Articles Posted in California Marijuana

California marijuana farmers are facing a crisis. Currently, all 9,464 state issued temporary cannabis cultivation licenses, have expired. Meant to be replacing those, for businesses continuing to meet the required regulations, are either provisional or permanent annual cannabis business licenses.

The catch though, the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) is yet to show its ability to approve those provisional or permanent licenses, at the same pace applications are being lodged.

California Cannabis License Attorney

The backlog on approvals may be due to the complexity of the licensing application process itself. Tellingly, by mid July 2019, only 2,053 provisional licenses and 230 permanent licenses had been granted. As it stands, when applying for prospective licenses, cannabis farmers are expected to demonstrate compliance with the stringent California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), as well as submit:

  • Background checks;
  • Surety bonds;
  • Real property documents;
  • Detailed site plans;
  • Farm management practices;
  • Waste management protocols;
  • Security procedures; and
  • Pesticide measures.

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California cannabidiol (CBD) products are on the map, and investors are taking notice. But given that CBD-infused products are still relatively new to market, regulators continue to closely review the category. For this reason, acquisition strategies may be a ways off yet, but industry insiders predict consumer companies will see high minority investment interest in the short term.

CBD is naturally found in cannabis plants, and is widely known for its relaxing properties. But CBD won’t produce a ‘high,’ as it lacks the psychoactive tetrohydrocanabidiol (THC), found in marijuana.  CBD-derived products have quickly grown in popularity, thanks largely to a wide range of potential health benefits, including relieving pain, anxiety, seizures and brain injuries.

California Cannabis Investors

According to Michael Lux, partner at Crowe accounting firm, the next 6-12 months will involve strategic minority investments in the CBD space. He noted too that while the majority of CBD companies are of interest to investors, they are still less than five years old, so they’d likely need a little more time before preparing to engage in full exit strategies.

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marijuana businessMarijuana supporters in California rejoiced late last month as legislation passed by the U.S. House of Representatives could afford the industry more freedom to grow. Currently, the recreational use and sale of marijuana is legal in California, along with 10 other states, and Washington D.C. But federal law continues to classify cannabis as a Schedule 1 narcotic. While it is yet to happen, this makes folks in the cannabis industry weary, as the door remains open for the federal government to prosecute against cannabis related businesses, even in states that have legalized marijuana.

The Blumenauer-McClintock Amendment
The lauded legislation, known as the Blumenauer-McClintock amendment, would prohibit the Department of Justice from using federal funds to interfere with California state laws, or the laws in any state or district, legally permitting the regulated adult-use of cannabis.

Supporters for marijuana law reform are praising the legislation. Justin Strekal, Political Director for pro-marijuana organization, NORML, called it “the most significant vote on marijuana reform policy that the House of Representatives has ever taken.” That’s because the cannabis industry would certainly welcome extended protections within states that already permit the legal use and sale of marijuana.
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California employers long have long availed themselves of their right – as affirmed by the state’s high court – to carry out zero tolerance policies against workers who use drugs – even if that drug use takes place off-the-job. That means many companies require new applicants to pass a drug screen before they start and employees (so long as it’s totally random or the company has some reason to suspect drugs are being used on-the-job). This was true even here in California, where medical marijuana has been legal since 1996 and even with the passage of Prop. 64 that legalized recreational use.California cannabis drug testing

We could see this changing, especially because part because the California Supreme Court’s ruling in Ross v.  Ragingwire Telecommunications (one of the most recent to address this issue) was predicated at least partially on the fact that the U.S. Supreme Court had affirmed challenges to the federal law in part because deemed marijuana dangerous Schedule I drug. Recently, the U.S. Attorney General said he’d favor a new bill protecting cannabis businesses and users from federal prosecution as long as they were in compliance with federal law. This measure has broad bipartisan support, as does another that would shield banks doing business with these companies from federal money laundering charges.

It’s not clear either measure would necessitate de-scheduling the drug, but doing so likely impact legal precedent in numerous areas of law – including employment and its zero tolerance. for drugs.

