Marijuana remains illegal at the federal level. But that has not slowed the cannabis industry down. The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing in the United States; in 2019 retail sales eclipsed $12 billion and the industry is expected to add 235,000 full-time jobs between now and 2023. Additionally, U.S. hemp saw a 459% increase in cultivation acreage from 2018 to 2019.
At the state level, marijuana is legal in some form in well over half the states. It is legal for recreational use in 11 states and Washington, D.C. And those numbers are growing each year. State-level legalization of marijuana, as well as incremental changes to federal law (the legalization of hemp in the 2018 Farm Bill, for example) have created new opportunities across a number of fields, including finance, banking, regulatory, employment, real estate, IP, marketing and insurance.
Locke Lord’s Cannabis Industry Group is well equipped to assist in all of these arenas. We represent established marijuana companies, cultivation facilities, dispensaries, retailers and a host of other marijuana-related businesses (MRBs) as well as those looking to enter the cannabis market. Our lawyers have extensive experience representing clients in this industry and its subsidiary product sectors, including significant regulatory experience advising clients on federal and state regulatory issues relating to hemp, cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). We work to ensure that our clients are knowledgeable about and can navigate the industry’s complexities, including applicable laws and regulations.
Locke Lord’s Cannabis Industry Group includes lawyers from our regulatory, corporate, finance, tax, real estate, intellectual property, employment, health care, FDA, litigation and insurance groups. Our representative experiences include:
- Advising an industry-leading cannabis cultivator, distributor and retailer on expanding its business and license acquisition in Florida, Massachusetts, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri and other jurisdictions.
- Assisting a major cannabis distributor with reviewing allowed claims for CBD products.
- Representing cannabis cultivators, distributors and dispensary operators on various matters, including international transactions.
- Assisting cannabis companies with developing and revising marketing, sales, and employee policies and procedures.
- Assisting with the reorganization of a cannabis license holder.
- Representing companies holding marijuana cultivation and distribution license in general corporate matters, capital raising transactions and the sale of the companies as part of a Canadian public company rollup.
- Representing investment groups in investments in cannabis license applicants.
- Representing a pharmaceutical company in obtaining State-level approval for a cannabinoid (CBD) based drug, including legislative and regulatory advocacy regarding State medical marijuana and recreational marijuana laws.
- Assisting in the drafting of sections of the 2018 Farm Bill governing CBD and hemp.
- Negotiating an exit of a partner from a cannabis licensee.
- Assisting a license holder with state regulatory agencies.
- Developing advertising guidelines for cannabis advertising under the Florida Compassionate Use Act.
- Drafting and negotiating employment agreements, organizational agreements and franchise agreements for cannabis companies.
- Drafting financing agreements, private placement memoranda and purchase agreements for cannabis companies.
- General private equity work for cannabis-related companies.
- Handling all aspects of purchasing and leasing real estate on behalf of cannabis companies.
- Consulting on permissible advertising for cannabis companies in various jurisdictions.