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The City of Los Angeles has been urged to stop its pot shop vetting process and initiate an independent audit amid complaints that some applicants were given unfair early access.cannabis lawyer

The Los Angeles Times reports City Council President Herb Wesson wants the city to temporarily suspend the approval process until these concerns can be rectified.

As our Los Angeles cannabis business attorneys can explain, the current system only allows for review of a limited number of applications, so it’s done on a first-come, first-serve basis. The concern with this approach is that some applicants had an edge when it came to faster submission.Would-be cannabis entrepreneurs in economically-disadvantaged areas (coincidentally those hit hardest by the decades-long war on drugs before marijuana became legal) struggled to keep pace with those in wealthier communities with widespread access to high-speed internet. Continue reading

Those following cannabis industry trends in recent months may be troubled by a spate of layoffs announced at half a dozen sizable marijuana businesses across the country. Some speculated this might be indicative of looming financial woes on the horizon for the entire industry.marijuana business lawyer

However, our Los Angeles cannabis lawyers prefer to look at these layoffs on a case-by-case basis. There are undoubtedly some lessons to be gleaned about business planning and management, but ultimately the same kind that are relevant to entrepreneurs in any market.

Marijuana agriculture, manufacturing, processing, retail, tech and quality control sectors all comprise a new and evolving industry. Companies that don’t properly plan from the beginning phases may soon find themselves overwhelmed, overstaffed and prime for failure.

The truth of the matter is cannabis isn’t a veritable gold mine. Companies must implement careful strategy, smart investment and measured growth. Even with the increasingly high demand for the plant and derivative products, there are a fair number of marijuana businesses that simply aren’t making the money they need to survive, let alone thrive. Continue reading

Several marijuana-related bills were signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom recently. Among them:

  • A measure to allow legal marijuana businesses to take advantage of more tax deductions – in a departure from IRS policy.
  • A measure to provide free medical marijuana to low-income patients – and exempting those products from state-level taxes.
  • A measure directing California regulators to provide the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a program plan for industrial hemp in accordance with the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized the non-THC crop and its derivatives (which include CBD).California cannabis laws

In addition to passing these laws, the governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed medical marijuana to be used in hospitals and other health care facilities.

Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers are committed to helping our clients navigate the ever-changing legal landscape of California cannabis law and regulation. With so much at stake, marijuana businesses cannot afford to ignore these changes.

Tax Law Changes

Federal tax law – specifically section 280E – prohibits those who grow, process and sell marijuana from being allowed to deduct taxes, due to the fact that the business profits from marijuana, which is illegal under federal law. Up until this point, California tax law closely matched U.S. tax law.

Now, AB 37 changes that, departing from Internal Revenue Service Policy under 280E. The measure will allow cannabis companies to take state-level deductions just like any other business – from Jan. 1, 2020 to Jan. 1, 2025. The bill takes effect immediately as a tax levy.

Greater Access for Low-Income Residents

Another measure gives greater access to medical marijuana for low-income patients. SB 34 changes the law with regard to “cannabis donations.” Existing administrative law bars licensed cannabis retailers from providing free cannabis to anyone at a licensed premises. There is a narrow exception for licensed medical marijuana retailers and those with micro-business licensees that are providing medical marijuana to patients who struggle to afford it.

SB 34 authorizes all licensed cannabis shops to offer free or reduced-cost marijuana or related products to medical marijuana patients who meet certain medical and income requirements. The bill further exempts marijuana businesses from being taxed on these “donations.”

No Cannabis in Hospitals

One measure that failed was SB 305, which would have required some health care facilities to allow medical marijuana access to terminally ill patients on site. In a veto message, the governor said he “begrudgingly” declined to make the measure law – for fear it would have jeopardized Medicaid and Medicare funding for those facilities. Those programs are subsidized by federal tax dollars, and using that money for an outlawed Schedule I narcotic could have cost the healthcare industry dearly.

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cannabis lawyerA California-developed online tool, called ‘Clear My Record,’ which helps people with eligible convictions clear their criminal records, is set to change the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans previously convicted of marijuana related crimes.

