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Finding success in the cannabis industry

by Sarah Bello,

Gabriel Parton Lee JD'16 anticipated going into labor and employment law after graduation, but in 2018, his career took what could only be described as a "wild" turn.

While he talks about his job for a "fancy food processor," working for a cannabis edibles company is certainly a change from analyzing workers' compensation claims. 

Gabriel Parton Lee
Gabriel Parton Lee JD’16

He never thought he would take an in-house counsel role, let alone for a company specializing in weed-enhancing gummies. But when the opportunity was offered, he couldn't pass it up. 

Parton Lee is general counsel for Wyld, the largest cannabis edible producer in the country. He started working for the company when it employed about 40 people. Since then, the number of employees has grown to about 800. Products are available in eight states and Canada, and Wyld now has its own CBD brand, too. 

Parton Lee's responsibilities have grown along with the company. He runs the legal and compliance departments, assists with licensing, completes expansion-based work for new states and areas, manages risk and oversees internal contracts. 

With one other in-house attorney, he balances work advocating for the company, as well as making business decisions. Although he wishes he took more transactional courses, he says the professors at Willamette Law prepared him well. He uses knowledge from courses in administrative law, federal courts, contracts, and labor and employment law on a daily or weekly basis. 

While he initially saw himself helping his community through work at a state agency, he now enjoys seeing Wyld improve lives. 

"I think my favorite part is seeing the business grow or opening up a new facility," he says. "When we do that, we hire 50-75 people, pay everyone really well and offer people a huge step up while doing something unique, innovative and new for the world. I love that idea of giving opportunities wherever we go and building new relationships in every state." 

Despite the stigma surrounding cannabis, he hopes his work moves both the industry and the world toward a better future. 

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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