When Matt called Terrance in the Fall of 2013, right after the 9th Circuit ruled against Matt's effort to find the prohibition of cannabis unconstitutional, Matt asked Terrance to go with him to the Emerald Cup in Sonoma County. Terrance was familiar with cannabis having been involved with a group of gay activists in San Francisco in the early 90’s, including Dennis Peron, trying to ensure access to medical cannabis for HIV and AIDS patients. However, Terrance spent most of the next two decades fighting to ensure the viability and growth of the night life industry in San Francisco. Terrance successfully led the effort to give jurisdiction over night life to a citizen’s commission, instead of the San Francisco Police Department, and served as that Commission’s first President. Meanwhile, Matt was deeply involved in cannabis activism, trying to figure out a new way to tackle the issue of legalizing cannabis.
Matt had known Terrance for years, through Mark Rennie, and they became closer when Terrance asked Matt to serve on the Board of CMAC, the California Music and Culture Association, in 2012. CMAC was the main vehicle for addressing ongoing night life and entertainment issues in SF. Matt knew that getting Terrance on board would be a game-changer.
Matt and Terrance drove up to Santa Rosa that December, 2013, and like many who saw for the first time what California’s cannabis industry had become, Terrance was astonished. An array of business enterprises, immunized from prosecution under CA law, displayed thousands of cannabis products, and numerous ancillary businesses provided logistical support and other services. Terrance instantly got it and over the next few months, Terrance and Matt planned how to move forward, starting what has become a strong and effective partnership.
What Matt and Terrance accomplished from 2014 to the present surprises even them and yet, what lies at the heart of their success is a unique and powerful synergy. Their skill sets are complementary and when coupled with their mutual values and ethics, the results are magical. From encouraging California Board of Equalization members to participate in the legislative process in 2015 (including an historic fact-finding tour of the Humboldt County cannabis industry with two Board Of Equilization members), which helped pass the MCRSA, to the formation of chapters of California Cannabis Voice, the PAC formed by Matt and Terrance to craft winning political tactics and strategies for the cannabis industry.
Their successes are numerous. For example, in Humboldt County, their PAC brought the community to a consensus on cannabis cultivation and environmental protection, breaking a legislative deadlock that had endured for years. In San Francisco, their PAC worked with members of the Board of Supervisors to obtain funding for a cannabis legalization taskforce. That taskforce’s recommendations will become the law in San Francisco. In Trinity County, their litigation and advocacy strategy forced the County to allow commercial cannabis cultivation for the first time in its history.
Matt and Terrance have had the opportunity to advise both large and small businesses, state and local politicians, and federal regulators on issues facing the cannabis industry. The networks they have fashioned throughout the communities they have served over the past 60 years of their combined experience in California has translated into an influential partnership.
Matthew Kumin Esq.
Matt began his law practice in 1995, having spent the previous nine years consulting with worker-owned businesses. His law practice integrated his passion for civil rights and his support for entrepreneurs; he spent time not only suing police and sheriffs departments throughout the state for violating citizens constitutional rights, but also counseled entrepreneurs about business and corporate law.
Once the policy and plain language of California SB 420 was passed in 2003, he began helping his clients form patients cooperatives. At this point, the number of cannabis operations exploded and Matt found himself well-positioned as the “go-to” guy for medical cannabis legal issues. Matt's past experiences - business consulting, cooperatives, and state and federal civil rights law - created a nexus of skills which helped Matt offer broad-based legal counseling to the burgeoning medical cannabis community.
Matt was the architect and designer of the first challenge to the government's draconian tax rules for medical cannabis operations in CHAMP v. Com’r. of the Internal Revenue Service , 128 T.C. No. 14 (May 2007, Laro, J.). He has also set up scores of cooperatives throughout the state of California while counseling clients in states throughout the Country including Colorado, New Mexico, Massachusetts, Illinois and Arkansas. Additionally, he has brought numerous civil rights actions against various cities and counties in California alleging that bans on cooperatives violate patients rights. He also speaks on panels nationally both to the general public and to attorneys regarding cannabis law, sustainable operations and best business practices.
