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Tom Firestone

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Welcome to the Global Cannabis Compliance Podcast Series. Because we have received so many requests from readers for more information about the topics we have been covering, we have decided to start a podcast series featuring in-depth discussions with experts. Like the blog, the podcast series will cover all aspects of cannabis compliance including existing laws and proposed legislation in various countries and U.S. states, significant court cases and judicial decisions, enforcement trends, and best practices in compliance. If you…

On September 25, 2019, the House of Representatives passed the “Secure And Fair Enforcement Banking Act of 2019” or the “SAFE Banking Act of 2019” (H.R. 1595) by a vote of 321 to 103. If adopted, the SAFE Banking Act would, among other things, create a safe harbor for depository institutions that provide banking services to state compliant marijuana-related businesses and also remove proceeds from state compliant cannabis transactions from the definition of criminal proceeds under U.S. anti-money laundering laws. …

In a previous post, we discussed lessons drawn from recent compliance challenges in the cannabis industry that highlight some of the consequences that arise without thorough due diligence on cannabis-related business partners (CRB). In this post, we provide a checklist of six key issues to consider when conducting due diligence on partners in the industry. While not intended to be comprehensive, this list is a sound foundation and will help identify areas requiring deeper due diligence. Issue 1: Location of…

The uncertainty of the legal regime governing cannabis makes thorough due diligence on prospective business partners essential for those who want to ensure that they are complying with state law and minimizing their risks of federal investigation. In this two-part series, we first discuss some key compliance lessons from recent events and then offer a checklist for use when conducting due diligence on potential partners. Lesson I: Even “legal” companies sometimes violate state law “It’s o.k. – they’ve got a…

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (“UNODC”) recently released its 2019 World Drug Report which, among other things, claims that despite legalization in many states of the U.S., illicit markets in the U.S. have continued to thrive, while seizures have decreased and potency and use have increased. As the legalization debate heats up in the U.S., opponents will undoubtedly cite the UNODC findings, while proponents will have to address this data. Therefore, the report warrants close study by…

A draft law recently adopted by the Russian State Duma (lower house of the parliament), though not yet approved by the Federation Council (upper house of the parliament) or signed by the President would amend existing law to allow the cultivation of certain plants that contain narcotic and psychedelic substances. Significantly, the bill would not decriminalize recreational use, nor would it permit the development of private dispensaries. It also contains certain restrictions and limitations: First, cultivation would be permitted only…

On June 20, 2019, the House approved by a vote of 267 to 165 an “Appropriations Minibus” amendment sponsored by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) that would prohibit the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) from using appropriated funds to prevent any state, U.S. territories, or Washington, D.C. “from implementing their own laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession or cultivation of marijuana.”  This amendment builds on a prior appropriations rider, originally enacted in 2014 and renewed every year thereafter, which prohibits the…

Given that many of the Democratic Party candidates have expressed support for marijuana legalization, a Democratic victory in 2020 seems likely to increase the chances for significant reform at the federal level. But what about a Republican victory? Although the Republicans have held the White House since 2016, the answer to this question is a mystery, due largely to the inconsistent and constantly shifting views of the President and his administration and the ambiguous positions of key Republican leaders in…

The 2018 Farm Bill removed industrial hemp and all derivatives (including hemp derived CBD) from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It also provided that intentional violations of the Farm Bill, including unlicensed production of industrial hemp, must be reported to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). But what can DOJ do with such reports if hemp trafficking is no longer a crime? Relevant Provisions The Farm Bill (officially entitled the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018): Removal of…

On May 24, the US Attorney for the District of Colorado announced the arrest of 42 individuals as a result of a joint state-federal investigation targeting “black market” marijuana. According to an official press release, the investigation began in the summer of 2016 and involved searches at more than 250 locations, resulting in the seizure of more than 80,000 marijuana plants and 4,500 finished marijuana products. The grow areas were located primarily in sealed basements of newer homes in fairly…