Credit Union Administration on published hemp banking guidance following the 2018 Farm Bill.
  • Advised Office of Congressman Earl Blumenauer on interstate cannabis commerce considerations.
  • Cited by U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker in correspondence to the U.S. Attorney General in relation to international cannabis law and policy.
  • Advised nation-state in international cannabis trade compliance issues and structuring.
  • Advised top 5 U.S. grocer on hemp-related food and beverage sales.
  • Advised top 10 North American Food company on hemp-related food and beverage sales.
  • Advised world’s largest testing and certification company on cannabis testing issues.
  • Advised top 3 U.S. shipping company on cannabis shipping policies.
  • Advised leading venture capital funds on seven- and eight-figure cannabis portfolio M&A projects.
  • Advised lenders in multi-million dollar mezzanine debt structuring with $1B+ cannabis company.
  • Advised series of credit unions on marijuana banking program structuring.

Expert Witness Services

  • Performed expert witness services in state and federal courts regarding attorney standard of care, regulatory questions, and common industry practices.
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  • Oregon State Bar Association Intellectual Property Section, Executive Committee (2014 – 2016)
  • Mentor, Oregon State Bar New Lawyer Mentoring Program
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Columbia Northwest
  • Oregon Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts
  • Hollywood Theatre Board of Directors

What clients have to say about Vince

We tremendously value our relationship with Vince and team at Harris Sliwoski. They are a trusted partner we rely on each and every day. From M&A deal-making to cannabis licensing and beyond they are exceptionally competent across legal specialties and jurisdictions. Beyond this they bring a low-ego and collaborative approach that blends well with our company values and culture.

– David Lannon, CEO Tumalo Industries, Retired EVP | Whole Foods Market

Legal stuff is always scary. And I’ve had to play offense a couple times, begrudgingly. To have Vince have my back? It made things a lot less prickly. He quickly walked me through my options, and was refreshingly consistent in his communications, timing and billing. I’ve been lucky to stay out of the legal side of things my whole career, thankfully. When things went a little wrong, Vince quickly made things right. And he was friendly. The more lawyers I meet, the less I like them. Vince broke that pattern for me. Thank you, Sir!

– Aaron Draplin, Founder | Draplin Design Co

Vince Sliwoski has been an invaluable asset to Waterfront Blues Festival and Fuller Events over the past several years. His knowledge, professionalism, clear communication and understanding of our unique industry truly sets him apart. He’s one of the first people we call when we have a question or concern. Time after time he provides us with excellent guidance and timely advice. We’d absolutely recommend Vince and the team at Harris Sliwoski.

– Christina and Tyler Fuller, Co-owners, | Waterfront Blues Festival and Fuller Events

When we started the process of building a ‘seed to sale’ cannabis company in Oregon, we saw the need for expert legal counsel. The cannabis sector is fraught with potential peril at every turn, and we wanted the best legal advice we could find. After talking to several firms and individuals, we feel extremely fortunate to have chosen Harris Sliwoski and Vince Sliwoski as our legal counsel.

Harris Sliwoski is the equivalent of a ‘seed to sale’ law firm in the cannabis space, in that they have helped us through virtually every step of the legalization process. Vince helped us create Redbarn Cannabis, complete with our 12 OLCC MJ licenses and multiple companies. He has guided us with setting up our companies, investor offerings and legal documentation, and has helped us with countless legal issues, including real estate transactions, compliance questions, and state/local regulation issues. In fact, everyone we’ve worked with at HS is an expert in their space.

When faced with a legal issue or decision, my first call is always to Vince. He understands the complexities of the industry, and has never failed to provide expert, relevant, and valuable counsel. In our opinion, you cannot make a better choice. Vince Sliwoski and the Harris Sliwoski team has helped us build Redbarn Cannabis into a successful thriving enterprise that benefits the state of Oregon, the communities we serve, our employees and our customers.

– Tony Theiss, CEO and Co-Founder, Redbarn Cannabis

I am pleased to endorse Harris Sliwoski as one of the first, and finest, law firms to specialize on assisting the new state-legal marijuana industry. NORML and many of our members and affiliates have worked with Hilary Bricken, Vince Sliwoski and this pioneering firm on everything from public interest litigation to general business and compliance matters over the years.

