Services & Industries
J.D.,summa cum laude, Lewis & Clark Law School
B.S., University of Oregon
Bar & Court Admissions
Oregon State Bar
U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
U.S. District Court, District of Oregon
Alex helps his clients resolve business disputes in and out of court. He represents individuals and companies on a variety of claims, including contract disputes, business owner disputes, and business torts. He has helped Tonkon clients win on motions to dismiss, on summary judgment, and at trial.
In addition to his litigation work, Alex is Co-Chair of our Cannabis Industry Practice Group. He represents individuals and companies doing business in the cannabis industry, and advises clients on cannabis laws and regulations and other cannabis-specific legal issues.
Alex joined Tonkon Torp after graduating summa cum laude from Lewis & Clark Law School. As a student, Alex was inducted into the Cornelius Honor Society by the faculty, was named Outstanding Clinical Advocate, and won the first year Best Brief award in legal writing. He also received the John & Susan Bates Family Endowed Scholarship in Business Law, the Milt Smith & James Richardson Business Law Scholarship, and the Dean’s Scholarship for Excellence.
Alex worked as a summer associate for Tonkon Torp and as a Judicial Extern for Honorable Ancer L. Haggerty, U.S. District Judge, during law school. Prior to law school, Alex worked primarily on policy advocacy in the nonprofit and public sectors, holding positions including civic engagement director and aide to an Oregon State Representative. He continues his involvement in the Portland community, serving as a cooperating attorney for the Oregon ACLU and as a board member for the Resource Innovation Institute.
Alex and his wife Laura are raising two 7th generation Oregonians, their sons Clark and Leo. A love of travel and other cultures has led Alex and his family to Central America, Southeast Asia, and Europe. Closer to home, they often visit the Oregon coast and the Cascades. To celebrate a recent anniversary, Alex and Laura summited South Sister.
Alex serves as a board member and treasurer of the Bonnie Jeanne Tinker Memorial Fund, founded in honor of his mother, a political activist who headed the Portland, Oregon organization Love Makes a Family, and as a board member for the Resource Innovation Institute, which promotes energy and water conservation in the cannabis industry.
LLC Member Dispute
When majority owners tried to squeeze Tonkon's client out by forcing sale of the land where the company planned to obtain an OLCC cannabis producer's license, Alex brought counterclaims for minority oppression and obtained a settlement where Tonkon's client obtained all of the majority's interest in the company and the land.
Breach of Contract
Obtained favorable settlement for landowner who provided land and financing for OMMP cannabis production operation after the grower failed to share profits as agreed.a multi-million dollar judgment for her client.
Breach of Contract
Obtained summary judgment including damages, attorney fees, and interest in favor of an investor and lender against a defendant who had misused funds in violation of the parties' agreement.
Breach of Contract
Secured settlement of full damages plus attorney fees and interest for environmental services provider.
Civil RICO, Ainsworth v. Owenby, No. 6:17-cv-01935 (D. Or. 2019)
Alex and the Tonkon Torp team obtained dismissal with prejudice of civil Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act claims asserted in federal court based on our clients' state law-compliant medical marijuana activities.
When an East Coast commercial bank sued 45 Oregon farmers asserting a security interest in crops the farmers still hadn't been paid for growing, attempting to take possession of crops valued at over $7 million, Alex worked with other Tonkon trial lawyers to defeat most of the bank's case on summary judgment and then obtain a verdict at trial finding that the bank had no security interest at all.
Farm Management Dispute
Tonkon’s client contracted to manage a Tier II OLCC-licensed outdoor cannabis farm, including advancing all labor and materials costs, in exchange for a share of net sales revenue. After the first crop was in, the landowner locked our client out of Metrc and out of the farm, and refused to reimburse expenses or share in revenue as agreed. Eighteen months later and after a 6-day hearing, the arbitrator awarded Tonkon’s client its claimed share of revenue from the first crop and its out-of-pocket expenses, in addition to awarding attorney fees.
Defeated frivolous claims with special motion to strike complaint and secured order barring plaintiff from filing future lawsuits.
After a 50% owner of a startup company caught her co-owner embezzling, Alex brought claims for breach of fiduciary duty and conversion. He obtained a judgment that removed the defendant from the board and required him to relinquish his company shares.
After long-time friends and business partners had a falling out, the minority owner sued our client for breach of fiduciary duty. Alex and the Tonkon team prepared the case for trial and ultimately reached a favorable resolution for Tonkon's client. The settlement resulted in a buy-out that kept our client's family business intact.
When outside investors flexed their power to terminate the founder of a vertically integrated Oregon cannabis company and maneuvered to make her shares worthless, Alex brought claims for breach of fiduciary duty and shareholder oppression, ultimately obtaining a favorable buy-out for Tonkon's client.
Helped defeat an effort to force the sale of multiple timber properties and the liquidation of multiple family businesses, based on an alleged settlement agreement that was never finalized, on a motion to dismiss.
Successfully opposed a city's effort to push $7 million in local taxes onto publicly traded utility's shareholders.
