Simply speaking, Ariel Clark is a visionary. In 2008, when the idea of a cannabis business attorney was routinely considered an oxymoron, she dedicated her practice to this emerging industry. Since then, she has not only seen but helped guide the historic cultural and legal shift regarding cannabis. Be it protecting her clients’ rights or offering key legislative advice to governmental agencies, her intelligence, charisma, and tenacity has earned her a national reputation as one of cannabis’ most fierce and fair-minded advocates.
Over the years, Ariel has guided her clients through the ever-changing and complex labyrinth of rules, laws, and regulations governing medical and adult-use cannabis. These clients include licensed dispensaries, growers, and manufacturers in California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Nevada, Colorado, Illinois, and Michigan.
Her recent activities in California, her home state, is a case in point. California is estimated to contain 49% of the entire national cannabis market. But, to say the least, it is a fragmented market, with 58 counties and 482 cities, all demanding separate attention. Thus, in her efforts to help her clients develop complex political strategies, obtain permits and licenses under medical and adult use, set up proper corporate and business structures for their long-term success, and interface with essential local and state officials, she has had to develop a sensitivity not just to the state as a whole, but to the local communities that are determining the cannabis landscape.
This experience has been particularly visible in Los Angeles. By all accounts both the biggest and most chaotic urban cannabis market in the world, Ariel founded and became the Chair of the Los Angeles Cannabis Task Force. Dedicated to finding a workable alternative to Prop D, the Task Force’s mission included establishing fair regulations for each of the cannabis industry’s various components, protecting and promoting diversity of the cannabis industry, and creating an economic climate in which everyone, from the government to the citizenry, benefits.
Against considerable odds, the Task Force raised awareness through an aggressive grassroots organization and a series of Town Halls. As documented by the Los Angeles Times, this effort has led to the Task Force working directly with the City of LA in the ongoing effort to develop effective rules for permitting, zoning, and other regulatory issues.Ariel earned her Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (BoaltHall), and was awarded a Bachelor of Arts degree with honors from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is an active member of the National Cannabis Bar Association, California State Bar, and the Beverly Hills Bar Association. She serves on the board of California NORML, the policy committee of the California Grower’s Association, and is a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and the California Cannabis Industry Association.
Prior to founding Clark Neubert LLP, Ariel captained her own solo firm, which she started after practicing Indian law with California Indian Legal Services in their Oakland, Santa Rosa, and Eureka offices. This experience, as well as her personal background, has proven invaluable to the Indian nations and Indian-owned cannabis businesses the firm now represents.
Ariel is frequently asked to speak at various conferences and events and is regularly interviewed by the media, eager to find some clarity on issues such are racial and gender diversity in the cannabis industry, banking challenges, and often confusing and contradictory regulations. With the unmistakable authenticity of someone who has been in the trenches long before it was fashionable, she never disappoints.