The History of Employer Zero Tolerance Policies Continue reading

In the two years since California legalized recreational marijuana, a half-a-dozen government corruption prosecutions alleging California cannabis-related official bribery, fraud and other crimes have been reported. The causal dynamics are in dispute. Those who were always opposed to legalization are saying, “I told you so,” while proponents of the legal market blame the clash between state-and-federal law, the patchwork of city laws and a glut of cannabis crop fueling the black-market because the legal market is too difficult to gain entry.Los Angeles cannabis lawyer

Los Angeles cannabis defense attorneys recognize the difficult state in which many marijuana businesses find themselves. Many are bogged down by too much supply and onerous product testing requirements, leaving them either forced to take a financial loss or turn to the black market. Some try getting their foot in the door to legal sales, but do it trying to buy silence or support from those with power and influence.

In one instance detailed by The Los Angeles Times on the issue, federal investigators launched an investigation after a sheriff from Siskiyou County reported receiving an offer of $1 million from a man allegedly operating several illegal marijuana farms. The man suggested it could go to a foundation the sheriff spear-headed. When the man tried to make his down payment with tens of thousands of dollars stuffed into envelopes, federal authorities swooped in. The man was later indicted on federal bribery charges.

Laws on the CBD food craze are all over the map, and misinformation is rampant. CBD, known formally as cannabidiol, is used in everything from blended drinks to savory sauces, and unlike its cousin THC, it doesn’t make consumers high. Some have referred to it as a natural form of Xanax and Tylenol – without the adverse health impact. No substantial research exists with regard to the health benefits of the compound, yet we do know it’s part of a significant health food craze. Even Martha Stewart has taken on a role advising a marijuana company on CBD food products for both people and their pets.Los Angeles CBD lawyer

Los Angeles CBD lawyers can explain that overlapping federal and state laws have created substantial confusion among restauranteers about what’s legal and what’s not. Consulting with an attorney before launching your latest line of CBD products is advisable.

California and Federal Laws on CBD in Food and Drink Products Continue reading

Authorities in Los Angeles allege three men in Southern California received funding from China to engage in a scheme to purchase residential real estate and turn it into lucrative marijuana grow operations. Los Angeles marijuana criminal defense

NBC-4 Los Angeles reports the men, ages 37 to 44, all of Pasadena, were each charged in an L.A. federal court with one count of manufacturing, distributing and possessing marijuana with intent to distribute. As our L.A. marijuana criminal defense lawyers can explain, depending on the amount of marijuana purportedly involved, this could result in a maximum prison term of anywhere from 5 years to life, per 21 U.S.C. § 841.

Investigators allege the men were wired millions of dollars from China in order to buy homes that would be used in illegal cannabis grow operations. During one of the search warrants executed, authorities reportedly seized some $80,000 in cash plus 1,650 marijuana plants. Federal authorities took possession of at least seven houses, with an estimated cumulative value of $5 million, per the U.S. Attorney’s Office.  Continue reading

The appointment of Jeff Sessions to the office of U.S. Attorney General had many pro-marijuana advocates in California and throughout the country on edge. Sessions was known to take a hard line against all drugs, and marijuana was no exception. Those fears were confirmed when Sessions formally rolled back the Cole Memo, a federal directive under the Obama administration not to pursue criminal actions or civil forfeiture against marijuana businesses that were abiding state law. Sessions even declared at one point that people who use marijuana were “not good people.”Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer

After Sessions resigned (forced to leave, one could argue), there was concern President Trump’s next appointment would be more of the same. Those fears weren’t quelled when he named Bill Barr to take the post. TheGrowthOp dubbed Barr, “a well-documented drug warrior.” Barr previously served as attorney general during the George H.W. Bush administration, and during that tenure garnered a reputation for escalating the drug war back in the 1990s. He’d called for the construction of more U.S. prisons in order to lock up more drug offenders, most of whom were in hot water over crimes related to marijuana. It didn’t seem like much would change after he signed a Washington Post editorial published in November came out in swinging support of Sessions, calling him “outstanding” and praising him on his tough-on-crime approach to drug dealers.

But then, as reported by VOX, Barr responded to U.S. Senators preparing to hold his confirmation meeting that he would not be pursuing a crackdown against legal marijuana if he attains the position. He wrote, “I do not intent to go after parties who have complied with state law in reliance on the Cole Memorandum.” He clarified it was possible he might seek further guidance from the administration on this approach, but that such matters were ultimately guided by the legislature, not the administration. He personally, however, is opposed to marijuana legalization. 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

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