Breach of Contract
Secured settlement of full damages plus attorney fees and interest for security services provider.
Arbitration of Claims from Sale of Business
Completed a successful arbitration to enforce payment owed to clients, family members who founded and grew a successful Northwest business and then sold the business to a large national corporation. Defeated all of the buyer's justifications for not paying, which included counterclaims involving indemnities and accounting issues. Clients received a multi-million dollar award.
In December 2015, Tonkon Torp closed a swift and successful arbitration to enforce payment owed to its clients, family members who founded and grew a successful business in the Northwest. In 2012, the clients had worked with Tonkon Torp to sell the company to a large, billion-dollar national entity.
Tonkon Torp has secured an award of $647k for a cannabis farm management company based on its work in 2017. 2017 was the first year a large number of outdoor cannabis farms were licensed by the OLCC. This combined with favorable weather conditions resulted in a record bumper crop, and the wholesale price of sungrown cannabis dropped by more than half.
Tonkon Torp Wins Dismissal of RICO Claims Attacking Cannabis Industry – First of its Kind in 9th Circuit
Tonkon Torp secured a dismissal of civil RICO claims filed in federal court based on defendants’ involvement in an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program grow operation. Four civil RICO cases have been filed this year in Oregon against nearly 300 businesses and individuals engaged in state-authorized cannabis activity.
Community Involvement & Activities
ACLU Foundation of Oregon
2015-Present, Cooperating Attorney
Bonnie Jeanne Tinker Memorial Fund
2010-Present, Board Member and Treasurer
Oregon Liquor Control Commission
2021-Present, Enforcement Rules Advisory Committee Member
Portland Story Theater
2018-Present, Board Member
Resource Innovation Institute
2016-Present, Board Member
Oregon Cannabis Association
2019-2020, Board Member
2009-2016, Elected Precinct Committee Person
Lewis & Clark Public Interest Law Project
2015, Stipend Board Member
Portland City Club
2013-2015, Bike Advocacy Committee Member
Federal Bar Association
International Cannabis Bar Association
Multnomah Bar Association
Sixteen Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 16 practice groups have been named to The Best Lawyers in America 2023 Ones to Watch directory.
Thirty-one Tonkon Torp attorneys in 11 practice areas have been included in the 2022 Oregon Super Lawyers or Rising Stars
Tonkon Torp has launched a new practice group, Shareholder Disputes & Governance.
Thirteen Tonkon Torp lawyers representing 13 practice groups have been selected to appear in Best Lawyers’ 2022 Ones to Watch directory.
Twenty-six Tonkon Torp attorneys in nine practice areas have been included in the 2021 Oregon Super Lawyers or Rising Stars lists.
Late in 2020, the new national organization Cannabis Regulators Association (CANNRA) was formed. While not much has been publicized about the organization’s work or efforts since it officially launched, its formation represents a major step towards unifying cannabis regulations and policies on a national level by organizing participating legalized states (medical, recreational, or both) into a formal group.
As the nation rushes to slow the COVID-19 pandemic, the cannabis industry finds itself caught in the chaos like everyone else. However, there is one additional caveat for cannabis businesses — not one penny of the $2 trillion federal stimulus package will be coming to them directly due to the ongoing conflict between state and federal law over the legality of the product.
So, can you ship hemp across state lines now? Not without risk. The 2018 Farm Bill makes it possible to produce hemp in some states without violating federal law. Nevertheless, uncertainty remains for the hemp industry, as shown by recent efforts to ship hemp from one state to another.
Publications & Presentations
“Regulators from Cannabis-Legal States Form National Association, Tonkon Torp Legal Update, October 2021
Moderator, “A Pandemic Primer for Cannabis Businesses – Unique Challenges for a Unique Industry,” April 2020
“Will Oregon’s Cannabis Industry Go Up in Smoke Due to COVID-19 Fallout?” Portland Business Journal, April 2020
“Regulatory Landmarks: Current and Potential Regulations,” Investors Guide to the Intersection of Health, Tech, & Cannabis, TiE Oregon, October 2019
Podcast, “Vineyard Allowed To Sue Cannabis Farm,” Think Out Loud, Oregon Public Broadcasting, September 2019
Panelist, “Cannabis Industry Regulatory and Enforcement Issues,” YPO Summit, April 2019
Panelist, “Lessons and Experience from the Oregon Civil RICO Cases,” Oregon State Bar Cannabis Law Section, March 2019
“CBD Business and Regulation Focus – The 2018 Farm Bill,” Tonkon Torp Legal Update, February 2019
Panelist, “Drug Money in the Age of Regulated Cannabis,” RIMS, The Risk Management Society Western Regional Conference, September 2018
“CBDo or CBDon’t: The Hazy Law of Industrial Hemp and CBD,” June 2018
“How Close Can You Get to Marijuana Without Being Burned?” Northwest Summit for Financial Professionals, May 2017
“Coming Out on Top in Cannabis Business Disputes,” 3rd Annual Cannabis Collaborative Conference, February 2017
“Legal Realities for Cannabis Entrepreneurs,” December 2015