California employers long have long availed themselves of their right – as affirmed by the state’s high court – to carry out zero tolerance policies against workers who use drugs – even if that drug use takes place off-the-job. That means many companies require new applicants to pass a drug screen before they start and employees (so long as it’s totally random or the company has some reason to suspect drugs are being used on-the-job). This was true even here in California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and even with the passage of Prop. 64 that legalized recreational use.
We could see this changing, especially because part because the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Ross v. Ragingwire Telecommunications (one of the most recent to address this issue) was predicated at least partially on the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had affirmed challenges to the federal law in part because deemed marijuana dangerous Schedule I drug. Recently, the U.S. Attorney General said he’d favor a new bill protecting cannabis businesses and users from federal prosecution as long as they were in compliance with federal law. This measure has broad bipartisan support, as does another that would shield banks doing business with these companies from federal money laundering charges.
It’s not clear either measure would necessitate de-scheduling the drug, but doing so likely impact legal precedent in numerous areas of law – including employment and its zero tolerance. for drugs.
The History of Employer Zero Tolerance Policies
The policy gained its first …
Tomorrow is the federal tax filing deadline, and a recent ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court has California’s small cannabis businesses concerned about being hit with a tax bill from jurisdictions in which they may have never set foot.
Los Angeles marijuana tax lawyers can explain this is a case about the astronomical uptick in e-commerce sales and the right of states to pursue taxes from businesses that conduct online transactions with merchants or buyers in those states, but that have no actual physical presence there.
In a 5-4 decision, the US. Supreme Court in South Dakota v. Wayfair Inc. overturned previous precedent requiring physical presence from an out-of-state seller for a state to establish jurisdiction for purposes of pursing an entity for sales and use taxes. In previous case law, physical presence of an out-of-state seller might include things like inventory storage, office maintenance, meeting attendance or delivery of owned/rented vehicles located in the state. No more.
Plaintiff South Dakota enacted its own law that established grounds to pursue taxes from out-of-state sellers that had an “economic nexis” with either more than 200 separate transactions for goods and delivery sold or with revenue that exceeded $100,000 in a given year. Under the law, the state billed three online retailers – Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg.
All three fought back. While they easily met the minimum requirements for taxation under the state’s law, the corporations argued the state had no grounds on which to pursue this, particularly given prior U.S. Supreme Court precedent.
Federal law on marijuana prohibition has created an intolerable legal mess. (Tell us something we don’t know.) What’s notable is this sentiment was expressed by the U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who indicated he preferred the system laid out in a bipartisan House bill that would reform the law, allowing – finally – greater harmony between state and federal marijuana laws.
Barr’s remarks have cannabis business attorneys and others abuzz about whether this could be the true turning point that allows us to finally align federal and state marijuana laws. (It’s also worth noting they are in stark contrast to those of former U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Sessions, who was staunchly opposed to legal cannabis in any form or federal cooperation to facilitate it.
Speaking to the Senate Appropriations Committee, Barr said his preference is a legislative fix to the clash in statutes, one that ideally offers express rights to states to decide their own marijuana laws. At this point, all 33 states with legal medicinal marijuana and 10 with recreational marijuana in violation of federal statutes – namely the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. The classification of cannabis under that provision simply defies logic, but it’s not less a possible risk. Los Angeles cannabis dispensaries, delivery drivers, cultivators, manufacturers and labs ALL should have a cannabis attorney on retainer to help ensure compliance with state laws and minimize the risk of federal ire on issues ranging from taxes to trade.
Both the Department of Justice and the U.S. Treasury Department are actively reviewing a bipartisan …
Marijuana has proven an effective treatment for many military veterans grappling with conditions like chronic pain, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and symptoms of exposure to toxic chemicals like Agent Orange. For many, it’s a better alternative than opioids, which are highly addictive, dangerous and recommended only for short stints. In many cases, it’s even proven the key to escaping opioid addiction. Yet Los Angeles medical marijuana lawyers know that to use it – even if prescribed by a physician – is to risk losing all their hard-earned military benefits.
A new bill filed by a U.S. House of Republican – with bipartisan support – would protect veterans from losing their federal benefits for using medicinal marijuana. Additionally, the Veterans Cannabis Use for Safe Healing Act would allow doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs to recommend cannabis for medicinal purposes to patients there.
L.A. Attorneys Fight for Military Veterans’ Cannabis Rights
Los Angeles cannabis attorneys for years have fought to prevent veterans from losing these critical benefits simply for seeking medically necessary treatment. A measure like this would solidify a military veteran’s entitlement to services – and further enshrine them so they could not be altered subject to the whim of future federal administrations. Taking it a step further (and to avoid any conflicting messages on this) the proposed law would also change the existing VA rules that prevent doctors within the department from filling out any forms that might help a veteran obtain medicinal marijuana.
As it stands now, VA doctors are restricted …
Santa Cruz is a community that is known for its laid-back lifestyle – the redwoods, the shoreline and red wine vineyards. Just don’t mess with their pot shops. Los Angeles marijuana attorneys have learned the city is suing the state in an effort to fend of out-of-towners from nearby San Francisco and Oakland from cannabis from swiping customers from their home-grown cannabis companies.
The city’s chair of the board of supervisors argues that local businesses are being undercut by these services because the playing field isn’t level, and further the city has no say in regulating the interlopers.
Santa Cruz Says State Backing Out on Its End of the Bargain
Recently, the state altered its regulations to permit state-licensed marijuana delivery companies to sell their product wherever consumers are. Santa Cruz isn’t the only city taking issue with this – 25 in all are suing the state, asserting this new stance is a work-around the provision of Proposition 64 (which legalized marijuana for recreational sales and use) that assured local governments would have authority to put a stop to brick-and-mortar sales.
On the other hand, part of the big-picture goal with Proposition 64 was to make the drug legal and widely available, which in turn would not only generate state tax revenue, but also cut the legs off black market operators. That hasn’t exactly happened, however, because so many local governments have banned sales, cannabis customers have few options BUT to turn to the black market, where supply is ample (the state produces 9 …
Despite the fact that cannabis legalized in California, interstate sales are almost sure to land you in handcuffs. Federal law prohibits any form of cultivation or retail sales. Officials with the U.S. Department of Justice have largely agreed to look the other way since The Cole Memo, so long as the cannabis commerce in question strictly adheres to state law. The memo says nothing about interstate sales and distribution, which some states expressly prohibit. Nonetheless, our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers understand Oregon lawmakers appear to be hedging their bets in anticipation of federal marijuana legalization.
State senators are crafting a bill that would permit cannabis exports to other states in the U.S. as of 2021.
Oregon’s Legal Cannabis Market Strain Fuels Push for Trade Beyond State Borders
There are a few different issues at play, primary among those being the glut of supply that has fueled the black market. Last year, state lawmakers fought hard to enact SB 1042, which would have given the green light to cannabis and ancillary businesses vetted by the state to the right to export cannabis grown in Oregon. Of course, absent a change in federal law, any companies exporting the drug would face serious repercussions under existing provisions of U.S. law, namely drug trafficking. As marijuana is still considered a Schedule I narcotic, and trafficking across state lines could have serious implications for your assets and your freedom.
But Los Angeles cannabis lawyers know many marijuana advocates consider it a matter of time before the …
As many as 50,000 Los Angeles marijuana-related convictions are to be dismissed or reduced, the L.A. District Attorney said, noting completion will not only align with California’s 2020 deadline for prosecutorial review of expungement for pot crimes – it will beat it by nearly 9 months. Los Angeles marijuana expungement attorneys understand this was made possible with the aid of a nonprofit called Code for America, which developed a digital algorithm that allowed prosecutors to more quickly identify eligible candidates.
This same group was reportedly also involved in helping San Francisco expunge more than 9,000 marijuana convictions earlier this year – even though some of those date back to 1975. The Los Angeles D.A. has said she expects the same to be the case here, pointing out that Department of Justice records in cannabis cases go back more than seven decades.
