Happy 2018 to the marijuana industry!

Happy New Year’s Day to all of our readership! We want to again thank everyone for your continued interest in the blog and we hope that, if nothing else, our content is helpful and constructive when it comes to your cannabis business legal needs and curiosities.

2017 was an interesting year for the cannabis industry across the U.S., full of ups, downs, near misses, but mostly good progress. ICYMI, here are our top ten highlights from 2017:

  1. Jeff Sessions backs off (sorta). 2017 was a somewhat scary time for the state-legal cannabis industry because one of the worst cannabis-haters of all time became the top prosecutor in the U.S. under President Trump. Yes, the industry was pretty paranoid about Sessions. We wrote many times (see here, here, and here) about Sessions and his attempts to energize the failed war on drugs by undoing the states’ democratic experiments with cannabis legalization. Ultimately though, Sessions took a bit of a u-turn in November when he basically kowtowed to the 2013 Cole Memo testifying in a House Judiciary Oversight committee hearing that: “Our policy is the same, really, fundamentally as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”
  2. Constitutionality of Schedule I gets challenged in court. Former NFL player Marvin Washington is one of five plaintiffs that filed suit against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ, and the DEA in 2017, alleging that classifying cannabis as a schedule I controlled substance under the 1970 Controlled Substances Act is so absurd as to be unconstitutional.  Currently, 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of medical cannabis use, and recent studies suggest cannabis actually helps get people off dangerous drugs, like cocaine, meth, and opioids (which are listed as less dangerous than cannabis). While we’d love to see this lawsuit undo cannabis prohibition altogether, it’s a long shot at best.
  3. California finally regulated its cannabis marketplace. While it’s not going to be pretty or smooth, California finally convened legislation to combine and regulate its cannabis marketplace. (It also made huge strides in the cannabis trademarks department. If you want to know more about the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act, see our blog posts here, here, here and here. California is hugely important to the overall progress of legalization, because it’s so large and so impactful to the U.S. economy. As of today at 6 a.m., legal sales have begun in The Golden State, and our California attorneys could not be more excited to witness history being made.
  4. The FDA continued its campaign against CBD and it may start dabbling in state-legal marijuana health claims. It’s no secret that the FDA is in relatively hot pursuit of CBD makers who make medical claims about it (see here, here, and here), and 2017 was no exception. Essentially, the FDA has said that CBD is not a supplement exempt from drug trials under the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act and, as a result, if you want to medical claims about it (regarding either humans or animals) you have to put it through drug testing first. In addition, the FDA’s commissioner “hinted” that it may start to explore the validity of health claims made about actual medical cannabis.
  5. Blockchain and cannabis may end up making a good marriage. 2017 really brought on an analysis of whether blockchain and cannabis commercialization could make good bedfellows. We wrote extensively about the melding of the two here and here. Without a doubt, blockchain could change the face of the industry and make everyone’s lives a little easier when it comes to reporting and business logistics.
  6. Marijuana banking is slowly and steadily keeping on. This past summer, the Treasury Department’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued its newest Marijuana Banking Update. This update provides information regarding the number of banks and credit unions that are providing services to marijuana businesses and are complying with their Bank Secrecy Act compliance obligations and reporting those services to FinCEN. The data from the report showed that at the end of March 2017, nearly 300 banks and around 50 credit unions were providing banking services to marijuana related businesses. In Washington, there are 5 to 10 financial institutions that openly provide banking services to marijuana businesses, close to the same number in Colorado, and far fewer than that in Oregon and California.
  7. Canada dropped its marijuana legalization bills. In April, making good on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s 2015 campaign promises, Canada’s Liberal Party-led government announced a suite of bills to legalize recreational marijuana use throughout Canada. While Canada is taking a predominantly different tack with recreational cannabis by having government-owned retail outlets, it’s still a huge development for cannabis legal reform that Canada decided to legalize on a federal level.
  8. 2017: the year of cannabis commercial litigation. With the maturation of the state-legal cannabis industry comes more litigation. 2017 really represented a significant ramp up with litigation, from RICO lawsuits, to counterfeit challenges with ancillary products, to a nuisance lawsuit filed against an Oregon cannabis farmer by a neighboring vineyard, we saw all kinds of fights emerge across the industry in multiple states. We also wrote endlessly about cannabis litigation and how to deal with it (some examples are here and here). Without a doubt these unique and interesting fights will continue as the industry continues to develop.
  9. Bankruptcy still isn’t (and never was) an option for marijuana businesses. Back in 2014, we wrote that bankruptcy is not an option for marijuana businesses. That issue has been litigated here and there since then, but as of today, cannabis businesses are no better off than before. The hard reality is this: all bankruptcy cases are handled in federal courts under rules outlined in the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. Those courts have held that it would be impossible for a U.S. Trustee to control and administer a debtor’s assets (cannabis) without violating the federal Controlled Substances Act. All of this was confirmed in 2017 via an article authored by the Director and Trial attorney for the Executive Office for U.S. Trustees.
  10. Congress continually renewed medical cannabis protections. If you don’t know what the Rohrbacher-Farr/Rohrbacher-Blumaneaur amendment is, go here. In the Ninth Circuit and elsewhere, it’s the single most important protection for medical marijuana businesses, as confirmed by this case. (The Amendment does NOT apply to recreational marijuana businesses or legislation). Fortunately, despite the fact that A.G. Sessions has requested that Congress repeal this amendment, Congress has continued to renew it throughout 2017. Currently, the amendment’s protections have been extended by Congress through January 19, 2018.

