Ellie Siegel SBC’06, CLAW’06


Nick Romanenko

Medical marijuana is now available in 33 states and adult use is legal in 11 states and Washington, D.C. Inspired by this availability and the benefits it can bring to organizations, businesses, and individuals, Philadelphia-based attorney Ellie Siegel is helping others navigate their way in the rapidly changing cannabis industry.   

Siegel SBC’06, CLAW’06 became interested in the industry when she learned of the difficulties patients in the Northeast faced in obtaining medical marijuana. After observing “medical refugees” traveling to Colorado to get much needed relief, “despite living in a part of the country that has some of the most sophisticated hospitals and medical practices,” Siegel began studying legal cannabis markets for both medical and adult use. What she learned made her passionate about growing the industry closer to home.

Siegel is now the CEO of Longview Strategic, a consulting firm that works with nonprofits, ancillary service providers such as accountants and lawyers, and licensed operators on matters relating to cannabis-based business. In New Jersey, she recently helped several clients apply to become licensed medical marijuana operators. With the state's Department of Health issuing only a limited number of licenses, the field is highly competitive. Siegel and her colleagues assisted with managing the fast-paced process, writing portions of the applications, and coordinating submissions materials.   

But her role with the consulting firm constitutes just one of the many hats Siegel wears. She is also a principal and host with Accelerate Cannabis, an educational and networking event series that connects cannabis experts with individuals in the community and those interested in becoming part of the emerging workforce. In 2016, she and Heather Carmody CLAW’03 formed Carmody Siegel, a boutique corporate law firm in Philadelphia. 

RUTGERS MAGAZINE: How does your cannabis-related consulting work differ from the work you do through your law firm?

ELLIE SIEGEL: The consulting firm does work that doesn’t require legal reasoning, and we’re able to work with clients in jurisdictions all over the country and internationally. It’s a far less expensive operation, so I can pass that benefit along. At the law firm we do advise on legal matters pertaining to the cannabis industry, but we are also a general corporate practice.

RM: Federal law still prohibits cannabis use. How does this affect operators and clients in the states where medical marijuana is legal?

ES: The Obama administration issued a document called the Cole Memo that essentially said that [the government] would not go after any business that is operating legally within its state law framework. Under the current administration there are limited protections that serve the same purpose.

RM: Can you explain your commitment to leveling the playing field in the cannabis industry?

ES: Emerging industries attract large investment and, as a result, the cannabis industry is mostly owned by white men. Various state regulators have done their part in ensuring future equity will be shared, but combating generational and institutional white wealth is not an easy task. Stigmas apply differently to different races, but the real barrier to entry is in licensing and ownership. Legalized cannabis cannot ignore decades of unfair enforcement and the serious harm done to families of color due to cannabis prohibition. Equity ownership is one key component to fixing these wrongs

RM: What preparation did your Rutgers education give you for the work you do today?

ES: While in law school, I wondered if traditional law practice would be the right fit for me. Associate dean Camille Andrews advised me to do the joint degree [telling me] “it will make you capable of working with folks in ways you can’t even envision right now.” And she was right. It changed my trajectory in a significant way.

RM: How do you view your role in the cannabis industry?

ES: My goal is to develop a responsible, sustainable industry that expands access to cannabis, enables medical research, and engages a community of diverse groups of people.