By: Ben Ari
As a part of my series about “5 things I wish someone told me when I first became an attorney”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dustin Robinson.
Dustin Robinson is the Founding Partner of Mr. Cannabis Law. Dustin is licensed in Florida as an Attorney, a Certified Public Accountant, and a Real Estate Agent. He focuses his practice on providing legal, accounting, financial, and business consultation to various businesses operating in the hemp, marijuana, and psychedelic industries.
Dustin is also the co-founder of Mr. Psychedelic Law — a 501(c)(4) focused on using medical and spiritual research to drive responsible legal reform in Florida for psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogens. Dustin has drafted Resolutions for psychedelic decriminalization for various cities in Florida and hopes to build a responsible legal framework in Florida for the commercialization of psilocybin mushrooms and other entheogens. Dustin has built a team at Mr. Psychedelic Law that consists of the top lawyers, lobbyists, doctors, scientists, and spiritual leaders in the state of Florida. Dustin — through Mr. Cannabis Law — also represents various psychedelic non-profits including Mind Army and Ketamine Fund.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit more. What is the “backstory” that brought you to this particular career path in Law?
Well, I kind of had a different path to starting my own law firm compared to most. Prior to law school, I obtained my CPA and worked at a Big Four accounting firm — Deloitte. After law school, I worked in Big Law — Holland & Knight. Then, I took a detour from law by transitioning to a more operational and entrepreneurial role helping run and build one of the top roofing-manufacturing-companies in the country — Tropical Roofing Products. Once I sold my interest in Tropical Roofing Products, I was looking for a venture that would utilize my diverse skill set as an entrepreneur, attorney, CPA, and licensed realtor, while also having an impact on the world.
A friend had a cannabis license and needed help doing a deal with another company that had a cannabis license in another state. I was able to assist with the transaction, utilizing my legal, accounting and real estate background. I found it fascinating the need to learn a completely new and emerging area of law — cannabis law — in order to successfully structure the transaction. I also found it interesting that my old law firm, Holland & Knight, wasn’t willing to represent companies in the cannabis industry due to the industry being federally illegal. There was a clear need in the market for a law firm that provided cannabis businesses with Big Firm-type of expertise, with a narrow focus on the cannabis industry. So, as an entrepreneur, I decided to fill that market void by starting my own law firm that exclusively focuses on the cannabis industry, Mr. Cannabis Law. Since then, my firm has expanded its focus to also include the psychedelic industry, which is one of the most emerging industries in the country. Working in these two industries fulfills my desire to always be challenged and my desire to have a positive impact on the world.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your law career?
I generally counsel cannabis companies to not use words in their name that indicate that they work in the cannabis industry because it causes challenges with banking, insurance, social media, etc. However, I purposefully called my firm “Mr. Cannabis Law” because I wanted to experience the challenges that are attached to having a company with the word “cannabis” in it, so that I can better counsel clients on overcoming those challenges. I found it interesting that Facebook and other social media sites were even more strict than some of the banks and insurance companies. For example, my Facebook page was taken down within 24 hours of it being live; and Instagram still periodically blocks my post. It is already hard enough to launch a new company, however, when you’re operating in the cannabis industry, you have to deal with whole a new set of challenges.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I recently launched a psychedelic division of my law firm that is focused on providing legal and business assistance for clients looking to launch companies in the psychedelic industry. For example, one company we are representing is KetaMD, which is a platform for virtual psychedelic-assisted therapy using ketamine. KetaMD is revolutionizing the way we address mental health in the United States. We also represent various non-profits in the psychedelic space, like Mind Army and the Ketamine Fund. Through this work, I have learned about the tremendous therapeutic value of psychedelics; and I’m excited to work through my own non-profit — Mr. Psychedelic Law — to push legal reform of psychedelics.
What are some of the most interesting cases you have been involved in? Without sharing anything confidential can you share any stories?
Due to attorney-client privilege, it’s hard to say much about cases in which I’ve been involved. However, what I can say is that I’ve represented various businesses in partnership disputes. Entering into a partnership is like entering into a marriage. Everyone enters the partnership with the best of intentions but oftentimes things go sideways. That’s why I counsel clients to really make sure they spend the money on legal fees on the front-end clearly outlining the rights, responsibilities, and obligations of the partners rather than spending the money on legal fees on the back-end once a dispute has arisen. Early in my career, I dealt almost exclusively with dealing with the disputes on the back-end. Now I spend more of my time on the front-end with structuring the transactions, which I enjoy more.
Which people in history inspire you the most? Why?
