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The majority of states in the U.S. – California included – allow legal marijuana cultivation, production and adult use and sales (with some restrictions) within their jurisdictions. But that hasn’t entirely shielded people from the potential for serious criminal charges for cannabis violations under federal law. California cannabis criminal defense lawyer

Existing statute classifies marijuana as a schedule I narcotic, dangerously addictive like heroin and with no medicinal value. This classification is clearly arcane, but it doesn’t negate the fact that people can still face substantial criminal penalties for federal cannabis violations. Unless and until marijuana is legalized at the federal level, it is imperative to take these seriously and work with a long-time cannabis criminal defense lawyer.

Consider the case of a 26-year-old Maryland man who has been jailed in a maximum security federal prison for close to a year, awaiting trial on federal marijuana conspiracy charge, which is something of a gray area of the law as state laws grow more lenient. He and nearly a dozen others are accused of transporting more than 1,000 kilograms of cannabis from California to Maryland over the course of two years. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 15 years. Continue reading

Since the right of California cannabis delivery services was cemented late last year with the state supreme court’s ruling in County of Santa Cruz v. Bureau of Cannabis Control, the market seems poised for growth. Still, the clarity of some issues remains clouded. For example, when, where and under what conditions can a licensed retail operator in the state deliver goods to cannabis consumers in outside jurisdictions?Los Angeles cannabis delivery lawyer

As the cannabis delivery market represents a ripe post-pandemic opportunity, those companies considering adding cannabis delivery to their roster of services should have a Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer on retainer.

The mass shutdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic saw huge spikes in all kinds of delivery services, as the public was eager to avoid shopping center crowds. Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats, Instacart and Drizly soared. Meanwhile on the cannabis front, the CA-based cannabis delivery app Eaze saw its customer base jump by 70 percent. In the last 12 months, Eaze execs estimate a California cannabis order was placed every eight seconds. Our state accounts for the lion’s share of the $17 billion in legal pot sold in the U.S. last year. Continue reading

Minors getting ahold of marijuana was a major sticking point in the lead up to the passage of Proposition 64, which legalized adult-use California cannabis. It’s also been cited as a reason to block cannabis business billboards on California highways. But as it turns out, licensed marijuana retailers are doing an excellent job keeping the substance out of the hands of youth. Los Angeles cannabis lawyers

You don’t need to take our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers‘ word for it. This is according to a new study commissioned by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Despite a few isolated incidents of state law violations (i.e., workers giving out free samples of edibles), the analysis revealed workers at cannabis retail locations are committed to following the rules, protecting minors and staying in business.

Study authors say the largest loophole through which minors obtain cannabis in California is through unlicensed vendors. Consider that black market bud sales are three times bigger than the legal market. They don’t have the regulations and taxes to contend with. They sell products that aren’t verified for safety or quality, but they can sell them cheaper – and they don’t always ensure the people to whom they’re selling are of legal age to do so.

The proliferation of the black market in this state has served as a lesson to other states preparing to oversee the unveiling of similar recreational cannabis industries. Continue reading

Cannabis could end up back on the California ballot if some marijuana advocates have their way. An increasingly vocal faction argues that in the five years since voters approved legalization of adult recreational use, access to legal supply for consumers has been limited, thanks to unchecked taxes and fractious local governments. A booming black market has overshadowed legal proprietors, who are struggling to make ends meet – all of which was not the voters’ vision when they passed Prop. 64, the advocates argue. Los Angeles cannabis business lawyer

The California Cannabis Reform Project and Weed for Warriors organizations are working together to hammer out a ballot initiative that would, among other things, deprive local governments of the power to approve or deny licenses for cannabis business operators. They allege local governments have failed to wield that power effectively, in turn causing more harm than good, giving illegal operators a leg-up while making it harder for many law-abiding consumers in massive swaths of the state to obtain safe, legal cannabis.

