The cannabis industry continues to grow rapidly, even as state and federal laws remain mired in conflict and uncertainty. A majority of states have legalized cannabis for medicinal purposes and many are laying the groundwork for recreational use. Following passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, states are now turning toward the production of hemp and cannabidiol (CBD) products. Though this explosion of growth has led to tremendous opportunities in the areas of health and wellness, pharmaceuticals, personal care, and food products, businesses and investors find themselves facing unprecedented challenges in navigating complex and sometimes conflicting local, state, and federal regulations.
Success in this emerging and sensitive industry requires a legal team that offers more than just a comprehensive knowledge of its evolving laws. Equally critical is an understanding of its intersection with federal and state consumer protection regulations that impact an array of business and operational matters including licensing, marketing and advertising, product labeling, sales practices, and consumer outreach. Businesses operating outside the cannabis industry must also contend with its impact on daily operations as they develop workplace policies to deal with matters such as employee drug testing, insurance, and workers’ compensation.
With previous experience as former state regulators, the M&S team brings an intimate and practical knowledge of the law and a nuanced approach earned through decades operating on a national stage in other highly regulated industries. Whether you operate in the cannabis marketplace or are simply looking to manage the impact of medical marijuana in your workplace, we can help you understand, comply, adapt, and thrive in an evolving regulatory world.
We provide our cannabis industry clients with a full range of services that address their current business challenges and proactively identify and protect against future threats, including:
Licensing and Registration. Permission to produce and sell cannabis products comes in the form of licensure, which varies depending on the nature of the entity. From cultivator to dispensary, we help businesses obtain and maintain the licensing needed to operate legally.
Regulatory Compliance. Proactive compliance is critical to success in this sector, especially in complicated regulatory regimes like Ohio, home to some of the strictest industry governance in the nation. We advise clients on how to comply with the complex web of federal, state, and local regulations affecting cannabis businesses.
Compliance Audits. We provide comprehensive internal audits of our clients’ operations as well as audits of their vendors and other partners to identify and remedy compliance gaps throughout the distribution chain. We also regularly conduct enterprise-wide compliance training to ensure employees understand applicable laws and the actions that can be taken to reduce risk.
Labor & Employment. We advise clients on developing and implementing effective policies that protect their interests, address disability laws, as well as take into account drug testing and insurance considerations.
Litigation. Whether a lawsuit is filed by a regulator, competitor, employee, or customer, the threat of litigation looms large. Whether you seek early resolution to litigation or require comprehensive representation through trial, our team provides effective, efficient representation to achieve your goals.
State and Federal Investigations. We help businesses navigate and respond to investigations brought by state regulators and federal agencies.
Regulatory Advocacy. Protecting our clients’ positions doesn’t end when the case is over. We advocate for client and industry interests in policy matters at both the state and national level.
Marketing & Advertising. Medical cannabis and CBD products are subject to some of the toughest state and federal regulations. Leveraging our experience as former regulators, our team thoroughly reviews advertising and marketing materials across all media to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.
Consumer Complaint Response. Consumer complaints are often the “the canary in the coal mine.” We regularly assist businesses in responding to and resolving consumer issues before they lead to a governmental investigation or lawsuit. We also advise on how to use these complaints to proactively ward off future issues.
M&S is a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association.
Attorneys General Urge Passage of SAFE Banking Act as Part of COVID-19 Relief
On May 19th, a coalition of thirty-four state attorneys general led by Colorado AG Phil Weiser urged Congress to pass the Secure and Fair Enforcement (“SAFE”) Banking Act as part of upcoming COVID-19 relief legislation. The bipartisan group includes attorneys general, such as Ohio AG Dave Yost, who have previously opposed economic relief for the cannabis industry. First introduced in [...]
Ohio Commission Orders CBD Businesses to Close Shop
Ohio’s newly formed Dispute Resolution Commission has deemed retailers of cannabidiol (“CBD”) to be non-essential and has ordered their closure. The Dispute Resolution Commission was created in order to identify and clarify which businesses were deemed “essential,” and to facilitate closures of other businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Commission’s first set of rulings it determined that CBD businesses [...]