Los Angeles marijuana expungement attorneys know the chances of someone with a 1940s cannabis conviction is both alive and has any real interest in having their name cleared, is unlikely. The D.A.’s office has said they aren’t necessarily starting with the oldest cases first, and will instead be prioritizing those individuals who are looking for:
- A fresh start
It’s also worth noting that not all prior convictions are going to be expunged. Those who most likely would not receive an expungement would include:
- Registered sex offenders (regardless of whether the cannabis offense was related);
- Those convicted of violent offenses;
- Individuals convicted of large-scale drug trafficking or habitual drug offenses
Although she …
More than two dozen cities that restrict legal cannabis sales are suing California over the issue of legal pot delivery. Los Angeles marijuana delivery business attorneys are paying close attention to this litigation, wherein plaintiff cities argue that by allowing home deliveries in cities where it is restricted, the state is breaking key provisions of Prop. 64, the legislation that opened the door to legalized recreational marijuana in California.
The California Bureau of Cannabis Control and its chief are named defendants in the case, which was filed in the Fresno County Superior Court. The dispute over marijuana deliveries comes shortly after the regulation adopted by state bureau earlier this year, holding that businesses licensed by the state have permission to deliver marijuana – even in municipalities that have expressly banned the operation of marijuana retail locations.
Cities Make the Case for Local Authority to Restrict Cannabis Deliveries
Among the most significant concerns cited about a free-for-all on cannabis home delivery:
- Public safety risks, particularly robbery, given the cash-only model of legal marijuana sales;
- An influx of illicit marijuana delivery/sales that may be difficult for law enforcement to identify/shut down.
City officials point to the specific provision of Prop. 64 that was woven into the statute with the purpose of appeasing police chiefs and city leaders: That which offers significant local control of California marijuana sales. Plaintiff asserts local control was baked into the ballot proposition with the express intent of allowing local governments to regulate activities related to marijuana sales, and that the …
Using marijuana is legal in California, but apparently, if you’re up for top-level security clearance with the U.S. government, you may want to think twice.
The Orange County Register reports The Pentagon is reviewing the federal security clearance of California tech billionaire Elon Musk following an on-air marijuana toke on a comedian’s podcast last fall. Musk reportedly refiled the SF-86 security form required of federal contractors and/or employees who seek security clearance. The form requires filers to answer truthfully whether they have used any illegal drugs at any point in the previous seven years. Musk reportedly had a higher-level secret clearance, thanks to his position spearheading a company (Space Exploration Technologies Corp. – SpaceX for short) that is permitted launch of military spy satellites.
The company’s day-to-day operations aren’t overseen by Musk, and the company won several national security space launch contracts in the wake of the podcast, but the Register reports it’s only with the refiling that Musk may have some issues.
Employers, Contractors Allowed to Set Ground Rules for Off-the-Clock Cannabis Use
Los Angeles marijuana employment attorneys know that while most people aren’t grappling with billions of dollars or military spy programs and top-level security clearance, many ARE dealing with employers who are leery of cannabis use.
Some key points for employees to know are:
- Federal law places very few restrictions on employer drug testing of employees or prospective hires.
- The right to drug test employees/potential hires extends beyond just those in government jobs to those in the private sector too.
A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy scheme to get rich by robbing a marijuana dispensary – and cover it up by making it look like a government raid – did not go according to plan. Now, he’s facing 40 years-to-life in federal prison after pleading guilty to five felonies related to the faux raid. The nearly $650,000 in cash, money orders, half-ton of marijuana and Mercedes-Benz he allegedly heisted during the operation were also turned over to federal authorities.
Los Angeles marijuana criminal defense lawyers have taken note that this is one of the most brazen robberies of a dispensary in recent memory. The Los Angeles Daily News reports the law enforcement officer, age 41, pleaded guilty to conspiracy and possession with intent to distribute marijuana and armed robbery. He was also convicted of depriving others of their rights under color of law.
One of his co-defendants pleaded guilty to many of the same charges, as well as being a felon in possession of a firearm. That individual was also convicted in state court of burglary in the second-degree, as well as possessing marijuana for sale and assault with a deadly weapon. He is also facing a lifetime behind bars.
Sentencing is slated for early summer. Four other defendants are also accused, one having signed a plea agreement to testify against the others.
An Elaborate Plan to Rob a Los Angeles Marijuana Dispensary
Authorities allege the men committed the crime using a vehicle registered to the sheriff’s office and wearing official sheriff’s deputy clothing …
In California, vaping or smoking marijuana in public is not lawful. You’d be forgiven, however, if you didn’t realize that walking on any random strip in Southern California. Lighting up almost everywhere has become practically ubiquitous. Homeowners, renters and businesses have had their share of complaints. Some businesses have even posted explicit signage making it clear: No smoking allowed. Nonetheless, the smell wafts on near every corner.
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know there has been an uptick among local law enforcement citations for smoking in public areas, particularly those nearby to schools, parks, restaurants, shops and in cars or boats. (No, you cannot light up in a car, even if you’re a passenger.) Police say many individuals aren’t familiar with this provision of the law, and even visitors who have come to the state on vacation end up leaving – well, not on probation, but with wallets $100 lighter. That’s the fine for public marijuana smoking in California.
Common areas in apartments and even balconies are forbidden spots for outdoor pot smoking, though that usually goes unchecked unless your neighbors complain. This restriction has become particularly burdensome for those who use the drug as medicine.
Even recreational users scoff at the law, though. After all, it’s supposed to be regulated the same way as alcohol, and if you can walk into a restaurant or bar and order a drink of alcohol in public, why not allow the same for cannabis?
The City of Los Angeles has issued statements indicating it does not sanction or …
Workplace safety is a topic of growing concern among those in the cannabis industry amid numerous reports of hash oil manufacturing site explosions because of unregulated use of butane gas. But Los Angeles marijuana industry attorneys know that isn’t the only safety concern facing growers, manufacturers and retailers, and it places cannabis companies in a vulnerable position of liability. There are several forms of workers’ compensation available to marijuana businesses in California, and The Cannabis Law Firm can help you determine the best one for your business plan.
Last year, the California Insurance Commissioner announced a new marijuana industry workers’ compensation program through Atlas General Insurance Services tailored specifically to the cannabis business. The program accommodates an array of risks involved in numerous aspects of work in the cannabis industry – from growing and extracting to lab work and medicinal manufacturers to food and beverage products makers, packaging, warehousing and distribution, transportation and retail work.
According to the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment, there are a laundry list of potential risks for employees and contractors in the cannabis market. Workers at risk include:
- Extraction technicians
- Edible producers
- Laboratory technicians
- Cultivation owner/operator
- Administrative workers
- Transportation workers
- Maintenance workers
Among the cannabis workplace hazards these workers face:
- Exposure to mold, sensitizers, allergens, CO2, pesticides/fungus
- Poor workplace ergonomics
- Slippery walking/working surfaces
- Lighting hazards
- Chemical exposures
- Workplace violence
- Occupational injuries (including burns, cuts, electrical hazards, elevated heights/falls)
- Exposure to extreme noise levels
- Dangerous/heavy equipment
Cannabis industry employees working directly with the plant can …
California is one of the first states to attempt to make right decades of racist drug policies that tore apart families and and destroyed lives. When the voters approved a ballot measure for recreational marijuana, they also allowed those with previous marijuana convictions to apply to have those records expunged. Very few people actually acted on it. So lawmakers last year passed a different measure that ordered prosecutors to review each prior conviction automatically and decide whether to reduce or dismiss the sentences and records of low-level marijuana offenses. Los Angeles marijuana defense attorneys understand this is the very first law of its kind in the U.S.
It is no secret that for the entirety of the war on drugs’ decades-long span, minority communities suffered the devastating impact to a hugely disproportionate degree. Los Angeles marijuana attorneys have watched how these communities are still punished with a cyclical merry-go-round of arrest, limited employment options and poverty. Increasingly, as marijuana legalization gains traction across the country, many advocates are taking it a step further, asking for a remedy for the racist application of law and policy. In cases where those calls have been heeded, criminal records for marijuana dealing and possession are being automatically expunged. There is also help for members of minority groups looking to launch their own California cannabis businesses.
Still, even current enforcement policies aren’t totally equal. In Oakland, where voters passed a ballot initiative to order police to make marijuana enforcement the lowest priority – even lower than jaywalking – evidence …
As attorneys representing marijuana companies and workers in Los Angeles, we urge them to carefully analyze every aspect of the business plan – including safety. Now, a safety issue previously believed to be fluke with marijuana manufacturers appears to be a growing cause of greater concern: Cannabis factory explosions and fires. Workers have been hospitalized with severe burns and revealing a major issue in an industry that operates without clear safety standards.
