Tag Archives: Jennifer Briggs Fisher

Self-Help: How State-Legal Cannabis Operators Can Respond to the Vaping Crisis

By Jennifer Briggs Fisher and Joseph Pangaro

Over the last decade, there has been a remarkably swift rise in the popularity of vaporizers and vaping products. As reported by the BBC, the number of people using vaporizers increased from 7 million in 2011 to over 41 million in 2018. But in 2019, consumers began suffering from a rash of vaping-related lung injuries—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of February 18, 2020, there have been approximately 2,807 vaping-related injuries in the United States, occurring in all 50 states.

Highly publicized reports of these injuries raised serious concerns among the public and policymakers and threatened to halt the explosive growth of the vaping industry. State governments across the country issued emergency rules and executive orders to ban some, or all, vaporizer products. Even as courts issued injunctions prohibiting these bans from taking effect, more states moved forward with bans of their own. Within a few months states as diverse as Washington, Oregon, Montana, Michigan, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and New York had instituted some version of a vaporizer ban, mostly targeted at the highly popular flavored e-liquids.

To read the full article, visit the Duane Morris website.

Smart Labeling Practices

It has been more than one year since the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018 (better known as the 2018 Farm Bill) was enacted removing hemp and hemp-derivatives like CBD from the Controlled Substances Act. And while the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has held a public hearing on the use of cannabis, including hemp-derived CBD, in products like food and beverage, the industry anxiously awaits guidance or rules on advertising and labeling (which includes the label and packaging, as well as anything that you say about the product, including any claim that you make on your label, package, website, social media, etc.) for CBD-containing products.

Add to this lack of guidance, FDA currently takes the position that CBD may not be incorporated into and sold as food or a dietary supplement. A number of states have also specifically prohibited the use of CBD in foods, such as Massachusetts, Washington and North Carolina. Therefore, any company wishing to include CBD in food or beverages should proceed with caution. On the other hand, a broad spectrum of statutes and regulations exist from other states on the advertising and labeling of CBD-containing foods and beverages, including some states that require any product containing CBD to be packaged in be child-resistant, tamper-evident, and light-resistant containers. Even if you are not selling in a state that requires this type of packaging, it can still be beneficial from a products liability perspective to follow the more stringent packaging regulations.

To read the full article by Duane Morris attorney Jennifer Briggs Fisher, visit the firm website.

Jennifer Fisher and Justin Santarosa

California’s Governor Proposes Changes to Cannabis Regulation and Taxation

By:  Justin A. Santarosa and Jennifer Briggs Fisher

Gavin Newsom, Governor of California, released his proposal for the State’s budget today, outlining a number of items of importance for the California cannabis industry.

The most noteworthy proposal is regulatory consolidation.  In an effort to improve and simplify regulatory oversight of commercial cannabis activity, the Governor’s office is proposing to consolidate the three licensing entities that are currently within the Bureau of Cannabis Control, the Department of Food and Agriculture, and the Department of Public Health, into a single “Department of Cannabis Control” by July 2021.

Such a change would be welcomed by many operators in the State, especially vertically integrated operators who must now contend with multiple state agencies that have different regulatory requirements and interpretations.  This may also boost M&A activity in the state, given that it could lead to more consistent regulations regarding ownership changes and a more efficient regulatory approval process.  A single regulatory agency would also streamline fee collections and enforcement.  More details on this proposal are expected in the Spring of 2020 and we will be watching closely for those updates.

Additionally, the budget looks to “fix” what many consider to be a broken cannabis taxation regime. The Governor states that the goal of the proposal is to reduce the tax collection burden on the cannabis industry and simplify the tax collection process. The proposed changes move the responsibility for the cultivation excise tax from the final distributor to the first, and for the retail excise tax from the distributor to the retailer.

While no changes to the tax rates are specified, the proposed budget does state that the Governor will consider other changes to the existing cannabis tax structure, including the number of taxes and tax rates.  The California tax burden is viewed as one of the major inhibitors of the growth and success of the cannabis market in the state.

We will continue to monitor these developments as they unfold, so please check back for further updates and analysis.

Duane Morris Partner Jennifer Briggs Fisher Quoted in CNBC Article, “Underbanked Cannabis Industry Struggles to Finance Double-digit Growth, Leaving Business Owners Empty-handed”

Harmony Dispensary, a medical marijuana cultivator and dispensary in Secaucus, New Jersey, has a Zen-looking shopfront with light green walls, clean glass shelves showcasing various offerings, and a line of modern-looking cannabis-related products — a pipe, herb grinder and stash jar — all emblazoned with the Harmony logo.

Since its opening in 2018, the dispensary has serviced thousands of customers, but it has struggled to hold on to a bank account. “We approached six institutions to support our banking needs and were eventually dumped from all three that agreed to work with us,” Shaya Brodchandel, chief executive of Harmony Dispensary, said. In each case, Harmony received no warning from the banks, just a check in the mail, forcing them to scramble for solutions to pay suppliers, bills, staff and conduct general business.

[…]

“Cannabis is already a risky environment, and you face additional risk when engaging in new solutions that are brought into the market and not necessarily backed by solid financial institutions,” said Jennifer Briggs Fisher, partner at Duane Morris in San Francisco, who leads the firm’s cannabis industry group.

[…]

To read the full article, visit the CNBC website.