– Keith Stroup, Founder and Chief Legal Counsel | NORML

Vince Sliwoski and Harris Sliwoski have been nothing but an asset to our company throughout the years. Whether it’s navigating regulatory questions, employee disputes, trademarking, licensing or just general business transactions, Vince and co are always there to help navigate us through. Especially, in an industry with so much red tape, having a law firm that can tackle all of it with you is invaluable.

– Brent Stewart, Co-Founder and General Manager | Gnome Grown

Working with Vince Sliwoski was extremely helpful as our company set out to establish our recreational licenses in the Oregon cannabis industry. He helped us navigate the intricate waters of licensing for a public cannabis company and clearly explained what process would entail. We came to trust Vince’s expert opinion and would happily refer anyone looking to establish their cannabis presence in Oregon.

– Kiran Sidhu, CEO & Director | Halo

Vince and the team at Harris Sliwoski have been a go-to resource as our organization has changed and grown. We’ve relied on the team’s expertise for advice spanning from organizational structure to packaging requirements. They are always responsive, thorough, and thoughtful giving us the peace of mind that we are moving forward with compliant and considered decisions in an environment that is ever evolving and exceedingly challenging to navigate.

– Victoria Pustynsky, Founder & CEO | Aurora Elixirs

I am impressed with this law firm! They answered all my questions regarding business laws and regulations in Oregon and they have helped me with a variety of legal issues in a timely fashion, while always clearly communicating with us throughout the process. They also redirected me to other quality people for my business needs. Everyone I worked with at Harris Sliwoski is an expert in their field, and I was in good hands throughout my legal representation.

– Zale Schoenborn, Founder and CEO | Pickathon

Vince Sliwoski and Hilary Bricken have a strong understanding of cannabis law, and we could rely on them to provide valuable insights that were both actionable and sophisticated.

– Nishan Karassik, Co-Founder and Chief Information Officer | Phylos Bioscience

Highland Provisions is proud to be a leader in the Oregon adult-use cannabis market. Harris Sliwoski and Vince Sliwoski in particular, has been an integral part of our business since our founding days. Their professional legal services are the best in the business. We hold a tremendous amount of trust in their advice. We have worked with many members of Harris Sliwoski that are specialized in various legal subjects and have been impressed with them all. Whatever your legal need, Harris Sliwoski is there to provide avenues for success in your ventures. We highly recommend them.

– Raymond Furth, General Manager | Highland Provisions

Proven Expertise for Challenging Legal Issues

Find Vince Recently Featured In...

ALM Law logo.

Rising Silicon Valley Drug Use Puts GCs in Tough Spot

Vince Sliwoski in ALM Law

“Terminating a star employee—or any employee—based solely on the fact that the employee ingested a sub-perceptual amount of a psychedelic drug may not make business sense,”

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Psychedelic Access Pathways

Vince Sliwoski and Griffen Thorne in BrainFutures

An issue brief describing three psychedelic access pathways that are legal or semi-legal in the United States: medical, wellness, and religious access.

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Law 360 logo.

Cannabis Seed Importation Carries CBP Enforcement Risks

Vince Sliwoski and Adams Lee in Law360

Recently, a pair of large cannabis companies, MMJ International
Holdings Corp. and Global Cannabis Holdings, made waves by
announcing they had formed a partnership to import cannabis THC
products into the U.S.

The announcement did not identify the type of THC cannabis
products slated for import, or the legal strategy the companies would
pursue. However, many cannabis operators seem to be wondering
whether it is legal to import THC products — and specifically cannabis
seeds — into the U.S.

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Portland Business Journal logo.

The Psilocybin Economy: From Spore to Trip

Vince Sliwoski in Portland Business Journal

“When people try to model it out from a cash flow or business perspective, it seems like a harder way to make money than with cannabis, when you had retail sales and scalability and didn’t have an obligation to have someone sit with the client all day long,” Sliwoski said. “It’s going to be hard for a lot of people to figure out how to pencil it.”

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Lucid News logo.

Regulatory Hurdles Challenge Oregon Psilocybin Providers

Vince Sliwoski in Lucid News

Meeting land use requirements will also be a pressing concern for psilocybin entrepreneurs. Just leasing a space to provide psilocybin is going to be complex. Vince Sliwoski, a business lawyer, managing partner at the law firm Harris Sliwoski, and editor of the Canna Law Blog and the Psychedelics Law Blog, compiled a list of 10 things to consider about property leases for psilocybin businesses.

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Lucid News logo.

