Articles Posted in California marijuana business lawyers

As we’re rolling into our third year of California’s legal recreational marijuana market, industry operators might expect heightened tax enforcement could be on the horizon. With an increasing number of audits already underway, there is concern some marijuana businesses could find themselves drowning in delinquent tax bills – some possibly as high as tens of millions of dollars. California marijuana lawyers

The three-year milestone is noteworthy because that’s the cutoff for California Department of Tax and Fee Administration auditors for examination of corporate tax returns.

Prior to 2018, marijuana companies were already required to pay sales taxes. As our Los Angeles cannabis lawyers know first hand, many were were routinely subject to state audits. In 2018, when the state first allowed legal cannabis sales for recreational use, they were required to pay two new taxes – a cultivation tax and a 15 percent excise tax.

As some CPAs note, audits like these can be very advantageous for the state of California, so it should come as no shock that these are starting. In fact, the state is pumping up all its general business audits too, so it’s not necessarily that marijuana companies are being singled out. Still, the high tax rates and significant penalties associated with marijuana sales could spell trouble for some marijuana businesses if anything is amiss. Continue reading

What recourse do marijuana companies with provisional licenses have if regulators choose to revoke them? Can they appeal? It’s a question that’s likely to get some answers as the case of Harrens Lab Inc. v. Bureau of Cannabis Control works its way through the courts. California cannabis lawyer

In that case, a marijuana testing lab forced to close earlier this year after the California Bureau of Cannabis Control revoked its provisional license said the move was unconstitutional because they were denied due process by not being allowed to appeal the decision. But in a recent filing before the Superior Court in Alameda County, the state’s attorney general argued that no cannabis business in California operating on a provisional license is entitled to due process under state law. Continue reading

Although 36 states and Washington D.C. have some form of legalized marijuana (15 of those for recreational use), it’s still strictly illegal to cross state lines with these products. It all comes back to federal prohibition. Crossing state lines with marijuana will cause you to run afoul of federal law. Each state dictates the movement of marijuana in its own borders, but intrastate commerce is federal jurisdiction. California marijuana lawyer

More than likely though, this will change – not so much a matter of if, but when. For one thing, we’re looking at a brighter than ever possibility of federal legislation that would end prohibition and legalize the drug. Beyond that, however, there’s a clause in the U.S. Constitution that bars states from unfairly restricting commerce between states under something known as the dormant commerce clause. State laws that restrict marijuana commerce with other states are probably unconstitutional under this clause (though it hasn’t been tested). As of right now, though, states don’t have any significant incentive to change it because it’s bolstering the economy of their own citizens. There haven’t been any lawsuits to challenge it either (yet) probably because litigation is expensive, it’s unknown how the value of limited licensing in marijuana-legal states would be impacted and fiercer competition is still an unknown for these burgeoning industries.

How Marijuana Trade Between States Would Impact the Legal Industry

As longtime Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers, we’ve seen the industry ushered through many major changes. Interstate commerce would be another significant one for nearly every sector. High-quality boutique offerings could find a bigger market. Larger firms that commoditize cheaper products would be in high demand. We’d likely see an immediate demand in more efficient supply chain and logistics experts.

Retailers might not see an impact right away (unless they are close to a state border). Even if/when marijuana prohibition ends at the federal level, most retail is likely to stay local. It’s probable that federal lawmakers would want to impose limitations or an outright ban on shipping marijuana via mail. (The same is done for tobacco products.)

What is less clear is how the value of state-issued permits would become. Continue reading

A cigarette manufacturer has filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against a California cannabis company alleging the smaller firm swiped their long-standing brand. The case highlights the fact that trademark registration and branding are valuable assets for any cannabis company, but accusations of trademark infringement can damage your reputation as well as your pocketbooks.marijuana lawyer

Bloomberg Law reports that the owner of Kool menthol cigarette brand alleges in Los Angeles federal court that the logo used by the cannabis company Bloom Brands is far too similar to the interlocking “O” letters used by Kool. The marijuana business has reportedly applied for federal trademarks for the branding images that would cover its oral vaporizers and e-cigarettes. The company that owns Kool, however, sent the firm a cease-and-desist letter late last year.

Now, according to the lawsuit, the cannabis business is accused of trying to profit off the established branding of Kool in a “transparent rip-off.” Continue reading

Dozens of Los Angeles marijuana businesses with permits that expired Dec. 31, 2020 will have until March to renew their licenses renewed, regulators announced. The news came days after the city’s Department of Cannabis Regulation informed licensees they would not be allowed to conduct commercial marijuana business after New Year’s Eve. Our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers understand the about-face was based in large part to the widespread impact of the novel coronavirus on business owners’ abilities to pay renewal fees on time. COVID-19-related closures at the city’s finance office set things back even further. Los Angeles marijuana business license

The news impacts nearly 60 businesses with now-expired licenses.