Politico reports that in the 33 states where marijuana is legal to purchase for medicinal or recreational use, there have been at least 10 fires or explosions in the last five years. Each of those known incidents occurred at sites where workers were tasked with extracting hash oil for use in edible products. Almost every single one of these incidents led to serious injuries for staff who worked on the production line.
The process for extraction is something that is continuing to evolve, and we don’t know all there is to know about it yet. The fire-safety industry hasn’t offered any guidelines or warnings about best practices. That doesn’t mean marijuana manufacturing operations are off-the-hook when it comes to worker safety.
As noted by the California Department of Industrial Relations, all employers ion the cannabis industry – including those who cultivate, manufacture, distribute, sell or test marijuana and/or its products need to protect employees from any health or safety hazard that may arise related to their work.
As long-time Los Angeles marijuana lawyers, we know that any indoor marijuana farming …
In what is being characterized as an abrupt change in CBD edible products policy, New York City has begun cracking down on CBD oil following by a late-last-year ruling by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration deeming CBD unsafe for consumption in culinary use. Los Angeles CBD business attorneys have begun seeing in this in California also.
Last summer, the Orange County Health Department began paying visits to coffee shops, bars and cafes, seizing CBD-laced food and warning the company to stop using illegal cannabis or else pay a fine. The Orange County Register reported the new rules were causing a major shift in the trend of widespread use of CBD oil. The rules impacted many L.A. restaurants and bars that were beginning to rely on sales from CBD cocktail and/or supplement. Some businesses reported CBD-laced products account for 30 percent of their business.
Last week, Florida’s new Secretary of Agriculture – who ran partially on increasing access to medical marijuana – recently made a public statement asserting CBD is not legal to sell in Florida. There is, however, a pending bill in the state legislature that proposes a state regulatory framework for cultivation of hemp and quality control for CBD. Mandatory testing and FDA approval would all be part of that, but so far, that measure has not passed.
While hemp, the non-psychoactive cousin of cannabis from which CBD (or cannabidiol) is derived, was all but declared legal by the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD remains something of a legal gray area. Although …
California hemp businesses cheered when the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (“2018 Farm Bill”) approved federal expansion of legalized hemp and hemp-derived products – including CBD (cannabidiol). But when mapping supply chains that cross state borders, Los Angeles hemp business lawyers urge caution.
This may seem a bit confusing, given that section 10114(b) of the 2018 Farm Bill expressly states that no state or Indian Tribe has the authority to bar transportation or shipment of hemp or hemp-derived products across boarders, so long as the products meet the criteria of section 10113.
Why Interstate Hemp Shipping Requires Caution
The problem, as our Los Angeles hemp business attorneys can explain, is that the protection provided herein to hemp farmers and distributors has to do with the fact that last year’s Farm Bill section on hemp transportation is expressly contingent on the previous section. That provision requires federal oversight of hemp production by the USDA, responsible for rubber-stamping state and Native American Tribal regulatory systems that cover hemp production. Such plans must by law be submitted to the federal agency. If a state hasn’t already approved hemp farming, it is to use the framework drafted by the USDA.
Yet so far, the federal government hasn’t approved any state plan, nor has it crafted its own for states with no hemp law. That could change; the USDA hasn’t expressly refused to do this. However unless and until it does, it’s important to bear in mind that hemp and its CBD oil extract are still considered …
The latest report on the recreational cannabis industry in California reveals aggregate profits of about $345 million – not $1 billion as was anticipated in its first year. A new report by the state’s Cannabis Advisory Committee, revealed in-depth that one of the biggest drags on the market is dilution due to black market sales of the drug – often cheaper and more accessible than legal purchases from a licensed dispensary – creating unfair competition. Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys know the complex regulatory system doesn’t help.
Gov. Gavin Newsome, a staunch proponent of recreational marijuana legalization who received some $340,000 in campaign contributions from the cannabis industry, said it could take at least five years before the market truly hits its stride. One strategy by the state has been to extend timelines to licensed businesses to comply with all aspects of complicated state and local regulations. However, some evidence suggests this could be hampering business for those already in compliance. Part of the problem also has to do with the fact the state lacks adequate resources to enforce the laws. Pot shops also pay hefty taxes and must invest in significant resources to manage a cash-only operation.
Recently, the governor announced plans to expand the effort to shutter illegal cultivation of marijuana, particularly those operated by international drug cartels in Northern California. Specifically, he’s lending expanded aid from the California National Guard to assist the federal government in cracking down on black market marijuana operations. Analysis by New Frontier Data, a private …
Medical marijuana has long been known to be effective in treating conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain. Yet the U.S. military has long taken a hard-line stance against marijuana, a position solidified during the Vietnam War as reports blasted on the evening news indicated that half of all soldiers deployed were regularly using marijuana. A study by the Pentagon later revealed the actual figure was closer to 70 percent. This, along with the crash of an aircraft carrier by soldiers later found to have marijuana in their systems led to a zero tolerance policy.
This has led to all sorts of injustices. Historically, it’s been military policy to exclude from entrance any individual who previously used marijuana as a civilian. In recent years, waivers for “past misconduct” have risen, and are expected to continue rising. Just last year, for instance, the Military Times reported a Vietnam War veteran and head of a military school in Florida was terminated for using medical marijuana extract to treat cancer.
Now, Congressional leaders have filed twin bills in the House and Senate to change federal law that would allow U.S. veterans who abide by state medical marijuana laws to avoid federal intervention and would allow doctors with the Department of Veterans Affairs to issue medical marijuana recommendations to their patients. The Veterans Medical Marijuana Safe Harbor Act, sponsored by U.S. Senate Democrats from California and Hawaii, notes that the drug is legal in 33 states and that medical marijuana can be used to treat chronic …
Leaders in luxury are looking to grace their way into marijuana product sales in Los Angeles, with a high-end New York retailer inking a partnership with an upscale cannabis firm to offer a large line of cannabis accessories and “lifestyle products” under the business model concept of a “wellness shop.”
Los Angeles marijuana retail attorneys recognize the ways in which this illustrates the many ways in which ancillary companies can break into the bud-tending business. Because marijuana is such a versatile plant – used in everything from medicine for seizures and anxiety to shampoo – we’re likely to see more of these non-traditional dispensaries on the horizon.
These companies need the advice and guidance of a dedicated Los Angeles retail marijuana lawyer to help them navigate the complex legal landscape, ensuring they can offer their products in a way that aligns with state and local regulations – to protect their brand and their assets.
The partnership between Barneys New York with a Los Angeles cannabis company will be called,”The High End,” slated for launch in March. A spokesperson for Barneys noting many customers have made cannabis a part of their lifestyle, and they intend to offer them a range of products that align with that lifestyle – everything from leather ashtrays, gold rolling paper and custom glass blown pipes to grinder necklaces and scent products. Top name designers are going to be launching their own individual creations for sale. Online sales will also be allowed, with white-glove delivery service in California.
Creative New Cannabis …
If you are operating a marijuana business in Los Angeles County without a license: You’re probably going to want to promptly seek legal representation from lawyers with longtime experience in state and federal marijuana criminal and civil cases. The California Bureau of Cannabis Control reported it had carried out search warrants on two businesses – one in Los Angeles County and the other in Sacramento County – for allegedly operating an unlicensed cannabis company.
January 9th marked the end of what state regulators called the grace period for unlicensed marijuana businesses across the state. This was akin to a warning shot, with the agency noting the several hundred unlicensed marijuana retailers and delivery services statewide are “taking their chances.” Even if they do close shop, there is no guarantee authorities wouldn’t take action after the fact, though it’s more probable they’ll want to pursue action against those in active operation.
Licensed L.A. marijuana retailers have been complaining for the last year that black market operators were undercutting their sales with an unfair advantage. The Sacramento raid stemmed from a complaint filed with the BCC, though the agency didn’t indicate where the tip originated.
Many of the shops slated to be targeted were formerly collectives and co-ops allowed to operate through last year despite not having a license. They had protection from state prosecution as designated medical collectives, but that expired officially last month. Unfortunately, while many of these collectives were long-standing, there aren’t that many licenses to go around. Some smaller marijuana businesses may …
When medical marijuana dispensaries and collectives first started cropping up around California in 1997, they had to heavily guard their assets – both product and cash. Banks, cowed by federal law that might ensnare them on criminal money-laundering charges, denied accounts to almost everyone who profited from cannabis, a Schedule I narcotic. Being state-legal didn’t matter.
