I, Mary Shapiro, am an experienced attorney specializing in cannabis trademark and consumer protection law. A former client of legal services, my focus is on protecting and exploiting the value of a client’s intellectual property, in a practical and efficient manner, including cannabis brand and technology licensing to allow growth into more than one state/country. I began counseling non-plant-touching cannabis clients in 2005 and plant-touching clients in 2009. My firm, Evoke Law, provides pro bono legal assistance to Marijuana Policy Project, Americans for Safe Access, California Cannabis Industry Association, and the International Cannabis Bar Association.
After a twenty-year career in book publishing, I began practicing law in 1999 at Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP and launched a solo practice in 2009, continuing day-to-day work in clearing, filing, prosecuting, and enforcing trademarks. I have since federally registered marks for many cannabis businesses, though none for cannabis products, due to the federal prohibition to registering such marks. In 2016, I expanded and rebranded the firm to Evoke Law PC, and at about that same time, I made a commitment to change the California practice prohibiting registration of cannabis trademarks at the state level. Working with CCIA, Brand & Branch, and NCBA, we accomplished this goal in 2018.
In addition to my service as a founding member of the INCBA and as one of its first lifetime members, I have served on two other non-profit boards (Small Press Distribution (as president) and Precita Mural Arts Association). Since 2015, I have been an important contributor to the growth of the INCBA as one of its “super-volunteers.” I regularly attend board meetings and offer sound advice regarding governance issues. My passion is Continuing Legal Education, and I have consistently assembled panels and webinars on topics of interest to INCBA members. I was a key player in developing the inaugural Cannabis Law Institute in 2017 in Denver, a force in bringing in Canadian presenters, the Chair the CLE Committee in 2018, and I am now co-chair the International Committee for 2019. In this role, I was instrumental in leading the NCBA into international waters. I actively participated in the rebranding of NCBA to INCBA, as well as in recruiting an international committee and helping guide our international launch in Berlin (during ICBC) and in Israel (during CannaTech). I am currently working on our Canadian launch at MJ Biz Toronto and, with the International Committee, planning an international pre-conference to the annual Cannabis Law Institute in October 2019. Additionally, I have made valued introductions for INCBA to businesses that have supported and continue to support INCBA financially.
I’d like to continue to serve the NCBA for another term and participate in the transition with a new board. You may remember that I said the same thing last year, but I was randomly selected for only a one year term -- I’d very much like to finish the transfer of institutional knowledge -- going back to the inception of the organization in 2015.