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The recreational use of marijuana is now legal within the State of California. However, this does not mean that all dangers associated with marijuana have been eliminated. In an effort to ensure the safe use of recreational marijuana, the California Department of Public Health has launched a campaign to educate the public about the dangers of marijuana and its safe use. The goal of this program is for all Californians to be prepared for safe marijuana use when business licenses are issued for recreational marijuana sales in January 2018.cannabis defense attorneys

The Public Information Campaign

State Public Health Officer Dr. Karen Smith reports to the Los Angeles Times that the goal of this campaign – largely centered around the Department’s “Let’s Talk Cannabis” website – is to provide Californians with scientific evidence in order to ensure safe and informed decisions are made about marijuana use. For example: one major focus of the campaign is to highlight the fact that marijuana use is illegal for persons under twenty-one years of age. The campaign supplements this simple legal fact with the scientific reasons for its existence: namely, marijuana use in the late teens and early twenties can lead to physical changes in the brain, which are found less frequently in older users. Continue reading

The conflict between state and federal law has caused many challenges and legal confusion for Californians ever since medical marijuana was legalized by state law in 1996. Beyond these procedural inconveniences, the legal conflict has sparked broader discussions about the role of marijuana in American society, and California, specifically. These issues came to a head when Californians approved the recreational use of marijuana on November 8, 2016. Now, all adults in California have the right to use marijuana for recreational purposes. The California government has now taken yet another step toward addressing the chasm between state and federal marijuana laws.Orange County cannabis lawyers

The Joint Resolution

Forbes reports that, in September 2017, the California Assembly passed a joint resolution to call upon the federal government to reclassify marijuana. The Resolution specifically requests reclassification for the purpose of legal research and development of cannabis for medical use. Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under federal law. This designation is reserved for drugs with no medical value and a high risk of abuse. For comparison: cocaine and methamphetamine are classified in the less-restrictive Schedule II category.

In addition to research and medical developments, the Assembly also identified concerns with access to financial services for cannabis businesses. The current federal prohibition on marijuana means that most marijuana businesses are prevented from using traditional banks and lending institutions. Many of these businesses simply operate on a cash basis, which makes them vulnerable to theft and violent crime, and also makes it difficult to collect tax revenues on income which is legitimate under state law, but considered illegal drug money under federal law. Continue reading

San Diego has been notoriously tough on marijuana law enforcement. City and county authorities have been shutting down illegal grow houses and business operations for many years. In March 2017, the police and city attorney’s office began a targeted crackdown on illegally-operated dispensaries. KPBS reports that sixty marijuana dispensaries were shut down in the first six months of the program. And yet, as raids expand, and authorities collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and pounds of marijuana, some question whether the enforcement tactics have gone too far.cannabis defense attorneys

A Shocking Case Study

There is perhaps no stronger argument for the overreaching of authority by the San Diego District Attorney’s Office than its treatment of a defense attorney. The attorney represents a marijuana distributor, Med-West, which has been under investigation by the DA’s office, in spite of the evidence its corporate officers have consistently provided to establish that it operates lawfully. In the course of her representation, the attorney sent an email to the client containing the words “plausible deniability”. This email was the basis of a criminal indictment of the attorney for being an accessory to a crime after the fact. Not only was the attorney indicted in blatant disregard of her client’s attorney-client privilege, but she was also treated with a surprising amount of aggression in the execution of the resulting warrant. She was arrested by an armed SWAT team at the home she shares with her boyfriend and mother. There, handcuffed and still in pajamas, her arrest warrant was read aloud “just loud enough for the neighbors to hear”. Continue reading

Preparations for legal sales of recreational marijuana sales in California have impacted the state economy in many ways. Not all of this growth has occurred directly in the cannabis industry. The Concord Monitor reports that the state government is on a “hiring binge” to fill jobs for scientists, tax collectors, analysts and lawyers. Hundreds of positions have been created by the daunting task of regulating an entirely new industry – one which will immediately become the largest marijuana market in the country. Thousands more jobs are projected to be added by city, country, and local governments. But what, exactly, will these workers be doing?cannabis employment lawyers

