Articles Tagged with Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

Recreational marijuana has been legal for adults in California for the past 7 years – but driving under the influence of marijuana (or any mind-altering substance) has always been strictly prohibited. But despite all the legislative and regulatory developments with respect to marijuana law, the state has yet to establish any bright line rule on legal THC limits for drivers.Los Angeles marijuana DUI defense

Of course, as our Los Angeles cannabis DUI lawyers can explain, a big part of the reason for that is because it’s none so simple to establish marijuana intoxication simply based on the levels of psychoactive THC in one’s body. Unlike alcohol, which cycles through the body very quickly, THC remains traceable for weeks after consumption. A 0.08 percent blood-alcohol level would likely indicate recent excess alcohol consumption. But the same isn’t true for THC. Person A might have higher levels of THC in their bloodstream than Person B, but still be less intoxicated. The level of THC in one’s system simply doesn’t tell the whole story, particularly if one is a regular cannabis consumer.

Despite this, 18 other states have imposed some sort of limit on the amount of THC drivers can have in their bloodstream before they’re considered “under the influence” of cannabis. (THC, of course, is short for tetrahydrocannabinol, the element contained in marijuana that creates the “high.”)

There are some safe driving advocates trying to change that. One of those is the family of a 25-year-old who died tragically in a California car accident in 2020 – a passenger in a truck driven by her boyfriend. He would later say he saw an animal, jerked the steering wheel, and crashed into another vehicle – totaling his truck and killing his girlfriend instantly. The woman’s father believes the boyfriend was stoned, and he’d even spoken to his daughter about not getting into the car with her boyfriend when he’d been consuming cannabis. Her mother said she’d spoken directly to the boyfriend about what they recognized as a serious safety issue.

The boyfriend, according to a local news outlet, reportedly conceded that he’d consumed marijuana the day of the crash – but he was a habitual user of cannabis and his consumption had been earlier in the day. He insisted he was not impaired. Continue reading

Twitter recently garnered a great deal of praise for being the first social media giant to revisit its marijuana advertising rules, opening the door to industry promotion of brands and informational content related to THC, CBD, and cannabis-related products and services.

Certainly, this is big news. But our Los Angeles cannabis business consulting lawyers would urge caution before rushing to your marketing firm for content. Los Angeles cannabis advertising lawyer

Previously, the company only permitted ads for hemp-derived CBD topical products. This was still more progressive than other social media firms. TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook have had (and maintain) a strict no cannabis advertising policy – so long as it remains illegal at the federal level. (This despite the fact that 21 states allow recreational use cannabis – and more are on the horizon.) It’s likely only a matter of time before these other social media platforms adopt policies similar to Twitter’s.

However, despite  giving the green light to “approved cannabis advertisers to target the U.S.,” cannabis companies on Twitter still aren’t allowed to advertise their actual products for sale. The only exception is for topical, hemp-derived CBD products that contain less than 0.3 percent THC (which is the government’s threshold for being classified as a CBD product rather than a more heavily-restricted THC product). Undoubtedly, there’s a market for these types of products, but it doesn’t represent the full array of cannabis products and services.

Further, cannabis companies seeking to advertise on Twitter must:

  • Have a proper license.
  • Pass through Twitter’s ad approval process.
  • Limit their target audience to jurisdictions wherein they are licensed to operate.
  • Do not target youth under age 21.

Advertisers are NOT allowed to:

  • Create ads that promote or depict people using cannabis.
  • Display advertising that shows people under the influence of cannabis.
  • Claim any sort of efficacy or health benefits.
  • Use any celebrities, images, icons, characters, or athletes in their ads that might appeal to children or those under 21.