More than 20 years later, although California was late to join the recreational sales party, our Los Angles cannabis lawyers have seen so much of the legal landscape change. Profits are not only allowed, but encouraged. Collectives and co-ops were outlawed as of last month. Businesses are licensed and heavily regulated and taxed. Everything from seed-to-sale is tracked and tested by outside labs.
And yet: Most Southern California marijuana businesses still can’t convince banks to do business. That means in a world where e-commerce is booming, retail stores are shuttering and most people pay with plastic, marijuana businesses can’t move money electronically. So every time cash must be moved – to pay a vendor or file taxes – it’s almost always coordinated with teams of gun-strapped security officers (many ex-military) and armored cars, equipped with bullet-proof glass and high-end GPS tracking.
Los Angeles marijuana business asset protection lawyers know that beyond just being inconvenient and unnecessarily expensive and inefficient – physically moving cash is still very dangerous. It’s an issue many of our clients in Southern California frequently lament. They want to bank like every other business, and wish the federal law that still subjects their firms to …
Years ago, you could call your Los Angeles pot product pretty much anything you wanted, and not only would you find a market for it, you were unlikely to face costly litigation if you swiped someone else’s style. As marijuana increasingly gains legitimacy across the U.S. (now fully legal in Canada), preserving your budding cannabis brand is becoming a significant legal issue for Los Angeles marijuana businesses. Our California cannabis attorneys can help you in this and other endeavors in launching – or rebranding – your legal marijuana business.
As NBC Los Angeles recently reported, now that regulations in the year-old recreational marijuana industry are beginning to settle, some companies are revamping their whole image in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. (Years of “reefer madness” propaganda, a spotty patchwork of state medical marijuana statutes and a spate of federal raids hadn’t helped the industry’s image.)
Building on this previously-untapped market, long-time dispensaries are taking a new tact on branding, while those just breaking into the market are working on forging their recognition for the first time. Unfortunately, because federal law – specifically the U.S. Controlled Substances Act – remains at odds with the now-majority of states that legalize the drug in some form, not all types of intellectual property protection are available to marijuana businesses. Nonetheless, acting on available protections now can help combat copycats in the present while better positioning them to seize further opportunity if/when the government does repeal the CSA.
What Exactly is My Marijuana Business Brand and …
Marijuana business entrepreneurs are increasingly striking green in the Golden State. If you’re looking to launch a new pot shop or any company ancillary to the cannabis industry: California is a prime location. Our Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys could have told you that, but this comes from a new report by FitSmallBusiness.com, which ranked California the No. 5 best state in the U.S. for cannabis start-ups.
The study analyzed numerous factors, including how easy it is for a new business owner to enter the market, what it costs to do so, how much you’ll pay in taxes, how many laws and regulations exist and the overall market opportunity.
Oregon wrestled the No. 1 spot, Colorado No. 2, Michigan No. 3 and Alaska No. 4.
The fact that we aren’t first – despite being the biggest legal marijuana market despite being the largest marijuana market – was attributed largely to our patchwork of laws and hefty taxes (15 percent excise and a sales tax for recreational product). There’s also a mid-range startup fee – $5,000 for business applications. Compare that to Oregon where the fee is a cheap $250 but then also to Illinois, where a cultivator licensing fee costs $200,000 – all but ensuring any prospective small business owners would be pushed out.
Still, California secured the most recreational marijuana revenue of any in 2018 – it’s very first year – at $2.75 billion. Yes, it’s true California has more people – but that’s to the advantage of a burgeoning bud-minded business. …
Recreational marijuana use has been legal in California now for little more than a year, but access to the drug remains scarce in some regions. That’s why some – including those who seek non-psychoactive CBD oil – are relying on a technology app called Weedmaps to help them locate the nearest provider. Our Los Angeles marijuana attorneys are aware this has generated a few problems stemming from the fact that a number of the providers listed on the platform aren’t legally allowed to operate by the state and have not been subjected to the same rigorous quality assurance regulations as legal marijuana businesses.
From a patient’s perspective, that means the product they are receiving may not be 100 percent safe or accurately-labeled with proper potency levels. From the perspective of marijuana businesses, these other companies have carved an unfair advantage over them because they operate in regions they do not and/or have not had to pay the mountains of fees for taxes, licensing, workers’ compensation and quality assurance testing. From the state’s perspective, these businesses are flouting the regulatory framework of the law.
As reported by Wired.com, marijuana businesses can list their services on the site for free, but top billing requires an advertising fee. Some companies pay as much as $20,000-a-month for top-level billing on the site, which doesn’t vet firms to see which are technically legal and does not indicate those pot shops that pop up first on the site have paid for that placement.
With tax season in full swing, the deadline approaching April 15th, California cannabis companies and growers are hauling in piles of cash to government offices to ensure their taxes are paid. However, neither those firms or government employees are keen on dealing with the archaic process of hand-counting dollars. Yet as our California cannabis business attorneys can explain, these tax woes are indicative of the long-standing and much bigger problem: Marijuana businesses can’t access banking.
Despite the fact that now 10 states plus the District of Columbia have marijuana legal for recreational purposes (1 in 4 Americans lives in a state where recreational use is legal), the federal Controlled Substances Act that still designates marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic means banks are reticent to get involved. Doing so could risk the U.S. Department of Justice coming after them for money laundering. Recently, The Modesto Bee reported the U.S. House of Representatives intends to hold hearings on bills that, if passed, could allow marijuana companies easier access to banking services – some six years after states started legalizing the plant for recreational use. It’s not the first time the issue has been raised, but it had always stalled in the past with Republicans being the Congressional majority – even when, as recently as 2017, the House bill had 95 bipartisan co-sponsors and a sister measure in the Senate had 20.
Lawmakers from Colorado and Washington are sponsoring a new marijuana banking bill that cannabis lawyers in Los Angeles know could help these companies – …
The Medical Board of California has revoked the medical license of a physician alleged to have violated the standard of care in prescribing medical marijuana to a 4-year-old child. In the case of The Medical Board of California v. Eidelman, the case was opened seven years ago, but the board revoked his license in December. Last month, the Superior Court of California, County of San Francisco, issued an order barring the physician from treating patients under the age of 18. San Bernardino medical marijuana attorneys understand the order also barred the physician from issuing any recommendations for cannabis as a treatment for minors.
As San Bernardino medical marijuana attorneys at The Cannabis Law Firm can explain, a medical marijuana prescription is the only means by which a person under 21 can lawfully obtain cannabis in California. HS 11361 prohibits anyone over 18 from “furnishing, administering or giving any cannabis to a minor” under the age of 14, with conviction warranting a state prison sentence of 3-5 years. Both parents of children considering pursuing a medical marijuana prescription for their child as well as doctors need to be aware of how the law is applied, under what conditions an adult can be considered in violation of the law and what steps are needed to ensure your legal protection.
The state medical board issued medical marijuana prescription guidelines last April for doctors.
The guidelines indicate:
- There must be an established physician-patient relationship, meaning they have taken responsibility for an aspect of the patient’s medical care,
Marijuana first became legal for recreation among adult users in January 2018. With that, Los Angeles marijuana tourism is taken off, with several ancillary businesses cropping up specifically catering to those who are here for the cannabis. Among the various companies that have entered the fray:
- Tours (including bus tours)
Some tours offer scenic drives, glass-blowing demonstrations, food, a chance to smoke with Tommy Chong and more.
Los Angeles marijuana tourism attorneys know that some firms had a bit of a struggle making their way into the fray, given that legal marijuana is approximately 35 percent higher cost than what is available on the black market. Medical card recipients pay a bit less, given that they aren’t subject to the state excise tax. Aside from them, people who come to California specifically for this purpose don’t seem to mind too much paying the extra cost, given that they’ve come for the experience – and to revel in the ability to enjoy their buds without worrying about a bust.
Companies latching themselves to these opportunities have the potential to make decent profits – but only if they can establish themselves in a way that minimizes the risk of their own liability. That includes, firstly, the potential liability that any tour company catering the imbibing crowd might need to consider.
The possibility that someone with a pre-existing condition might suffer a health emergency on the tour as a result of consuming the drug, thereby leaving them susceptible to injury or permanent disability.
