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Expert Lawyer, NBPA Exec Michele Roberts Joins Cresco, Had Eye On Cannabis 'For 10 Years'

Expert Lawyer, NBPA Exec Michele Roberts Joins Cresco, Had Eye On Cannabis 'For 10 Years'

Cresco Labs (CSE: CL) (OTCQX: CRLBF), which has been paving the way in cannabis across major markets, including OhioIllinois, and Pennsylvania, recently deepened its bench by welcoming longtime trial lawyer Michele Roberts to its board of directors.

Roberts, who has been serving as Executive Director at the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) since 2014, became the first female — and the first person of color — on the board of the Chicago-based company. Previously she was with the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.

In March, the NBPA's Executive Committee said it has begun searching for Roberts' successor, while she changed course and ventured into the cannabis industry.

Roberts previously stated that she plans to work on "advancing Cresco Labs' distinctive brands of high-quality products and services, particularly those focused on the promise held by medicinal cannabis to treat conditions and illnesses where more traditional protocols have not met the patients' needs."

Benzinga followed up with Roberts, who is known for advocating changes to the NBA's marijuana policies. Here's what she had to say.

BZ: What initially motivated you to enter the cannabis industry?

Roberts: I have, for several years, "stalked" new and emerging industries as both a matter of personal interest and because of the potential they offer communities who have historically had limited participation in established industries. Cannabis has had my attention for the past ten years. 

Cresco's impressive growth, together with its commitment to promote the participation of communities of color in this space, kept my attention.

Many current and former NBA pros — Isiah Thomas and Al Harrington, for example — advocate for CBD and cannabis use. Did you make any earlier attempts to advocate for reforming NBA's marijuana policies?

Having watched the growing number of jurisdictions electing to decriminalize cannabis, I anticipated that banning its personal use in professional sports would soon end. I was wrong. Sports — because of its skittishness relative to performance-enhancing drugs — has moved slowly towards distinguishing cannabis from those substances appropriately concerning. Our Union has agitated, with some success, for the loosening of restrictions on cannabis use. My prediction is that these restrictions will likely be lifted within the next one to two years.

What are your thoughts on Shams Charania's recent tweet, that NBA and NBPA agreed to carry out performance-enhancing drug testing during resumed 2019-20 season in Orlando?

We encouraged the decision to confine all drug testing to performance-enhancing drugs during the restart.

What current cannabis industry trends do you think will play out for the second half of 2020?

I hope that the increased attention being paid to cannabis' medicinal benefits will flourish. Patients/consumers should be provided with alternatives to so-called "traditional" treatments where cannabis has demonstrated its efficacy.

Any plans regarding the company's Social Equity & Education Development (SEED) Program?

Succinctly put, I plan to do all I can to help make it the gold standard in our industry – perhaps for all industries serious about diversity and inclusion.

Do your skills and experience as a well-known trial lawyer come in handy at the board level?

Trial lawyers — successful trial lawyers — necessarily appreciate the full breadth of the issues they are tasked to resolve. Familiarity with each side's case and their strengths and weaknesses, an assessment of the alternative courses of action, an ability to synthesize and simplify complicated facts, and, ultimately, communicate effectively with relevant stakeholders (most importantly the jury). While there will be no jury to address in this role, each of these other skill sets should come in rather handy.

What do you hope to accomplish within the next year?

Principally, learn all I can about Cresco's operations and meet and speak with staff at all levels — a necessary first stage.


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