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A licensed California cannabis company owner has filed a civil lawsuit against the state’s Department of Cannabis Control alleging that outrageously high taxes on lawful distributors and lack of enforcement against illegal operations has made the industry untenable for those trying to do it by-the-book. cannabis business lawyer Los Angeles

As it stands, the state’s excise tax on cannabis is 15 percent. Municipalities can also set their own rates. Plaintiff, Catalyst Cannabis Company, alleges these tax rates are effectively smothering the legal cannabis industry in California. Operators of pot shops throughout the state are “treated as second class” members of the business community, while they burden an unfair share of taxes and receive little protection against the unfair competition of illegal operators.

In a press release, plaintiff told state media outlets the goal of the litigation was partly to glean information about what state regulators know regarding illegal distributors and partly to compel them to participate in reasonable cannabis industry tax reform that would allow legal operators to survive. As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers have been made aware, eking out a profit has become increasingly difficult for California pot shops because of high-taxes and the relentless (and growing) underground market. Legalization of marijuana for recreational use has been a positive in many respects, but it’s also reduced penalties for unlawful marijuana sales, allowing black market cannabis outfits to thrive. Continue reading

The cannabis industry’s first anti-trust case to reach trial was decided in favor of pot shop owners who alleged they’d been illegally edged out of the market by a would-be competitor’s unfair business practices. Jurors awarded $5 million (tripled to $15 million under the Cartwright Act) plus attorney’s fees. Los Angeles cannabis business lawyer

In Richmond Compassionate Care Collective v. 7 Stars Holistic Foundation, an independently-owned dispensary, RCCC, in Contra Costa County, sued the owners of the Richmond Patients’ Group (RPG) over allegations of conspiring to block RCCC from opening a new shop. Evidence presented at trial included evidence the defendant impeded access to the finite amount of commercial property zoned for medical marijuana distribution.

Plaintiffs argued the defendant, a potential competitor, intentionally thwarted their opportunities by submitting fraudulent letters of intent, leases, and purchase agreements to landlords of commercial properties, effectively tying up those spaces until RCCC’s permits became expired. (Local ordinance in Richmond, Calif. requires cannabis shop permit holders open up a shop within six months or lose their permit.)  The defendants reportedly even went door-to-door, trying to persuade landlords to avoid leasing to RCCC. Defendants also made efforts to compel a change in city ordinance that would reduce the number of cannabis permits available (in this, they were successful). RPG was also accused of trying to influence city officials to deny RCCC’s licensing permit.

As our Los Angeles cannabis attorneys can explain, trying to compel a change in local ordinance or state law isn’t illegal. But the plaintiffs underscored it as evidence of the defendant’s purpose and intention with regard to the other actions.

RCCC alleged RPG’s efforts ensured they were closed off at every turn by RPG’s actions and eventually lost their permit – and millions of dollars in investments and potential profits. This, they allege, was in direct affront to the California Cartwright Act, the state’s antitrust law prohibiting efforts to block fair competition in the free market. Continue reading

California hospital facilities will be allowed to use medical cannabis for terminally ill patients. Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law the Compassionate Access to Medical Cannabis Act, or Ryan’s Law – remarkable for the fact that he vetoed a similar measure in 2019 due to conflict with federal law. At the time, Newsom said he supported the measure but couldn’t sign into law because of the conflict with federal and state law. Now, he says federal officials have indicated that they aren’t taking a strong stance against the use of medical cannabis in hospitals. medical marijuana attorney

Cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, continuing to be one of the greatest sticking points for California marijuana companies. It is one our Los Angeles cannabis business attorneys expect to see changed sometime in the next few years.

As it stands, 36 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for medical and recreational uses. Industry researchers report that last year, sales of legal cannabis climbed 45 percent. It’s estimated they’ll reach $41 billion in the next five years. Yet those who might most benefit from its use in the twilight of their lives have been denied due to the federal law that criminalizes marijuana and casts it in the same category of methamphetamine and heroin – highly addictive narcotics with no recognized medical purpose.

Clearly, that definition is outdated. Medical cannabis has been legal in California since 1996. Recreational use was approved by voters in 2016. Now, Senate Bill 311 is one step closer to turning the tide entirely. Continue reading

Our California cannabis business attorneys know this is a field that this is an area of law that is constantly evolving. Case-in-point, two bills that could have a significant impact were advanced. One involves a bill now on the governor’s desk that allows for sales of hemp-derived CBD and ending prohibition on sales of smokable hemp products. The second, a measure to mandate hospitals allow medical marijuana use by certain patients, has advanced in the state legislature. marijuana laws California

Our dedicated cannabis lawyers in Los Angeles are committed to assisting marijuana and hemp farmers, producers, retailers, and ancillary firms navigate the changing legal landscape.

Hemp Regulations

The first, Assembly Bill 45, passed easily in both the state House and Senate. The measure is the result of years of advocacy to update the laws for hemp companies in California. Continue reading

California law prohibits children (under 21) from possessing, using, or buying cannabis. Marketing for marijuana must be tailored in a such a way that it’s less likely to reach them. Proposition 64 (California’s recreational marijuana law) requires a default buffer to keep dispensaries at least 600 feet away from schools, day cares, and youth centers; local ordinances be even more stringent in their requirements. Yet pot shops apparently aren’t doing a great job of keeping cannabis away from kids, according to new research.Los Angeles cannabis lawyer

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics took a look at how well state regulations intended to keep marijuana out of the hands of minors have been working. The analysis examined the practices of 700 licensed marijuana dispensaries in the state. Researchers discovered that kids can be exposed to both marketing and products, in spite of the restrictions on both.