Happy 2018, everyone!

Los Angeles Cannabis Event
IT’S TONIGHT

Our Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum is tonight (Thursday) so get your tickets now!

Our Los Angeles office will host this event, connecting top investors and leading companies in Southern California’s cannabis and ancillary industries for learning and networking. We are expecting a full house — 250+ people.

The Forum will begin tonight at 6:30 p.m. with a keynote from Hilary Bricken on the many recent changes to California’s medical and adult use cannabis laws under MAUCRSA. From 6:45 to 8 p.m., Hilary will moderate a panel comprised of Alex Fang, Founder of Sublime CO2; Paul Henderson, CEO of Grupo Flor; Stephen Kaye, COO of Big Rock; Kenneth Berke, President of PayQwick; and Carlton Willey, our San Francisco-based securities and equity financing attorney.

The panel will delve into the following:

Audience questions will be taken throughout the presentation and a cocktail networking session will follow the panel discussion and last until 9:30 pm. Food and drink will be provided.

The Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum will be held at Wanderlust Hollywood. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. We have held back a few tickets to sell at the door, but if you want to skip the line and be sure to get in, you should register in advance now!

California cannabis eventsDon’t miss tomorrow night’s Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum, a discussion on investing in Southern California’s newly regulated cannabis industry. Hosted by Harris Bricken’s from our Los Angeles office, the Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum will connect top investors and leading companies in Southern California’s cannabis and ancillary industries.

The Forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday with a keynote from Hilary Bricken that addresses the many recent changes to California’s medical and adult use cannabis laws under MAUCRSA. From 6:45 to 8 p.m., I will moderate a panel comprised of Alex Fang, Founder of Sublime CO2; Paul Henderson, CEO of Grupo Flor; Stephen Kaye, COO of Big Rock; Kenneth Berke, President of PayQwick; and Carlton Willey, our own San Francisco-based securities and equity financing attorney.

Panelists will cover:

Audience questions will be taken throughout the presentation. A cocktail networking session will follow the panel and last until 9:30 pm. Food and drink will be provided.

The Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum will be held at Wanderlust Hollywood. Doors open at 5:30 pm. We’ll have a few tickets at the door, but we expect this event to sell out just as we did a similar event in San Francisco so it’s best to register in advance!

California cannabis events

Just a last reminder that pricing for our November 30 Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum in Los Angeles will be increasing at midnight tonight. If you buy now, you can get your tickets for $55 for one or $100 for two. Tomorrow, those costs will  increase to $75 and $135.

The Forum will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a keynote by Hilary Bricken (our lead cannabis business attorney in Los Angeles) addressing the many recent changes to California’s medical and adult use cannabis laws under MAUCRSA. From 6:45 to 8 p.m., Hilary will then moderate a panel comprised of the following:

This panel will cover the following:

Audience questions will be taken throughout the presentation. A cocktail (the food and a drink is included in the ticket price) networking session will follow the panel and last until 9:30 pm.

The Southern California Cannabis Investment Forum will be held at Wanderlust in Hollywood. Hors-d’oeuvres and drinks will be provided. Doors open at 5:30 pm. We sold out of this event when we put it on in San Francisco two months ago so don’t wait to get your tickets!

We look forward to seeing you there!

California Cannabis SeminarLast call, people.

Our California Cannabis Investment Forum is this evening in Downtown San Francisco at the Covo Event Space. Doors will open at 5:45 pm.

Our San Francisco office is hosting this event with fiscal sponsorship from Templar Capital Management and GBDS and associate sponsorship from the NCIA. This Forum will bring together top investors and leading companies in California’s cannabis industry and provide you with the information you need for investing in California’s cannabis space.

