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In recent posts, we discussed lessons learned from recent compliance cases in the cannabis industry, and provided a checklist of key due diligence issues. In both articles, we highlighted the importance of independent verification of state cannabis licenses. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to get official information from state cannabis regulators. Information about cannabis licenses is not always public. This is the case in Arizona, where state law prohibits the release of the names of medical cannabis licensees. In…

The cannabis industry operates at a disadvantage vis a vis other industries because Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits business expense deductions for businesses that “traffic” in federally controlled substances, including cannabis. As a result, cannabis companies pay taxes on gross rather than net profits. In the latest defeat for cannabis companies in the Tax Court, Boulder Alternative Care, LLC (“Boulder”), a Colorado dispensary, lost its bid to obtain ordinary business expense deductions for its legal operations (Docket…

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. …

It seems as though no matter where you go these days, you’re bound to encounter a product containing cannabidiol, commonly referred to as CBD. As you have likely heard by now, the 2018 Farm Bill (formally, the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018), which was signed into law on December 20, 2018, legalized the regulated production of hemp. This triggered a corresponding amendment of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), removing “hemp” from the definition of marijuana and specifically excluding “tetrahydrocannabinols (THC)…

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) announced on September 10, 2019 that it sent warning letters to three unidentified companies for making claims regarding their products that contain cannabidiol (“CBD”), a compound derived from cannabis. The products, which range from “gummies,” and creams to oils, tinctures and capsules were advertised with claims that the products could treat serious diseases and conditions. In prior posts, we have mentioned Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) regulation of drug claims. When claims are made regarding…

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…

Backers of a cannabis banking bill are accusing one another of undermining its prospects for success by pushing for amendments that would expand its scope in different directions.  The SAFE Banking Act (H.R. 1595) would allow financial firms to work with state-licensed cannabis businesses without running afoul of federal anti-money laundering laws.  The bill introduced by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) has attracted 206 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle and advanced out of committee in March.  Senators Jeff Merkley…

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…

Beginning in 2020, Nevada and New York City will restrict an employer’s ability to screen job applicants for marijuana use. As marijuana legalization spreads across the country, other jurisdictions will likely follow suit. Employers, especially those that recruit in Nevada and NYC, should review their drug testing and hiring practices now to stay compliant. What it means for you Marijuana use by employees is for the first time protected in some jurisdictions, increasing the risk of discrimination claims by applicants…

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…