Psilocybin-assisted Therapy is Officially Legal in Oregon

Vince Sliwoski in Lucid News

Vince Sliwoski, a lawyer at the international law firm Harris Sliwoski and editor of the firm’s Psychedelics Law Blog, pointed out that the 200 public comments on psilocybin rule making submitted was “far from overwhelming.”

Sliwoski explained that this was consistent with “the phenomenon of interested parties having strong opinions about controlled substances programs (and government programs more generally), but declining to contribute to the record.” According to Sliwoski, the relative lack of comments about regulation also reflects “the fact that the regulated psilocybin industry in Oregon will be smaller than many people initially expected.” In other words, he believes that many in Oregon’s psychedelic underground are keeping their distance for now.

Other insights about the final rules that Sliwoski picked up on include the observation that outside parties still will not be allowed to be present when psilocybin is being administered. The rules about facilitators needing to call emergency services at the slightest sign of distress have also been loosened. “The rules have been amended to require service centers to adopt procedures for client emergencies, and to take mitigation steps prior to contacting emergency services,” said Sliwoski.

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Where is Psychedelic-assisted Therapy Legal?

Vince Sliwoski in DoubleBlind

The recent election has added some friction to the implementation of Measure 109. In November, more than twenty Oregon counties voted to opt out of (i.e., prohibit) the state’s psilocybin services program. Some of the counties’ bans are temporary; others are permanent. Still, according to attorney Vince Sliwoski, individual cities in Oregon can circumvent their county’s ban by going in a different direction. In other words: If a county opted out of Measure 109 this past November, a city within that same county could have voted to allow psilocybin services. The reverse is also true (i.e., a city can opt out even if its county opted in.)

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I Tried Microdosing Mushrooms For My Anxiety — Here's What Happened

Vince Sliwoski in The Zoe Report

“Decriminalization is where a state [or municipality] says we are going to move this to a very low law enforcement priority status,” says Vince Sliwoski, Managing Partner at Harris Sliwoski LLP, a firm that specializes in controlled substances work. “It’s treated somewhere on the misdemeanor continuum, [meaning] you’ll get a citation that’s almost tantamount to getting a parking ticket. So you’re still doing something that breaks the law, but it’s no longer a criminal law.”

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Reason logo.

Biden's Marijuana Pardons Did Not Free a Single Federal Prisoner or Deliver the Expungement He Promised

Vince Sliwoski in Reason

But for people who do not meet that law’s narrow criteria, expungement would require a new act of Congress. As Harris Sliwoski lawyer Vince Sliwoski notes, Biden’s proclamation “doesn’t expunge the underlying convictions at issue, or clear anyone’s record.” Sliwoski adds that “in many ways” the pardon recipients “find themselves in a similar spot today as prior to October 5,” because “they are still walking around as convicted criminals of record, and will be for the foreseeable future.”

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First Cannabis, Are Magic Mushrooms Next?

Vincent Sliwoski in EHS Today

However, the problem is that, despite the prohibited status of psychedelic drugs, people are continuing to ignore the law. “Microdosing is more widespread and popular than ever,” Sliwoski says. “This includes in business settings. It is well established that microdosing has been a trend in Silicon Valley for over a decade. This dynamic creates an awkward tension between business culture and practices, on one hand, and the law on the other.”

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Microdosing May Become a More Significant Leadership Issue

Vincent Sliwoski in SHRM Executive Network

“Microdosing is more widespread and popular than ever, including in business settings,” said Vincent Sliwoski, an Oregon-based managing partner at law firm Harris Sliwoski. He specializes in laws governing controlled substances. “It has been a trend in Silicon Valley for more than a decade, with Steve Jobs and Bill Gates acknowledging their use of psychedelic drugs. The dynamic creates an awkward tension between business culture and practices, on one hand, and the law on the other.”

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Reason logo.

Under Oregon's Proposed Rules, Legal Psilocybin Will Be All-Natural, Organic, and GMO-Free

Vincent Sliwoski in Reason

“Studies have shown that psilocybin therapy is effective in relieving emotional and existential distress at the end of life for 65-85% of terminally ill people in clinical trials, when administered properly,” Harris Sliwoski managing partner Vince Sliwoski notes on the firm’s Psychedelics Law Blog. “Many terminal patients cannot swallow….If OHA sticks to this ‘oral only’ stricture in the final rules—based on a restrictive reading of Measure 109 or for any other reason—you can expect some controversy and perhaps even legislative intervention.”

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STAT logo.

