Changing public opinion and the laws pertaining to cannabis have created a large and vibrant marketplace for businesses interested in the cannabis sector, and those dealing with businesses in the cannabis sector, such as landlords, municipalities, and investors. However, the legal rules governing the cannabis market are complex, fast changing, and contradictory. We assist cannabis related businesses to comply with applicable law and we counsel on the risks to participants in this emerging marketplace.
Licensing and Regulatory Compliance
The marijuana industry is highly regulated, and compliance with the complicated rules and standards governing the industry is critical for any business trying to navigate the marijuana marketplace. Additionally, anyone doing business or interacting with a marijuana business needs to understand how these rules work as well, whether it’s a landlord, a vendor, a contractor, a municipality or a professional. Drummond Woodsum’s attorneys have been intimately involved with the creation of Maine’s marijuana laws and regulations and have a deep and practical understanding of how these rules function. Coupled with our understanding of marijuana business operations, our depth of knowledge of marijuana regulations gives us an unparalleled capacity to assist with license applications and ongoing regulatory compliance.
Political and Policy Representation
The rules of the marijuana business are still being shaped by state and local governments, as well as by the federal government. Marijuana businesses need to be at the table when these policy decisions are being discussed, and need to have respected and sophisticated advocates for their positions. By combining a deep understanding of marijuana business operations, with a strong and well-regarded profile in city halls and state capitols, our legislative and policy experts can be that voice for you. Additionally, our team includes former high ranking employees of two U.S. Senators, giving us an unparalleled ability to represent clients at the federal level as well.
The marijuana industry faces an array of complicated real estate needs: warehouses for cultivation space, the sophisticated buildings required for extraction and downtown locations for retail stores. Whether you’re an operator or a landlord, our real estate attorneys understand the needs of the marijuana industry and understand how to protect tenants and landlords and buyers and sellers from the inherent legal and business risks in marijuana-related real estate transactions. We also understand local permitting processes and have participated in the creation of several local ordinances. With local control of marijuana operations such a critical factor in the marijuana industry, our expertise with zoning and permitting can be invaluable.
Business and Corporate Services
Marijuana businesses have the same legal needs as any other business: entity creation, capital formation, agreements between owners, business sales and mergers, contract drafting and negotiation, securities law compliance and many other issues. Our attorneys combine deep experience in all aspects of corporate and business law and practice with a deep knowledge of how marijuana businesses operate. This allows us to offer a wide range of advice and guidance to business owners and managers on the most sensitive and complex issues faced by marijuana businesses.
Privacy and Data Security
Maintaining the privacy and security of sensitive information and valuable data is one of the most challenging tasks facing private and public sector organizations today. Fast-changing technology, increasingly aggressive hackers, shifting customer attitudes, intense media scrutiny, new laws and regulations, and evolving organizational models combine to make privacy and data security a top priority for organizations both large and small.
Labor and Employment
The legalization of marijuana presents new challenges to human resources professionals. Whether it is off-hours use of marijuana, on the job impairment or the rights of medical marijuana patients, in this new era, human resource professionals must understand the new marijuana laws, and must be prepared to respond to legalization. We can help train human resources professionals in the best practices for dealing with marijuana in the workplace, and can help you evaluate existing HR policies in light of legalization. These kinds of issues take on heightened importance in the marijuana industry itself, where many potential employees have views on marijuana usage that may not be consistent with the demands of a professional workplace. We can help fashion employment policies and handbooks for these businesses, and offer extensive management and employee trainings.
The marijuana industry faces unique tax challenges. Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prevents marijuana related businesses from deducting business expenses from their operating revenue. Navigating the negative tax landscape facing marijuana businesses requires careful planning and a sophisticated understanding of how marijuana businesses operate. Our tax and regulatory attorneys combine these skill sets to provide powerful tax planning. Additionally, we can help with compliance with the state tax issues presented by marijuana regulation.
Like any consumer products business, the marijuana businesses will succeed largely on the basis of creating trusted and recognizable brands. While this is a challenge in any industry, in the marijuana sector, the lack of federal trademark protections make this even more of a challenge. Our intellectual property professionals have developed strategies to help marijuana businesses protect their intellectual property to the fullest extent possible. In addition to trademark and brand protection, we can also help evaluate whether a brand in development will infringe any existing businesses, so that our clients don’t end up in trademark disputes in the future. Finally, when the day comes that national trademark registration for marijuana products becomes available, we will be ready to move aggressively to secure federal trademark recognition for our clients’ brands.
All industries generate litigation, but the issues raised in marijuana related business litigation will be completely novel to courts. Because we understand the marijuana industry, our litigators will be uniquely positioned to explain the issues and represent our clients interests in all forums – state, federal and private arbitration.
Zoning and Other Land Use
Marijuana legalization laws in almost every state afford great latitude to municipalities regarding where marijuana businesses can operate, and how permits will be given out. Our attorneys have extensive experience navigating local permitting and zoning laws. We can help you understand the requirements for siting a marijuana business, and can help you deal local municipal staff and before local planning boards or other municipal bodies.
Work with First Nations
The marijuana industry presents potential opportunities and significant questions to First Nations. Issues of tribal sovereignty are at the heart of these discussions. Tribes need to decide whether to legalize marijuana on reservation and on whether or not to participate in the marijuana industry as a commercial enterprise. We have counseled numerous tribes in these governmental deliberations. Additionally, because tax rates on marijuana are quite high around the country, the potential ability of a tribe to pre-empt state taxes potentially gives tribes significant competitive advantages in the marijuana sector. We can help guide a tribal government through the process of drafting marijuana legalization ordinances, vetting and selecting potential business partners, negotiating development and other contracts and helping create and advise tribal marijuana regulatory bodies.