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Whereas other sectors of the California cannabis industry have been struggling, THC gummy manufacturers have been thriving (at least where they’re above-board and not being hit with multi-million dollar penalties for trying to side step state cannabis laws). Los Angeles marijuana business lawyer

Sales of pot-infused edibles have tripled over the last four years – up to almost $1.4 billion nationally, with increases largely fueled by buyers who aren’t keen on smoking or inhaling their THC fix and are looking for greater variety in options. To excel, many California gummy manufacturers are having to find a niche market: Fruity flavors, fast-acting ingredients, high potency for a decent price, etc. Consumers have their choice of a broad variety of cannabis-infused products – from cookies and chips to suckers and other candies. But gummies seem to be preferred. Fruit chews are the most popular, with caramels and taffy chews coming in No. 2.

Gummies are also very popular when it comes to minor cannabinoid products (those made not with THC, but CBD, CBN, and CBG). Edibles account for nearly one-third of all CBD products – and our Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys know that a significant portion of those are gummies.

But producers and manufactures of marijuana gummy products need to be extremely careful that they are following the letter of the law in the course of doing business. The California Department of Cannabis Control has stringent rules when it comes to process, potency, labels, and sales of cannabis products. On top of that, companies that flagrantly disregard state law may be inviting the eye of federal authorities. Although the U.S. Justice Department is no longer hyper-fixated on the marijuana industry in states where it’s legal to buy/sell/possess, the tenuous peace made possible with the Cole Memo precedent only extends as a courtesy to companies that are following state standards.

Los Angeles Pot Gummy Operator Fined $128 Million

Failure to toe the line on state laws recently led to one Los Angeles County cannabis company being fined an unprecedented $128 million. Continue reading

A marijuana business out of Oregon is pursuing a federal case challenging the state’s ban on marijuana imports and exports, alleging the law violates the U.S. Constitution. interstate marijuana ban

As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers can explain, there have been other plaintiffs over the last couple years who have successfully challenged state residency requirements in place for marijuana licensing. They’ve done so by citing the Dormant Commerce Clause, or DCC. This is an implied doctrine in federal constitutional law that prohibits state governments from imposing unfair burdens on commerce between states. The underlying intention of DCC is to promote competition by blocking states from independently regulating interstate commerce. That’s Congress’s job.

Challenges to the residency requirements aren’t exactly the same as challenges to the import/export bans, but they’re pretty close. Constitutionally speaking at least, there appears to be little difference on state residency bans on local marijuana business ownership and bans on marijuana imports and exports.

Per the DCC, Oregon can’t prohibit the export of beef or potatoes or alcohol. Plaintiffs argue that very simply, marijuana should be treated like any of these other exportable goods – notwithstanding the U.S. Controlled Substances Act that categorizes marijuana as a Schedule I narcotic.

The current case challenges the Oregon’s ban on cannabis exports, arguing the law is unconstitutional and further that allowing interstate commerce is in the state’s best interests. Plaintiffs recognize that marijuana remains illegal under U.S. law, but argued the government of Oregon should be supporting the marijuana industry and business owners by stepping back from marijuana export bans. The ban, they say, not only harms the cannabis growers, processors, and wholesalers in Oregon, but also the out-of-state residents who cannot easily access the high-quality product grown and produced in the state without physically traveling there.

There is significant out-of-state demand for marijuana products (particularly in states with more stringent marijuana laws), but Oregon isn’t the only state with import/export cannabis bans.

As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers understand, these provisions of the law were largely intended to shield states from federal government action from agencies like the U.S. Department of Justice, which has indicated interstate marijuana trafficking to be a priority for prosecution. However, plaintiffs assert that appeasing perceived federal government enforcement priorities is not a constitutionally adequate reason for a law – particularly when it’s the express policy of the DOJ not to enforce state-legal marijuana activities. This triggers a constitutional separation of powers concern, as it should be Congress (the legislative branch) and not the DOJ (executive branch) authorizing and regulating interstate commerce. Continue reading

Marijuana made big gains in this year’s midterm elections (and a few losses), as two new states legalized recreational marijuana use for adults and voters in other states and cities agreed to decriminalize marijuana possession. marijuana legalization

To be blunt about it, Los Angeles marijuana lawyers would count the biggest victories as being the ballot measures in Missouri and Maryland. Legal marijuana for adult recreational use in those two locations brings the total number of states to 21 – ultimately expanding civil liberties and cannabis freedoms for some 7 million Americans.

