On the back of several huge deals over the last 18 months, DLA Piper has launched a dedicated global cannabis practice.

The team will sit as a sub-group under the firm’s Life Sciences sector, having established itself as a leading participant in the cannabis industry.

DLA’s team has helped ink more than $8bn sector deals, with a highlight being its representation of Acreage Holdings in a $3.4bn arrangement with Canopy Growth last year.

The move reflects the growing requirement for legal and advice services in the multi-billion dollar cannabis industry, as new markets begin to open up in response to shifting laws and regulations.

Businesses in a wide range of industries – wellness, food and drink, energy, tobacco, pharmaceutical, even cosmetics and pet food – are seeking to understand how cannabis products will affect their markets.

DLA’s Canadian practice has excelled in its domestic market for many years, and is now expanding its offering globally, having been advising across Europe, Australasia, Latin America, Africa and Asia. 

The firm said the global practice will stick to providing services to clients whose conduct is legal in the jurisdiction in question, ensuring it will not be undertaking recreational cannabis work in areas where the drug is outlawed.

The Life Sciences sector is led by Rome-based Marco de Morpurgo and the cannabis practice is led by Toronto-based Robert Fonn and by London-based Dylan Kennett, supported by a global team of over 70 other lawyers and support staff, practicing in over 15 countries across DLA Piper. 

“The size, importance and growth of the global cannabis market can no longer be ignored,” said de Morpurgo. “There is an ever increasing acceptance of the medical benefits of cannabis and this knowledge is being rapidly expanded by considerable levels of research and development.” 

The work of co-head of the cannabis practice, Dylan Kennett, has been instrumental in allowing DLA to pick up significant work across Europe.

“With the likes of Canada leading the way in liberalising cannabis in a considered manner, it was only a matter of time before other countries looked to Canada’s example on how best to similarly regulate their own markets,” said Kennett. “Our thesis has proved correct over the past few years and we can now provide full-service advice with specialist cannabis sector knowledge in over 15 countries globally across DLA Piper. It is a truly exciting time for the sector.”