Barry Grissom, a former U.S. Attorney for the District of Kansas who was practicing at Polsinelli until earlier this year, has joined Electrum Partners, an advisory services firm concentrating on the cannabis industry.
Grissom said he was recruited to Electrum by its chairman, Leslie Bocskor, who was seeking someone to help with public policy issues. He will be senior vice president of global policy and corporate counsel at the Las Vegas-based company, which helps cannabis-related ventures secure financing and advises them on government relations, marketing, distribution and other issues.
“As a former federal prosecutor who wholeheartedly supports law enforcement, I found cannabis prohibition to be anti-law enforcement,” Grissom said.
Grissom said he thought resources directed at matters involving cannabis could better serve law enforcement if routed differently, given his view that cannabis is “something that is not harmful to individuals.”
President Barack Obama appointed Grissom as U.S. attorney for Kansas in 2010, and he served in that capacity until 2016. He was also part of U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s 15-member advisory committee on matters of administration and policy.
Upon leaving government, Grissom joined Polsinelli as a shareholder in Kansas City. He remained there as part of the firm’s white-collar defense and government investigations and compliance practices until making his exit earlier this year.
Grissom said while Polsinelli was a great place to work, it couldn’t match the level of satisfaction he got from serving as U.S. attorney. In redirecting his energy and attention toward Electrum, he said, “I get that feeling again.”
He has wound down his work for previous clients and said he is singularly focused on Electrum’s existing clients and on developing new ones. Grissom has already visited Washington, D.C., to push for legislative reform on cannabis prohibition, but said he views the matter as an issue best left to individual states to remedy through legislation.
While individual states may continue to address the issue through ballot referenda and legislation, Grissom is likely to find more prominent allies in Washington than at any time in recent memory. U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer made waves earlier this year when the New Yorker leading Senate Democrats announced he would put his name on legislation directed at “decriminalizing” marijuana. Some Republicans are pulling for pot too, including former House Speaker John Boehner, a Squire Patton Boggs senior strategic adviser, who joined the board of cannabis investment firms at Acreage Holdings earlier this year.