In 2016 when Californian voters legalized marijuana, state officials hoped to reverse decades of marijuana convictions. Especially convictions making it difficult for people to secure substantial employment. And particularly because those affected most disproportionately by marijuana criminal convictions hail from low-income minority groups.

Now, thanks to a new technology, California prosecutors can quickly overturn or lessen approximately 220,000 old marijuana convictions.
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marijuana bankingIn the nation’s first ever vote on a stand-alone marijuana bill, the House of Representatives voted to allow federally insured banks to serve cannabis businesses in states like California, where marijuana use is legal.

First introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter, D-Colorado, the Secure And Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act simply states that deposit insurance cannot be cut off by federal authorities, nor can “any other adverse action” be taken against a financial institution for working with cannabis businesses in states and territories where marijuana use is permitted.

A great number of Democrats from Southern California were among the 206 co-sponsors of the bill, as was GOP Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego. Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, also introduced an amendment making it clear that new banks and credit unions would be protected by the bill too. Continue reading

Los Angeles cannabis business lawyerFollowing a slew of vaping related lung disease cases, a Los Angeles City Council member calls for a year-long ban on all vaping sales.

The proposed ban has many in the industry rushing to cut the motion off before it becomes law. The major concern is that such a ban could mean the end for countless vaping companies who are solely in business to sell vape pens and cartridges. Continue reading

The black market for marijuana in California is three times the size of the legal market, a recent audit has shown. The findings, made public in September, highlight the state’s ongoing battle to curb its illegal cannabis trade.marijuana dispensaries

Approximately 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries were listed as trading across California, according to the audit conducted by the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA), a trade association representing a wide variety of licensed marijuana businesses. Interestingly, the Bureau of Cannabis Control has only licensed 873 cannabis merchants to operate lawfully within the Golden State.

These comparative statistics reflect the continued hiccups California has faced since rolling out updated legal regulations beginning in 2018, which were intended to level the cannabis market’s playing field. Continue reading

Magic MushroomsWith the 2020 ballot fast approaching, California activists are keenly working towards securing a measure that would decriminalize psilocybin, also commonly known as ‘magic mushrooms.’

Together with the required $2,000 fee, an advocacy group by the name of Decriminalize California submitted ballot language to the state attorney general’s office in September. Now the activist group awaits approval from the attorney general on both the official measure title and summary it submitted. Such a response is typically granted within 65 days, and if approved, the measure will be green lit to begin seeking signatures.

At that point, within 180 days of receiving the attorney general’s approval of title and summary, the Decriminalize California group must collect 623,212 valid signatures before the measure qualifies for the California ballot. Continue reading

While many California cities and metro areas have been resistant to allowing cannabis shops within their borders, despite the state’s legality, a new poll shows most Golden State residents want easier access.marijuana business lawyer

It’s been nearly three years since voters in California legalized recreational marijuana sales, cultivation and possession with Proposition 64. Yet fewer than 1 in 3 California cities allow marijuana businesses to set up shop and sell recreational-use marijuana, creating so-called “weed deserts” that has given black market sales a means to thrive.

Now, a recent poll by the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Government Studies, conducted for the Los Angeles Times, shows that nearly 70 percent of Californians want cities and counties to allow pot shops in their communities. Prop. 64 was passed with the support of 57 percent of voters. Continue reading

California’s hemp industry is a complex one, regulated by a patchwork of rules that can vary dramatically  from county-to-county.hemp farming attorneys

As Orange County hemp business lawyers can explain, despite Congress’s legalization of non-psychoactive hemp (and its CBD derivative) by way of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, allowances for actual production of the crop remains in the hands of local jurisdictions.

California, despite being on track to have the largest legal marijuana market sales in the world, remains one of the last remaining strongholds against production of legal hemp, which, like marijuana, is derived from the cannabis plant. Across the state, entrepreneur efforts to grow hemp are in full force, and the good news is several counties have passed ordinances that will give farmers the permission they need to kick start their hemp-growing ambitions. Continue reading

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