Attorney Blake M. Mensing is The Mensing Group LLC’s Founder and Chief Counsel and brings a no-nonsense approach to cannabis law in Massachusetts. Blake earned a B.A. in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (2005), a J.D. from American University Washington College of Law (2010), an M.A. in International Affairs with a concentration in Global Environmental Policy from American University School of International Service (2010), and an LL.M. in Environmental Law from the George Washington University Law School (2011), where he was a Randolph C. Shaw Graduate Environmental Fellow. While in law school, Blake served as the Senior Note and Comment Editor of the International Law Review and as the Co-Editor-in-Chief of Sustainable Development Law & Policy. Blake received the Dean’s Award for Professional Responsibility for exemplifying proficiency in skills and the highest ethical standards of the profession for his work in American University Washington College of Law’s nationally recognized General Practice Clinic.
Blake was admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 2010 and his legal experience includes transactional real estate, consumer protection litigation, environmental law, and municipal law. In his capacity as associate town counsel for seven towns throughout the Commonwealth, Blake has written and edited zoning and general bylaws, advised boards of selectmen on medical marijuana dispensary regulation by the Department of Public Health, worked with planning boards and zoning boards of appeal, and represented municipalities before the Massachusetts courts and administrative regulatory agencies. As a former Conservation Commissioner for the Town of Holliston, Blake was one of the local regulators charged with enforcing both the state’s Wetlands Protection Act and the town’s wetlands bylaw. Blake brings his legal and local skills to every interaction with state and local officials, which, when coupled with affability and honesty, helps to make him a different kind of lawyer.
Bar Admissions: Commonwealth of Massachusetts and U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
Check out Blake M. Mensing’s Super Lawyers listing here.
Blake was also named the 2022 New England Cannabis Convention’s Massachusetts Cannabis Activist of the Year.
James A. Valeriani, Esq.
Jim has been involved in real estate and land use law for over 20 years. Prior to joining Mensing Group in January of 2020, he provided legal services to a national wireless cellular carrier for real estate, land use and environmental matters throughout New England, primarily in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. He transfers his real estate and land use experience in the siting of wireless facilities to marijuana establishments of all types throughout Massachusetts. The development of wireless industry spurred a frenzy of municipal moratoriums and the municipal implementation of strict zoning laws in response to the new and rapid growth, and now the cannabis industry is facing the same challenges. Jim presents petitions that often encounter opposition and is well versed in identifying the issues and concerns that are likely to be raised by nearby property owners and municipalities.
Jim served eight years on his town’s zoning board of appeals and has extensive experience appearing before municipal boards and commissions including city councils and town select boards, zoning and planning boards, conservation and historic commissions, and neighborhood and civic groups. He has practiced real estate law for over 20 years and provides leasing, conveyancing and due diligence services to our clients.
Jim is licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut.
Cristina Buccola, Esq.
Cristina serves as Counsel to The Mensing Group LLC and brings an unparalleled breadth and depth of knowledge to the table. Cristina is an attorney, advisor, and advocate who helps her clients build and sustain viable cannabis and hemp enterprises.
As the founder of Cristina Buccola Counsel PLLC, she is retained by entrepreneurs, institutional and private investors, farmers, consumer products and tech companies, artists, media outlets, and not-for-profit organizations. Cristina advises on transactional matters and investment opportunities, designs brand/IP protection and licensing programs, develops strategic ventures, and manages her clients’ day-to-day legal needs. She also assists cannabis and hemp producers, processors, wholesalers, retailers, and applicants in navigating the legal, licensing, regulatory, and operational challenges they face. Cristina is admitted to practice law in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Illinois (retired).
Cristina dedicates a portion of her practice to public interest/policy work related to medical cannabis and economic and social justice issues, has testified in front of the New York State and New Jersey Legislatures about cannabis regulatory programs, and has worked with elected officials on developing cannabis legalization positions. She is a member of the New York Cannabis Bar Association and the National Cannabis Bar Association. Cristina also serves as Counsel to Serenity Garden Harlem, a community garden in Sugar Hill, NYC.
Before dedicating herself exclusively to the full-spectrum law practice that is CB Counsel, Cristina served as the General Counsel of High Times and was a partner in an adult-use cultivation concern.