Hilary Bricken, who heads up our Los Angeles office. will begin the event with a short talk on the many recent changes to California’s medical and adult use cannabis laws. Carlton Willey, who heads up our firm’s finance group out of San Francisco, will then moderate a panel comprised of early and late stage investors and debt and equity financers with experience in California’s cannabis industry. The following panelists will discuss cannabis industry investing, deal structures, cannabis business concerns in the context of investing, investor red flags in the cannabis industry, and various other matters of increasing importance in the California cannabis investment world:

Allen Gold, Principal at Templar Capital Management

Alejandro Di Tolla, CEO of GBDS

Sherri Haskell, CEO of CannaAngels

Tom DiGiovanni, CFO of Canndescent

Emily Paxhia, Managing Director of Poseidon Asset Management

Hors-d’oeuvres and drinks will be served and a cocktail networking session will take place following the panel discussion.

We are still selling tickets online here, but we must cap the number of attendees at 250 and we are already perilously close to that number.

 

California Cannabis SeminarOn Thursday, September 28th, our San Francisco office will host an event on investing in California’s newly regulated cannabis industry. The California Cannabis Investment Forum will bring together top investors and leading companies in California’s cannabis industry and its related technologies to talk about California cannabis investment issues. The Templar and GBDS will be sponsoring this event and the NCIA will be an associate sponsor.

Early bird pricing of $20 ends tonight at midnight! 

Hilary Bricken of our Los Angeles office will begin the Forum at 6:15 p.m. with a short keynote discussing the many recent changes to California’s medical and adult use cannabis laws. From 6:45 p.m. to 8 p.m., Carlton Willey of our San Francisco office will moderate a panel comprised of the following early and late stage investors and debt and equity financiers with experience in California’s cannabis industry:

Alejandro Di Tolla, CEO of GBDS and a leading angel investor in cannabis businesses

Allen Gold, Principal at Templar Capital Management

Sherri Haskell, Founder and CEO of CannaAngels

Emily Paxhia, Managing Director of Poseidon Asset Management

Tom DiGiovanni, CFO of Canndescent

Our panelists will cover cannabis industry investing, deal structures, cannabis business concerns in the context of investing, and investor red flags in the cannabis industry, with a focus on California’s expected $8 billion plus legalized cannabis marketplace. We will take questions from the audience during the panel discussion and we also encourage you to send us in advance any questions you may have for our esteemed panelists. You can send us your questions via email to firm@harrisbricken.com.

The California Cannabis Investment Forum will be at the Covo Event Space in Downtown San Francisco. Doors open at 5:45 p.m., and a cocktail networking session will commence from 8-9:30 p.m. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks will be served.

To purchase a ticket for this event, please go here. And remember, today is the last day for the early bird rate, so act fast!

Too many people have been unduly imprisoned for cannabis. Too many people have been denied access to medicinal cannabis. Whether or not you use cannabis and whether or not you agree with cannabis, it’s time we go even one step further than Senator Harris’ suggestion and legalize.

There’s just no reason not to.

California Cannabis rules

Sign up now for TODAY’s free webinar on California’s Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”), which will take place from 12-1 pm Pacific. MAUCRSA, which effectively repealed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”), combines both medical and recreational cannabis into one regulatory scheme. Presented by Hilary Bricken, Alison Malsbury, and Habib Bentaleb (three of our cannabis lawyers who work out of our offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco), this webinar will address what this new legislation means for your California cannabis business. The attorneys will discuss:

  • Vertical integration
  • Ownership of multiple licenses
  • Distributorship
  • Major changes between MAUCRSA and MCRSA
  • What we can learn from the withdrawn MCRSA draft rules
  • General expectations for license applicants as rule-making continues

They will also take audience questions.

Please register for this free webinar here. We look forward to your attendance!

California cannabis eventSign up now for tomorrow’s free webinar on California’s Medical and Adult Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MAUCRSA”), which will take place from 12-1 pm Pacific. MAUCRSA, which effectively repealed the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”), combines both medical and recreational cannabis into one regulatory scheme. Presented by Hilary Bricken, Alison Malsbury, and Habib Bentaleb (three of our cannabis lawyers who work out of our offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco), this webinar will address what this new legislation means for your California cannabis business. The attorneys will discuss:

  • Vertical integration
  • Ownership of multiple licenses
  • Distributorship
  • Major changes between MAUCRSA and MCRSA
  • What we can learn from the withdrawn MCRSA draft rules
  • General expectations for license applicants as rule-making continues

They will also take audience questions.

Please register for this free webinar here. We look forward to your attendance!