‘It’s not medical’: Oregon wrestles with how to offer psychedelics outside the health care system

Mason Marks and Vincent Sliwoski in STAT

“For better or worse, what inevitably happens is these rules will be copy and pasted to states around the country,” said Mason Marks, another member of the Oregon advisory board and lead of the Project on Psychedelics Law and Regulation at the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School. “It’s already happening.”

Vince Sliwoski, managing partner at Harris Sliwoski law firm, acknowledges as much in a blog post on the subject: “Unfortunately, there’s a residency requirement. Fortunately, it sunsets after two years. Cue the crazy business structures,” he writes. “Potential owners and investors should pay careful attention to what the OHA rules provide, and work with an experienced business lawyer used to grappling with these strictures.”

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Weed in the House!

Vince Sliwoski on Legal Talk Today

The House passed a Weed Bill but Marijuana is not legal under federal law… yet. Vincent Sliwoski from Harris Sliwoski explains.

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U.S. House Passes MORE Act

Vincent Sliwoski in Tacoma Weekly

Taking a close look at what the MORE Act will actually do for marijuana decriminalization, blogger Vince Sliwoski of international law firm Harris Sliwoski wrote that it will not legalize cannabis the way that people might think. Sliwoski notes that the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that the federal government cannot “commandeer” states by forcing them to enact laws in the federal interest. That’s true in the cannabis prohibition context, and it will also be true once the feds give a green light to cannabis, under the MORE Act or otherwise.

He writes: “The biggest point of confusion seems to be the idea that if the MORE Act passes, cannabis will become legal nationwide. It won’t. As a matter of federal law, yes, cannabis will be descheduled entirely. And not only that, but all federal marijuana convictions will be expunged – even the folks who were captured with many tons of cannabis in helicopters and submarines. But state laws will not be preempted in the least.

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US House passes historic bill to legalize marijuana at federal level, but Senate looms

Vince Sliwoski in Marijuana Business Daily

“What the MORE Act actually does is remove marijuana from control under the federal Controlled Substances Act while adding a 5% federal excise tax and tacking on key provisions like expungement for past marijuana convictions under federal laws. As with alcohol, there will be no federal business licensing element.”

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What’s Next for the Five States That Legalized Cannabis in the 2020 Election?

Vince Sliwoski in Cannabis Dispensary

Five more states implementing legal cannabis programs could signal a major tipping point at the federal level, agrees Vincent Sliwoski, attorney at Harris Sliwoski.

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Law 360 logo.

Oregon Pot Regulator Eases Licensing Rules To Clear Backlog

Vincent Sliwoski in Law360

“Buying and selling a cannabis business in Oregon has become a morass because it takes so long,” Harris Sliwoski attorney and cannabis law professor Vince Sliwoski told Law360 Thursday. “People are sitting on assets waiting for regulatory approvals. It’s frustrating.”

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Business Insider logo.

Lawyers who specialize in cannabis are eyeing the burgeoning psychedelics industry as companies studying magic mushrooms go public

Vince Sliwoski in Business Insider

“I would say we get calls on this stuff almost every week,” Vince Sliwoski, managing partner at Harris Sliwoski, told Business Insider. Harris Sliwoski is a boutique law firm that has been taking on cannabis clients since 2010. Recently, it’s taken on psychedelics clients as well.

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WeedWeek logo.

Federal Courts Are Undermining Cannabiz Contracts Attorney

Vince Sliwoski in WeedWeek

Vince Sliwoski, an attorney with the Harris Sliwoski law firm, theorized that federal courts are “sliding backward” in regards to honoring contracts involving cannabis companies. He cited several recent decisions to make the case that cannabis litigants might be better served in state courts.

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"Kamala Harris Is There": Biden Veep Pick Inspires Cautious Optimism from Cannabiz

Vincent Sliwoski in Green Entrepreneur

Vincent Sliwoski, a managing partner at law firm Harris Sliwoski, says Harris is more progressive on cannabis reform-now, at least-than Biden ever was.

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Hemp Businesses Eligible for Coronavirus Stimulus Package

Vincent Sliwoski in Ganjapreneur

“Under the CARES Act, small businesses can receive loans to cover payroll expenses, health care benefits, employee salaries, rent, utilities and interest on mortgage debt,” according to Vince Sliwoski of the law firm Harris Sliwoski.

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Marijuana, hemp businesses bolster commercial real estate

Vincent Sliwoski in United Press International

But cannabis properties can come with regulatory hassles, said Vince Sliwoski, a Portland, Ore., real estate attorney. Recreational cannabis was approved in Oregon in 2015.

