All posts by DuaneMorris3

Why Social Justice Matters in the Cannabis Debate

David FeldmanThe centuries of enslaving people of color and the overwhelming racism against and systemic mistreatment of Mexicans and other Hispanics in this country were and in many respects to this day remain horrid and indefensible. This has been no more apparent than in the U.S. “War on Drugs.” We can recount at length the original criminalization of cannabis in the 1930s and again in 1970 as almost purely racist, political and economic. It was a way, among other things, to lock up Mexicans and blacks and stop their efforts to hurt opposition candidates or take jobs away from “real” Americans. Leaders from those times have all but, and in some cases directly, admitted as much.

To read the full text of this column by Duane Morris partner David Feldman, please visit the HoneySuckle website.

Is Cannabis Media Coverage Fair and Balanced?

With many billions of dollars of business and tax revenue and many jobs at stake, as well as an emerging national debate about legalization, the U.S. cannabis industry has received quite a bit of media coverage. This has been especially true since Colorado and Washington were the first U.S. states to legalize cannabis adult use in 2012, and has morphed into a crescendo of content since California fully legalized in January 2018. And yes, in many cases, in today’s super-competitive world of selling words, at times it seems more about the punny headlines than the substance underneath.

To read the full text of this column by Duane Morris partner David Feldman, please visit the Green Entrepreneur website.

Seth Goldberg

Cannabusiness: The Marijuana Industry on Sirius XM

A two-hour special program, “Cannabusiness: The Marijuana Industry,” will be broadcast on Sirius XM’s Business Radio, Channel 132. Duane Morris partner Seth Goldberg will be interviewed on the program. The program will be re-broadcast at the following times:

Tuesday, February 26 from 2 to 4 pm ET
Tuesday, February 26 from 8 to 10 pm ET
Wednesday, February 27 from 1 to 3 pm ET
Thursday, February 28 from 2 to 4 pm ET
Friday, March 1 from 5 to 7 pm ET
Saturday, March 2 at Midnight and then again from 7 to 9 pm ET
Sunday, March 3 at 8 am ET and then again from 6 to 8 pm ET

Listen to the program on the Business Radio podcast site.

Harborside Positions Itself for the Future with Big Merger

Add to the list of companies making major moves in terms of expansion the legendary name of Harborside. They recently announced a reverse merger with Canadian-based Lineage Grow Company.

Harborside is not the first United States-based company to use a reverse merger to take advantage of the more advanced Canadian markets, and they won’t be the last. “US-based cannabis companies are increasingly taking advantage of the robust Canadian capital markets,” Nanette Heide, co-chair of the private equity practice at Duane Morris LLP and the attorney who represented Harborside in the deal, told The Marijuana Times. “The transactions are somewhat complex in structure, but executed well can provide ready access to capital for growth and expansion.”

To read the full text of this article, please visit the Marijuana Times website.

The 2018 Farm Bill Preserves FDA Right to Regulate Cannabis Products

Last year was a record year for cannabis. Canada passed the Cannabis Act, making adult-use cannabis legal there. The FDA approved a cannabidiol-based medicine, Epidiolex. And the President signed the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, aka the 2018 Farm Bill, into law on December 20, 2018.

While the 2018 Farm Bill granted the U.S. Department of Agriculture the ability to regulate hemp, it also preserved the right for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate products containing cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds. The FDA regulates products such as human and animal drugs, biological products, cosmetics, food and animal feed, among other things. So any inclusion of cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds, like CBD, in any of those types of products would be regulated by the FDA. The FDA has stated that this is true regardless of the source of the cannabis substance, be it hemp or marijuana.

Read the full Duane Morris alert.

Is New Hampshire the Next State to Legalize Cannabis?

The first public hearing on New Hampshire House Bill 481, which would legalize the adult use of cannabis in the state, is scheduled for February 5, 2019. The bill outlines how New Hampshire would regulate cannabis products, including recreational “adult use” products, the licensing and regulation of sales establishments, and the taxation scheme.

Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont all have legalized the “adult use” of cannabis, leaving New Hampshire as the only state in northern New England that has yet to do so. New Hampshire’s economy is very integrated into the New England and Metro Boston economies and serves as a valuable new market for the cannabis industry.

The February 5 public hearing will begin at 1:00 p.m. at Representatives Hall in the State House before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee. The committee will amend the bill the following day, vote on the bill on Thursday, February 7, and send the bill to the floor of the New Hampshire House for its consideration in February.