As noted by analysis in the New York Times, roughly 8 in 10 of the state’s local governments have outlawed the sale of marijuana within their borders, effectively creating marijuana retail deserts. Local governments’ loss of control is effectively evidenced by the huge – and growing – illicit marijuana market. Continue reading

California may have legalized recreational cannabis, but questions carry on over how “in-your-face” the public messaging should be. State legislature rows are brewing over splashy marijuana business billboards that have been erected across the state. As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers can explain, such advertising is considered essential by industry insiders who rightfully point note the legal market is barely treading water. Opponents, however, argue that such ads incentivize a potentially harmful substance to impressionable youth. Los Angeles cannabis business lawyer

Assembly Democrats have introduced two competing bills that would allow for two very different approaches to public advertising of cannabis businesses and their products. The more restrictive CA AB 273(21R) would prohibit any cannabis-related billboard from being visible from a highway. The other, CA AB 1302 (21R) would allow billboard advertising of cannabis companies along most thoroughfares in the state, but it would discourage sales interstate, which is still unlawful at the federal level, by banning marijuana billboard ads within 15 miles of any highway border into another state.

Although advertising may seem like a minor detail, the reality is some of these nuances could have a significant impact on the legal cannabis market in the state. Consider that the biggest tech companies – Google, Facebook, and YouTube – effectively ban cannabis marketing to online consumers. That means outdoor advertising is crucial for the marijuana industry. Prohibition that unreasonably restricts content and placement is going to further impede any business’s ability to effectively compete against other providers, particularly in markets teeming with unlicensed businesses that sell cheaper products because they are uninhibited by taxes, regulatory fees, compliance testing, etc. Continue reading

Starting this summer and prompted by a new federal law, the U.S. Postal Service will begin prohibition of vape product shipments – a move that concerns some California cannabis companies. Los Angeles cannabis lawyer

As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers can explain, the measure was tucked quietly into an appropriations bill late last year that was passed to keep the government running.

Not a single mention of “marijuana” or “hemp” is contained in the Preventing Online Sales of E-Cigarettes to Children Act, but investors and entrepreneurs in both sectors are concerned – and rightly so. They will be expected to comply with it.

To the extent any industry is involved in selling vape products, it will apply to them. That includes manufacturers and retailers. Continue reading

The State of California is doling out more than $15 million in grants to nearly a dozen cities and counties that have onboarded social equity programs – including California. The intention is to aid minorities and those harmed by the failed war on drugs in becoming stakeholders in the state’s legal cannabis market. The allocation is in addition to $40 million previously awarded by the state for the same cause. But will it make a real difference? Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer

Our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers know that many cannabis company entrepreneurs who had been banking on this help have felt overlooked by the L.A. government in particular. Our goal is to assist these companies in building a solid framework by establishing workable business plans that are not only profitable but legally protected.

As detailed in a recent L.A. Times article, politicians in Los Angeles vowed help for those hit hardest by pot prohibition through the social equity program, which targets those with low incomes, prior marijuana arrests and who live in areas disproportionately impacted by enforcement of marijuana prohibition laws. But some lament they’ve been left stranded with little local aid. The city granted licenses to some of the long-standing marijuana operations that met city requirements, but newer social equity program retailers have not seen expedited license approvals. Continue reading

California cannabis business operators are hopefully eyeing a newly-reintroduced Safe and Fair Enforcement Banking Act (SAFE) that appears to be gaining some steam in Congress. Last session, it died in the U.S. Senate, but with new members seated, a new president and a growing trend toward public acceptance of cannabis companies as legitimate, cannabis banking may be more than a pipe dream. Los Angeles cannabis lawyer

As our Los Angeles cannabis lawyers can explain, the goal is to establish a safe, legal means for banks and other financial companies to work with marijuana businesses that are state-legal. As it stands, 47 states plus Washington, D.C. have legalized the substance in some form or another.

Sponsors are optimistic that this is much less of a partisan issue than it was in the past, particularly in light of the tax revenue it produces.

Why Cannabis Banking Remains Burdensome

Banking is recognized as one of the most slippery slopes for cannabis companies. They’re cut off from traditional bank accounts, which is what provides many businesses safety, security and legitimacy. Unlike other companies, cannabis retailers and many ancillary companies have no choice but to haul bundles of cash around. Not only is that impractical, it’s dangerous. COVID-19 presented a whole new layer of danger with this prospect, and many customers didn’t want to deal in cash. Continue reading

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

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