RICO Claims Against Cannabis Companies Are Evolving

A few years ago, a trend began to emerge — driven by the anti-cannabis lobby — of civil claims being asserted against state-licensed cannabis operators under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

The suits were brought in an attempt to curtail operators’ state-legal cannabis activities based on the allegation that such activities violated the federal Controlled Substances Act and thereby satisfied the predicate act requirement under RICO.

In all such cannabis-related RICO cases, the plaintiffs’ bid for a civil judgment failed, and the trend of civil RICO claims against cannabis operators seemed to vanish as quickly as it appeared.

Recently, a putative class action, Plumlee v. Steep Hill Inc., was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas against four state-licensed cannabis operators, asserting civil RICO claims arising out of allegations that the operators falsified the amount of THC in their cannabis products.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris attorneys Ethan Feldman and Seth Goldberg, please visit the firm website.

Lifting the Haze: New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission Issues Interim Guidance on Drug Testing

On September 9, 2022, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission issued interim guidance for employers on drug testing employees for cannabis. Since the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults 21 years of age or older, New Jersey employers are expected to follow certain procedures associated with drug testing employees based on reasonable suspicion of impairment. Until specific regulations are issued, the commission has provided interim guidance to clear some of the haze for employers trying to navigate compliance with New Jersey’s cannabis law.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Duane Morris Attorneys Named to Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers List

Duane Morris partners Paul P. Josephson, Michael D. Schwamm, Tracy Gallegos and Seth A. Goldberg have been named to Cannabis Law Report‘s Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers for 2022/23.

Cannabis Law Report compiled the list from the publication’s annual survey of clients and lawyers in the cannabis legal services sector “as well as our personal editorial decisions based on our reporting of the industry on a daily basis for the past six years.”

For more information, please visit the Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers website.

 

New York Cannabis Control Board Approves 19 Adult Use Conditional Cultivator and 15 Adult Use Conditional Processor Licenses; Retail Dispensary License Applications Open August 25

By C. Neil Gray

On August 15, 2022, the New York Cannabis Control Board (the Board) held a public meeting via real-time stream to consider a number of agenda items.  Among the most notable of the topics taken up was the approval of conditional adult use cultivator licenses and conditional adult use processor licenses.

Chair Tremaine Wright opened the meeting by providing an update on the Seeding Opportunity Initiative (SOI) that was launched in Spring 2022.  Through the SOI, the Board has granted 223 adult use conditional cultivator licenses, resulting in the first farms cultivating regulated adult use cannabis in New York State.  Chair Wright also noted that the Board visited three of these farms in July and were encouraged by the progress and creativity demonstrated in such a short window of time.  After some additional opening remarks, the Board moved on to “further steps to advance the Seeding Opportunity Initiative” to “continue to build out New York’s Adult Use Cannabis supply chain.” Continue reading “New York Cannabis Control Board Approves 19 Adult Use Conditional Cultivator and 15 Adult Use Conditional Processor Licenses; Retail Dispensary License Applications Open August 25”

Partner Seth Goldberg Quoted in Washington Post Article

Seth Goldberg was quoted in an article in The Washington Post, “Can I Fly with Edibles?

It is illegal to fly with edibles even if you’re in a state where cannabis is legal and the edibles were manufactured and sold in accordance with state law, says Seth A. Goldberg, a partner at Duane Morris and a team lead of its cannabis industry group. […]

However, that is not their primary concern when you’re going through security. TSA screening procedures are focused on threats to aviation safety, trying to spot things in your bag that could be a potential threat to flights, not finding your edibles. The agency website even says “ … TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs.”

“THC gummies are not really a threat that the TSA is concerned with,” Goldberg says.

To read the full text of the article, please visit The Washington Post.

Reflections of a Former Regulator: Three Thoughts on a Budding Industry

By Matthew J. McCarthy

Beginning in 2019, I served as the lead prosecutor in regulatory enforcement actions at the Maryland Medical Cannabis Commission, where I worked closely with the Commission’s investigators and compliance professionals to develop enforcement procedures to help guarantee a safe and reliable medical cannabis marketplace. During my time as a cannabis regulator, I had an invaluable opportunity to help shape the local regulatory landscape, foster productive relationships between government and industry, and observe emergent cannabis regulatory systems across the Northeastern and Midwestern U.S. I hope that the three notes below can provide some insight as to how licensees can orient themselves for a productive present and profitable future. These observations are mine alone.

Continue reading “Reflections of a Former Regulator: Three Thoughts on a Budding Industry”

New York Regulators Approve New Rules on Packaging, Labeling, Advertising and Testing As Part of Its Adult-Use Retail Market Launch

By Steven Perelman and Leslie Robnett

The Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) of New York State’s Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) held an important special board meeting in which it approved several resolutions implementing New York’s Marihuana Regulation & Taxation Act (“MRTA”).  Signed into law on March 31, 2021, the MRTA legalizes adult-use cannabis (also known as marijuana, or recreational marijuana) in New York State. Continue reading “New York Regulators Approve New Rules on Packaging, Labeling, Advertising and Testing As Part of Its Adult-Use Retail Market Launch”

California Targets Cannabis Businesses over Unpaid Taxes

Duane Morris partner Tracy Gallegos was quoted in this article in MJBizDaily.

California’s business tax collector is ramping up enforcement against unlicensed and licensed cannabis companies, which owe the state nearly $200 million in unpaid taxes. […]

Tracy Gallegos, a corporate partner in the Las Vegas office of the Duane Morris law firm, said many of her clients entered the regulated industry with high aspirations, but naiveté and poor, early business decisions compounded problems. Continue reading “California Targets Cannabis Businesses over Unpaid Taxes”

Cannabis Product Mislabeling Leads to Investigation and Recall in Oregon

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) is conducting an ongoing investigation into Curaleaf regarding an alleged mislabeling of a nonpsychoactive cannabidiol (CBD) product, which actually contained psychoactive delta-9 tetrahydracannabinol (THC). Curaleaf operates 101 retail cannabis dispensaries in 16 states. The OLCC investigation revealed that the alleged mislabeling resulted from an employee’s confusing the CBD bottles with the THC bottles in preparing the Curaleaf cannabis products at issue. The incident caused consumers ingesting those products to have experienced a “high” they did not anticipate, and ultimately led to the recall of approximately 500 bottles of tincture from the Oregon market. At least three of those consumers went to the emergency room due to the high, one consumer was hospitalized and one consumer’s estate brought a claim for wrongful death.

To read the full text of this Duane Morris Alert, please visit the firm website.

Seth Goldberg is a Team Lead of Duane Morris’s Cannabis Industry Group, a cannabis business advisor, and a trial attorney with experience in products liability and consumer fraud claims. Ethan Feldman is an associate in the firm’s Trial department, with experience in products liability and consumer fraud.

© 2009- Duane Morris LLP. Duane Morris is a registered service mark of Duane Morris LLP.

The opinions expressed on this blog are those of the author and are not to be construed as legal advice.

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