Articles Tagged with California marijuana business lawyers

Targeted by repeated traffic stops and seizures over the last year by federal and state law enforcement officers in California and other states, an ancillary cannabis company says cops are committing “highway robbery” by seizing millions in cash from armored vehicles transporting funds between dispensaries and financial institutions. The logistics company, Empyreal, has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to recoup losses and end the practice. Our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers understand an initial request for a restraining order has been denied. Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer

This lawsuit is being closely watched by cannabis company legal advocates as it could have a direct impact on their bottom line and ability to engage in financial transactions.

The plaintiff, with more than 25 years in banking, launched her logistics/armored vehicle business four years ago in Colorado. Since then, it’s expanded to operation in 28 states. Her goal, she told Colorado News Online, was to address some of the challenges that cannabis companies face with financial transactions. Although many states now allow medicinal and even recreational marijuana, THC products are still considered illegal under federal law. That makes federally-backed banks – bound to comply with the U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Act and Bank Secrecy Act – wary of doing business with cannabis companies. For the 700-or-so banks that will accept money from marijuana dispensaries, there is a large compliance list that involves things like background checks, verification of money origins and destinations, and other stringent guidelines. Plaintiff said she only works with banks that are meticulous about meeting all the strict requirements.

Meanwhile, particularly in states where possession of marijuana for any reason is still criminal. Kansas is one of those. State law enforcement officials there report that in the last three years, its officers have seized more than $8 million from all motorists (not just those ferrying marijuana-related funds through the state). That accounts for half of all civil forfeitures, which is a process by which law enforcement agencies can seize money, vehicles, real estate, weapons, and other personal property they suspect may have been involved in criminal activity. It is not necessary for the cops to arrest anyone or secure a conviction in order to seize the money/property. In Kansas, half of all forfeitures were done with no criminal case being filed. All they had to do was demonstrate a connection between the property and a crime – and show a lawful reason for making the stop. (As any attorney will tell you, follow behind any driver long enough and you’ll find some minor traffic infraction that can be used as cause to pull them over.)

The lawsuit alleges that the company’s vehicles have been stopped by law enforcement in Kansas and California a total of five times since last May – twice resulting in cash seizures of more than $1 million, money that was later turned over to the FBI. Continue reading

As legal recreational marijuana businesses continue to put roots in communities throughout California, employees and owners of these companies are increasingly looking to buy homes. But can they qualify? Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

Los Angeles cannabis business lawyers can explain that residential mortgage for marijuana business owners may not be as tricky as commercial loans or rental agreements for marijuana companies. But owners and employees of marijuana companies have struggled to get approved for a mortgage loan because they are not allowed to factor income from the dispensary or other marijuana-related revenue. That all goes back to marijuana’s continued classification as a highly-restricted Schedule I narcotic at the federal level. Residential mortgages are federally-backed loans. That has meant that cannabis owners and their employees must clear numerous hurdles to qualify for a mortgage.

That said, as the industry grows (and the workforce with it), there are some options still on the table for these workers. It’s important for workers to understand home loan restrictions and alternative financing options.

Recently, one wholesale mortgage lender, Encinitas, quietly released the news that it would be accepting borrowers with cannabis-related income applying for home loans. Restrictions for at-home grow operations or farms would still remain in place. The terms are generous, though the interest rate you pay for such a deal is quite high. Continue reading

California became the first state in the U.S. to approve marijuana for medicinal use back in 1996. It was also among the first to legalize recreational adult use marijuana in 2016. Los Angeles cannabis retail attorney

However, it would be erroneous to assert that marijuana sales are legal everywhere in the state. As our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers can explain, cannabis still remains widely unavailable in some of the largest cities in the Golden State.

Of the state’s 482 cities, only 174 of them allow some type of licensed, cannabis business to operate within their district. In a number of those jurisdictions, the only allowable businesses are those that are not classified as retail locations. That means that a key piece of the supply chain puzzle is missing. Ultimately, this leaves millions of people without immediate access to retail recreational cannabis.

The one exception is delivery. Having a state license from the California Department of Cannabis Control authorizing delivery allows that company to deliver in any jurisdiction in the state – something that has been affirmed in subsequent court rulings challenging this right. However, those companies might still be subject to local jurisdictional requirements. All cannabis company owners and operators should be working with an experienced marijuana business attorney to help ensure their operation rights are protected.