Although Governor Christopher T. Sununu has said he will veto the bill, the bill is receiving bipartisan support and is expected to easily pass the House and Senate in the coming weeks, setting the stage for a potential veto override. It is also anticipated that the legislative effort will take a couple of months. Duane Morris will continue to follow these developments.

Read the full Duane Morris Alert.

Who Will be the Winners and Losers When Federal Cannabis Prohibition Ends?

Most analysts are predicting no longer whether, but when, cannabis will become federally legal for adult use in the United States, as it has in Canada, Uruguay and a few other countries, with others such as Mexico expected to soon follow. It may come in the form of the government itself removing cannabis as a scheduled drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). It may come in the form of the current STATES Act pending in Congress, which would remove state-legal compliance from being subject to the CSA, or through other Congressional action. It may come through court action, such as the current constitutional challenge to the CSA as it applies to cannabis, whose initial dismissal was recently argued on appeal.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner David Feldman, please visit the Green Entrepreneur website.

Federal Court Tosses RICO Claim Against California Cannabis Growers, Landlord

On December 27, 2018, the Northern District of California dismissed a civil RICO claim brought against the owners and operators of a Sonoma County cannabis growing operation and the operation’s landlord. See Bokaie v. Green Earth Coffee LLC, 3:18-cv-05244-JST, 2018 WL 6813212 (N.D. Calif. Dec. 27, 2018). The lawsuit was filed by neighbors who alleged that the operation’s “skunk-like stench” interfered with the enjoyment of their property and drove down their property values. The Bokaie court found that such alleged harms did not constitute a “RICO injury,” and thus dismissed plaintiffs’ claim (albeit without prejudice, allowing 30 days to amend).

The Bokaie case is part of a growing trend of RICO lawsuits filed in legalized states—to date, roughly a dozen have been filed in California, Colorado, Massachusetts and Oregon—that seek to exploit the tension between state law and the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA). RICO defines “racketeering activity” to include CSA violations, and a civil lawsuit can proceed upon allegations that an enterprise’s pattern of racketeering activity caused damage to the plaintiffs’ business or property. 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961(1), 1962(c), 1964(c). RICO’s civil remedy provision awards prevailing plaintiffs triple damages and attorneys’ fees, id. § 1964(c), thus giving “not in my backyard” plaintiffs and their attorneys a powerful tool against their neighbors. By alleging that the smell of cannabis interferes with the enjoyment of their property and drives down their property value, plaintiffs in these cases are effectively elevating common law nuisance claims into federal RICO lawsuits.

Read the full Duane Morris Alert.

Meet the Duane Morris Lawyers Who Are Working on Some of the Biggest Deals in the Booming Marijuana Industry

With the rapid spread of marijuana legalization in the US, lawyers are discovering that the tangled web of regulations guiding the rapidly growing industry is a boon for business. …

There are several key reasons lawyers are attracted to the marijuana industry. For one, as cannabis companies grow, merge, and start getting the attention of Fortune 500 corporations as acquisition targets, they need more sophisticated advice on financing, tax planning, corporate structure, and M&A. …

That’s an opportunity to a select group of lawyers who have cut a trailblazing path into the industry. Once reluctant, some of the biggest law firms, like Duane Morris, Baker Botts and Dentons, are building out specialized cannabis practice groups as the industry continues to grow in profitability and complexity. …

Business Insider has pulled together a list of the top lawyers who’ve worked on the largest deals in the past year in the growing marijuana industry.


Seth GoldbergDavid FeldmanJen FisherNeeraj Kumar: Duane Morris

Firm: Duane Morris

Location: Philadelphia, New York, and San Francisco

Duane Morris has staked out big territory: It’s one of the few AmLaw 100 firms marketing its cannabis practice group, said Neeraj Kumar, an associate at the firm who works on cannabis issues.

“This is a very good opportunity for our firm,” said Seth Goldberg, the chair of the firm’s practice in Philadelphia. Cannabis is one of the “few emerging markets that has multibillion-dollar potential.”

Goldberg, a seasoned trial lawyer with decades of experience, said he spearheaded the firm’s involvement in the industry in 2014 after Colorado became the first state to allow recreational pot shops.

And for Kumar, the opportunity to become an expert in a field where there’s “a new development every week” was something he couldn’t turn down.

Duane Morris represented iAnthus, a US cannabis company, in its $640 million merger with MPX Bioceutical, also the first public-to-public transaction in the US cannabis industry. Further, the firm has advised investors on real-estate acquisitions.

For more information, visit the Business Insider website.