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Jul. 20, 2022

Shay Aaron Gilmore

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The Law Office of Shay Aaron Gilmore

After years of practice in commercial and insurance law, Shay Aaron Gilmore was ready for a new venture. The suggestion, in 2017, came from his husband: California was about to legalize the adult use of cannabis. Wasn’t there some work to be done there?

“I consulted with a longtime friend,” Gilmore said, naming Ryan D. Lowther, the founder of the cannabis industry practice group at Farella Braun + Martel LLP in 2016. “I took him out for drinks and asked if it wasn’t too late to get into the field. He said, ‘Too late? They haven’t even written the regulations yet.’”

Gilmore launched his new practice, The Law Office of Shay Aaron Gilmore, on Jan. 1, 2018, the day that recreational use became lawful. “I found that 58 counties and 432 cities all were suddenly able to write their own rules, so there was a lot to do,” he said. “I could see it was going to be a real mess that would take the power of the California bar to get marijuana off the ground in a socially equitable and environmentally sustainable way.”

With Lowther, he founded the cannabis law section of the Bar Association of San Francisco. At meetings and industry events, he found clients in need of general counsel, commercial contracts, corporate transaction and governance advice, and regulatory compliance work. Gilmore currently represents dispensary and cannabis delivery service Smoakland, herbalist handcrafters Humboldt Apothecary, cannabis distributor Highway 1 Distribution and grower Humboldt Tastebud.

“My business tends to rise and fall with the cannabis industry, and I see a bright future for cannabis in California,” Gilmore said. To remove one roadblock, he’s on a committee of the California Cannabis Industry Association that works with State Sen. Steven Bradford, a Los Angeles Democrat, on cannabis tax reform issues.

Bradford has pressed for eliminating the cultivation tax and lowering the excise tax. Both measures, contained in AB 195, were signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom on June 30.

“There’s been a lack of statewide equity in permits and fees,” Gilmore said. “There’s a lot of work for lawyers to do.”

In his transaction work, Gilmore, in June 2022, closed a deal as acquirer counsel for a Northern California delivery retailer’s buy of a cannabis manufacturer’s assets. That month he also closed a transaction for private investment in a Santa Cruz area commercial cannabis distributor.

In May 2022, he moderated a panel for the Alameda County Bar Association’s Cannabis & Hemp Law Section.

“I love the work,” Gilmore said.

– John Roemer


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