At the Green Market Report Midwest Women’s Cannabis Business Summit in Chicago on Nov. 2, we recognized some of the stellar industry players with the GMR Midwest Women in Cannabis Awards.
The legal award went to S.L. Owens, co-founder of Law And The Fam LLC, and a vital force in driving legal and social equity initiatives within the Illinois cannabis industry.
Owens, a business and regulatory attorney with nearly 10 years in the field, said that identifying cannabis as a potential growth sector has been a key driver in her career trajectory.
“I have been expanding my practice into the cannabis industry this entire time,” Owens told Green Market Report. “Through market research and regulatory experience, I identified cannabis as an emerging market early on in my career, ahead of many seasoned lawyers. Having early adopter tenacity is what led me into an entrepreneurial path.”
Owens’ commitment to social equity forms the backbone of her professional philosophy. She founded Law And The Fam LLC with a mission to advance economic justice.
“My expertise is improving equity and access for marginalized and persecuted people to compete in highly regulated markets,” Owens said.
Her approach draws on historical parallels with other regulated industries, she said.
“My legal research and practice focus on how the legalization of an unlawful business market, like cannabis, is built on top of the skills, acumen, sacrifices, and incarceration of marginalized people, who then face the highest barriers to lawful entry,” Owens said. “Historically, disenfranchising regulatory landscapes are institutional with alcohol, tobacco, and gambling, as other examples.”
Owens’ efforts have affected Illinois cannabis policy, too. Through initiatives such as CannaTrep and Legit Pathways Academy, her work has opened up opportunities for those most affected by the war on drugs.
“With only 5% of attorneys in the U.S. being Black, my first biggest obstacle was obtaining a law degree and law license as a first-generation attorney, from a Chicago community heavily impacted by the war on drugs,” she said.
“My second biggest obstacle was taking control over the direction of my career, as a Black woman, to become a highly-skilled regulatory and business lawyer. These educational hurdles instilled in me the type of grit not taught in school,” she said. “My grit is why I am a fierce advocate, adversary, entrepreneur, and diplomat, in every room. Harnessing this level of fortitude comes from my life experience.”
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