Matt is a member of the National Lawyers Guild and the NORML legal Committee. He also has taught Legal Research and Writing and Labor and Corporations law as a part-time, Adjunct Professor since 1986 at Santa Clara Law School, Golden Gate Law School, Hastings College of the Law and New College of California Law School.
Matt has made pro bono and discounted legal services an important part of his practice since opening his law practice in 1995. He has also organized legal challenges. For example, Matt has personally raised over $100,000 to fund two different lawsuits challenging the federal government's restrictions on cannabis patients, including a constitutional challenge to the US Government in Sacramento Nonprofit Collective, et al. v. Eric Holder, et al. No. 12-15991.
Terrance Alan, political consultant
In 1992, Terrance Alan became an inadvertent cannabis activist after more than 150 SWAT, DEA, CHP and SFPD officer raided his home, and pinned him and his lover to the ground with guns in their faces. He had been growing medical marijuana for himself and Randal, his lover of 12 years, under the auspice of Prop P, which recommended marijuana as a treatment to stimulate appetite, reduce nausea and relieve pain. The needlessly aggressive arrest caught the attention of longtime activist (and author of Prop 215) Dennis Peron, who used their clear medical use to reduce the charges.
In 1995, Terrance organized a NYE arts party and Visual Aids fundraiser, in memorium for Randal who had recently died. Over 100 officers raided and abused the guests; so Terrance rallied and filed a class action suit, suing the SFPD. That lawsuit led to monumental policy change.
In 1996, driven by these intense personal experiences, Terrance helped found and create the nation’s first non-profit dispensary, CHAMP (Californians Helping to Alleviate Medical Problems), in 1996 after the passage of Prop 215.
In 2003, motivated by the SFPD’s arbitrary interpretations of the law, shutting down not only mainstay underground events, but also harassing the city’s largest nightclubs, Terrance organized a political movement creating the civilian Entertainment Commission, removing permitting for night clubs and special events from the police’s highly subjective hands. Terrance was appointed and elected the first President of the Commission and served proudly for 8 years.
In 2009, he founded the California Music and Culture Association (CMAC), bringing the voice of the patron and the purveyor to the legislation table, where he currently sits as an Executive Board Member.
In 2014, Terrance joined with Matt Kumin and others, to bring his longtime medical marijuana, political, legislative and trade association experience to California Cannabis Voice, a statewide Political Action Committee (PAC). The work of the PAC is credited with helping move the cannabis legalization agenda forward.
Ken Seligson, Consultant
Ken's path into the cannabis industry began 2 years ago, in 2015, when he started a chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Golden Gate University School of Law. Using the organization as a speaking platform, Ken was able to educate his fellow law students about the changes in the legal and political landscape surrounding cannabis normalization in California, and the implications these changes will have on the legal field.
In addition to the legal work Ken performs, Ken also works as a political consultant. In this capacity Ken assists the Chair of the San Francisco Cannabis State Legalization Task Force, Terrance Alan, in advising the Board of Supervisors, the Mayor, and other City departments on matters relating to the legalization of cannabis, following the adoption of the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Furthermore, Ken has expert knowledge of the proposed Medical Cannabis regulations.
Ken is the author of a law review note: "A Job for Congress: Medical Marijuana Patients’ Fight for Second Amendment Rights." Golden Gate University Law Review (Forthcoming, Fall 2017). This Note is a critique of the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Wilson v. Lynch, which held that medical marijuana cardholders forfeit their right to purchase firearms.
Aren Ash, Consultant
Aren holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from California State University, East Bay. His journey into the cannabis industry started as a member of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Golden Gate University School of Law. As a Law Clerk at the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office, he employed his statutory interpretation expertise and passion for justice to zealously advocate on behalf of clients. While serving as a judicial extern at the United States District Court for the Northern District of California, he observed the conflicts and relationships between federal law and state regulatory schemes regarding the cannabis industry.
Informed by his knowledge of the effects of laws and politics on the industry, Aren is constantly navigating the complex issues facing cannabis entrepreneurs on the local, state and federal level.