Marijuana Dispensary Novices Need Legal Counsel to Avoid Trouble, Thrive

It might seem from the outside that the medical marijuana industry in California would not be the most attractive investment these days – with the wildly conflicting court rulings, federal crackdowns and near daily battles with local government. plantator.jpg

Still, our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers know it’s an area to which many entrepreneurs are still drawn. For a majority of these newcomers stepping into the ring, it has to do more with passion and purpose than profit. Still, the industry in California is valued at an estimated $1.3 billion.

With the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes in both Washington state and Colorado and an expansion of legalization rights for medicinal purposes to Massachusetts – the 17th state to do so – the momentum of the industry is rapidly progressing. This is despite efforts by the federal government to crackdown on state-approved dispensaries, with a special focus in California.

A local marketing firm recently offered courses ranging from $100 to $250, purporting to teach people how to be so-called “bud tenders” and owners of dispensaries – without going to jail.

There may be some measure of value in these courses – there is nothing wrong with cultivating as much knowledge as you can. But you must take what you hear with a grain of salt and understand that there is absolutely no substitute whatsoever for an experienced marijuana lawyer. If you are thinking of opening or investing in a dispensary, it is absolutely critical to seek the advice of an attorney first. This will help you build a foundation for your operation that will be based upon knowledgeable and individualized assistance.

Some marketing firms working with marijuana start-ups have urged owners “not to hide,” telling them they are fully protected by the state. New dispensary owners are advised to advertise openly and without fear of harassment, as it is their right under state law. But this advice isn’t entirely reliable. While it’s true that state law grants you operational rights, you still have to contend with local ordinances, and of course, federal law, which regards marijuana as illegal, regardless of state law. There are steps new dispensary owners can take to help insulate themselves and their investments, but consulting with a medical marijuana lawyer is key.

Among those drawn to the field recently is a former air conditioning technician from Florida, who moved to California seeking opportunity after the market in his home state crumbled. He was quoted by a Bloomberg News reporter as saying that the cultivation itself – serving as a farmer and nurturing growth – is what drives him. He also said he felt called to the industry in order to help those who are suffering.

Still, for-profit medical marijuana clinics are the principal target of federal investigators. At the tail end of October, a dozen people associated with nine L.A. and Orange County dispensaries were rounded up and arrested for violation of federal drug trafficking statutes.

Again, this is why reaching out to an attorney BEFORE you open your doors is so important.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:
Medical Marijuana Novices Learn to Be ‘Bud Tenders,’ Avoid Jail, Nov. 21, 2012, By James Nash, Bloomberg News
More Blog Entries:
Attorney Vital in Review of Marijuana Business Deals, Nov. 29, 2012, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog