Ethan Nadelmann Joins PKF O’Connor Davies as Cannabis Practice Consultant

Internationally acclaimed drug policy reformer and scholar adds depth, credibility to Firm’s thriving practice

PKF O’Connor Davies, LLP, one of the nation’s largest accounting, tax, and advisory firms, today announced that Ethan Nadelmann has agreed to serve as a Consultant to the Firm’s Cannabis practice. Dubbed “the real drug czar” by Rolling Stone, Nadelmann is widely regarded as the foremost proponent of drug policy reform in the United States and around the world. His consulting role supplements the Firm’s proven valuation, tax, accounting, and business advisory services with decades of extensive, in-depth industry knowledge to provide clients holistic support that addresses all aspects of their cannabis and CBD ventures.

“The cannabis space, as with most emerging industries, is full of opportunity and uncertainty. Our clients rely on our team’s unparalleled expertise to help navigate this evolving landscape,” said Kevin J. Keane, Managing Partner at PKF O’Connor Davies. “With decades of experience shaping drug policy on the national and international stage, Ethan’s insights will prove invaluable in these efforts, especially as public opinion around cannabis and its legalization continues to shift.”

Nadelmann’s involvement in drug policy reform advocacy began while teaching politics and public affairs at Princeton University from 1987 to 1994. He then founded, in 1994, a drug policy institute, The Lindesmith Center. In 2000, the growing institute merged with the Drug Policy Foundation to form the Drug Policy Alliance, the world’s leading drug policy reform organization, where Nadelmann served as executive director until 2017.

Nadelmann and his colleagues have been at the forefront of dozens of ballot initiatives and legislative campaigns to legalize marijuana, from the first successful statewide medical marijuana initiative in 1996 (Prop 215 in California) to victories for broader legalization in California and other states in 2016. He has played a key role as drug policy advisor to prominent philanthropists and elected officials ranging from mayors, governors, and state and federal legislators in the U.S. to presidents and cabinet ministers abroad.

Nadelmann is a respected drug policy scholar and the author of two books on the internationalization of criminal law enforcement. He holds a Bachelor of Arts, Juris Doctor, and PhD in Political Science from Harvard University, as well as a master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics. His writings have appeared in most major media outlets in the U.S. as well as top academic journals, policy journals, and political publications. He has spoken publicly in approximately 40 states and 40 countries, and his TED Talk on ending the drug war has over two million views, with translations into 28 languages.

“This is my first involvement with a for-profit organization,” said Ethan. “I’m very proud of the roles my colleagues and I played in advancing the legalization of marijuana in the US and abroad. When I stepped down from running DPA four years ago, I was reluctant to jump from my decades of non-profit advocacy to a for-profit engagement. But this new consultancy feels like the right fit for me now, in good part because I developed such a favorable impression of this firm working with them as I built DPA.

“Our arrangement began with a call this summer from Tom Blaney, whom I’d known and respected since the early 2000’s as co-head of the Private Foundation practice at PKF O’Connor Davies but who also serves on the firm’s governance committee (which essentially ensures the firm’s commitment to achieving the highest standards of quality and objectivity). I learned that the firm is among the few big accounting firms that has a substantial marijuana industry practice, and was subsequently impressed by his two colleagues who direct that practice, Jeffrey Gittler and Noam Hirschberger.

“It’s important, as a matter of both principle and practice, that companies small and large operate according to the highest standards not just for their own sake but for the reputation of this nascent but booming industry. The rules, however, are ever more complex, not least given inconsistencies in federal, state, and local regulations, which is why companies require a comprehensive support structure committed to their financial and strategic wellbeing. If PKF O’Connor Davies advises and cares for its clients in the marijuana industry as well as they did for me and DPA, which I fully expect them to do, those clients will be optimally served.

Located throughout the East Coast, PKF O’Connor Davies has 14 offices in six states and continues to expand through organic growth and acquisitions. It has supported this growth with a strategic combination of promoting from within coupled with an ongoing focus on top-tier external hires.