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With Congress having reached an accord on the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, which includes a provision to lift the federal ban on cultivation of industrial hemp, the proliferation of hemp farming in California and across the country is expected to grow exponentially. California hemp farming attorneys know that up to this point, the U.S. has been the only industrialized nation wherein industrialized hemp isn’t already an established crop. The provisions of the act amend the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 to indicate industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC won’t be classified any longer as a schedule I narcotic. The measure gives states, rather than the federal government, authority regulate commercial hemp production and sales. California hemp farmer attorney

It’s a measure that could potentially be a cash cow for California farmers, as well as those across the U.S.

Hemp is defined in California Health and Safety Code Section 11018.5 as the fiber or oilseed crop limited to types of the cannabis plant with no more than three-tenths of THC. It’s production is overseen by the California Industrial Hemp Program, with Division 24 of the California Food and Agricultural Code providing for the cultivation of industrial hemp by registered growers as well as established agricultural research sites. The reason this federal measure is so important is that up until that law goes into effect, hemp is still considered a Schedule I narcotic per the CSA, which California hemp farming attorneys know means unless specifically exempted there, any hemp-related activity is still technically subject to federal prosecution, no matter what the state law says. Continue reading

Los Angeles marijuana DUI just got a little likelier, given local news reports the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office has bolstered funding for the prosecution of driving under the influence charges involving cannabis and other drugs. Because determining intoxication via marijuana can be subjective – even for trained police officers – it’s important to contact an experienced Los Angeles marijuana DUI lawyer as soon as possible to ensure your rights are preserved.marijuana dui defense Los Angeles

There is currently no accepted scientific test that “proves” impairment by THC, the blood, urine or breath tests do with alcohol. That’s because alcohol moves through the human body at a much more rapid rate than THC, which means if it is detected in the system in high concentrations, intoxication is almost positive. THC concentration doesn’t tell us the same because the chemical can remain in the body for weeks or even months after consumption, particularly if one is a regular consumer of marijuana.

With the help of a nearly $1 million grant form the California Office of Traffic Safety via the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the agency that seeks to curb drunk driving and slash the number of drug- and alcohol-related deaths and injuries across the U.S. This year’s grant is $100,000 more than the last. The funding is allocated for training and in some instances prosecuting cases of drug-impaired driving that results in death. Additionally, the grant will help train police agencies and boost the number of officers in Los Angeles County who are considered certified drug recognition experts (DREs).  Continue reading

Almost all California businesses know they’ll need to secure some type of insurance. Unfortunately, as our Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys know full well, companies that deal in cannabis face a host of major hurdles for this essential service. Although the California Insurance Commissioner has approved a handful of insurance carriers to offer insurance coverage to the cannabis industry this year, giving growers and distributors at least some options, there is a good argument to be made that cannabis companies need an insurer tailored to meet the unique needs of the industry – just like they require an attorney who specializes in marijuana law. Los Angeles marijuana lawyers

Although it has become easier this year for cannabis companies to find insurance coverage than ever before, Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys recognize the industry is still very under-served.

Most cannabis insurance primarily focuses on product liability coverage, as explained in a recent article by Insurance Journal. However, there are a number of other potential liabilities too for which cannabis companies likely could use insurance coverage. That’s an opportunity for insurance companies, but of course many are keenly aware of the risk, given federal laws pertaining to money laundering when doing business with any enterprise that derives income from illegal sale of cannabis.  Continue reading

Legalization of marijuana has brought a number of enterprises and employees from the shadows of the black market. One of those includes the work of so-called “bud trimmers.” Los Angeles marijuana employment attorneys know that because so many of these workers are from other places, flocking in heavy numbers during harvest seasons, they are sometimes referred to as “trimmigrants.” These workers were historically subject to an outsized risk of the same sort of abuses many migrant workers face – unfair wages or wage theft, discrimination and sexual harassment.Los Angeles marijuana employment attorney

An article published two years ago in “Broadly” was written by a woman who worked for years during harvest season on illegal marijuana farms in rural California. The isolation of the site made it all the more dangerous for young female workers – not only because they risked jail time and felony charges for unregulated, untaxed income, but because they are frequently (especially on the black market) targeted for sexual harassment. One investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting’s Reveal found in 2016 that the number of sexual assaults suffered by female trimmers was far underestimated.

