Cannabis and CBD – Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP

Meeting the needs of a burgeoning industry

For almost a decade, Manatt professionals have represented and advised clients in connection with a variety of matters relating to the cannabis, hemp and CBD industry, including helping to draft regulations and voter initiatives impacting the industry; aiding in company restructuring to facilitate corporate and financing transactions; providing tax planning, advice and advocacy; structuring and negotiating purchases, sales and mergers; advising clients about the complex and evolving body of law and regulation affecting the industry; helping secure complicated land use entitlements and operating licenses; and assisting in the development of go-to-market strategies and initiatives to develop clients’ businesses. We advise financial institutions on their relationships with cannabis businesses and work with clients on celebrity licensing and endorsements, as well as strategic relationships and branding deals. We have assisted clients in cannabis-related arbitration and litigation, and have guided cannabis online platforms as they launch.

Our difference and deep experience

As one of the first full-service professional services firms to appreciate and address the myriad legal issues presented by the cannabis sector, Manatt has assembled a deep roster of professionals who have a keen understanding of the issues related to the legal and regulatory environment surrounding the burgeoning cannabis industry. Our team tracks state developments through our Sacramento office as well as regional developments through our California regional offices.

Manatt’s team is led by highly experienced professionals in fields such as real estate, finance (including private placements, secured financings and leveraged debt), joint ventures, equity investments, financial services, government relations, land use, marketing/advertising, litigation, tax, intellectual property and regulatory compliance. In addition to its core cannabis practice, the group also focuses on the related but unique laws governing cannabis, hemp and CBD commercial activities. Our mission is simple: to help our clients proactively and strategically understand and influence the cannabis landscape.

As recognized thought leaders in the industry, we are currently working with the state of California to create a solution to the banking conundrum, including the proposed establishment of a state public bank to serve the cannabis industry. We represented ReformCA, one of the two leading organizations that put forward the 2016 Adult Use Cannabis proposition, in the drafting of the proposition. In addition, we have provided formal comments on draft regulations proposed by the Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation and the Department of Food and Agriculture on behalf of our clients. This experience is bolstered by the arrival of senior advisor Jan Owen, who addressed the issue of cash-only cannabis retailers during her tenure as commissioner of California’s Department of Business Oversight.

Our experienced cannabis and CBD practice is led by partner Anita Sabine. Anita sits on the Legal Advisory Committee of UC Irvine’s Center for the Study of Cannabis, working with university professors and researchers to identify best practices and legally permissible pathways for cannabis research.

Who we work with

Clients we have assisted in matters relating to the cannabis industry include:

  • Venture capital funds and other investor groups
  • Digital media ventures
  • Dispensaries, manufacturers and cultivators
  • Entertainment and sports companies
  • Film, TV and music talent
  • Financial institutions
  • Marketing companies
  • Private equity firms
  • Real estate developers and operators
  • U.S. technology companies

What we do

Our experience and services in cannabis-related matters include:

  • Arbitration and litigation
  • Branding deals
  • Company structuring and formation
  • Financing
  • Go-to-market strategies
  • Intellectual property
  • Land use compliance and licenses
  • Legal and regulatory compliance and enforcement
  • Licensing and promotions
  • Mergers, acquisitions, buyouts and other strategic transactions
  • Online platform launches
  • Privacy and data security
  • Real estate
  • Strategic alliances
  • Tax planning and advice at federal and state levels, including representation and advocacy in connection with audits
  • Technology transactions

Disclaimer
Cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and, as such, it remains a federal crime to grow, sell, possess, distribute and/or use cannabis, regardless of any state law that may decriminalize such activity under certain circumstances. Accordingly, there remains a conflict between federal laws that criminalize cannabis and the laws of states that have legalized cannabis. Even though federal enforcement policy may at times defer to state laws that have legalized cannabis, please be aware that compliance with state law in no way assures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal laws will be enforced. Any content contained on this web site is not intended to provide legal advice. No legal advice we give is intended to assist with the violation of any state or federal law.

  • A California real estate company in the negotiation of a lease for a 12-acre cultivation farm in Ventura County.
  • A cannabis mixed-use development covering 100-plus acres in Desert Hot Springs, California, in connection with ongoing entitlement matters.
  • A cannabis testing device company in connection with regulatory advice relating to medical cannabis testing in California and advice regarding strategies for trademark use and registration.
  • A direct-response marketing company that sells health and beauty products directly to consumers, with an emphasis on celebrity-endorsed beauty products, on regulatory matters including an analysis of the impact of the Farm Bill on CBD advertising.
  • A full-service, regional investment firm in a $15 million private placement of senior secured convertible notes in a deal with investors in LiveWell Canada, Inc., a Canadian health and wellness company focused on the advanced research of CBD and other cannabinoids.
  • A cannabis manufacturer in providing regulatory and licensing advice.
  • A company specializing in the design and procurement of consumption technology and accessories in connection with general regulatory advice related to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act.
  • A nationally recognized academic medical center on the development of a clinical research partnership with a company seeking a state license to dispense medical marijuana.
  • A San Diego-based band that works on various cannabis-related sponsorship deals, including having High Times magazine sponsor concert events, and has their own strain of flower. Manatt provides ongoing general entertainment advice, including reviewing and negotiating various entertainment agreements.
  • Medical cannabis specialists regarding regulatory advice and negotiation of services and joint venture agreements.
  • Various California and U.S. chartered banks with respect to cannabis accounts and mortgages. Represent a merchant bank with regard to payment solutions.
  • Various holding and consultancy companies that focus on obtaining new dispensary licenses and conditional use permits in municipalities in Southern California. Manatt’s representation relates to financing, licensing and acquisition work for multiple dispensaries located in Santa Ana.

Disclaimer
Cannabis is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and, as such, it remains a federal crime to grow, sell, possess, distribute and/or use cannabis, regardless of any state law that may decriminalize such activity under certain circumstances. Accordingly, there remains a conflict between federal laws that criminalize cannabis and the laws of states that have legalized cannabis. Even though federal enforcement policy may at times defer to state laws that have legalized cannabis, please be aware that compliance with state law in no way assures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal laws will be enforced. Any content contained on this web site is not intended to provide legal advice. No legal advice we give is intended to assist with the violation of any state or federal law.

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