Duane Morris LLP and the American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp (ATACH) today announced the first-ever partnership agreement between an American Lawyer (Am Law) 100 law firm and a cannabis trade association. Duane Morris LLP is a law firm with more than 800 attorneys in offices across the United States and internationally. It marks the largest and most significant law firm partnership with a cannabis trade association to date.
The Controlled Substances Act defines “marijuana” as: all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.
The DEA has recently affirmed its position that CBD sourced from the parts of the plant that are included in the definition of marijuana are unlawful. This is true even if the CBD does not contain any THC. CBD derived from the excluded parts of the marijuana plant does not violate federal law. Were it to investigate/prosecute a business or individual for possessing CBD, the DEA would place the onus on the target to prove the CBD was sourced from the lawful parts of the plant.
Just like THC-containing products that are lawful under a state’s marijuana laws, CBD that may be lawful under a state’s marijuana laws, is still federally unlawful if sourced from the parts of the plant included in the definition of marijuana.
Following guidelines already in place at the New York Department of Health, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill last month formally adding “acute pain management” to its list of conditions for which medical cannabis can be prescribed. This change is important since it allows doctors to offer cannabis as an alternative to opioids for acute pain, not just chronic pain, which was previously added to the list. Substance use disorder sufferers also would be permitted under the bill to obtain medical cannabis to manage their pain, again with the hope of avoiding the use of opioids.
We need not recite the well-documented human destruction that has been caused by the US opioid epidemic. Not limited to those with addictive tendencies, many are innocently prescribed these drugs following surgeries or with other acute pain and become hooked. Now NY doctors will have a state legal alternative in these situations. And while there are no clear statistics yet, a study published by JAMA in April of this year concludes, “[L]iberalized prescribing of marijuana may result in decreased use of opioids, and hence, fewer subsequent opioid-related overdose events.” In this population-based, cross-sectional study using Medicaid prescription data for 2011 to 2016, medical marijuana laws and adult-use marijuana laws were associated with lower opioid prescribing rates.
As we know, Gov. Cuomo in the last year or so has gone from considering cannabis a gateway drug to appearing to support adult use legislation, which is currently being drafted by a task force he commissioned. If he wins reelection in November, which is widely expected, many believe he will support such legislation if passed. His Republican opponent, Marc Molinaro, previously supported adult use legalization but recently has been stopping short, agreeing with the availability of medical cannabis and decriminalization to avoid cannabis users facing jail time.
The inaugural list honors individuals “who are involved in all areas of cannabis law from helping regulate the marketing to providing licensing to new companies.” Duane Morris is one of only three Am Law 100 firms represented on the list.
To read the full press release, please visit the Duane Morris website.
A video replay of the webinar “Hot Topics for Healthcare Facilities and the Utilization of Medical Cannabis” is available to view.
Duane Morris partner David N. Feldman, of the New York office, was interviewed by the Cannabis Financial Network Media Group discussing the firm’s cannabis practice at Kahner Global’s 2018 Cannabrunch, held during the 4th Annual Cannabis Private Investment Summit hosted by the New York office on September 13.
Many believe that cannabis stocks are experiencing a “bubble,” meaning that market valuations are unjustified, unrealistic and based on investor hype as opposed to typical fundamental markers such as revenues, assets and profit. Some, like The Motley Fool, believe this is a bubble ready to burst. The Wall Street Journal includes quotes from new entrants in the space suggesting this is much like the Internet stocks of 1997 or 1998, remembering that in 2000 the Internet stocks crashed mightily, taking years to recover after many companies did not survive the shakeout.
The cannabis data analytics company New Frontier Data reports that, year to date, seven of the top 12 cannabis stocks have posted more than 200% gains. The data company also seems to be recommending that, “As cannabis stocks continue to rally, prudent investors should consider taking profits and exercising caution.” The AP just quoted a stock analyst warning, “[i]f there is a bubble, larger investors will protect themselves and won’t overinvest in single companies, but smaller investors who see a chance to get rich quickly could suffer painful losses.”
It is true that, in particular in Canada, cannabis stocks are trading at extremely high valuations relative to the companies’ financial condition and results. One company, for example, with around $20 million in first half revenues, is trading at the same valuation as Macy’s, which has $25 billion in annual revenue. In the US the valuations are a bit more down to earth, but also considered by most to be high given performance.
Many others, including leaders of companies with these high-flying stocks, strongly believe these valuations are justified based on the tremendous future potential of the cannabis industry as we get closer to federal legalization in the US and global growth proceeds as well. They believe that as long as investors continue to believe in the future of the very rapidly growing industry, the valuations will continue to stay strong and be justified, and performance will grow to further support the bubble pricing. But the thing about bubbles…
Duane Morris partner Michael Schwamm will present on “Investing in the Cannabis Industry” at the Opal Group Family Office & Private Wealth Management Forum West on October 25, 2018, in Napa, California.
Known for the fastest growing population of newly structured family offices in the world, Northern California is largely dominated by first and second-generation families from the Silicon Valley. Investment strategies such as Private Equity, Venture Capital, and Technology will be familiar themes throughout this conference. Investment managers and families will come together to discuss the foundations in which they built their wealth, and uncork the various investment strategies in which to keep their portfolios growing. For more information, visit the Opal Group website.
Duane Morris partner Jerome Levy will participate in the Strafford webinar, “Municipal Regulation of Marijuana: Guidance on Permitting, Licensing and Zoning for Medical and Recreational Uses,” on Wednesday, October 10, 2018, from 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (Eastern time).
This CLE webinar will offer guidance to local government lawyers on regulating cannabis consumption for medical and recreational uses. The panel will discuss the patchwork of current regulatory efforts across the country and explore some of the most effective strategies for regulating in municipalities based on current case law and the interplay with state and federal regulation. For more information and to register, visit the Strafford website.
Even though cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance under U.S. federal law, the United States Patent Office (USPTO), a federal agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, routinely grants patents covering cannabis-related technologies. The Schedule I classification of cannabis is not relevant to patentability. As with any other invention, to be patentable, a cannabis-related invention must be new, useful, and nonobvious, and teach one of ordinary skill in the art how to make and use the invention. The USPTO has determined that many cannabis-related patent applications have met these requirements. Patents granted to cannabis-related inventions cover an enormous range of technologies, including cannabis plants, growing systems, extracts, methods of making extracts, foodstuffs, veterinary products, and methods of treating various diseases and disorders.