How cannabis helped one California attorney fulfill her potential, and is leading to her next great adventure: Medical school
Captivating minds in the courtroom and when marching in the streets, Kyndra Miller has been a quiet, fiery force behind the cannabis industry, blazing trails in the courtroom and activating women and others along the way. She is in part responsible for NORML Women’s Alliance independence from NORML, and she’s shared with us a big announcement from the Women’s Alliance coming out later this month (more on that below).
Her successful law firm, Cannabusiness Law represents brands and businesses to protect assets, write contracts and defend them in court, and she works with Tony Serra at Pier 5 Law Office. Kyndra has a warm demeanor and playful sense of humor in her off-hours, but litigating in the courtroom is where she truly shines. To learn more about this cannabis attorney and activist, we sat down to chat about what drives her work:
Emerald Magazine: What makes you passionate about the cannabis industry?
Kyndra Miller: Cannabis and I have had a long-time relationship. I was introduced to cannabis as a teenager, and I’ve never looked back! (Laughs) I grew up on the peninsula in Northern California and it was part of the fabric of my youth, part of my coming of age. Cannabis really helped me with physical ailments but also spiritual stability. I realized I could succeed with this source despite what the propaganda said.
The reason why I’m passionate about cannabis is because from menstruation to menopause, cannabis has been my best friend. It helped me survive undergraduate school with honors. I passed the California State Bar the first time. As an adult middle-aged woman of 44, it has helped me with menopause. When my doctor told me that I went through early menopause – I thought to myself “Was I so stoned that I went through menopause without realizing it?!”
Cannabis allows me to fulfill my professional creative dreams, and now it’s motivated me to go to medical school. I’m going to spend the next 3 years getting clients through the initial phase of legalization, and then I will go to medical school to study women’s health and the endocannabinoid system. I’ve heard the uterus is covered in CB1 receptors and there is a lot of potential there.
Emerald: You petitioned for the NORML Women’s Alliance to be independent — what is the alliance’s big upcoming news?
KM: I did petition the board of directors to allow the Women’s Alliance to become a separate 501(c)3 nonprofit several years ago. I am grateful to the NORML Board of Directors for all of their support throughout the years! Good news for early 2017! We are announcing in the next month the launch of our mediation and arbitration services for California. There is a panel of judges and retired attorneys who are committed to helping resolve disputes outside of the court system for the cannabis industry statewide. Mediation services are needed in the cannabis industry right now – and from people who know the industry and the legal system.
Emerald: How have the NORML Women’s Alliance’s goals changed from when it started to now?
KM: In 2007-2008, after I opened up Cannabusiness Law, I needed an organization I could align with, and so that I could be marching with the people as necessary. I was introduced to this organization called NORML Women’s Alliance, which was a part of NORML. I am a feminist and I believe in women’s rights, and I’m not afraid to say it. There was an amazing article about women in cannabis around that time called “Stiletto Stoners,” and there were pictures of beautiful women in the magazine article. I felt that I could be a part of this group and bring some diversity as well.
I contacted Sabrina Fendrick at the NORML office in D.C. and congratulated her on the article. I told Sabrina that there was just one thing missing – my black face! Luckily, she laughed. We bonded and she invited me to join the alliance. I was later elected on to the NORML Board of Directors and I’ve been on the board for the last several years. It’s my goal to activate all women! Women make the best activists because they love to talk. I was totally embraced by NORML.
To distinguish the alliance from Women Grow, they’re a great organization to help women connect and network. I’m so proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish. NORML Women’s Alliance is more like NORML: we are primarily a consumer protection organization, helping people at the local level fight. My dream is to one day have funds to take cases for women in need. The mission is still the same, but it’s not growing as fast as I had hoped.
Emerald: What are your other big projects?
KM: Currently in the Eastern District federal court, I have a pending lawsuit against Siskiyou County, Sheriff Jon Lopey and other county officials — I’m very proud of this case because it is a blend of civil rights with voting rights and unlawful search and seizure. Essentially, the sheriff was targeting Asians and unlawfully abating their cannabis plants. Even worse, earlier this year he went around to the homes of several Asian families a week before the primary and told them that they could not vote.
I am also in the collective of attorneys with Tony Serra at Pier 5 Attorneys. Working with him, I sit at the foot of the master. I am so blessed to know him and to be able to learn from him. He took a vow of poverty in the ‘60s and he takes a lot of pro bono cases. He agreed to represent the master tenant of the Oakland fire and I am working with him on that case. I’m proud to be so closely associated with someone who remembers the duty of an attorney, to protect the community.
Emerald: Do you enjoy being in the courtroom?
KM: It’s my favorite place to be. It’s my stage. I was a childhood actress and then I decided I didn’t want to act. Now I write my script, and it’s done in the form of a lawsuit. I perform the part and my audience is the judge or the jury.
I love the battle. I love to go in the ring. I love to fight. I am a civil litigation attorney and a corporate attorney. Most of the attorneys in this space have been criminal defense attorneys because that’s where the war was being waged, but now it’s business and corporate law. This is a very exciting time for me!
I get to focus 100% on my professional life. No distractions of husband and children. It’s why I love it — I created it.
For more information on NORML Women’s Alliance, visit NormlWomensAlliance.org