Attorney Jessica McElfresh delivers the legal guidance and advocacy it takes to thrive in California’s cannabis industry. As a successful defense attorney, Jessica was at the forefront of marijuana legalization in California, and uses that passion and skill to represent people at all stages of the state’s legitimate marijuana market. From retail cannabis dispensaries, large cultivators, testing facilities, delivery services, investors, and marijuana entrepreneurs, Jessica provides individuals and cannabis businesses with what they need to flourish. This includes full service legal assistance with formation, zoning, regulatory compliance, licensing, land use, employment, and everything in between.

Why Cannabis?

Even as a young lawyer, Jessica never saw the cannabis industry as something that needed to be normalized. Instead, her work focused on highlighting how normal it already was.

She saw the government waste, how the current laws violated people’s rights, and wanted to be part of building something new.

Jessica was a breath of fresh air in the lawyers we interviewed. She was pleasant, all business, with a no nonsense approach to strategies we could take."

- McElfresh Law, Inc. client
Attorney Jessica C. McElfresh professional headshot


  • Juris Doctor, University of San Diego School of Law
  • Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Literature, Scripps College

Bar Admissions

  • State Bar of California
  • Southern District of California
  • Central District of California
  • Eastern District of California
  • Northern District of California
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Supreme Court of the United States


  • Vice President of Legal Education and CLE Committee Chair, International Cannabis Bar Association Board of Directors
  • Louis M. Welsh American Inn of Court
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers
  • California Public Defenders Association
  • National NORML Legal Committee
  • NORML Women’s Alliance
  • Criminal Defense Bar Association of San Diego
  • Member, National Cannabis Industry Association
  • Member, California Cannabis Industry Association

Speaking Engagements

  • California Lawyers Association 2023 Annual Meeting: Moving Cannabis into the Business and Professions Code
  • International Cannabis Bar Association: 2019 Cannabis Law Institute Ethics Panel on the Crime-Fraud Exception to Attorney-Client Privilege
  • International Cannabis Bar Association: 2019 Cannabis Law Institute Panel on Cannabis Licensee Regulatory Proceedings and Enforcement Actions
  • Real Propertry Law and Cannabis Law Symposium: Keynote Speaker – Ethics in Cannabis Practice
  • DRI Cannabis Law Seminar: Cannabis, Conflicts, Crime-Fraud Exception—and More Ethical Issues

How Clients Benefit

We meet every challenge with experience, knowledge and an eye on achieving the goal.

Whether you need a license or help with contracts, zoning, or compliance, at McElfresh Law, you’ll have all the resources and advantages of a full-service cannabis law firm.

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Straightforward & Clear Legal Advice

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A Highly-Detailed & Attentive Approach

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Aggressive Protection of Your Investment

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Sound Business Development Plans

McElfresh Law: Our Cannabis Buisness Services

Local Zoning Permit
Litigation & Risk Assessment
  • Liability Evaluation & Risk Management
  • License Agreements & Enforcement
  • Cease and Desist Letters & Responses
  • Full Commercial & Regulatory Litigation Action & Defense
Corporate Formation & Financing
  • Staff Training
  • Employment Policies
  • Nondisclosure Agreements
  • HIPPA & California Consumer Privacy Act
Environmental & Land Use
  • Zoning & Planning
  • Special Permitting & Conditional Use
  • Commercial Real Estate & Leasing
  • Landlord-Tenant Disputes
  • Construction & Building Requirements
  • Waste Management and Procedures
  • Water Usage & Rights
  • Soil & Cultivation Issues
  • Alternative Energy Usage and Planning
Attorney Jessica C. McElfresh meeting with client

Cannabis Election Efforts & Advocacy

Attorney McElfresh has also authored and advised on ordinances and ballot measures to regulate cannabis businesses at the local level, including Measure U in La Mesa and Measure V in Lemon Grove. She is an advisory board member for A New PATH, an organization dedicated to promoting therapeutic rather than punitive drug policies, as well as Measure H in Encinitas. As part of this work, Jessica has won writs of mandate at the local and appellate level to compel local governments and registrars of voters to accept petitions and count voter signatures.

Outside of her law practice, Jessica is an advocate for cannabis and broader drug policy reform. Jessica has also served as a consultant for the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California about how Proposition 64 affects criminal justice reform and individual rights. She is a proud member of the International Cannabis Bar Association’s Professional Responsibility and Ethics Committee.

She regularly lectures on the ethical considerations in a cannabis law practice, and speaks at conferences and law schools including the National Cannabis Industry Association Business Summit & Expo, International Cannabis Bar Association, California NORML, San Diego County Bar Association, and University of San Diego School of Law.

Media Coverage

Navigating Legal Conflicts of Interest in the Cannabis Industry

March 22 2024 - A recent Forbes article explored ethical obligations among cannabis attorneys and how they should navigate legal conflicts of interest within the industry. Attorney Jessica M...

Proposed Bill Could Allow Cannabis Businesses to Serve Food, Host Shows

February 9 2023 - A new proposed bill in California could allow cannabis businesses to serve food and drinks and host live music. Supporters of AB 374 say it could help businesses compete with ...

Biden Pardons Thousands in Federal Prison for Simple Possession of Marijuana

October 14 2022 - President Biden recently pardoned thousands in federal prison for simple possession. He supported this decision with the fact that these convictions have limited opportunities...

New Law Could Protect Employees’ Marijuana Use Away From Job

September 28 2022 - Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed Assembly Bill 2188, amending the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to prohibit employment discrimination against an individual based...

Cannabis Industry Blog

Can Tourists Buy Marijuana in California?

May 9 2024 - Tourists can legally buy marijuana in California. In 2018, California began selling recreational marijuana and issuing licenses to legal dispensaries. However, there are some...

Your Guide to California Marijuana Advertising Regulations

March 27 2024 - If you’re a cannabis business owner, you know that one of the best ways to attract clients is to advertise. But with cannabis still unlawful at the federal level, the regula...

Navigating Legal Conflicts of Interest in the Cannabis Industry

March 22 2024 - A recent Forbes article explored ethical obligations among cannabis attorneys and how they should navigate legal conflicts of interest within the industry. Attorney Jessica M...

Off-the-Clock Marijuana Use Protection Laws

June 17 2023 - Marijuana use is widespread throughout California since it is recreationally legal; however, there have been significant challenges for people who test positive at work. Until...

CA Cannabis Industry Info Center

Avvo Award
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