California’s marijuana industry is seeing some major money, with investors pouring millions of dollars into new bud ventures. Recently, Esquire reported San Francisco 49ers football legend and four-time Super Bowl champion Joe Montana was part of a $75 million investment made on a California marijuana company. Our Los Angeles marijuana investment attorneys know this was actually the second time Montana had gone in on such a venture, the first time pouring funds into a Canadian marijuana media company called Herb, which as of mid-2017 had raised $4.1 million to expand its venture to the U.S.
Montana explained his reasons as somewhat philanthropic, saying he supports the industry as a whole because he believes in the power of the plant to offer pain relief with the potential to blunt the raging opioid crisis. (A number of retired football players have said they prefer pot for pain management.) And yet, he himself won’t cop to being a cannabis user, something that still apparently speaks to the stigma that followed the drug for so long. There is also a possibility that he, like many marijuana investors, is reticent to speak too much no the topic given the fact the drug is still illegal at the federal level.
Los Angeles marijuana investment attorneys know that first of all, the profile of cannabis company investors differs from that of the norm. Part of this is because many of the cannabis start-ups are simply too small to go for the big fish. What they can do is seek buy-in …
The appointment of Jeff Sessions to the office of U.S. Attorney General had many pro-marijuana advocates in California and throughout the country on edge. Sessions was known to take a hard line against all drugs, and marijuana was no exception. Those fears were confirmed when Sessions formally rolled back the Cole Memo, a federal directive under the Obama administration not to pursue criminal actions or civil forfeiture against marijuana businesses that were abiding state law. Sessions even declared at one point that people who use marijuana were “not good people.”
After Sessions resigned (forced to leave, one could argue), there was concern President Trump’s next appointment would be more of the same. Those fears weren’t quelled when he named Bill Barr to take the post. TheGrowthOp dubbed Barr, “a well-documented drug warrior.” Barr previously served as attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration, and during that tenure garnered a reputation for escalating the drug war back in the 1990s. He’d called for the construction of more U.S. prisons in order to lock up more drug offenders, most of whom were in hot water over crimes related to marijuana. It didn’t seem like much would change after he signed a Washington Post editorial published in November came out in swinging support of Sessions, calling him “outstanding” and praising him on his tough-on-crime approach to drug dealers.
But then, as reported by VOX, Barr responded to U.S. Senators preparing to hold his confirmation meeting that he would not be pursuing a crackdown against legal …
The California marijuana industry and those who advocate on its behalf have fought tooth and nail for every inch of its legitimacy. Now, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know we may be facing the biggest hurdle yet: Getting legal buyers in the door.
The New York Times recently reported anticipated tax revenue drawn in by the California legal pot market were disappointing. Although the industry generated more than $2.5 billion last year, the state still overshot its anticipated take by more than $100 million. Even worse – that figure was half a billion less than sales in 2017 – when recreational marijuana wasn’t even legal in California yet.
It’s not that pot shops don’t want to pay the piper. The problem is that at rates that high ($150 per pound on cultivators and 15 percent by recreational retail buyers) it creates incentive for consumers to buy their buds from elsewhere. It also doesn’t help that the regulatory requirements laid out by the Bureau of Cannabis Control require extensive testing of products, which also costs a pretty penny. This two combined are taking a financial toll that has meant that buyers of recreational marijuana are paying significantly more for legal cannabis – and most would rather not if there is an alternative.
It seems getting people to overwhelmingly agree to allow legal marijuana was the easy part. Convincing them to pay more to buy it legally is turning out to be a harder sell.
Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers know that this contrasts with how …
Lawmakers in California are exploring ways to ease the financial pressure many pot companies are under, with many saying lowering taxes on cannabis products being one of the best ways to facilitate real competition against the black market. Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know this has resulted in serious struggle for some shops in the last year since recreational marijuana hit the market. The AP reports a number of marijuana industry-backing state legislators have proposed a measure that would cut taxes for these firms and offer a much-needed jump-start needed to get back in the game.
Assembly Bill 286 proposes to:
- Temporarily lower from 15 percent to 11 percent the tax legal buyers pay when they purchase from a California dispensary
- Ax the nearly $150 tax applied per pound on farmers – at least for the next three years.
Analysts say sales of legal marijuana in the last year from $3 billion in 2017 to $2.5 billion in 2018. This is of huge concern because in 2017, the only kind of marijuana available for purchase was medicinal. Recreational marijuana wasn’t available for retail until Jan. 1, 2018.
Legislators opined the high taxes were hurting the companies that are trying to follow the law by creative cash incentive for consumers to seek black market retailers. This was the incentive for the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction bill.
The governor’s proposed budget for this fiscal year (ending in June) initially opined we’d be raking in a lot more. The governor’s office recently reduced its estimated tax revenue …
A lawsuit by the California Growers’ Association over the stacking of licenses by small-scale cannabis farmers to allegedly create large-scale grow sites, thereby subverting the intent of Prop 64, will be dismissed. Although neither the association, nor the California Department of Food and Agriculture (case defendant) have commented publicly on the motive for moving for dismissal, a couple of the growers who were the subject of litigation, having some 200 licenses each, say California is big enough to support small and large operations alike. Smaller growers, they say, can carve a cult-like following by capitalizing on the artisanal. Commercial production for things like medical-grade CBD and related products, however, can’t be produced practically for a profit by small-scale operations, they said.
As our Los Angeles marijuana attorneys can explain, the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture published its final rules for awarding marijuana grow licenses per Proposition 64, with licenses granted according to the size of the farm.
Licenses for “medium-sized” cannabis farms would allow one person or entity a maximum 1 acre outside or 22,000 square feet indoors. “Large” marijuana grow farms (larger than 1 outdoor acre or 22,000 feet of indoor space) aren’t being awarded until 2023, the idea being smaller, mom-and-pop grow operations will get a head start before the large agricultural companies can come storming in. There was, however, no designated license for “small” farms, at least initially.
Last year, the state agriculture department said it would be granting small licenses for indoor facilities under 10,000 feet. However, in doing …
A final rule from the California Bureau of Cannabis Control went into effect this month permitting delivery of cannabis anywhere in the state – even in cities where cannabis has banned. It was no secret the California League of Cities was majorly opposed to this, and last summer submitted an open letter to the cannabis control regulation office arguing the regulation – Section 5416(d) – undermined the ability of local agencies to set their own community standards. The BCC moved forward with the proposed rule anyway, and now our L.A. marijuana delivery attorneys are monitoring the situation, as cities appear poised to duke it out in court.
Meanwhile, amid a spate of arrests by the California State Highway Patrol of marijuana delivery drivers and seizure of their cannabis company goods, the California Office of Administrative Law issued a ruling last week issued a ruling clarifying how marijuana distributors should move about the state. This new rule affirmed the BCC’s regulation indicating these operators can deliver to any jurisdiction, provided the delivery is conducted in compliance with all the BCC’s delivery provisions in place at the time.
It’s been over one year since California opened the largest U.S. retail market for recreational marijuana. Nobody disputes that limited personal possession and private use of the drug is legal almost anywhere (with some restrictions allowable for federal buildings and property, landlords and private property owners). However, the restriction of cannabis sales is within the purview of local communities, per Prop 64 (the measure voters approved in legalizing …
Standalone CBD shops – those selling oils or other products made solely from cannabidiol (a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant that does not contain the psychoactive elements of THC) – are not expansive in California, but they have gained footing in some cities that have otherwise banned full marijuana dispensaries. They are also proving popular options in states where the drug itself may not yet be legal, particularly in light of the recent passage of the federal Farm Bill, which included provisions that legalized hemp, from which CBD oil can be obtained.
Los Angeles CBD shop attorneys understand that while these little stores are outnumbered by the full-service cannabis dispensaries in the city hundreds-to-one, these store owners say they were drawn to the business primarily for the health benefits and variety of products (salves, tinctures, creams, edibles, soft gels, tinctures and more), but also for the reduced legal risk and ease in securing insurance and funding. One in L.A., for instance, sells only hemp-made CBD oil expressly for this purpose Shops that sell only CBD aren’t required to have the pricey licensing, as is required by legal cannabis dispensaries in California.
Such stores have also opened in Missouri, Texas, Kansas, Arkansas, North Carolina, Minnesota, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Ohio. What the Farm Bill, signed in December by the president, did was remove hemp from the list of controlled substances, allowing states to freely allow permanent cultivation programs, and farmers can be eligible for crop insurance and grants.