In addition to this, voters in 10 Ohio and Texas cities (representing nearly half a million people in total) approved bills effectively eliminating penalties for adult marijuana possession.

These wins are most welcome, though not a huge surprise to legal weed advocates. According to a recent Pew Research Center Survey, the overwhelming majority of Americans (91 percent) favor decriminalization of marijuana AND legalization for adult recreational use. Prior to Nov. 8th, 2022, approximately 43 percent of U.S. adults lived in a jurisdiction with access to legal marijuana for those 21-and-over. Adult-use and medicinal marijuana sales soared to $25 billion last year. In the next 8 years, that figure could easily reach $100 billion.

Although Maryland was widely expected to pass the marijuana legalization measure (which it did 65.6% to 34.4%), Missouri was one of four other (more conservative) states with marijuana ballot measures where favorable outcomes were less likely. Legalization in Missouri with the passage of Amendment 3 (53.1 % to 46.9%) came as something of a surprise, but ballot measure failures in the three other states – Arkansas (56.3% to 43.7%), North Dakota (54.9% to 45.1%), South Dakota (52.9% to 47.1%) – were expected.

Details on the New Cannabis Legalization Laws

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California employees are now protected from off-the-clock cannabis use, thanks to a new law recently signed by Governor Gavin Newsom. Assembly Bill 2188 makes California the 7th state in the U.S. that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers who consume cannabis legally when they’re not at work.cannabis employment protection

The statute formally goes into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. The law forbids employers from making decisions to hire, fire, or take any other adverse employment action on the basis of a drug test that detects “nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites” in the test taker’s urine or hair. It’s worth noting that such a test is not an accurate indicator of current impairment (something employers still have control over). Cannabis-positive urine and hair follicle tests are only indicative of recent cannabis use – and “recent” can mean weeks prior.

Our Orange County marijuana lawyers – who also handle Southern California employment law cases – recognize that such tests are not only offensive, but a clear invasion of an employee’s personal privacy over their own body. Recreational marijuana use by adults – just like alcohol use – has been legal in California for years. We don’t penalize workers for after-hours cocktails or wine with dinner. Why should workers be punished for legal cannabis use off-the-clock?

Of course, workers can still be penalized for being under the influence of cannabis on-the-job. Companies are not obliged to continue employing individuals who come to work impaired. But determining impairment involving cannabis is a bit trickier than with alcohol. Alcohol cycles through the human body quickly. Therefore, a blood, breath, or urine test that shows traces of alcohol is decent proof that the consumption was fairly recent. Often the higher the amount of alcohol concentration, the more recent the consumption and/or greater the degree of inebriation. Continue reading

California cannabis businesses should steel themselves for the reality of an unannounced inspection by state Department of Cannabis Control (DCC) compliance officers – some of whom have been showing up armed at inspection sites. California cannabis company inspections

As our Los Angeles marijuana business lawyers can explain, it’s not the first time pot shops have been subject to inspections. It’s just that officials handling it in the past typically gave companies a heads-up – often several days of notice – before showing up. But according to recent reports, there has been a surge of drop-in, no-notice inspections. The 24-to-48-hour heads-up is no longer something your company can count on.

Given that even minor transgressions or oversights might compromise your ability to keep your doors open, it’s imperative that licensed California cannabis businesses be ready for a DCC inspection out of the clear blue sky.

Prime Targets of California DCC Inspections

If a company isn’t following state marijuana law and guidelines to the letter, DCC can issue citations, fines, and even license revocation. As this new aggressive inspection campaign is under way, it’s unclear how nit-picky inspectors are going to be, but we do know the agency has expressly stated there are a few major compliance rules on which they’ll be devoting a heavy focus. Those include: Continue reading

Complaints made to California state officials and federal authorities allege that online cannabis advertising behemoth Weedmaps is once again promoting marijuana retailers and products that are unlicensed and illegal.Los Angeles marijuana lawyer

As our Los Angeles cannabis lawyers understand it, the complaints, filed a few months ago with the state’s Department of Cannabis Control and the federal Securities and Exchange Commission, assert that the executives at Weedmaps has opened to the door to black market marijuana purveyors, giving them a platform where customers can find them, as well as products that exceed safe, legal THC levels. The complaints assert that Weedmaps is aware that they are facilitating black market business and sales through their website, but has failed time and again to take action to stop it.

