Story by Michael S. Hagar
When it comes to marijuana and the law there are arguably few individuals as knowledgeable and actively involved as Leland R. Berger of Portland, OR. A native of Oregon with over 31 years of legal practice under the belt, Berger is simply the most experienced NORML Legal Committee (NLC) lawyer that the state has to offer.
Berger’s journey through higher education started at Dickinson College, Carlisle, PA where he received a BA in Political Science and a minor in American Studies in 1978.
Soon after completing his undergraduate studies Berger returned to Portland, OR and enrolled in the Northwestern School of Law at Lewis & Clark College and proceeded to graduate in 1982 with a Juris Doctor Degree or JD.
Upon successfully completing law-school and passing the Oregon State Bar Exam, Berger began his career by clerking for five criminal defense lawyers and soon after became an associate attorney at Oregon’s first privatized indigent defense firm known as “Rieke, Geil and Savage, PC” for approximately a year. For nearly the next decade Berger held a private practice from a home office before becoming the sole-member of his new business “Oregon CannaBusiness Compliance Counsel, LLC” in 2014 aided by his Legal Assistant and Office Manager Leia Flynn.
During his time in Oregon Berger received a number of awards and recognitions for his work including “Freedom Fighter of the Month” by High Times Magazine in 2000, the “President’s Award” from the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, the “Citizens Activist Award” from NORML and last but not least the “Lifetime Achievement Award” granted by the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association. It is also noted that Berger played a hand in the drafting of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, Measure 91 and lobbied for and against specific reforms included in Oregon’s SB844.
Currently he focuses mainly in business law, but is also heavily active within marijuana defense and criminal appellate law as well. As long as marijuana prohibition remains Berger has vowed to defend those charged with cannabis related crimes and to continue working on state criminal appellate work. Berger is also a frequent lecturer and avid public speaker who has been featured at events held by NORML, Seattle Hempfest, the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association, etc. and has even been known to show up impromptu events aimed at protesting injustice.