There are only trace …
Let’s talk pot shop. As long-time L.A. marijuana lawyers, we’ve seen the industry in California morph from its early days as the first state in the U.S. to legalize medical marijuana in the 1990s to joining a growing number of cannabis companies celebrating legal recreational use of the drug, officially allowable after Jan. 1, 2018. However, the passage of this measure did not open the market floodgates. In fact, certain rules are fairly strict and you must be mindful of them when in public, engaging in business with marijuana companies and especially if starting one yourself.
For those who may be new to California, just landed a job here, have an upcoming visit or perhaps are just now interested in testing the THC waters, here are the main things you need to know.
I want to buy recreational marijuana. What are the rules?
California statute allows adult individuals over the age of 21 to purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana a day, or up to 8 grams of cannabis concentrates, such as candies, breakfast bars and brownies. The amount of edibles you’re allowed to legally have on your person will depend on the THC concentration of each product. One small product might contain a higher degree of THC concentration than something larger, thus the number of the smaller products you would legally be able to have would be lower. Products must be purchased from a state-registered dispensary and users must provide a valid ID, such as a driver’s license or passport. Sales are …
It’s not only pot smokers who line outside California’s cannabis dispensaries. Personal injury attorneys may be lurking nearby as well, watching for the opportunity to pounce on a possible product liability claim if an marijuana product makes someone sick or results in an injury. This is particularly true because many states allow punitive damages (up to three times one’s actual damages, intended to penalize the defendant for egregious wrongs rather than simply compensate the plaintiff) for injuries an intoxicated person causes to others.
Marijuana product liability attorneys in Los Angeles have concluded cannabis companies with perhaps the greatest vulnerability are those that produce edible products. Soda, gummies, truffles, cookies, truffles, brownies, potato chips, wines – the list is endless. But the waters of marijuana product liability lawsuits aren’t well-tested.
Such lawsuits will assert that marijuana products are defective, dangerous, mislabeled and/or the makers and distributors failed to issue adequate warnings about these risks.
In one such case, Kirk et al v. Nutritional Elements, Inc. et al., filed in the Denver County District Court, plaintiffs are the sons of a man who consumed a cannabis edible he purchased legally from a recreational marijuana dispensary in Colorado, soon became consumed with paranoia and shot and killed his wife. He blamed it on the edible, which he said he’d never done before and was not aware the product would affect him that way. The sons are asserting wrongful death against the manufacturer of the marijuana gummy as well as the store that sold it, alleging both …
A federal lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging the constitutionality of the federal law designating marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance proceeded recently to the next level with oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. As our Los Angeles marijuana patient attorneys can explain, the crux of the argument by plaintiffs of the claim, first filed in 2017, is that the designation ignores the merits of the drug for medicinal purposes. The appeal was heard last month by the three-judge panel.
Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a 12-year-old epilepsy patient, an 8-year-old Leigh’s syndrome patient, an Iraq war veteran and sufferer of post-traumatic stress disorder, a former NFL player who heads a hemp company hawking sports performance products and a non-profit that helps minorities get ahead in the legal cannabis market. Defendants are acting-Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the acting director of the DEA and the federal government.
The appeal, limited to presentations of just a few minutes per side, rests on a dispute of the assertion that the Controlled Substances Act violates the 5th Amendment, which guarantees the right of citizens to preserve life and health.
Los Angeles cannabis lawyers know one of the strongest points plaintiffs have in their favor is the recent approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval last year of Epidiolex, a drug that contains CBD (cannabidiol). Although the lower federal court (U.S. District in New York ruled plaintiffs had yet to pursue all administrative …
As marijuana legalization continues throughout North America, there is still significant public and private interest resistance to its proliferation. One of the legal ground on which these cases have been tested throughout the country is a federal law known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970, also known as RICO. As our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers can explain, this was a law intended to battle organized crime and the mafia. However, it’s been used in several recent federal cases to intervene with legal marijuana businesses and users – one of the most recent in Petaluma, California, marking what is believed to be the first time this legal argument has been used against marijuana businesses in the state.
But in that case, as in many of the cannabis company RICO civil lawsuits pursued nationally, a federal judge has ruled against the plaintiffs.
According to The Argus Courier, a U.S. District Judge held that neighbors of a cannabis company and its lead grower can’t be sued under RICO anti-corruption laws because nuisances related to noise and bad smells don’t cause the same kind of tangible financial losses intended to be addressed under RICO.
Plaintiffs had alleged that the marijuana business had caused an odor many in the neighborhood had found to be “sickening,” and that this, combined with the loud noise coming from the property had resulted in diminished property values and life enjoyment. The federal judge in San Francisco didn’t rule that the complaints had no merit, but rather, in …
Los Angeles marijuana attorneys have been fighting for the cannabis rights in California for two decades now. As one of the oldest-serving cannabis law firms in Los Angeles, the biggest city in the first and largest state ever to approve medical marijuana, it has not been without its many, many challenges – from a patchwork of local laws at the community level to the federal raids of dispensaries operating legally under state but not federal law to the disparities revealed when police officers were given broad discretion in deciding who to civilly cite versus who to arrest for petty possession crimes. Every battle saw this once-demonized plant inch closer to legitimacy, closer to legalization. We still aren’t there. We won’t be until the federal government removes marijuana from the federal list of Controlled Substances, does more than look the other way at state-approved marijuana sales and allows these companies to operate with the same protections as any other business, its customers treated like any other patron.
Looking back, 2018 has been a banner year for legalized marijuana across the country – including here in California, where it all started. One legislator and long-time marijuana advocate commented that “this was the year the movement crested,” meaning action that would overturn the federal ban is imminent now that two-thirds of all states have some form of legalized medicinal marijuana, 10 allow recreational marijuana and more are sure to follow.
After voters approved legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, the legal market couldn’t simply swing open the …
When California passed a measure permitting the sale of marijuana for recreation, there was a presumption that within short order, there would be cannabis farms cropping up all over the state, shops in almost every city and that adult consumers could score a stash with a stroll down the street or a quick dash across town. However, as our Los Angeles marijuana business owners have observed, the reality hasn’t quite measured up. In fact, while this is indeed the largest market in the U.S., it hasn’t performed at the same clip the state and business owners would have hoped.
As recently reported by The Los Angeles Times, factors at play include retail operations bridled by a host of regulations, oppressive taxes and decisions made in most cities to prohibit the retail stores. Cannabis law firms have also noted some shops have been dragged to city hall over neighbor’s complaints their presence is a nuisance. Police in several districts have expressed concern about crimes related to both the industry and illicit trade, which hasn’t completely disappeared, given the markup prices on legal marijuana.
Los Angeles marijuana attorneys see a wide range of legal cannabis challenges for the incoming governor, Gavin Newsome, who takes office in January. These include initiatives like:
- Inability of California marijuana shops to access banking services.
- Crippling tax burdens on pot shop retailers.
- Illicit marijuana cultivation and sales, mostly stemming from high cannabis costs due to government taxation and regulation.
- Problematic issues with sales of marijuana to minors.
- Stifled growth of
Most of the marijuana businesses in California and across the country run by small, independent entities operating in a limited regional network within their own state. Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys have seen several indications we might see a major shift on this front in 2019. There are already four large multi-state marijuana businesses in operation, and as more national and international companies enter the fray, we’re likely to see a boom of large cannabis business growth – partially or primarily through mergers and acquisitions.
Historically, cannabis business ventures have been small as federal law has hindered businesses from stretching across state lines. While the states control trade within their borders, the federal government has jurisdiction over interstate sales – and cannabis is still under federal law considered a Schedule I dangerous narcotic. But with the drug legalized in some form now by 33 states and available for recreational use in 10, legal in Canada and poised for legitimacy in Mexico, this is probably going to change (though it’s tough to say exactly when). State and local governments are embracing the tax revenue these companies rake in and they’re spending less on police resources to bust people for petty marijuana possession charges. A legal marijuana industry analyst with Forbes opined next year will see an explosion of cannabis mergers and acquisitions.