But the benefit of accessible cannabis for all communities goes beyond the shop owners. It benefits the industry as a whole, as well as citizens. Accessible legal cannabis constricts opportunities for those in the black market to gain a foothold.

So what’s the holdup? Continue reading

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

Los Angeles marijuana tax lawyersProsecutors for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Eastern District of California have launched a grand jury subpoena, calling for records from Californian marijuana based companies, including the parent company of Weedmaps.

Criminal prosecutors for the U.S. attorney ordered records from 30 cannabis companies, including Ghost Management Group LLC, owner of the subsidiary Weedmaps. Through its website, Weedmaps not only provides consumers with lists of nearby cannabis retailers, it also allows consumers to find retail deals, place delivery orders, and rate compare and cannabis stores.

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For 22 years, medical marijuana was the only kind of legal cannabis sold in California, until the state went on to legalize recreational cannabis in 2018. Within the months immediately following that addition, a number of medical marijuana dispensaries shifted away from leaving pot out on counters for customers to view and smell, to exclusively stocking pre-packed cannabis in already sealed bags. Prices went through the roof, welcome deals for new customers dried up, and hiked taxes raised product prices even more.

Marijuana dispensaries

While other dispensaries carried on with business as they always had done. They kept buds out and available for close-up inspection before being weighed, and a complimentary joint was often handed out to welcome first time purchasers. But if you shop at a dispensary of this kind today, chances are it’s an unregulated, illegal shop. Continue reading

After two years of licensed cannabis stores selling legalized marijuana across California, the industry has encountered numerous teething problems. Crippling regulation and licensing costs, rising local and state taxes, local city usage bans, and a strong illicit market that shows little sign of waning, have all proved to hinder industry growth. At this point, it is safe to say the Golden State’s legal marijuana industry is in need of a little prod, to help it move forward.

Calling for a Return to the Ballot
With lawmakers seemingly finding it difficult to pass any changes as quickly as the cannabis industry needs them, Cody Bass has floated another idea.
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The black market for marijuana in California is three times the size of the legal market, a recent audit has shown. The findings, made public in September, highlight the state’s ongoing battle to curb its illegal cannabis trade.marijuana dispensaries

Approximately 2,835 unlicensed dispensaries were listed as trading across California, according to the audit conducted by the United Cannabis Business Association (UCBA), a trade association representing a wide variety of licensed marijuana businesses. Interestingly, the Bureau of Cannabis Control has only licensed 873 cannabis merchants to operate lawfully within the Golden State.

These comparative statistics reflect the continued hiccups California has faced since rolling out updated legal regulations beginning in 2018, which were intended to level the cannabis market’s playing field. Continue reading

While many California cities and metro areas have been resistant to allowing cannabis shops within their borders, despite the state’s legality, a new poll shows most Golden State residents want easier access.marijuana business lawyer

It’s been nearly three years since voters in California legalized recreational marijuana sales, cultivation and possession with Proposition 64. Yet fewer than 1 in 3 California cities allow marijuana businesses to set up shop and sell recreational-use marijuana, creating so-called “weed deserts” that has given black market sales a means to thrive.

Now, a recent poll by the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Government Studies, conducted for the Los Angeles Times, shows that nearly 70 percent of Californians want cities and counties to allow pot shops in their communities. Prop. 64 was passed with the support of 57 percent of voters. Continue reading

State lawmakers are attempting to ban anyone from smoking cannabis on commercial limousines and party buses, citing concern from police agencies that use of the drug in such an environment may impair drivers and result in a higher risk of crashes.marijuana party bus

The ban was proposed by the state Legislature to serve as a counter to a competing bill – Senate Bill 625 – that would allow such recreational use aboard commercial vehicles, but with certain restrictions, so long as the users were over 21 and the driver compartment was concealed. Both of these address a 2017 law that allowing cannabis on charter-party carriers licensed by the state.

Given that California has grown to be one of the biggest – if not the biggest – legal marijuana market in the world since it was legalized by voters in Prop. 64 three years ago, numerous companies have sprung up in almost every sector. One of those are tours of local cannabis businesses in commercial passenger vehicles. This is similar to companies that take customers to breweries and wineries throughout the state.

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