James Anthony was a nuisance prosecutor for Oakland, CA from 2003-05. During that time he prosecuted problem properties such as slumlords, pollution, blight, liquor stores, and drug houses. Simultaneously, Oakland was moving to regulate its burgeoning medical cannabis dispensaries, while Anthony in his free time was becoming involved in drug policy reform. In 2004 he was a volunteer for Measure Z, Oakland’s lowest law enforcement priority initiative policy for marijuana modeled after Seattle’s Initiative 75.
In January 2006 Anthony left the Oakland City Attorney’s office and went into private practice working exclusively in medical cannabis. Dispensaries were popping up all over the state after the passage of California’s SB 420 authorized them. Some city attorneys were attempting to close them as nuisance and Anthony was ideally qualified to defend them. Other cities were moving to regulate and license them, San Francisco and Oakland amongst them. Anthony assisted applicants in obtaining such licenses (most notably Harborside Health Center in Oakland). His practice continued in that vein until the first Obama presidential term. In the euphoria of 2009, amid speculation that widespread acceptance of cannabis was on the horizon, Anthony formed CannBe, the nation’s premiere cannabis consulting firm. CannBe’s principals consisted of Anthony; Steve DeAngelo of Harborside; Don Duncan, California Director of Americans of Safe Access and West Hollywood dispensary operator; Erich Pearson, President of a San Francisco dispensary; and Robert Jacob, Executive Director of a dispensary in Sebastopol, CA, where he is now Vice Mayor.
CannBe operated successfully for over two years with 17 clients, three million dollars in contracts and a payroll of 40 employees. CannBe was active in dozens of California’s 538 local governments (all of which it tracked) and in New Jersey, Arizona, Rhode Island, and the District of Columbia. It closed in early 2011 after the federal crackdown on medical cannabis in California dampened the market’s enthusiasm, and financing—among other things—became impossible. At that point Anthony returned to his law practice while also offering consulting services, now under the auspices of PATH Consulting.