Still, expanding the tentacles of one’s marijuana business into other states is still very risky and could result in millions of dollars in losses if they overreach or fail to follow the stringent …
Strict state regulations on transport and distribution of marijuana in California has spawned a thriving new ancillary industry: Third-party logistics (3PLs). These are independent companies that don’t grow or produce cannabis or related products, but help ensure orders are accurately filled, delivery demands are met on time and products are properly preserved between destination points. Of course, third-party logistics firms have been around for ages, working within just about every national or international market sector, but as Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys can explain, they’re pretty new to this particular economic sector. In California, the state requires licensing for “distributors” and “transporters,” basically the “mandatory middle-men.”
One recent report by logistics trade publication Supply Chain 24-7 detailed burgeoning efforts to build a strategy for state-level supply chains, but also for what some believe may sooner than later become a global supply chain. One logistics firm working on this has its sights on Canada, and with development help from its technology and finance partners is hoping to on-board major licensed marijuana producers, retail distribution centers and government regulators.
Most global third-party logistics for cannabis are likely to employ some type of blockchain, given mandates that product be tracked and accounted for from seed-to-sale. Blockchain is a type of digital ledger for sales transactions made on a cryptocurrency platform like bitcoin, which are meticulously recorded in chronological order and recorded for the public. Cyrptocurrency is likely to be the preferred method of payment for ancillary cannabis companies that have expanded to the point of needing a …
Hopes of a public bank to serve California cannabis companies appear to have fizzled with an extensive marijuana banking report from the state Treasury Department explaining that as long as marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic per U.S. Code, any publicly-funded banking intended for companies that sell it would put tax money at risk.
When you’re working with a Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer to get your cannabis business plan, licensing, permits, insurance and quality compliance in order, inevitably, one issue that will arise is how you plan to manage your money. Cannabis companies can’t just open a business checking or savings account like any other because technically, selling marijuana is still against federal law, thus proceeds are “dirty money,” and any banker who works with these firms knowing what they do could be found guilty of money laundering. That would cost the financial firms their banking charters and effectively put them out of business.
Of course, it’s utterly ridiculous given that the plant is legal now in most states in some form or another. Los Angeles marijuana lawyers suspect U.S. law will eventually catch up to the science and times. For now, though, California pot shop owners slog through major logistical hurdles of operating almost exclusively in cash, leaving them vulnerable to robbery, thwarting growth and denying additional tax revenue to both the state and local governments.
Although there is clearly a need for some type of solution, the report’s findings align with conclusions reached by the state’s attorney general as well as …
Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know the California Cannabis Equity Act of 2018 as an act of penance. It would never make up for the upended lives or communities torn asunder in a decades-long government failure that was the “War on Drugs.” It was an effort that cost untold billions, frequently sparked caustic tensions between police and the people and targeted mostly those in poor minority communities. But the programs meant to give a leg up to those unfairly affected appears to have hit many stalls and snags. Some wonder if that wasn’t intentional, given that the program has been controversial in some circles.
When California voters legalized recreational marijuana for adults in 2016, suddenly there were people getting rich doing the same thing that led to arrests, prosecution and harsh minimum mandatory prison term for tens of thousands. Even after their release from incarceration, the government’s civil seizure of all assets even tenuously connected to drugs, plus the stigma of a permanent “felon” label blocked access to student loans (sometimes any loans), job opportunities and housing options. The racial disparity of the impact stunning. The ACLU reporting blacks were arrested at a rate of four-fold higher than whites, despite basically the same usage rates. It was way worse in some communities, like Oakland, where black residents accounted for 27 percent of the population but 77 percent of those arrested for marijuana.
The concept of “cannabis equity” is that those hit much harder by harsher marijuana laws should now be extended lower entry barriers into …
The legalized marijuana market in California is booming with a rising number of investors (hoping for returns the next big thing), horticulturalists carving out regional and brand niches and more recreational pot shops and cannabis couriers than ever before. Still, many who have tried to launch a California small marijuana business – either from an exiting platform or from scratch – are finding themselves squeezed out.
For the “mom-and-pot spot” owners either just starting out or wondering how their doors will stay open, it can be tempting to try trimming expenses and skimping on legal services. But even if expenses are tight, this isn’t a good idea. Cannabis law in California isn’t like writing up a simple contract or printing off a power of attorney form from a free site. It’s complex. It’s been changing fast. It varies from city-to-city. It’s got this complicated relationship with federal law. It’s really the type of legal insight you can only get from an attorney who not only practices California cannabis law, but has been doing it for decades.
California legal cannabis market isn’t just about capital. It’s about compliance. If you’re busy trying to cut through state bureaucracy or negotiate a commercial leases on your own, you are firstly Our marijuana lawyers work with you to help you make sure you’re covered from a legal standpoint. We want to be sure your time, monetary investment and dream is protected.
Examples of the ways a lawyer can help keep you in the game and competitive:
The U.S. president’s signature on the major farm bill earlier this month was a big win for legalized hemp. However, our Los Angeles marijuana product sales attorneys have just learned the passage of that measure won’t necessarily grant blanket protection for CBD oil, after the U.S. Food and drug administration issued warnings to a number of cannabis product makers making certain health claims about products produced with CBD, formally known as cannabidiol. The hemp-derived extract is becoming increasingly popular in a range of products, including foods, lotions and medicines.
A week after the farm bill was passed, the FDA Commissioner issued a statement underscoring the department’s position on CBD oil and related products. The commissioner stated in plain terms that CBD oil is a drug ingredient, and thus is unlawful to put in food or health products absent any prior approval from the FDA, with the main concern being potential risk to patients when products haven’t been proven to be effective or safe.
Remember: CBD is the non-psychoactive compound found in hemp, which is a version of the cannabis plant that is very low in THC. It’s the THC infused naturally in marijuana that gives off the high. CBD is in a number of medications that are approved by the FDA for treatment of certain ailments. Epidiolex, a CBD-oil infused syrup used to treat seizures, is one, having just received its stamp of approval this past summer.
Los Angeles marijuana product sales attorneys understand the FDA memo released after the farm bill approval did …
California cannabis company compliance attorneys are warning current and potential clients that the newest round of regulations that is going to dramatically impact company coffers, causing laboratory testing fees to skyrocket by as much as 55 percent. This latest roll-out, Phase 3 of state regulations, effective Dec. 31st, is specifically going to impact those who are making concentrates and infused products, as well as those who work in cultivation.
Among the regulations that will go into effect at that time:
- All harvested marijuana and cannabis products are mandated to be tested for mold-generated toxins, mycotoxins and heavy metals.
- Labels of products that claim terpene (a natural, essential oil that enhances the high and contains numerous medicinal properties) will be subject to terpenoid tests.
- Cannabis products that are inhalable, solid, or semi-solid edibles will need to undergo water activity tests in order to ascertain the amount of water they contain.
These tests, state regulators say, are intended to impose more stringent standards on marijuana products to make them safer for public consumption.
Cannabis company compliance attorneys in Los Angeles are extending legal services to any Southern California marijuana business whose owners want to be certain their product meets the rigorous new standards and that they haven’t missed any potential loopholes. The Cannabis Law Firm can also help your team gear up for upcoming testing requirements we know are on the horizon in 2019.
Increase in Testing Rigor Raises Concern Among Cannabis Farmers
Even though the heightened requirements aren’t news to anyone in the industry, many …
California vineyards seeking to cash in on possible cannibdiol-infused (CBD) wines may benefit from provisions of the much-touted 2018 Farm Bill, which amended the federal Controlled Substances Act to remove restrictions on both hemp and hemp-derived CBD, which is unique from marijuana in its lack of THC, the psychoactive agent in cannabis. However, as experienced Orange County cannabis industry attorneys, we urge wineries to proceed with caution and legal consultation.
Although the impact of removing restrictions on hemp and hemp-derived products is likely to be significant, technically federal agricultural subsidies don’t rope in growers of vegetables and fruits – including grapes. Plus, even as the federal ban on marijuana lifted, many states – including California – still have laws on the books making it unlawful to infuse hemp in alcohol or food products. The Farm Bill expressly allows states to govern their own regulation of hemp production, the same as it does with alcohol.
Congress did direct states to both license and track any hemp produced from seed-to-sale, but gives state lawmakers the authority to impose tighter hemp regulations if they so choose. However, state rules can’t be any less strict than federal guidelines and those regulations do need to get the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s approval stamp.
