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It’s not only pot smokers who line outside California’s cannabis dispensaries. Personal injury attorneys may be lurking nearby as well, watching for the opportunity to pounce on a possible product liability claim if an marijuana product makes someone sick or results in an injury. This is particularly true because many states allow punitive damages (up to three times one’s actual damages, intended to penalize the defendant for egregious wrongs rather than simply compensate the plaintiff) for injuries an intoxicated person causes to others. product;iability

Marijuana product liability attorneys in Los Angeles have concluded cannabis companies with perhaps the greatest vulnerability are those that produce edible products. Soda, gummies, truffles, cookies, truffles, brownies, potato chips, wines – the list is endless. But the waters of marijuana product liability lawsuits aren’t well-tested.

Such lawsuits will assert that marijuana products are defective, dangerous, mislabeled and/or the makers and distributors failed to issue adequate warnings about these risks. Continue reading

A federal lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging the constitutionality of the federal law designating marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance proceeded recently to the next level with oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. As our Los Angeles marijuana patient attorneys can explain, the crux of the argument by plaintiffs of the claim, first filed in 2017, is that the designation ignores the merits of the drug for medicinal purposes. The appeal was heard last month by the three-judge panel. Los Angeles cannabis lawyer

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a 12-year-old epilepsy patient, an 8-year-old Leigh’s syndrome patient, an Iraq war veteran and sufferer of post-traumatic stress disorder, a former NFL player who heads a hemp company hawking sports performance products and a non-profit that helps minorities get ahead in the legal cannabis market. Defendants are acting-Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the acting director of the DEA and the federal government.

The appeal, limited to presentations of just a few minutes per side, rests on a dispute of the assertion that the Controlled Substances Act violates the 5th Amendment, which guarantees the right of citizens to preserve life and health.  Continue reading

As marijuana legalization continues throughout North America, there is still significant public and private interest resistance to its proliferation. One of the legal ground on which these cases have been tested throughout the country is a federal law known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970, also known as RICO. As our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers can explain, this was a law intended to battle organized crime and the mafia. However, it’s been used in several recent federal cases to intervene with legal marijuana businesses and users – one of the most recent in Petaluma, California, marking what is believed to be the first time this legal argument has been used against marijuana businesses in the state. marijuana RICO attorney

But in that case, as in many of the cannabis company RICO civil lawsuits pursued nationally, a federal judge has ruled against the plaintiffs.

According to The Argus Courier, a U.S. District Judge held that neighbors of a cannabis company and its lead grower can’t be sued under RICO anti-corruption laws because nuisances related to noise and bad smells don’t cause the same kind of tangible financial losses intended to be addressed under RICO. Continue reading

Marijuana did not pass muster as a holy sacrament with an Indiana state circuit court judge last year, citing now-Vice President-then-Indiana-Governor Mike Pence’s championed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Whether the state appellate court might have agreed about the legitimacy of the First Church of Cannabis and its use of the drug for religious purposes won’t be known anytime soon. According to Indiana Public Media, the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed the case after the plaintiff, founder of the church, failed to pay a court transcript fee or respond to the state’s motion to dismiss with an argument for why the court should allow the case to move forward. cannabis attorney

Los Angeles marijuana attorneys know the case won’t have much of an impact here in California, but it was interesting from a legal standpoint for how it might have impacted other states where the drug remains illegal for any purpose.

The state’s RFRA established a legal standard (unique to Indiana) requiring the government prove a compelling reason to restrict someone else’s religious practices and a burden of proof to show that it is doing so in the least burdensome way possible. Continue reading

Marijuana has been around since before recorded history, but as it was illegal for almost the last 80 years of U.S. history, we’re only just now seeing a rush on pot-related patents. Technically, as our Los Angeles marijuana attorneys can explain, the classification of cannabis within the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has in turn meant it would be tough for anyone patent or trademark holder to defend their right to that protection in federal court. Not to mention: Is it even possible to patent a plant that’s been around forever?marijuana lawyer

As an increasing number of states approve marijuana for legal sale and use (not to mention the fact that it’s now fully legal in Canada), companies are rushing to secure patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which according to a recent Reuters report increased the number of patents issued containing the words “marijuana” or “cannabis” from 14 in 2016 to 29 in 2017 to 39 last year.

