Executive Director | International Cannabis Bar Association
Shahiedah Shabazz might be a newcomer to her leadership role with the International Cannabis Bar Association, but she’s no stranger to cannabis law.
With 15 years of experience as a lawyer, including as co-leader of ArentFox Schiff’s cannabis practice, Shabazz brings a wealth of knowledge to INCBA’s executive director position and will help the nonprofit stay on the cutting edge of the legal cannabis space as it continues to grow, evolve and inch steadily toward federal legalization. In addition to her background in practicing law, Shabazz earned an MBA to help her understand the business considerations that went into her clients’ decision-making — training that suddenly becomes all the more relevant now that she’s overseeing a trade association with more than 800 lawyer members.
Among her top priorities with INCBA are getting to know the key players within the organization and its stakeholders and focusing on the member experience.
“I would love to find ways to improve our member experience, really increase the value and the perceived value of what it means to be a member of INCBA,” she says. “And then, in general, I’d love to really strengthen our international relationships and our international programming.”
As the organization has developed over the years, one of the notable changes was switching from the National Cannabis Bar Association to the International Cannabis Bar Association as more and more attorneys outside the United States became involved and as cannabis legalization continued to push beyond the boundaries of North America.
The operational role of executive director is as multifaceted as the cannabis industry itself. On one hand, it means focusing on the day-to-day benefits it provides its growing membership base.
“We strive to provide a mix of relationship-building resources, business development, networking and continuing education programming for our lawyer members,” Shabazz says.
On the other hand, she must keep her finger on the pulse of what’s happening in terms of policy development at the local, state and federal levels.
“Every day, there’s a new state that’s changing its laws, or a new case that’s being considered or something new that’s happening in the world of cannabis law,” says Shabazz, who is based in Chicago. “So we definitely want to make sure that we’re aware of and monitoring these types of developments. We’re all very hopeful that some form of federal legalization will pass in the United States, so a lot of attention is being focused on monitoring what’s happening at the federal level here.”