Our country is on the brink of huge change. Just a few years ago, it was a federal offense to be caught in possession of marijuana. Now, marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes in 23 states. As of 2012, it is legal to be used for recreational purposes in Washington and Colorado. The legalization of recreational marijuana is beneficial from a number of perspectives; we likely will see other states follow the president that Washington and Colorado have set in the coming years.
Legalizing marijuana for recreational purposes reduces crime, as the illegal marijuana industry is riddled with violence and crime. It also brings huge amounts of money into the economy (in legal and regulated ways). It also brings money in through the sales tax, which improves the quality of life for the entire community.
However, there are extremely stringent cannabis laws that regulate the marijuana market. If you are interested in opening a marijuana-related business, it is extremely important to utilize marijuana business lawyers who fully understand the applicable cannabis laws in your area. Since cannabis law is a relatively new area of legal expertise, not all cannabis attorneys are created equal.
The very first step you need to take while planning any business in the newly legal and emerging cannabis industry is get a competent cannabis law group on your side. Scratch that. The very first step you should take is to read our comprehensive list of things to look for in a cannabis attorney:
- Understand marijuana business law.
When you start any other kind of business, you hire a business lawyer to make sure your i’s are dotted and t’s crossed. You could hire a business lawyer to assist you while getting your marijuana-related business going. You are paying client, and most of the time, a business lawyer isn’t going to turn your good spendable money away.
The catch is, there is a huge distinction between business law and cannabis business law. That distinction is the federal Controlled Substances Act. Although the federal government tolerates the legalization of marijuana on a state level, it is technically a controlled substance. If the federal government became less lenient on that law, the way your business is set up would determine your ability to sink or float. Having a solid cannabis attorney on your team from the get-go is critical for this reason.
- Understand the financial implications of the cannabis industry.
Because running a cannabis business is technically illegal on a federal level, even it is legal in your state, institutions that are regulated on a federal level can be a sticky situation. For example, the banking industry is regulated by the Federal Reserve. There are substantial legal restrictions that ban a bank from extending a business account or loan to a business with “nefarious purposes.” Additionally, the IRS is unable to accept otherwise valid business expenses as deductions if they are related to a federally controlled substance. It is possible to get around these hurdles while starting up your cannabis business, but you need the input of an experienced cannabis lower to guide you.
- Understand the implications of state laws.
The state laws that govern the buying and selling of marijuana are extremely specific and vary from one state to the next. On top of that, new policies are constantly being added. In order to be successful in the establishment of a cannabis business, you need a cannabis lawyer who specifically works with the regulations that govern the state you live in.
- Understand the legal sub-specialties within the cannabis law field.
The umbrella subject of cannabis law covers several specialties. The nature of your cannabis business, as well as the subject matter of your legal issue determines the type of sub-specialty you need. While setting up a brick and mortar shop, you might need a cannabis lawyer who specializes in commercial litigation or land use. Getting your business off the ground requires a lawyer who works in corporate transactional work or corporate formation. You might need a cannabis lawyer who understands intellectual property and patent law, environmental law, and so on.
Do you have any other tips for hiring a cannabis lawyer? Please share below!