The Scope of the Task of Regulation

Regulating an entire industry – let alone an industry on the scale of California’s marijuana market – takes volumes of work beyond the simple processing of business license applications. Background checks must be run on applicants. Environmental conditions must be monitored, such as the level of cannabis derivatives in streams near grow houses and farms. Enforcement, too, will be a large part of the work of state and local governments, which must ensure businesses operate within existing legal regulations, and that illegal operations are shut down. Each of these tasks requires a variety of professional expertise. Stream levels, for example, will require the input of environmental scientists to develop acceptable standards. Engineers must monitor groundwater and water diversion patterns. Environmental lawyers will be needed to help the state government resolve complex matters of environmental law that are created by the new grow operations. All of this is in addition to the administrative tasks of processing applications and issuing business licenses. Continue reading

California is poised to instantly create the country’s largest marijuana market when it begins legal sales of recreational cannabis products on January 2, 2018. Being the largest marijuana market comes with other, more dubious distinctions, as well.

The Sacramento Bee reports that 75 percent of the total numbers of indoor plants seized by the United State Drug Enforcement Administration in 2016 were taken from California. This figure does not include those plants seized by state and local authorities. These numbers are also significant: according to U.S. News and World Report, a single crackdown in Calaveras County resulted in the seizure of 27,000 plants over four days. CBS Sacramento reports that thirty-eight pounds of marijuana were seized in one arrest on the I-80.The defendant was arrested north of Lake Tahoe, and eventually booked into a Nevada County Jail on three counts of narcotics trafficking.cannabis defense attorneys

Why the Number is So High

Interestingly, the 2016 number was more than double the number of indoor plants seized by the D.E.A. in California in 2012. So why have indoor grows increased so quickly in California? According to a D.E.A. report, indoor production has two key advantages: it does not rely on outdoor climate conditions or growing seasons, and it is more difficult for law enforcement officers to discover that open outdoor grows. Outgrow grows can cause other legal complications, too: many outdoor grows in California have been conducted on federal lands. Marijuana is entirely prohibited on federal lands. No state permit, license, or compliance can protect a defendant from being prosecuted under federal law if he or she grows marijuana on federal lands within state borders. Continue reading

Although Proposition 64 opens the doors for for recreational marijuana businesses in California, it still allows the county’s 88 cities to regulate these businesses however they see fit. While the City of Los Angeles has indicated it intends to license these shops next year (the state will begin issuing licenses Jan. 1, 2018), the Los Angeles County government has been notoriously averse to marijuana dispensaries.marijuana attorney

But now, a marijuana collective has been formally recognized by the county. 99 High Tide Collective in Malibu obtained a business license through the L.A. County government, despite the county’s 2011 ban on marijuana businesses. That ban had been extended as of June, while the L.A. County Board of Supervisors weighs a clear system of rules for cultivators, producers and retailers of recreational marijuana.

Although the business is located in Malibu, the city contracts with the county to process its business licenses. Malibu has just two dispensaries, this being one of them. Still, county leaders are clear to point out: This is not actually a county license. It is a city license handled by contract through the county. At this juncture, the county still isn’t approving or authorizing any marijuana businesses.  Continue reading

Retail stores selling recreational marijuana in California are likely to be open by January 1st, according to the Bureau of Cannabis Control in California. Already, the plant and its derivatives are available for recreational sales in five other states, but California is slated to be the biggest market in the country, poised for massive production for its huge population. Some economists speculate it will “dramatically” alter the landscape of the marijuana industry in the U.S. marijuana lawyer

New regulation are going to be issued in November. These regulations will include oversight on usage of water (reduction of waste water, drip irrigation, etc.). Licensing and background checks of owners and operators, as well as education and safety training for consumers is also in the works.

For the most part, recreational sales will be a welcome extension to marijuana dispensaries that have existed for years, some since California’s Proposition 215, which legalized the drug for medicinal uses with the Compassionate Use Act of 1996.

