The cannabis industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in the country. Forty-seven states have legalized cannabis in at least some form—as CBD oil or for medical or recreational use—and it may only be a matter of time before marijuana is legal nationwide. With the unyielding demand for the drug, coupled with recent changes in the law, you may be interested in starting your own marijuana business. But where do you start? And, more importantly, what will you need to do to make your dream a success? A marijuana lawyer can help you with all of the legal details, from business formation to contracts, and from compliance with the quickly changing laws to the protection of your intellectual property. Here’s more on what a marijuana lawyer can do for you, as well as some useful tips on how to help you get your marijuana business up and running.
Starting a marijuana business requires a few key steps. This typically involves forming a business entity. A marijuana lawyer can help you to prepare and file the necessary documents to legally establish a business or corporation. Your lawyer also may be able to assist you with structuring your business so that it operates in a way that facilitates your goals. If you have partners, then your lawyer will be able to advise you on how to protect each of your interests and clearly define the parameters of your business relationships.
Drafting And Negotiating Business Agreements
Business agreements must be written in a way that is clear and enforceable, meaning that they must follow certain legal and financial guidelines. Your marijuana lawyer can help to draft a business agreement in a way that protects you and your business while also ensuring that it does not violate any laws or expose you to liability. A marijuana attorney with experience in business law may also help you to negotiate a business agreement. Having a trained professional on your side can make all the difference when you are at the negotiating table. They can ensure that the arrangement is one that best benefits your business.
Contract Review And Enforcement
Likely, your marijuana business will enter into contracts with suppliers and buyers. Poorly written contracts can expose your business to lawsuits or heavy losses. A marijuana attorney can review all of your contracts before you sign to ensure that your interests will be protected and that the terms are fair and favorable for you. In the event that the other party violates the contract that you have, your lawyer will be there to take the appropriate steps to enforce the agreement.
Trademarking And Protecting Intellectual Property
Your marijuana business may have a unique product name or a trade secret that you would like to protect. Generally, this is done by filing the appropriate legal documents with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Your marijuana lawyer can do this for you while also advising you on the best methods to safeguard your intellectual property. Sometimes other businesses may dispute your patent or trademark. If that were to happen, your lawyer can defend your right to that patent or trademark.
Obtaining A Marijuana License
In most states where marijuana is legal, you will need a license to sell, grow, or process it. You may also need a license to transport or perform research on marijuana. In order to obtain these licenses, you must apply through the entity that regulates cannabis in your state. Your marijuana lawyer can help to complete your license application and advise you on what you will need to do for the best chance of approval. In the event your application is denied, your lawyer may develop a strategy to ensure that your re-submitted application is granted.
Real Estate And Lease Agreements
Contrary to popular belief, even in states where marijuana is legal, there are restrictions on where you can locate your business. Some counties and municipalities do not allow for cannabis businesses to operate in their area. There may also be further restrictions written into your lease or real estate agreement. Your lawyer can advise you on where you can legally locate your business. They can draft or review any leasing agreements too. These agreements often contain language that may be unfamiliar to you or that you may overlook. Your marijuana lawyer will go over your agreements and point out any potentially problematic clauses that could affect your business.
Business License Registration
If you are operating any type of business, then you may be required to obtain a business license from your state or local government. These licenses certify that you have adhered to all applicable laws concerning the business that you are conducting. If you plan to open a retail marijuana store, then you may need a business license in addition to an occupancy license. Your marijuana lawyer will not only be able to advise you on the licenses that you need but can also assist you in securing them.
Resolving Tax Matters
As you may assume, the proceeds from the sale or production of marijuana typically are taxed to generate revenue for the state. There are laws in place that indicate how taxes are to be calculated and assessed on cannabis-related products and services. Failure to adhere to these laws could result in civil or criminal penalties. Your marijuana lawyer can help you to navigate and comply with the applicable marijuana tax ordinances. In the event that a tax issue does arise, your lawyer may be able to represent you in getting it resolved. Your attorney might even be able to help you to structure your business in a way that reduces your overall tax burden.
The legal cannabis industry is heavily regulated. This means that your state’s cannabis control board may routinely check to see if you and your business are following all of the rules. If you are found to be out of compliance, then you may be at risk of losing your license and potentially your entire business. A marijuana lawyer will notify you of any changes in the law and help to ensure that you remain in compliance. If you do encounter compliance issues, your attorney can advise you on how to resolve your non-compliance and restore your business to good standing.
License Violation Defense
Unfortunately, marijuana license violations are a part of the cannabis industry. Still, you may be able to defend yourself against an alleged violation through the skillful representation of your marijuana lawyer. If you have been accused of a license violation, then you may be afforded the opportunity to dispute it at an administrative hearing. Your lawyer can attend these hearings with you and represent you and your business. An experienced marijuana lawyer will have the knowledge and expertise to aggressively challenge the accusations and dispute the evidence that is being used against you.
You may need to hire employees for your marijuana business. If this happens, you will likely have to deal with employee issues at some point. Creating a safe workplace and developing a code of conduct should not be a task left to someone who is unfamiliar with the industry or unaware of the legal implications of disciplining or terminating employees. A marijuana lawyer will combine their knowledge in both of those key areas to advise you on how your business should treat and manage its employees.
A Marijuana Firm
The likelihood that a single Marijuana Lawyer is all these things is pretty low. Each of these practice areas requires experience and knowledge. Not that any lawyer could not do all theses things. It is like asking your orthopedic doctor to take out your appendix. It is not that he can’t do it. He is a doctor, after all. But maybe he shouldn’t do it. Preferably, finding a team that has lawyers that practice in each of these areas and has a strong litigation team to back them. A firm that practices and lives in your state. Do your homework. Most importantly, this is a long term relationship. Work with someone you trust.