As the marijuana industry continues to grow and professionalize in the US, lawyers and law firms with expertise in the evolving landscape of state and federal cannabis laws have become indispensable to marijuana entrepreneurs. Marijuana Referral’s comprehensive directory of marijuana lawyers and cannabis law firms makes this expertise accessible for your business. But what exactly does a cannabis business attorney do and how can they help your marijuana company? And what qualities and experience should you look out for when choosing the right marijuana law firm for your business?

Do I need a marijuana lawyer?

All businesses are conditioned by the legal environment in which they operate, so drawing on the knowledge and experience of a legal expert puts you in a stronger position to make decisions and take action in the best interests of your company. This is especially true for marijuana businesses since the legal industry is still nascent and operates in a gray zone between state and federal law. Laws and regulations differ significantly between states, as well as between jurisdictions in the same state. Keeping on top of this as a cannabis business owner is extremely challenging, so to remain on the right side of the law while making the best use of the legal means at your disposal you need a marijuana lawyer.

How can a cannabis attorney help you?

As the industry is still relatively new, most cannabis lawyers started out in different practice fields. Most often, cannabis lawyers originally specialized in commercial law, intellectual property and real estate, among others. They can then bring this background knowledge and experience into the marijuana space to help cannabis business owners manage various legal challenges. Here are some of the ways in which a cannabis attorney can help a marijuana business.

1. Business establishment and licensing

A cannabis business attorney can help you with the first step of actually forming your company as a legal entity, as well as advising on how to structure it in such a way that will prove advantageous. Next, they can guide you through the process of obtaining the license necessary to legally operate as a marijuana business. From dealing with the state cannabis regulator, advising on the best strategy to increase the likelihood of securing license approval, and re-submitting an application if it is denied at the first attempt, a cannabis lawyer can take on all these necessary tasks.

2. Drafting, reviewing and finalizing contracts

Business agreements must ensure that you and your business are protected and not in violation of any laws or exposed to any potential liabilities. Vaguely written contracts with a supplier or a buyer could put you at risk of a lawsuit or unexpected costs. To avoid this, business agreements must be clear and enforceable, with terms that are fair and favorable to your interests. A marijuana attorney with experience in commercial law is well-placed to help you draft, negotiate, and put pen to paper on such agreements.

3. Protecting intellectual property

Many marijuana cultivators and processors produce unique strains of cannabis that they would like to ensure their competitors don’t use for their own business. A marijuana lawyer can help you protect your unique cannabis products by filing the necessary paperwork with the US Patent and Trademark Office. In case of disputes with other businesses over your patent or trademark, your cannabis lawyer can represent your business’s interest for exclusive, protected use of that product.

4. Securing real estate

Marijuana businesses face more restrictions on where they can locate their premises than businesses in traditional, well-established industries, even in states that have legalized cannabis. Some jurisdictions in legal cannabis states still prohibit marijuana businesses from operating in their county or municipality, while some state laws put a limit on numbers within a given area. A cannabis lawyer will be aware of such restrictions, ensuring you don’t waste time or money on premises you can’t legally use. They can also advise on the language and provisions of real estate lease or sales agreements, highlighting any problematic aspects that you may need to reconsider.

5. Tax and regulatory compliance

From seed to sale, marijuana business activity is taxed and the amount that must be paid is calculated and assessed according to state and local tax laws that are in force. Failing to comply with your tax obligations, even out of ignorance, can result in hefty civil and criminal penalties. A marijuana attorney with a background in tax affairs can help ensure you remain in line with the relevant cannabis tax ordinances, and can even advise on how you structure your business or organize its activities to lessen your tax burden. Similarly, you have to ensure your marijuana business complies with all relevant regulations. The state cannabis regulator may inspect your premises to make sure you’re following the rules, and they have the authority to impose fines or even shut your business down should you run afoul of these. A marijuana attorney can help ensure you satisfy all regulatory requirements, and can represent your case should non-compliance issues arise.

What to look for when choosing a cannabis law firm?

It’s unlikely that any one lawyer can handle all the legal needs of your cannabis business. Different facets, whether real estate, licensing or tax affairs, demand different competences. As such, it is advisable to work with a team of lawyers through a law firm that has collective cannabis industry expertise. Though the industry is still emerging, there are many law firms that now specialize in servicing cannabis businesses. Don’t just take the word of the law firm at face value though. It’s crucial to look into the actual experience of the attorneys to ensure they have a proven track record demonstrating their familiarity with local and state regulations, as well as federal law. You can do this with a simple internet search, and then follow up on the most promising leads for more detailed information. To get started, Marijuana Referral’s resource of cannabis attorneys is a good way to find the legal expertise your business needs.

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Julie Chambers is a former deputy prosecutor handling all criminal cases including marijuana possession, possession of paraphernalia, drug offenses, alcohol related offenses and criminal expungements.

Paul Stanko defends persons accused of drug, alcohol and other criminal offenses throughout northern IN. A former judge and prosecutor, he has been highly rated by Martindale-Hubbell, Avvo and other sources.

Attorney Patrick Lewis has been a criminal defense attorney for over 25 years. The large percentage of the cases that he handles involve defending those accused of drug-related crimes.

A lifetime member of the NORML Legal Committee, Epstein and Epstein is in its 30th year of defending marijuana consumers and growers from the unjust laws of prohibition.

Komorn Law is widely recognized as the leading authority on Michigan Medical Marijuana laws.

We are here to review your case. Tell us about your legal situation today. There is no time to waste if you want to hire a criminal defense attorney whom MI residents have found to be exceptional in his area of expertise.

Experienced Marijuana Defense Lawyer. Patrick S. Fragel, Attorney at Law: Former Prosecutor – 20 Years Experience

Dan Viet has 30 years of experience representing people charged with non-violent marijuana and other prohibited substances law violation in every circuit court, appellate court, and supreme court in Missouri.

Our Firm handles legal matters throughout the Triangle in the following practice areas: Traffic Violations, Federal, State, and Local Criminal Law, Driving While Intoxicated (DWI or DUI), Drug Crimes, Felonies, Parole and Probation, Family

William O’Brien, Attorney is a member of the Nebraska Criminal Defense Attorneys Association and NORML.

Stockman Law is widely recognized in NE and concentrates in defending clients from drug-related charges.

We are the New Jersey Marijuana Lawyers. With over 65 years of combined experience, we defend clients who have been arrested for violating laws relating to marijuana. We defend our clients using skill, understanding, and compassion.

The Law Offices of David W. Polsky is focused on criminal defense and DWI matters.A large part of the cases handled is dedicated to defending clients who are facing marijuana charges.

The NM law firm of Attorney Patricia M. Monaghan focuses its expertise on Cannabis Business Law.

Simon A. Kubiak provides legal services for DWI defense, domestic violence, drug crimes, criminal law and family law for the citizens of Albuquerque and throughout NM.

I’ve been a criminal practitioner for more than 25 years and has a proven record as a successful trial attorney winning verdicts on cases ranging from marijuana (kilos) to murder.

The Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner is a criminal defense firm dedicated to advocating on behalf of clients facing criminal charges throughout Queens and the surrounding boroughs of New York City.

For over 30 years, George F. Hildebrandt, Attorney at Law has successfully defended clients in federal and state courts and has achieved many acquittals, dismissals and reductions to lesser charges

Attorney Samuel B. Militello is a graduate of the National College for Criminal Defense and has been practicing Criminal Law since 1979.

Portland attorney and activist Leland R. Berger has morphed his law practice from criminal defense to advising cannabusinesses. He has co-written and actively lobbied for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in his state.