Dispensaries are required by law to screen out customers who are underage. Many do this with blatant signage, having a checkpoint with mandatory ID (inside or outside), and tailoring marketing efforts where ads are unlikely to reach those under 21.

For this study, researchers close to the legal age cutoff (between the ages of 21 and 23) went into hundreds of dispensaries throughout California to document their screening process. Of the shops they entered, 97 percent were compliant with ID checks. However, only 12 percent verified customers’ ages outside the shop, and nearly 70 percent did not comply in having signs indicating age limits. For the most part, dispensaries were only requiring proof of age once the person was already inside, where both products and marketing materials were in plain view. Continue reading

Inmates in prison are not allowed to possess recreational marijuana while incarcerated, according to a new ruling by the California Supreme Court. The court overturned a lower court’s decision that held prisoners were allowed to have the drug, so long as they didn’t use it. Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

The case, California v. Raybon, involves five inmates in a California state prison who were convicted on felony charges after being found with marijuana in their cells. The men appealed to the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Sacramento, which overturned their convictions after determining that while they could not legally eat or smoke pot in prison, possession of marijuana is no longer a criminal offense. As our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers can explain, this ruling conflicted with those of other appellate courts.

The state supreme court weighed in after a challenge from the state attorney general. In a split 5-2 ruling, the high court held that Prop 64, which legalized recreational marijuana in California, was not applicable to prison inmates. The majority opinion held that there as nothing in the ballot materials for the law that indicated voters had considered or were even aware of how this might impact possession of the drug in prison. The court stated, “it seems implausible that the voters intended to essentially decriminalize marijuana in prison.”

Had the public intended to alter the laws and policies regarding possession of cannabis in prison settings, they would have stated so explicitly, the court ruled. Further, it would make no sense that voters would wish to continue to criminalize the consumption of cannabis in prison, yet allow inmates to legally posses it. Continue reading

Measuring one’s degree of marijuana impairment has long been an interest of not only scientists, but law enforcement prosecutors and some employers. Many thought there could be a parallel to alcohol testing; but instead of measuring one’s blood-alcohol concentration they could measure the amount of THC (the primary psychoactive component of cannabis) in one’s blood. The big problem with this, of course, is that THC doesn’t behave in the body the same way alcohol does. It isn’t processed as quickly. Thus, it’s not an accurate measure of one’s degree of impairment. Los Angeles marijuana dui lawyer

This is something our Los Angeles marijuana DUI attorneys have argued for years. Now, this same conclusion was backed by a federally-funded study. Backed by a grant from the National Institute of Justice, researchers tested the THC levels of 20 individuals who either vaporized or ate varying levels of THC. They were then subjected to numerous cognitive and field sobriety tests, similar to what are used by law enforcement.

The groups that received higher doses of THC (above 5 mg) were adversely impacted in terms of their sobriety – their psychomotor skills were visibly impaired – the level of THC in their blood and other biofluids didn’t reliably reflect that. Thus, the amount of THC in one’s blood was not a good indicator of marijuana intoxication. Continue reading

Cannabis may be legal for recreation and medicinal use in California, but that won’t help those on military bases or being treated at a Department of Veteran Affairs facility. Now, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an amendment that is intended to increase access to medical marijuana by military veterans. The bill would allow doctors working for the VA to issues recommendations for cannabis as medicine in states where it’s legal. The measure would also bar the federal agency from interfering with or denying services to those military veterans who participate in state-legal cannabis programs.medical marijuana lawyer

The bill’s sponsor noted that despite cannabis being legal as medicine in 37 states, veterans don’t have access to it, even though it’s been shown there may be benefits for treating a variety of issues, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Veterans, the bill’s sponsor said, should be able to talk to their doctors about the potential benefits.

How Cannabis Prohibition Harms Veterans

Our Southern California cannabis lawyers have been carefully eyeing the legal developments happening at the federal level, with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer of New York recently releasing draft legislation that would legalize marijuana in the U.S. Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

It’s called the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act. It’s similar to a bill passed by the House in December. The House’s approval of such a measure isn’t surprising, given its political makeup. The Senate, however, is much more conservative and a different story. How good of a chance does a measure like this actually have of becoming reality?

A poll conducted last year by the Pew Research Center reveals 6 in 10 Americans favor legalizing pot for both medicinal and recreational use. However, the majority party in the Senate has a lot on its plate, with presidential priorities being immigration, policing and infrastructure. Cannabis isn’t on that list, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t have forward momentum. Continue reading

In a precedential decision, the California State Personnel Board ruled that simply testing positive for prior marijuana use isn’t enough to accurately reflect whether a worker was impaired at work and thus grounds for discipline. The impact of this new civil service rule is that the use of urine tests for cannabis will be significantly limited in state worker discipline cases. marijuana attorney Los Angeles

There are a few positions, such as policing, to which the rule does not apply. Some state employees are expressly barred from using drugs at all. But otherwise, given that cannabis is legal in California, it appears the state will largely be treating it like alcohol where workers are concerned.

The personnel board, which oversees the civil service rules applicable to state employees, pointed out that urine tests are only going to reveal whether a person has used marijuana in the past. It’s no indicator of whether the person is intoxicated on-the-job, which for most employees would be the only situation in which marijuana use would matter. Continue reading

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