On September 29, 2020, I had the unique pleasure to interview Jessica Shraybman, Founder and Attorney at Shraybman Law, PLLC, in Miami, Florida.

Jessica works tirelessly with cannabis-related businesses, serving her clients by handling a myriad of specialty issues, such as intellectual property and trademark law, as well as regulatory compliance.

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AUTHOR: Heather Allman

PUBLISHER: CANNABIS LAW REPORT

 

Spotlight on Jessica Shraybman, Attorney and Founder of Shraybman Law:

Helping Cannabis-Related Businesses and Looking Ahead To Legalization

Copyright 2020, Shraybman Law

The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on the MORE Act that could pave the way for the legalization of cannabis at the federal level.

While it is not certain the act will ultimately become law, this year’s Presidential election could certainly have a dramatic impact on regulations for Cannabis-related businesses.

According to attorney Jessica Shraybman, concerning this issue:

“It is never too early for business owners to keep an eye out for how regulations may shift as a result of the upcoming November election in 2020. A change in the administration resulting from the election could ultimately mean federal deference to state regulations as we previously saw during the Obama administration. 

In this instance, whether a cannabis-related business is in a vertically integrated state vs. a non-vertically integrated state makes a difference in the type of regulations and partnerships the businesses can form. In vertically integrated states cannabis-related businesses are responsible for their entire supply change and need to carefully vet their business partners and vendors.

Businesses who are in states that may look to expand licensing as a result need to be properly prepared. They need to make sure they properly prepare license applications, negotiate with companies who are up and running, and map out their route to market.”

On September 29, 2020, I had the unique pleasure to interview Jessica Shraybman, Founder and Attorney at Shraybman Law, PLLC, in Miami, Florida.

Jessica works tirelessly with cannabis-related businesses, serving her clients by handling a myriad of specialty issues, such as intellectual property and trademark law, as well as regulatory compliance.

She has quite a mammoth job in front of her, since cannabis is federally illegal, but Jessica is unphased and undeterred in her mission. During our conversation, I can hear the passion in her voice as she speaks excitedly about cannabis, and all the legalities and specifications entailed.

One thing is for sure: Jessica is eager, motivated, and ready to evoke change in the cannabis space, one issue and one client at a time.

Jessica Shraybman, Attorney & Founder of Shraybman Law, PLLC

PERSONAL INTRODUCTION

Cannabis Law Report: Do you have a life motto or favorite quote?

Jessica Shraybman: Yes. It’s an excerpt from Thoreau’s Walden & Civil Disobedience:

“‘…if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

He will put some things behind, will pass an invisible boundary; new, universal, and more liberal laws will begin to establish themselves around and within him… and he will live with the license of a higher order of beings… 

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

This passage is often misquoted simply as: ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.'”

Henry David Thoreau

CLR: Briefly tell me about your ultimate end game in the Cannabis industry.

JS:To see a means by which people everywhere struggling with certain medical conditions can obtain cost-effective and beneficial medications. That’s most important. Secondly, Dutch-style kafes would be fun too.”

ISSUES AT HAND

CLR: Tell me about your 2020 year to date, and your place in the national Cannabis landscape, and please explain your argument on this issue to the readers.

JS:A big focus for us this year has been strategizing how to secure and protect trademarks for hemp and cbd brands. As more states that have legalized medical and/or adult use, we’ve had success for companies in those states.

Navigating the federal trademark application process has been more challenging because to obtain a trademark, your goods must be in “lawful use” in commerce, which of course, on a federal level cannabis products are not.

We’ve also been monitoring and reporting on FDA and FDCA regulations and changes, which drastically impact the way hemp/cannabis companies can produce and market their goods. 

A recent FDA study released to Congress concluding (preliminarily) mislabeling of products occurs frequently (In the FDA’s 2017 study, only 35% of products actually contained the CBD concentrations listed on their labeling. 

In the 2019 study, only 33% were within twenty percent of the label). Granted, the study was preliminary and with a very narrow selection of products. The FDAs concern over mislabeling is valid.

Products should be marketed appropriately. Both for the sake of the consumers who rely on some of these products to alleviate medical ails and for the industry as a whole, these discrepancies need to be minimized.

Maybe companies need to conduct better testing (maybe some aren’t conducting any), and I agree consumers need accurate information.

Particularly, if we as the industry and the consumers want to treat CBD like other medicines, proper dosage is a necessity. These discrepancies are one factoring stopping the FDA from approving CBD in commerce.

My best advice to CBD companies is this: Even while CBD is still under scrutiny, the FDA is allowing you to sell your products. For that reason, it is vitally important to follow labeling guidelines. 

I beseech CBD companies to proceed conscientiously. Significant instances of mislabeling does not help our cause or get us closer to legalization, which is the ultimate goal.”

REPUTATION

CLR: How did you earn your reputation of trustworthiness? 

JS:I’ve been in Miami for 17 years and came in the first place because of my love for this City – its energy, its resources, its history and potential. Over the years, I’ve gotten to know our local leaders, organizations, and businesses.