Orange County marijuana business attorneys know that is likely to create complications for California vineyards hoping to hop into the hemp game. The good news is the farm bill does expressly allow commerce of hemp and hemp products across state lines, but that doesn’t mean …
To answer a question that still commonly crops up for our Los Angeles marijuana criminal defense attorneys: Yes, you can still get busted for cannabis-related offenses in the state of California.
When California legalized cannabis for recreational purposes with Prop. 64, broadly opening the market for adult consumers earlier this year, it did not legalize all cultivation, production, sale and possession of the drug. Instead, marijuana legalization was inducted into a highly-regulated market. And while criminal arrests for cannabis possession are down, there is still a risk of running afoul of state regulations and criminal codes.
This summer, a crime report issued by the state revealed that while marijuana-related arrests in mid-2018 saw a significant drop this year compared to last (56 percent overall, with felony marijuana arrests down 74 percent), there is still a risk that Californians and visitors could face substantial jail or prison terms, hefty fines and criminal records. Still, the number facing those risks fell by 8,000 from 2016 to 2017.
Los Angeles marijuana criminal defense attorneys as well as those with the Drug Policy Alliance and other supporters who have long-backed marijuana legalization efforts, overall this is good news, as it means less taxpayer-funded law enforcement resources are being dedicated to non-violent drug-related offenses, and the focus now can rightly shift to more serious crimes.
Still, the laws for cannabis cultivation, production and possession still leave the door wide open for adverse contact with local law enforcement agencies – and a potential criminal record. In October, the California Attorney …
More California marijuana products are passing rigorous safety standards imposed by state law, though Orange County marijuana business attorneys know the the abrupt closure of a state-approved laboratory found to have fallen short in checking for pesticides has some Orange County cannabis companies scrambling to ensure they’re meeting state guidelines.
Earlier this year marked the beginning of broad legalization of marijuana in California, but strict testing of pot products was mandated by state officials beginning July 1. Eight weeks into that testing and one-fifth of all marijuana products were failing those standards. By November, however, California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control reported the testing failure rate fell to roughly 14 percent. That still means approximately 24,000 marijuana items for sale never made it to store shelves.
Among those items reportedly having the highest failure rates were cannabis-infused:
- Tinctures (concentrated herbal extracts)
Those items on their own had a fail rate of about 26 percent over the summer, though this was still an improvement. Previously, the fail rate of these processed marijuana products had been about one-third.
A spokesman for the state control bureau noted that although any regulation is going to have an adjustment period, the overall consensus is the California cannabis industry has made that adjustment rather quickly, considering all the rules that have gone into effect in a relatively short period of time. The lower fail rates are indicative of that, something the spokesman said was “encouraging.”
As a long-time Orange County marijuana law firm, The Cannabis Law Group urges …
The gig economy that contracts ride-share drivers is known for being unpredictable, tedious and, as contract workers, exempt from key employment benefits like health insurance, workers’ compensation and retirement savings. Now, with marijuana delivery services in L.A. and throughout California legal, cannabis companies are starting to poach these workers from big-name ride-share companies like Uber, Lyft and DoorDash.
Los Angeles marijuana delivery attorneys know the pace is likely to pick up now that California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control this month moved to allow the delivery of marijuana products throughout the entire Golden State. This includes allowing delivery drivers access to those areas with local bans on marijuana sales, per NBC San Diego. Although the move is opposed by the California League of Cities as well as numerous law enforcement agencies. Los Angeles marijuana delivery attorneys know means some drivers may get some flack from local police. In fact, as our cannabis criminal defense law firm knows, the state regulator took action to make this right explicit after several law enforcement agencies in non-pot-friendly communities made it known they intended to detain and arrest licensed marijuana delivery drivers who were ferrying marijuana through their cities for commercial purposes. Despite this opposition, the directive from the state control agency will become law next month unless the state’s Office of Administrative Law intervenes. If that occurs, the matter could wind up in court.
State marijuana regulators, given broad control by voters to regulate virtually every aspect of legal cannabis sales, maintain that when California voters passed …
With Congress having reached an accord on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which includes a provision to lift the federal ban on cultivation of industrial hemp, the proliferation of hemp farming in California and across the country is expected to grow exponentially. California hemp farming attorneys know that up to this point, the U.S. has been the only industrialized nation wherein industrialized hemp isn’t already an established crop. The provisions of the act amend the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to indicate industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC won’t be classified any longer as a schedule I narcotic. The measure gives states, rather than the federal government, authority regulate commercial hemp production and sales.
It’s a measure that could potentially be a cash cow for California farmers, as well as those across the U.S.
Hemp is defined in California Health and Safety Code Section 11018.5 as the fiber or oilseed crop limited to types of the cannabis plant with no more than three-tenths of THC. It’s production is overseen by the California Industrial Hemp Program, with Division 24 of the California Food and Agricultural Code providing for the cultivation of industrial hemp by registered growers as well as established agricultural research sites. The reason this federal measure is so important is that up until that law goes into effect, hemp is still considered a Schedule I narcotic per the CSA, which California hemp farming attorneys know means unless specifically exempted there, any hemp-related activity is still technically …
Los Angeles marijuana DUI just got a little likelier, given local news reports the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has bolstered funding for the prosecution of driving under the influence charges involving cannabis and other drugs. Because determining intoxication via marijuana can be subjective – even for trained police officers – it’s important to contact an experienced Los Angeles marijuana DUI lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your rights are preserved.
There is currently no accepted scientific test that “proves” impairment by THC, the blood, urine or breath tests do with alcohol. That’s because alcohol moves through the human body at a much more rapid rate than THC, which means if it is detected in the system in high concentrations, intoxication is almost positive. THC concentration doesn’t tell us the same because the chemical can remain in the body for weeks or even months after consumption, particularly if one is a regular consumer of marijuana.
With the help of a nearly $1 million grant form the California Office of Traffic Safety via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agency that seeks to curb drunk driving and slash the number of drug- and alcohol-related deaths and injuries across the U.S. This year’s grant is $100,000 more than the last. The funding is allocated for training and in some instances prosecuting cases of drug-impaired driving that results in death. Additionally, the grant will help train police agencies and boost the number of officers in Los Angeles County who are considered certified drug recognition …
Almost all California businesses know they’ll need to secure some type of insurance. Unfortunately, as our Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys know full well, companies that deal in cannabis face a host of major hurdles for this essential service. Although the California Insurance Commissioner has approved a handful of insurance carriers to offer insurance coverage to the cannabis industry this year, giving growers and distributors at least some options, there is a good argument to be made that cannabis companies need an insurer tailored to meet the unique needs of the industry – just like they require an attorney who specializes in marijuana law.
Although it has become easier this year for cannabis companies to find insurance coverage than ever before, Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys recognize the industry is still very under-served.
Most cannabis insurance primarily focuses on product liability coverage, as explained in a recent article by Insurance Journal. However, there are a number of other potential liabilities too for which cannabis companies likely could use insurance coverage. That’s an opportunity for insurance companies, but of course many are keenly aware of the risk, given federal laws pertaining to money laundering when doing business with any enterprise that derives income from illegal sale of cannabis.
Insurers interested in entering the cannabis business market would do well to enter the various cannabis industry associations to get educated on the intricacies of the cannabis industry.
Cannabis Insurance Coverage Gaps
Cyber coverage for cannabis companies is one area that could use some additional coverage. …
Legalization of marijuana has brought a number of enterprises and employees from the shadows of the black market. One of those includes the work of so-called “bud trimmers.” Los Angeles marijuana employment attorneys know that because so many of these workers are from other places, flocking in heavy numbers during harvest seasons, they are sometimes referred to as “trimmigrants.” These workers were historically subject to an outsized risk of the same sort of abuses many migrant workers face – unfair wages or wage theft, discrimination and sexual harassment.
An article published two years ago in “Broadly” was written by a woman who worked for years during harvest season on illegal marijuana farms in rural California. The isolation of the site made it all the more dangerous for young female workers – not only because they risked jail time and felony charges for unregulated, untaxed income, but because they are frequently (especially on the black market) targeted for sexual harassment. One investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal found in 2016 that the number of sexual assaults suffered by female trimmers was far underestimated.
Ideally, legalizing the drug would have brought these sort of elements of the industry to light, making workers safer. Perhaps to some degree, that is true. However, as Los Angeles marijuana attorneys with practice areas both in the budding cannabis law as well as California employment law, we recognize these workers may still be vulnerable, especially if the operation is still illegal (as a fair number still are, …