Rita Montoya, J.D.
Community & Business Legal Services
Rita Montoya, J.D., is an Indigenous and Latinx attorney, policy strategist and life-long advocate for under-served communities. An attorney by training with a demonstrated commitment to and a career in public service, she had the privilege of standing up with and on behalf of thousands of individuals in their pursuit of justice under the United States Constitution. Currently, Rita provides business, compliance, education, legal and corporate social responsibility platform services catered to start-up, small and family-owned businesses in and out of the cannabis industry; provides support and guidance for the Cannabis Patient Advocacy Association as General Counsel; and leads community outreach as the newly appointed National Indigenous & Latinx Director for Minorities 4 Medical Marijuana.
Her professional legal accomplishments include securing a non-death plea agreement for a client potentially facing the death penalty; preventing United States immigration authorities from seizing an incarcerated developmentally delayed non-citizen juvenile on her 18th birthday; and securing Withholding of Removal under the Convention Against Torture for an incarcerated client from Nigeria facing torture and death by his own government if deported by the U.S.
In the cannabis industry, Rita utilizes her personal and professional experience to fuel her advocacy on behalf of medical cannabis patients and communities of color seeking equitable access into cannabis markets as well as shedding light on the importance of Indigenous environmental stewardship in maintaining the Earth’s ability to produce the cannabis plant. Introduced to the medical, science-based benefits of plants as a student at the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine in San Francisco, California, Rita founded the Cannabis Patient Advocacy Association (CPAA) to develop strategies and solutions to challenges in the cannabis patient marketplace through actionable items. Her current work with the CPAA focuses on establishing medical cannabis access to the incarcerated and those under court supervision; ensuring all patients have access to affordable, medical quality cannabis products; and providing opportunities for Black and Indigenous People of Color in the cannabis industry as a means of reparations for enslavement, genocide and systemic racism in the United States.
Rita received her Juris Doctorate from the American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. during which she received the American Bar Association Award of Excellence: Law School Newspaper Editorial for an article about abolishing the death penalty. She completed international legal studies at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and post-graduate legal studies in law and policy at the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, California. She is licensed to practice law in Colorado and the District of Columbia.