All posts by DuaneMorris3

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.

Mitch McConnell’s Farm Bill Could Blow Up the CBD Market

Seth Goldberg
Seth A. Goldberg

CBD is already big business in America with hundreds of millions of dollars in sales every year. But the market for pot’s second most famous compound might soon skyrocket thanks to a somewhat unlikely ally: Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell.

The powerful Republican from Kentucky included provisions in this year’s Farm Bill that would fully legalize industrial hemp. That bill is now a top priority for Congress to pass before the end of the year, and if it becomes law we might see CBD on the shelves of every drug store in America.

To read the full text of this article, in which Duane Morris partner Seth Goldberg was quoted, please visit The Stranger’s website.

Mexico’s Supreme Court Strikes Prohibition on Private Consumption of Marijuana, Paving Way for Legalization

On October 31, 2018, the Supreme Court of Justice of Mexico (Suprema Corte de Justicia de la Nación) ruled in favor of two constitutional challenges (amparos) against the prohibition of the recreational consumption of marijuana. This now marks the fifth ruling on this subject and establishes jurisprudence. As a result, this precedent will now have to be followed by Mexican courts.

Although the consumption of marijuana remains illegal, the rulings under amparos 547/2018 and 548/2018 have effectively made laws prohibiting recreational use of marijuana unenforceable by Mexican courts.

The decision is based on the protection of the constitutional right to personal development. This right, held the court, permits adults to freely decide what recreational activities they wish to undertake and extends to protect any action that is necessary for the exercise of said freedom, without interference by the state. While the court recognized that there are necessary limits to this freedom, it nonetheless held that the effect of consumption of marijuana did not rise to the level of a justifiable interference with a constitutional right. Furthermore, this right does not extend to the commercialization of the drug, nor to the right to consume any other type of drug. …

Read the full Duane Morris Alert

Duane Morris LLP Named American Trade Association for Cannabis & Hemp’s “National Law Firm Partner”

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.

Read the full announcement on the ATACH website.

Duane Morris Partners Named Cannabis Law Trailblazers

Congratulations to Duane Morris partners Seth A. GoldbergChristiane Schuman Campbell and David N. Feldman, who were recently named Cannabis Law Trailblazers by National Law Journal.

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.