Cristina received her BA from The Gallatin School at New York University and her JD from The University of Chicago Law School. She cut her teeth in the M&A and private equity departments of white-shoe law firms in NYC and Chicago. She also served as the General Counsel and Director of Human Resources of an international technology company.
Kimberly M. Napoli, Esq.
In 2006, Kim opened The Hempest Harvard Square, a small business located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In doing so, Kim became the first female of color to own a cannabis-related business in the state of Massachusetts. The mission of the Hempest was to bring hemp and cannabis back to the regulated marketplace.
In furtherance of that mission, Kim went to Suffolk University Law School in 2012 with the specific goal of legalizing cannabis to create equitable access and opportunity for everyone. Kim graduated in 2015 and in early 2016, she became the Director of Outreach for the Campaign to Legalize Marijuana in Massachusetts. The campaign was a success and Kim was appointed by Governor Baker in 2017 to serve as his Expert in Minority Business Development on the Cannabis Advisory Board of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. Now in her third term as a CAB member, Kim has participated in the following subcommittees: Cannabis Industry, Public Safety and Community Mitigation, and Market Participation where she is serving a second term as committee Chair. Kim has been a registered Massachusetts medical marijuana patient since 2014. Kim is also a certified social equity program participant. Kim has been a homeowner in Boston’s Nubian Square neighborhood since 2008 and is keenly aware of the negative, significant, and lasting impacts of the war on drugs, and also what social equity means to the people of Roxbury and communities like it.
As an attorney at Vicente Sederberg, LLP, Kim represented local and national cannabis operators in matters ranging from equity and inclusion, and corporate social responsibility, to licensing with a focus on ensuring equal access to representation and advocacy for social equity, minority, and other diverse clients. Kim has worked with national organizations focusing on cannabis policy including the Cannabis Trade Federation, as a member of the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Task Force, on the Social Equity and Inclusion Subcommittee of the United States Cannabis Council, and the Minority Cannabis Business Association, where she assisted in the ongoing development of the MCBA Model State Policy which served as the basis for the equity components of Massachusetts’ adult-use cannabis law. Kim is recognized as a thought leader in the cannabis industry and received the Champion in Corporate Social Responsibility award in 2021and the Champion in Diversity and Inclusion award in 2022 from NECANN. Shaleen Title, the Cannabis Control Commission’s inaugural Social Justice Commissioner, said that: “Kim was the face of legalization when it was still a political risk, and I consider her the conscience of the industry.” The Mensing Group couldn’t agree more!
Quinn Heath, Esq.
Quinn Heath is an Associate of the firm with a passion for both United States drug policy and technology law. Quinn previously interned for a year at the Adult Social Services unit of the Defenders Association of Philadelphia, where he assisted in transitioning individuals convicted of a drug offense into early release drug treatment programs.
In law school, Quinn was the Editor-in-Chief of the Boston University Journal of Science and Technology Law and a fellow in the BU/MIT Technology Law clinic, advising students and startups on their legal rights under both federal and Massachusetts state law. Quinn Heath has advocated for clients facing many types of issues—including Foreign Corrupt Practices Act research and analysis, public records litigation, and advising clients making reports about new technology to federal law enforcement agencies.
Quinn is a Certified Information Privacy Professional.
Karen J. Bernstein, Esq.
Karen J. Bernstein has been practicing patent, trademark, copyright, and Internet law for almost two decades. Her transactional and litigation practice, includes Cannabis and Hemp clients whom Karen has been counseling since 2013. Karen is admitted to practice law in Pennsylvania, New York, and Colorado, and she has a pending admission to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
Before heading to law school, Karen was an executive in the advertising business, as well as having been a personal manager to a major recording artist. Karen also co-wrote of a Top-10 Hit song in Europe that was featured in Billboard Magazine.
Karen is the former Chair of the Packaging and Labeling Committee of the National Cannabis Industry Association, and she is still active within the organization. Karen is presently on the Board of Directors of the International Cannabis Bar Association and speaks often about IP issues in the Cannabis and Hemp industries.
Karen received her B.S. from the University of San Francisco and her J.D. from New England School of Law. She has been in private practice at Bernstein IP since 2007 after she learned the ropes at two highly regarded Manhattan based IP and entertainment firms.
Karen is not licensed to practice law in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (admission pending) and her work is performed under the supervision of Founder & Chief Counsel, Blake M. Mensing.
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