Of course, securing patents for possibly new uses of cannabis products isn’t an entirely new practice in the U.S., where the age-old botanical only first gained any measure of legality in California in 1996. But even before that, starting somewhere in the 1990s, some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms started quietly securing U.S. patents for medical applications of marijuana. Abbvie reportedly now has the most, with 59 patents and 95 U.S.-published medical applications of the drug. Merck is No. 2., with 35 patents and 55 U.S.-published medical applications. There are also several patents held by universities – and even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (which holds 11 patents and 39 published applications). Continue reading

As Los Angeles attorneys focusing our practice on both California marijuana law and employment law, we’ve seen that the intersection of these two has never been more apparent. Many of these cases focus on the right of an employee/ user of marijuana (particularly for medical purposes) to use legally-obtained drugs on their own time, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the safety or efficiency of their job performance. The results of those claims have been mixed, though as the American Bar Association notes, the trend has been courts siding with employees.marijuana attorney Los Angeles

Now though, our marijuana business attorneys are seeing a new type of claim cropping up among cannabis companies: Employment litigation pursued by workers within the cannabis industry. One of the most recent is a marijuana employment lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

Plaintiff was previously employed to provide expertise and labor to an investment company that owned a marijuana grow operation in Junction City. He alleges that despite being a non-exempt employee, in turn requiring the company to pay at least minimum wage plus overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a given week (which he claims he did frequently), the company failed to pay him for approximately 2,500 hours worth of pay. He further alleges the cannabis company failed to provide him itemized pay statements or establish a regular pay day, both in violation of state employment laws. He also incurred numerous expenses on behalf of the company, such as using his personal vehicle for work purposes with no reimbursement.  Continue reading

Los Angeles marijuana attorneys have been fighting for the cannabis rights in California for two decades now. As one of the oldest-serving cannabis law firms in Los Angeles, the biggest city in the first and largest state ever to approve medical marijuana, it has not been without its many, many challenges – from a patchwork of local laws at the community level to the federal raids of dispensaries operating legally under state but not federal law to the disparities revealed when police officers were given broad discretion in deciding who to civilly cite versus who to arrest for petty possession crimes. Every battle saw this once-demonized plant inch closer to legitimacy, closer to legalization. We still aren’t there. We won’t be until the federal government removes marijuana from the federal list of Controlled Substances, does more than look the other way at state-approved marijuana sales and allows these companies to operate with the same protections as any other business, its customers treated like any other patron.California cannabis attorney

Looking back, 2018 has been a banner year for legalized marijuana across the country – including here in California, where it all started. One legislator and long-time marijuana advocate commented that “this was the year the movement crested,” meaning action that would overturn the federal ban is imminent now that two-thirds of all states have some form of legalized medicinal marijuana, 10 allow recreational marijuana and more are sure to follow.

After voters approved legalization of recreational marijuana in 2016, the legal market couldn’t simply swing open the doors the next day. The state established an oversight board, set product standards, carved out power to local communities and allocated the tax revenue generated. This year marked the year California became the biggest legal marijuana marketplace in the U.S. Continue reading

When California passed a measure permitting the sale of marijuana for recreation, there was a presumption that within short order, there would be cannabis farms cropping up all over the state, shops in almost every city and that adult consumers could score a stash with a stroll down the street or a quick dash across town. However, as our Los Angeles marijuana business owners have observed, the reality hasn’t quite measured up. In fact, while this is indeed the largest market in the U.S., it hasn’t performed at the same clip the state and business owners would have hoped.Los Angeles marijuana lawyer business

As recently reported by The Los Angeles Times, factors at play include retail operations bridled by a host of regulations, oppressive taxes and decisions made in most cities to prohibit the retail stores. Cannabis law firms have also noted some shops have been dragged to city hall over neighbor’s complaints their presence is a nuisance. Police in several districts have expressed concern about crimes related to both the industry and illicit trade, which hasn’t completely disappeared, given the markup prices on legal marijuana.

