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Robert Mikos is one of the nation’s leading experts on federalism and drug law. His most recent scholarship analyzes the struggle among federal, state, and local governments for control of marijuana law and policy, which includes a first-of-its-kind casebook, Marijuana Law, Policy, and Authority. In this podcast, he discusses the intersection of federal and state cannabis law, the prospects for federal reform, the SAFE Banking Act and other hot topics in the field.

The risk of corruption in state cannabis licensing has once again been highlighted by recent reports that a federal grand jury has subpoenaed at least seven Massachusetts cities, including Boston, for information about contracts between cannabis firms and municipalities. The subpoenas apparently relate to “host community agreements,”  a contract between individual cannabis operators and their host community that is required by state law in Massachusetts.  Host community agreements, and similar arrangements in other states that have legalized cannabis, are well…

Although prosecution of state-legal sales by licensed and compliant cannabis businesses may not be a current priority for federal law enforcement, prosecution of corruption in the industry clearly is. Consider the following, all of which have occurred within the last three months: The indictment of alleged Rudolph Giuliani associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman for, among other things, a scheme to make illegal campaign finance donations in connection with a planned recreational marijuana business in Nevada (according to various reports,…

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…