Black market activity, of course, directly harms legal, licensed businesses. This is well-established. The complaint alleges that Weedmaps is giving underground operators an edge competitively by allowing them to advertise on the platform. Inevitably, they’re going to be able to sell their product (which isn’t heavily taxed and hasn’t undergone rigorous testing) at much lower rates. Although Weedmaps purports to serve the legal market, this practice ends up undercutting that stated objective.

You may recall, it’s been a little over four years now that Weedmaps caught the ire of state authorities over allegations of illegal advertisements. The company, based in California, took down some of its online advertising two years ago, prior to going public last year. Continue reading

A California bill that would ban discrimination of employees who use cannabis off-the-clock has passed the State Assembly and is now on its way to the State Senate. employee cannabis discrimination

Assembly Bill No. 2188 calls for revision of the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) – specifically the provision that deals with employment antidiscrimination. It would make it unlawful for employers to take adverse employment action against adult applicants or employees based on the individual’s use of cannabis off the jobsite and while not working. Employees who test positive for non-psychoactive cannabis metabolites in their urine, blood, hair, or bodily fluids could not be discriminated against.

However, the law would not allow workers to be impaired by cannabis, use it at work, or violate employer rules in accordance with maintaining a drug-free and alcohol-free workplace, as outlined in California Health and Safety Code Section 11362.45. There would also be an exception for federal contractors, federal funding recipients, federal licensees required to maintain drug-free workplaces, and those who work in the building and construction trades. Any employer required by state or federal law to test employees for controlled substances would also be exempt.

As our Los Angeles marijuana lawyers can explain, if this bill passes, it would be the first California workplace law protecting cannabis users. When voters legalized the use of medicinal marijuana in 1996, there was no baked in provision to protect off-duty, off-premises medical marijuana use. Further, even after recreational marijuana was legalized in the state in 2016, a 2018 California Supreme court ruling in Ross v. RagingWire Telecommunications, Inc. held that a person with disabilities who used medical marijuana was NOT protected under FEHA. AB 2188 would represent a marked shift from that position – and protect not just medical marijuana users, but also those who use recreationally. Continue reading

A recent lawsuit the maker of Skittles candy against a California-based cannabis company is indicative of a trend our Los Angeles cannabis attorneys expect to continue if marijuana business brands continue to copycat big-name candies. Los Angeles cannabis lawyer

In Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company v. Terphogz, LLC, the Chicago-based candymaker of Skittles launched an advertising campaign that involved the slogan, “Taste the Rainbow.” The advertising and packaging for their fruit-flavored candy shows the slogan with a large S logo. The company alleges that a cannabis company in Medocino is selling merchandize under the name Zkittlez, with illustrations of its goods advertised as looking very similar to the Skittles candy. On its website, which sells cannabis-related items and goods nationally (as well as to residents of Illinois, where plaintiff is based), it sells goods under the brand name Zkittlez, with the similar logo.

The defendants say they do not engage in cannabis sales, but rather license the intellectual property rights to cannabis companies in California nd Oregon. Defendants say they don’t engage in business in Illinois, run targeted advertising there, or run any companies or have professional contacts there. Three of the board members have never been to Illinois. Plaintiffs say, however, that prior to the website being shut down in May 2021, the Zkittlez branded goods were available for shipment to the entire U.S., with recorded gross proceeds somewhere around $32,000. The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Company is seeking treble (triple) damages for the alleged copyright infringement.

The defendants have tried to get the case dismissed. However in November, a judge rejected their motion to dismiss, meaning the case is continuing through the courts. Continue reading

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