Co-founder and CEO, Proof
Julie Mercer-Ingram knows cannabis laws inside and out. Not only has not only helped shape cannabis regulations and guide countless entrepreneurs through her law practice and work with regulators and cannabis advisory groups, she has also built Proof, her own cannabis manufacturing and distribution company. Started with just $30,000 in seed money and no outside investment capital, Proof is now one of California’s most popular brands.
For Mercer-Ingram, the cannabis industry came into her life just as she was ready to move on from her career as an attorney.
“Basically, I was bored with the law,” she says. “I wasn’t creating anything. It just wasn’t very innovative.”
It was 2015, and as chance would have it, the California Legislature began establishing statewide regulations for its medical cannabis program just as she was looking for opportunities beyond her law firm. It was the path she was looking for, where she could still apply her skills to represent business owners in the burgeoning industry and help write policy with regulators and cannabis advisory groups, while still launching Proof the following year.
“I was appointed by the board of supervisors in our county to run our cannabis advisory group, and literally wrote policy and helped advise them,” she says. “It was a really dynamic few years.”
But before she officially joined the cannabis industry, Mercer-Ingram had to call her dad, who was also a lawyer and a judge, to tell him his daughter was going into the cannabis business.
“I was so scared … he wasn’t particularly supportive of legalized cannabis,” she recalls. “He had the coolest response, though. He was like, ‘That’s awesome. If I were a young attorney, I would do that too. Because, frankly, the law can be quite boring.’”