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How the USMCA could pave the way for cannabis free trade

Vincent Sliwoski in The Globe and Mail

Once the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) takes effect as the new continental trade framework, Vince Sliwoski says descheduling cannabis in the U.S. will allow pot to cross international borders as easily as other commodities.

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Cannabis Business Times logo.

Dan's Gambit

Vince Sliwoski in Cannabis Business Times

“If you create something like Charlotte’s Web or some strain that is in extraordinarily high demand, and people want it everywhere and view you as having it locked down, then the IP could definitely be a revenue source,” says Vince Sliwoski, an intellectual property lawyer who manages Harris Sliwoski’s Portland office and teaches Cannabis Law and Policy at Lewis & Clark Law School. “Otherwise, licensees may be reluctant.”

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Oregon's top federal prosecutor reserving judgment on Sessions' pot memo

Vincent Sliwoski in Oregon Live | The Oregonian

Vince Sliwoski, a lawyer who advises Oregon marijuana businesses, said “it’s full speed ahead” for his clients.

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Portland Business Journal logo.

Josephine County's cannabis suit against Oregon should be dismissed, judge says

Vincent Sliwoski in Portland Business Journal

Writing on Cannalawblog.com on Monday, Portland cannabis attorney Vincent Sliwoski said Judge Clarke’s recommendation is “almost certain” to go through.

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Marijuana Moment logo.

Jury Acquits Marijuana Patient Who Admitted To Breaking Georgia Law

Vincent Sliwoski in Marijuana Moment

“Most people—and even many lawyers—are surprised to learn that juries are not required to follow the law,” Vince Sliwoski, an attorney at the Harris Sliwoski/Canna Law Group, wrote. “When a jury’s conscience takes over and tells it that someone does not deserve criminal punishment for his or her actions, regardless of the law, the jury can choose to acquit.”

Sliwoski offered an interesting, hypothetical scenario. What if a jury in federal court was tasked with deciding the fate of an individual charged for violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)?

“The possibility of jury nullification in a CSA case against a cannabis business is both fascinating and realistic.”

“It is realistic not just because of the favorable polling for cannabis nationwide, but also because these juries would be empaneled in jurisdictions that voted to legalize pot in the first place,” he wrote. “Imagine a hapless U.S. attorney being ordered to charge a popular cannabis farm in Humbolt County, California, which is America’s largest cannabis labor market.”

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Portland Business Journal logo.

Oregon cannabis regulators will hit pause on new licenses after June 15

Vincent Sliwoski in Portland Business Journal

One Portland cannabis law expert, Harris Sliwoski attorney Vince Sliwoski, saw Williams’ statements as “perhaps … a note to state regulators to consider capping licenses and/or canopy at some future date.”

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Inside the Williams Memo: What U.S. attorney's enforcement priorities mean for Oregon's cannabis industry

Vincent Sliwoski in Portland Business Journal

“It’s possible I’ve been working in this field too long to accurately perceive risk, but this seems close to a non-event for compliant businesses,” said Vince Sliwoski, a Portland-based attorney with Harris Sliwoski. His advice to those businesses: “Change nothing at all.”

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Legalised cannabis given makeover as students flock to study it

Vincent Sliwoski in The Telegraph

Vince Sliwoski, professor of cannabis law at Lewis & Clark Law School in Oregon, remembers that it took less than 10 minutes for the course to be fully subscribed.

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Oregon's US Attorney Suggests He Won't Step Up Marijuana Enforcement

Vincent Sliwoski in The Portland Mercury

“It’s kind of a careful statement, but I think it is a stay-the-course type of statement,” says Vince Sliwoski, a Portland cannabis industry attorney (and one of the contributors to the Merc‘s “Ask a Pot Lawyer” column).

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With Plans to Sell CBD Nationwide, Lucky’s Market Charts Legal Gray Area

Vincent Sliwoski in Leafly

“This is just about the grayest of gray areas as far as federal law and policy,” said Vincent Sliwoski, a cannabis law attorney and professor in Oregon, of CBD products.

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Oregon Public Broadcasting logo.

20 Years On, Oregon Still Imposes Strict Limits On Medical Claims For Marijuana

Vince Sliwoski in Oregon Public Broadcasting

Vince Sliwoski, a professor of cannabis law and policy at Lewis & Clark College, says such anecdotal advice is about the best sales staff can ask for right now — “at least within the confines of the law.”

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