Gary Vaynerchuk is probably the person who has inspired me the most. He has a “no excuse” attitude towards business and life, but also preaches the importance of empathy. A piece of his advice that resonated with me and inspired me to start my law firm is: “There no longer has to be a difference between who you are and what you do.” While working at Big Law and Big Accounting, I conformed to fit the profile of a professional accountant or professional attorney with no individuality. Now, with my law firm, I’m able to truly be myself; advocate on the issues I believe in, and drive legal reform that will ultimately lead to a better world. My law firm and the services it provides are a clear reflection of who I am and what I believe in. I couldn’t imagine it any other way.
What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in law?
Find your purpose. A license to practice law provides you with opportunities in so many different areas. Do you want to lobby for legal reform? Do you want to represent the injured? Do you want to represent people who are arrested? Do you want to use your law degree to operate a business? Spend your first few years out of law school finding your purpose. And, once you’ve found your purpose, be hyper-focused on being the absolute best in that category.
If you had the ability to make three reforms in our judicial/legal system, which three would you start with? Why?
Deschedule marijuana, deschedule psychedelics, and provide social equity to those that were disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. This would improve society in the following ways: (1) it would significantly improve unemployment; (2) it would generate tremendous tax revenues to federal and state governments; (3) it would stimulate the economy; (4) it would allow further research to be done with these substances so that we can recognize their true therapeutic value; (5) it would right the wrongs of society through various social equity programs, including expungements and preferences within the industry; (5) it would allow humans to reclaim their inalienable right to determine their own relationship with nature; and (6) it would allow humans to reclaim their inalienable right to control their own mind and reach elevated states of consciousness.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I sit on various boards on non-profits and governmental bodies that all promote social equity and the use of improving health through the use of highly regulated substances. I am on the Board of Directors of Minorities for Medical Marijuana, where I assist with social equity legal reform and ensuring that the future of the cannabis and psychedelic industries is inclusive and equitable; I am on the Legal Committee of Florida Hemp Council where I helped set up one of the first minority hemp co-ops in the state of Florida; and I am on the Broward County Medical Marijuana Advisory Board where I’ve advocated for various rights for medical marijuana patients, including employment protections. I also founded Mr. Psychedelic Law, which is a non-profit with a mission to drive responsible legal reform for psilocybin and other psychedelic substances. Through the non-profit, we will improve mental health across the world and will restore some of the most basic of human rights.
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
Myself! My best coach is my personal voice. My personal voice creates stories, and those stories manifest the reality that I desire. Too many people create false narratives in their heads, which is self-perpetuating and creates a negative reality. A positive mindset will increase your productivity, improve your mood, and help you manifest the reality you desire for yourself. Once you’ve mastered the power of a positive mindset, you’ll be positively driven to think big and execute big.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or an example for each.
My brother is seven years older than me and is also an attorney. He and many of his other attorney friends have served as my mentors since the very beginning of my career. As a result, I was fortunate to receive plenty of solid advice from experienced attorneys when I first started. Here are 5 pieces of advice that I’ve found most helpful:
- Find mentors. Mentors can help you reach your full potential by helping you avoid common pitfalls and guiding you through the process. A good mentor will also hold you accountable.
- Find your purpose. This might take time and it will likely continue to evolve. But, once you know your purpose, you can achieve anything.
- Foster your relationships. In your first few years as an attorney, your value to your firm is mainly keeping your face in the computer. That was certainly the case for me. But don’t neglect the importance of relationships. As you get further in your legal career, your relationships will become your most valuable asset.
- Stay physically and mentally healthy. Law school breeds a competitive attitude where people develop the mindset that they can outwork the other students by making schoolwork the highest priority in life. When you’re young, you can maybe get away with not taking care of your physical and mental health. But life is a marathon, not a race. An unhealthy lifestyle is not sustainable. If you prioritize your physical and mental health, you will outperform your professional competition in the long run.
- You can manifest your future. You are in complete control of your life and your decisions. Adopt a positive mindset. Set goals. Believe you can achieve those goals. And go execute. Once you’ve realized you are in complete control of your destiny, you can start to manifest the future you desire.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
I would choose to go to breakfast with Mark Cuban. I’ve always admired Mark as an impact investor, a leader, a father, and an all-around solid citizen. Not only does he identify investments that earn a great ROI, he also identifies investments that have social impact (VOI). Mark has also been vocal about revolutionizing health care over the years. If I had breakfast with Mark Cuban, I believe he’d be on board with partnering so we can, together, change the world of health care.