Anne Van Leynseele – A Story of Success

·3-min read

Growing up in Southern California, Anne van Leynseele was always a confident and brave woman. With her Juris Doctor and an International Executive MBA, she is a consummate corporate cannabis lawyer. Before entering this field, Anne managed commercial transactions, business development of production and technology start-up entities, advised on process efficiency, defined stronger corporate communication strategies for many Fortune 100 companies, and did business management consulting in Sydney Australia.

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The path to becoming a Cannabis Lawyer

Anne’s journey took a turn when she found the health insurance world inefficient. While working full time at a top law firm and attending law school at night, her realization caused her to create a resource called “The Layperson’s Guide to Breast Cancer”. Based on her diverse work history,graduating with honors and this eye-catching document, she landed a four-year contract to serve as a federal attorney-advisor in Washington DC for Obama One. Her work there helped to reshape the country’s health care structure in the form of the “Affordable Care Act”.

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After the end of four exciting and impressive years, Anne moved back to the other Washington, the Evergreen State. While looking for a healthcare lawyer position with large firms, she got frustrated with the entrenched sexism at the big firms she applied to, which claimed that Anne was “intense and too assertive.” She learned that the federal Bureau of Reclamation was denying water rights to legally licensed cannabis growers. She was troubled by this news as the administration, with whom she worked for four years, was overreaching into state affairs and making the experiment in legalizing marijuana difficult for the legal Washington business. “That’s federalism run amok.” she quotes. Further investigation revealed to Anne that most of the attorneys practicing cannabis law were criminal lawyers.

Hence, she was inspired to leap into this new opportunity.

Start of Northwest Marijuana Law, later known as 7 Point Law

In May 2014, Anne founded her own law firm, NWMJ Law, also known as Northwest Marijuana Law. She decided to focus exclusively on cannabis business clients. In the beginning, her firm consisted of her cell phone, a laptop, her car, and Anne herself. She criss-crossed the state, speaking at events large and small; speaking on topics such as full disclosure to county officials for permits, the banking dilemma, vetting investors,and the importance of good accounting and formation documents. Her client base grew in no time. Within one year, she was represented 118 clients all across Washington state and by 2017, she represented a quarter of Washington’s legal cannabis industry. During those early days, Anne was instrumental in creating new ways of organizing cannabis companies and provided advice to owners on minimizing their risk in this volatile new industry.

Currently, her practice focuses on the regulatory compliance, expansion, and exit strategies for domestic and trans-national cannabis, CBD, and hemp companies and providing legal counsel to national and international non-cannabis businesses seeking entry to the cannabis space. Even though her work quickly matured, Anne still views each client’s legal needs through a commercial lens and the expanding global supply chain. She became a trusted legal tactician and strategic business advisor to her clients, while vigilantly identifying potential risks and emerging opportunities. As a result, her clients benefit from her years of cutting-edge experience in this evolving industry. She is currently writing a much anticipated memoir on the early days of legal cannabis, which will be published before the end of 2021.

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