By nature, I’m someone who cares very deeply about others, and often say I “take things personally” on behalf of those I care about. 

I’ve also always been very studious. I’m curious and strive towards learning, experiencing, and understanding. 

As an adult, I think that has morphed into being a professional who is actively engaged in listening to others, identifying needs, and finding answers to peoples’ problems or creative ways to realize peoples’ visions.

At the core, I think others trust me because they know I care. I could be wrong, so we should take a poll!”

CLR: How do you pick your clients?

JS:There has to be mutual trust and respect. It’s vitally important in my line of work to have people working as a harmonious team.

I can’t help them if they are unwilling to be flexible, forward-thinking, or if they are not following the current guidelines for each respective state. 

Ultimately, both myself and my clients want to truly succeed in the long run in this crowded cannabis space. I sincerely appreciate that willingness from my clients to do things the right way the first time, every time, and it’s important to think strategically towards an impending future of national Cannabis legalization.” 

CHALLENGES

CLR: What are the biggest challenges currently in cannabis that Shraybman Law, and you personally, face? 

JS: “The snail’s pace at which all the regulatory bodies move, coordinate, and synchronize with each other. That’s out of our control of course, so we remedy that by working with what we’ve got and being clever, strategic, and flexible.” 

CLR: Something people don’t realize about running a Cannabis law operation in a federally illegal — state legal divided country? Anything especially difficult?

JS: Frankly, it’s all difficult. Whether you’re in a state with levels of legalization, navigating with partners, or organizing your own vertical integration. 

There are so many moving parts, from licensing to production, channels of distribution, and as mentioned previously, protecting your brand name and reputation, even packaging is its own beast to comply with. 

On top of all that, each of those is regulated by a different authority – your state laws, the federal agencies and consumer protection bureaus, corporate risk tolerance.

If you’re wanting to do it right and be successful, it can get overwhelming really quick.” 

VERTICAL INTEGRATION INSIGHT

CLR: Your general thoughts on vertical vs horizontal integration within the Cannabis industry? Please explain in depth.

JS:There are, of course, pros and cons to both. Like the varying state laws, each state’s cannabis regulations regarding vertical vs. horizontal integration are different. 

For those not very familiar, vertical integration requires that retailers grow, process, and manufacture their own products. This is the case in Florida and can be a major barrier to entry.

Horizontal integration, on the other hand, is more flexible because it does not require one company to have a variety of systems in order to accomplish a single goal. A horizontally integrated cannabis company can expand and replicate its operations to increase production and/or its physical presence. 

A challenge with horizontal integration is coordinating all the moving parts, having to work with outside partners (service agreements, supply chain issues, etc). There are more hands on deck which can cause delays; unlike vertical integration where everything is controlled by a single entity or parent company. 

Overall though, based on feedback from Florida companies, the requirements of vertical integration can be unsurmountable for small businesses, which in the greater scheme of things, may stifle competition and have negative economic effects.”

FUTURE FOCUS

CLR: How do you envision state-to-state trade of cannabis and hemp in regulated states? 

JS:Continued expansion. Hopefully no steps backwards and maybe even some sort of retroactive benefit to people who have charges for nonviolent minor possession offenses.”

CLR: How do you envision the courts managing state vs federal? 

JS:If we get to federal legalization which would deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, the process and conflicts will be significantly simplified.

For now, it’s a balancing act for state courts that still have to give certain deference to federal law.” 

CLR: What do you see in the Cannabis landscape that needs to be improved, perfected, or achieved in the future?

JS: “It’s such a new landscape so there’s room for improvement in virtually every aspect. I think some of my other responses herein are relevant –such as regulatory compliance, packaging, brand protection, etc.”

WORDS OF WISDOM

CLR: Tell me about your personal vision for the U.S. cannabis program in the next year? 

JS: Oof. It’s an election year, and of course seeing a bill (the MORE Act) even be presented to Congress is such a big deal. All eyes on that.”

CLR: In the next 3 years?

JS:If we can expand that to the next 4 years, I don’t think it’s too optimistic to think we might actually see decriminalization on the federal level. Fingers crossed!”

CLR: How do we get from here? 

JS: Honestly, it seems like a natural progression as more and more states legalize locally.”

CLR: What one thing you do in your line of work that you feel makes the most impact? Why does this make the most impact? 

JS: The biggest impact is diligently listening and understanding clients’ goals and visions, then getting to work to craft strategies to make those things happen, and to date, having a solid track record of contributing to our clients’ growth and success.”

CLR: What is the best advice you can offer to other individuals and companies in the current U.S. Cannabis space? 

JS:For those specifically in cannabis – you can’t do it alone. Entrepreneurs are great because they take initiative and get things done. That said, the cannabis industry is a goliath, and you ought not go at it alone. 

Have a solid team of advisors – financial and legal – who have been there, done that, and who you can trust.”

 

FURTHER READING FOR CONTEXT