As the highly regulated cannabis industry continues to grow at a rapid pace in the United States and internationally, the need for strategic legal advisors to counsel businesses in this area also increases. Currently a $20 billion industry, legalized cannabis is estimated to grow to $100 billion over the next few years. An increasing number of states are legalizing cannabis for medical and adult use, but with broad variation in the provisions from state-to-state. Smith, Gambrell & Russell has stayed abreast of the changing federal, state and local laws and regulations applicable to the cultivation, manufacturing and dispensing of cannabis. A full-service firm, SGR has assembled a team of attorneys from multiple practice areas across our U.S. offices to assist clients with the rising issues, challenges and opportunities businesses face in the cannabis industry and the ever-shifting legal environment.
Investment and Corporate Transactions
The Cannabis Practice Group’s corporate and securities attorneys utilize their expertise to advise cannabis companies in seeking investors, merging and acquiring businesses, structuring their supply, manufacturing, and product sales agreements, structuring their business operations, licenses, employment arrangements and other legal service needs addressing general corporate as well as cannabis industry specific transactional issues.
Our corporate attorneys also use their extensive skills to advise individuals and groups who want to invest in this fast growing industry. Our services include negotiating joint venture agreements, limited liability operating company agreements and other investment documents and the key terms and conditions relating to such investments, such as voting, management, capital calls and transferability provisions.
Because of continuing restrictions on certain forms of cannabis under federal law, tax structuring remains very important for many cannabis businesses, and the Cannabis Practice Group’s tax lawyers have substantial experience with providing tax advice on business structures and operations and will work with our client’s accountants on related accounting issues that can affect balance sheets and tax matters.
The development and marketing of products from federally legal hemp, and other forms of cannabis will geometrically expand in the coming years. The Practice Group’s IP lawyers advise our clients on creation and protection of trademarks, the use of copyright protections, and patenting of products and processes used and being developed in the cannabis industry.
Real Estate and Land Use
Cannabis, of course, is a crop, which requires real estate to grow, whether in open fields or indoors. The Practice Group’s real estate lawyers are experienced in buying, selling, leasing and handling real estate transactions nationwide involving large tracts of land for agriculture, and, working with our land use and construction attorneys, in acquiring and developing buildings for indoor production.
Cannabis is also a product and a business that requires retail outlets and office space. Our real estate attorneys can help both businesses and landlords pilot the pitfalls and treacherous waters of conflicting state and federal legislation in the cannabis area as well as bring their extensive leasing expertise to bear in negotiating the relevant leases.
Environmental & Sustainability
As an agricultural endeavor, the production of cannabis and cannabis products can involve many state, federal and local environmental regulations, from waste, water and clean air regulations to pesticide use. Because of the potential uses of cannabis, especially hemp, to improve sustainability of everything from building products to textiles, cannabis has the potential to assist businesses in meeting and exceeding sustainability goals. The Practice Group’s Environmental and Sustainability attorneys advise our clients on regulatory and business issues in the production of cannabis and cannabis-related products.
From medical marijuana to CBD, the existing and potential uses of cannabis in health care are burgeoning. The Practice Group’s health care attorneys advise our clients on uses of cannabis in health care, and the related regulatory and legal considerations.
The varying levels of regulation of cannabis, especially medical and recreational marijuana, has numerous effects on employment policies and practices of businesses operating in States where differing levels of legalization have occurred. The Practice Group’s Employment lawyers regularly advise our clients on how to manage cannabis issues in the workplace.
From licensing to product development to product transportation, the cannabis industry has already experienced more than its share of litigation. The Practice Group’s experienced litigators, representing all our offices, are adept at handling sophisticated litigation in courts across the country.
Until SAFE Banking legislation is enacted by Congress, cannabis businesses face myriad issues in establishing and keeping banking relationships, and the banking industry must comply with complex regulations in serving its industry clients. The Practice Group’s lawyers advise our clients on how to navigate this difficult landscape and will negotiate and close needed loan and financing transactions.
Cybersecurity and Data Privacy
Because the existing and potential uses of cannabis products span many industries and product types, including medical and health related uses, data privacy issues are paramount, and cybersecurity can be daunting. Our Practice Group’s attorneys are experienced in advising clients in numerous industries on maintaining and protecting cybersecurity and data privacy.
Our team is well prepared to handle business legal issues of any size or complexity.