New changes to California cannabis regulations will dramatically impact marijuana delivery services. According to Forbes, the California Bureau of Cannabis Control has released a detailed set of regulations for the operation of cannabis businesses in preparation for the issuance of business licenses for the sale of recreational marijuana in January 2018. Amongst thousands of other regulations, these provisions prohibit many methods of marijuana delivery, including: aerial drones, autonomous land-based robots, aircraft, watercraft, rail, and unmanned vehicles. The regulations specify that delivery may only be made in person by enclosed motor vehicle. This ban raises larger issues of marijuana delivery restrictions within California. As the innovative tech culture of Silicon Valley improves and expands drones and other autonomous delivery services, it is likely that the rule will be adapted. As the rules change and adapt to new technologies, how can cannabis business owners stay in compliance and maintain profitable operations?cannabis compliance attorneys

How Delivery Services Are Adapting Their Business Models   

Marijuana delivery services in California have taken many creative approaches to the question of  how to develop a business strategy around delivery restrictions and regulations. TechCrunch reports that Eaze – a marijuana delivery service – has recently raised $27 million in Series B financing after spending $24.5 million in venture capital. This large influx of cash is supporting an aggressive growth strategy. When questioned about the wisdom of spending $1 million per month in cash, CEO Jim Patterson responded that the company is investing in growth before the imminent legalization of sales of recreational marijuana. Patterson also dismissed concerns over large delivery logistics companies, such as Amazon, getting into the marijuana delivery market, citing the complications of marijuana regulations at the federal level. Continue reading

Despite the fact that medical marijuana has been legal in California since 1996, many dispensaries are still operating without being in compliance with state, city, and other local regulations. Now, a targeted crackdown by San Diego law enforcement agencies is working to shut down marijuana dispensaries operating illegally.cannabis criminal defense lawyers

The San Diego Crackdown

KPBS reports that San Diego law enforcement and prosecutors began targeting illegally-operated dispensaries in March 2017. More than sixty dispensaries have been shut down in this time. The San Diego Police Department also reports that dozens of property owners and operators have been fined, charged criminally, and prosecuted for operating medical marijuana businesses without a license. All employees of the business – not just owners – are subject to prosecution. In August 2017, the Police Department warned that even delivery drivers could face criminal charges.

Two of the most recent raids indicate a shift in San Diego law enforcement policy. Prior to these operations, the San Diego PD had mostly avoided delivery services, focusing instead on dispensaries with physical retail locations. On August 2, 2017 two delivery services were raided. This may signal a shift toward prosecutions of delivery services which operate illegally. Continue reading

The legalization of recreational marijuana has presented many new legal issues which courts, lawyers, and judges are facing for the very first time. One such issue is intellectual property. Cannabis business owners retain a legal interest in their copyrights, trademarks, branding, unique cannabis products and technology, and other designs. Unfortunately, conflicts in state and federal law can make it difficult to enforce these rights. The United States Patent and Trademark Office registers all patents, trademarks, and copyrights across the country. However, this done pursuant to federal law, which still bans marijuana entirely. Intellectual property holders can still secure patents for marijuana and marijuana-related products, but the enforcement of such a patent can bring unwanted attention from federal law enforcement agencies. Forbes reports that approximately five hundred active marijuana patent holders in the United States are left in this legal limbo.Now, California lawmakers have proposed a solution which will better enable cannabis business owners to protect their intellectual property rights.cannabis trademark attorneys

The Proposed Bill

According to Entrepreneur, Assembly Bill 64 proposes expansions to the Model State Trademark Law. These expansions would allow the state to issue trademarks to businesses which deal in medical cannabis and non-medical cannabis goods and services. Both Colorado and Washington have passed similar bills to protect cannabis business owners in their states. Interestingly, the bill also contains a provision to expand current prohibits on the advertisement of marijuana. Currently, such advertisements are banned on interstate highways, or state highways which cross the border of any state. Assembly Bill 64 would expand the prohibition to all state and interstate highways within California.