Ideally, legalizing the drug would have brought these sort of elements of the industry to light, making workers safer. Perhaps to some degree, that is true. However, as Los Angeles marijuana attorneys with practice areas both in the budding cannabis law as well as California employment law, we recognize these workers may still be vulnerable, especially if the operation is still illegal (as a fair number still are, given the high taxation and testing requirements on legal marijuana and the limited number of cultivators and distributors allowed, which varies by jurisdiction. Trimmers are an inherent part of cannabis cultivation process, though the hours are long and the work tedious.  Continue reading

Hundreds of batches of marijuana products may need to be recalled and retested after a California cannabis testing lab surrendered its license following a state inspection reportedly revealed falsification of product testing results over the last four months. Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers recognize this could have substantial impact on statewide supply and industry operations heading into the new year. That’s because come Jan. 1, 2019, a host of additional marijuana testing requirements go into effect, and cannabis oils, flowers and edibles are required to undergo more rigorous testing for certain toxins like heavy metals. This is bad news because bottlenecks at state-authorized testing labs were already beginning to form, slowing the process of getting these products from seed to sale.Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers

The lab in question, Sequoia Analytical Labs in Sacramento, was undergoing a routine inspection late last month when state investigators with the California Bureau of Cannabis Control noted that in testing for 66 pesticides required by law, tests for 22 of those were not correct, thanks to a “faulty instrument.” Furthermore, the bureau reported the lab director was aware the results were erroneous, and not only failed to intervene and take corrective action, but instead falsified lab results to indicate the products were safe when in fact they may not have been.

Safety Concerns for Faulty Testing Prompt Marijuana Business License Forfeiture Continue reading

Banking for marijuana businesses has been fraught with legal perils. As Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys can explain, this stems primarily from the fact that no matter how many states allow marijuana, the Department of Justice continues to consider the drug unlawful according to federal law, which puts banks in the legal cross-hairs, thanks to money laundering statutes. That’s why despite being a multi-billion dollar industry, only 30 percent of cannabis businesses have access to banking.cannabis attorney blog

That may be changing, though the pace will truly depend on how aggressively the federal government pursues violators pursuant to federal law. The Anchorage Daily News reported a credit union plans to launch a pilot program intended to extend banking and checking services to marijuana-related businesses that otherwise operate largely in cash. As noted by the credit union’s CEO, the lack of financial services for cannabis companies has resulted in essentially a cash crisis for marijuana businesses as well as a safety issue for local communities, as these locations may be targeted for strong arm robberies.

Alaska, like California, allows marijuana cultivation, sale and possession for recreational purposes, and has done so since 2014. Yet as retailers have cropped up throughout the state, they face problems similar to those in this state, which is they must operate in cash and owners have even had their personal bank accounts abruptly closed. The credit union says it hopes to address this market need and also improve community safety by giving cannabis companies another option besides cash-only operation. Just in Alaska alone, the industry is handling some $1.5 million monthly – all in cash, according to local media. Continue reading

Although California cannabis business attorneys know significant strides have been made with regard to legitimization of California’s marijuana industry, a ruling by the U.S. Tax Court underscored once again that until there are significant changes at the federal level, marijuana businesses are still illegal drug-smugglers under the eyes of the law. Orange County marijuana lawyer

In Harborside Health Center v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, what is admittedly one of the largest marijuana dispensaries in California – and possibly the U.S. – requested the usual tax deductions that any legitimate business owner might seek. It also sought to be treated just like any other corporation because it abides the law in California, as our California cannabis business lawyers know many such distributors in the state do, and federal prosecutors opted not to take any type of civil forfeiture action against the firm.