Los Angeles marijuana attorneys see a wide range of legal cannabis challenges for the incoming governor, Gavin Newsome, who takes office in January. These include initiatives like:

  • Inability of California marijuana shops to access banking services.
  • Crippling tax burdens on pot shop retailers.
  • Illicit marijuana cultivation and sales, mostly stemming from high cannabis costs due to government taxation and regulation.
  • Problematic issues with sales of marijuana to minors.
  • Stifled growth of cannabis industry due to ongoing federal restriction on the drug.

Continue reading

Most of the marijuana businesses in California and across the country run by small, independent entities operating in a limited regional network within their own state. Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys have seen several indications we might see a major shift on this front in 2019. There are already four large multi-state marijuana businesses in operation, and as more national and international companies enter the fray, we’re likely to see a boom of large cannabis business growth – partially or primarily through mergers and acquisitions. Los Angeles marijuana business merger

Historically, cannabis business ventures have been small as federal law has hindered businesses from stretching across state lines. While the states control trade within their borders, the federal government has jurisdiction over interstate sales – and cannabis is still under federal law considered a Schedule I dangerous narcotic. But with the drug legalized in some form now by 33 states and available for recreational use in 10, legal in Canada and poised for legitimacy in Mexico, this is probably going to change (though it’s tough to say exactly when). State and local governments are embracing the tax revenue these companies rake in and they’re spending less on police resources to bust people for petty marijuana possession charges. A legal marijuana industry analyst with Forbes opined next year will see an explosion of cannabis mergers and acquisitions.

Still, expanding the tentacles of one’s marijuana business into other states is still very risky and could result in millions of dollars in losses if they overreach or fail to follow the stringent regulations set forth by each state. There are personnel issues, regulatory issues and sometimes just rotten luck. But even for smaller cannabis businesses in Southern California, staying competitive in this rapidly expanding and evolving market may require it. If you’re thinking about branching out – whether into the next county or across state borders, you can begin strategic business plan discussion with an experienced Los Angeles marijuana lawyer who can help you maximize your odds of success and minimize the liability risk.  Continue reading

Strict state regulations on transport and distribution of marijuana in California has spawned a thriving new ancillary industry: Third-party logistics (3PLs). These are independent companies that don’t grow or produce cannabis or related products, but help ensure orders are accurately filled, delivery demands are met on time and products are properly preserved between destination points. Of course, third-party logistics firms have been around for ages, working within just about every national or international market sector, but as Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys can explain, they’re pretty new to this particular economic sector. In California, the state requires licensing for “distributors” and “transporters,” basically the “mandatory middle-men.” Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer

One recent report by logistics trade publication Supply Chain 24-7 detailed burgeoning efforts to build a strategy for state-level supply chains, but also for what some believe may sooner than later become a global supply chain. One logistics firm working on this has its sights on Canada, and with development help from its technology and finance partners is hoping to on-board major licensed marijuana producers, retail distribution centers and government regulators.

Most global third-party logistics for cannabis are likely to employ some type of blockchain, given mandates that product be tracked and accounted for from seed-to-sale. Blockchain is a type of digital ledger for sales transactions made on a cryptocurrency platform like bitcoin, which are meticulously recorded in chronological order and recorded for the public. Cyrptocurrency is likely to be the preferred method of payment for ancillary cannabis companies that have expanded to the point of needing a third-party logistics firm to manage its supply chain. This will help not only keep track of cannabis products and sales, it will improve consumer safety and allow for rapid recalls of tainted marijuana, ensure legal sourcing of marijuana products and facilitate automatic tax and legal process requirements. Continue reading