The businesses faced a host of expensive consequences if the city chose to report them to the Los Angeles Police Department or other state agencies. Now, they will have until March 1st before such actions will be taken. Continue reading

One of the largest California cannabis businesses is accusing the federal government of weaponizing federal tax law and wrongly interpreting the U.S. Constitution when it comes to taxation of the marijuana industry.marijuana business lawyer

As our Los Angeles cannabis business tax lawyers can explain, this is the latest development in a long-running legal battle over the much-derided IRS rule outlined in 280E, which curbs the deduction cannabis companies can take on their taxes.

Dispensary chain Harborside in Oakland is appealing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit following a 2019 ruling by a U.S. Tax Court which ordered the company to pay $11 million in back taxes after wrongly claiming a host of business deductions. Such deductions are available to most businesses in the U.S., but cannabis companies don’t have that luxury, thanks to 280E. Continue reading

Trying to predict the California cannabis market was problematic even prior to an international pandemic that threw everything off course. Part of it is that this is the largest legal marijuana market in the world. Part of it is that it’s so new, being legalized for adult recreational use just three years ago. And part of it is the industry’s ongoing and fierce competition with a huge illegal market – all while the drug is considered illegal and highly addictive by the federal government.marijuana business lawyer

That said, our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers have been fierce defenders of those involved in cultivating, manufacturing, selling, using, prescribing and advertising marijuana for more than a decade. We have become deft at examining the trends as we advise our clients, many of whom were better off than some other businesses due to their designation by the state as “essential.”

In looking at the year ahead, our marijuana lawyers see a handful of factors that will likely impact the future of the industry and the clients we serve.

This has undoubtedly been a year of challenges for virtually all business sectors, but 2021 holds some promise for the continued growth of California’s burgeoning legal cannabis industry.Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer

Some of the trends our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers recognize as specific to our state include:

  • More cannabis business license opportunities in Los Angeles and throughout the state.
  • Ongoing evolution of consumer preferences as well as product maturation.
  • Pressure from consumers and businesses on taxes and pricing.
  • Newly available legal finance and banking services.

Although these are mainly positive developments on the horizon, some could lead to a degree of market volatility. Still, all indicators are that California’s legal cannabis market will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Voters in various parts of the state passed dozens of local initiatives that establish a regulatory and tax framework for new marijuana businesses to become established. That means we’re going to see more marijuana businesses set up shop. Continue reading

A key ruling in the fight to allow marijuana delivery everywhere in the state – regardless of local restrictions on marijuana retailers – was issued partially in the industry’s favor. Still, our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers recognize it wasn’t all good news, and likely is just the beginning of what could be numerous, protracted legal battles.marijuana delivery lawyer

The Fresno County Superior Court earlier this month upheld the California law allowing licensed marijuana delivery companies to offer services anywhere in the state. Further, the ruling affirmed that while cities and counties can forbid these operations, enforcement is up to local government agencies.

What does this mean for marijuana delivery businesses? As our attorneys see it, they have one of two options:

  • Take the risk of battling with local governments trying to enforce their local bans on cannabis companies (including delivery services).
  • Cease delivery services to those areas.

Continue reading

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a federal bill that would decriminalize marijuana at the federal level. It’s a sweeping measure that expressly strives to address racial inequality of drug law enforcement, though the impact could be much broader – that is, if it had a realistic shot at passing in the Senate. Our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers and most Washington insiders agree the bill is likely to falter in the Senate. Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act (or MORE Act) would remove cannabis from the list of U.S. controlled substances. It would also expunge lower-level federal marijuana arrests and convictions and provide incentives for minority-owned cannabis businesses in a market that has been expanding rapidly in recent years – not just in California, but throughout the country. Additionally, it would establish an excise tax on marijuana sales, allowing that money to be funneled into areas that were particularly hard-hit by the failed war on drugs.

The measure was largely approved along party lines, though five Republican representatives and one independent joined Democrats in passing the bill. Half a dozen Democrats voted against it. NPR quoted the bill’s sponsor as saying federal action on the issue is an imperative, given that the majority of states plus Washington, D.C. have recognized medical cannabis as legal and 15 allow its sale and possession for adult recreational use. Those who voted in favor of the bill say it is long overdue, particularly as so many of the arrest and sentencing laws have placed an unfair burden on minority and low-income communities. Research conducted by the ACLU has established that people of color are four times more likely to be arrested for possession of marijuana than their White counterparts, despite evidence these groups use the substance in equal measure. Federal estimates are that some 22 million Americans regularly use marijuana. Continue reading

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