The IRS, however, sees it much differently. In the eyes of federal law, as long as the U.S. Controlled Substances Act remains in place (designating marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic), the IRS sees Harborside (and presumably others like it) nothing more than a large drug trafficking ring, not entitled to those deductions or even allowed to capitalize indirect costs into its inventory, and further subject to potentially millions of dollars in penalties for taking several contrary positions on tax returns from 2007 through 2012.  Continue reading

Many retailers extend promotional offers to drum up new business or garner awareness of a new product. However, just as with almost every other aspect of operation and sales, California cannabis companies must be especially careful about how they market and promote their product. Otherwise, as our California cannabis lawyers can explain, distributors may find their green business deep in the red – and themselves in handcuffs. marijuana lawyer

Recently, The Olympian reported recently that a pot shop owner in a Washington state suburb drew the attention and ire of state regulators for allegedly passing out free samples in violation of the state’s recreational marijuana laws. An undercover investigation was launched after officials received an anonymous tip about an alleged illegal marijuana club on site. Social media advertisements indicated free samples to the product were provided upstairs. Undercover officers began investigating the pot shop, and were offered free samples by an employee, who told them they could try it in another section of the building that wasn’t licensed. The officers reported that when they got to this portion of the building, they saw several individuals smoking marijuana.

The problem is marijuana retailers cannot, as Los Angeles cannabis business lawyers can explain, offer a ‘try it before you buy it” sort of deal for marijuana customers. This is largely owing to the fact marijuana business licensees in California, just as in Washington, are required to keep track of their product from seed to sale. By diverting products to be distributed as free samples, they are in violation of the law.  Continue reading

Los Angeles marijuana attorneys know the cannabis industry has worked diligently since Proposition 64 was passed to shed its past image of lawlessness. An alleged plot in San Diego isn’t helping, though the case has helped bring to light certain marijuana businsess regulatory loopholes that state lawmakers are now working to address. Los Angeles marijuana lawyers

Local news media is reporting a prominent property owner and marijuana owner, along with two associates, is accused of cooking up a plan to kidnap and murder a business partner while in Mexico. He has been arrested on charges of criminal conspiracy, leaving the Southern California cannabis community stunned. Many trade industry groups have refused to discuss this case, and while our Los Angeles marijuana attorneys will point out that the accused is innocent until proven guilty, it is important to point out that even if proven, this conduct is not reflective on the rest of the cannabis business community – despite the way in which staunch prohibitionists in many communities will undoubtedly attempt to twist it.

The truth of the matter is concerns regarding public safety that were raised time and again by die-hard cannabis prohibitionists haven’t been realized. The truth of the matter is in San Diego, where these individuals reportedly worked, has not reported any noticeable uptick in violence among operators of the city’s lawful marijuana dispensaries. Of those violent incidents that have been reported, almost all involved illegal, unregulated cannabis dispensaries. Legalization and regulation is a form of protection not only for owners and operators of the business itself, as well as neighbors, customers and connected industries.  Continue reading

A couple from Minnesota was recently convicted on federal possession with intent to distribute charges after they were accused of hauling more than 1,000 pounds of California cannabis in their RV and were on their way home when they were stopped in Montana. They face between 5 and 40 years in prison for the charges, plus a $5 million fine and up to four years of supervised release. It’s not clear exactly how officers were tipped off to the pair, though Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers understand Montana authorities were notified via the Minnesota drug task force before they were stopped leaving a casino. Defendant reportedly told authorities he was paid $20,000.Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

Transport of marijuana across state lines has always been a federal crime, and the fact the drug can now be obtained legally by adults in states like California has not changed that. Even traveling from a state like Washington to California – where the drug is legal for recreational purposes in both states – is technically a crime in the eyes of federal law. It may even be considered trafficking, and you could face five years in prison for possession with intent to distribute as little as 50 grams.

Practically speaking, if you transport cannabis across state lines from one state to another where both have legalized cannabis for recreation, you may not incur any serious penalty. But if this is something you are thinking about or planning, take no action before first speaking with a Los Angeles marijuana attorney because technically, to do so IS a crime. Continue reading