New Cannabis Regulations Approved in California

 

On January 16, 2019 the California Office of Administrative Law (OAL) approved the final regulations that were submitted by California’s three licensing agencies, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (BCC), the Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) and the Department of Public Health (CDPH), in December.  These new, approved regulations went into effect immediately, meaning the previous emergency regulations (under which the industry has been operating for the past year) are no longer in effect.  The regulations can be viewed here.

In a joint press release issued by the three agencies, BCC Chief Lori Ajax stated: ““These approved regulations are the culmination of more than two years of hard work by California’s cannabis licensing authorities.  Public feedback was invaluable in helping us develop clear regulations for cannabis businesses and ensuring public safety.”

Continue reading New Cannabis Regulations Approved in California

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 Goldberg, Jen 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.

California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control Submits Final Regulations for Administrative Review

The three agencies that regulate the cannabis market in California, the Bureau of Cannabis Control, Department of Food and Agriculture, and Department of Public Health, submitted a final version of regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (“OAL”) in California this month. The OAL reviews regulations for compliance with procedural requirements and substantive standards under California law. The OAL has 30 working days — until January 16, 2019 —  to review the regulations.

This blog post will highlight some of the important changes to the regulations made by the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”). Continue reading California’s Bureau of Cannabis Control Submits Final Regulations for Administrative Review

Courts Confront Clash Between Federal and State Marijuana Laws

The clash between state and federal law regarding the use of medical marijuana continues to present an ongoing dilemma for courts around the country, as illustrated by a recent decision by the Eighth Circuit. In the United States v. Schostag, the Eighth Circuit affirmed a decision by the District Court of Minnesota barring a felon from using state-legal medical marijuana while he is on supervised release. Continue reading Courts Confront Clash Between Federal and State Marijuana Laws

Jennifer Fisher and Justin Santarosa

California Department of Public Health’s Re-Adopted Emergency Regulations

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is the state agency designated under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) as responsible for regulating cannabis manufacturing.

The CDPH issued emergency regulations for manufacturers in November 2017, and has now proposed readopting those regulations for another 180 days. Based on feedback from the public and stakeholders in the industry, the CDPH has proposed some changes to these regulations.

This blog post will highlight the changes to the CDPH emergency regulations and identify key issues for manufacturers. In separate posts, we will be describing the changes made by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Bureau of Cannabis Control.

Changes to Emergency Regulations:

  • The CDPH has removed the distinction of A and M Licenses and now only requires one application and applicants will only have to pay one licensing fee. Previously you had to submit two applications and pay two separate licensing fees if you wanted to operate in the medicinal and adult-use market.
  • The readopted regulations have now incorporated the previously released shared-use facility regulations, which allow a manufacturing premises to be used my multiple businesses that take turns utilizing the space and equipment. This allows for operations similar to a commercial kitchen or agreements in which larger manufacturers offer space and use of equipment to smaller manufacturers.
  • The CDPH has removed tinctures from the definition of a product containing more than 0.5% alcohol by volume. However, tinctures cannot be sold in a package larger than two fluid ounces and shall include a calibrated dropper or other measuring device

The change to only a single application for both medical and adult-use is a welcome change for manufacturing businesses. Overall, the CDPH did not make significant changes to its regulations.

If you have any questions about the regulations, please contact Jennifer Briggs Fisher in our San Francisco office or Justin Santarosa in our Los Angeles office.

 

Jennifer Fisher and Justin Santarosa

Bureau of Cannabis Control’s Re-Adopted Emergency Regulations

The Bureau of Cannabis Control is the state agency designated under the Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (MAUCRSA) as responsible for issuing licenses to and regulating distributors, retailers, delivery-only retailers, microbusinesses, and testing labs.

The BCC issued emergency regulations in November 2017, and has now proposed readopting those regulations for another 180 days. Based on feedback from the public and stakeholders in the industry, the BCC has proposed some changes to these regulations.

This blog post will highlight the changes to the BCC emergency regulations and identify key issues for distributors, retailers, delivery-only retailers, microbusinesses, and testing labs. In separate posts, we will be describing the changes made by the California Department of Food and Agriculture and the California Department of Public Health. Those posts can be found here and here.

Changes to Emergency Regulations:

  • The BCC has removed the distinction of A and M Licenses and now only requires one application and applicants will only have to pay one licensing fee. Additionally, license fees have been reduced. Previously you had to submit two applications and pay two separate licensing fees if you wanted to operate in the medicinal and adult-use market.
  • A delivery employee may now complete multiple deliveries of cannabis goods if they are prepared by the retailer prior to the delivery employee leaving the licensed premises. The total amount of cannabis goods in the delivery vehicle may be up to $10,000, the previous limit was set at $3,000.
  • The definition of owner has been amended to specify that the chief executive officer and/or the members of the board of directors of any entity that own 20% or more of a commercial cannabis business will be considered “owners.”
  • The definition of financial interests has been amended to include “an agreement to receive a portion of the profits of a commercial cannabis business.” Commercial cannabis business and service providers will have to review their agreements and applications to determine if certain amendments will need to be made to include other people or businesses as having a “financial interest” in a commercial cannabis business. Interestingly, this change was not made in the definition of “financial interest” under the CDFA and CDPH regulations.
  • Retail stores may not sell or deliver cannabis goods through a drive-through or pass-out window and sales cannot be made to people within motor vehicles.
  • License applications must now include:
    • Cannabis waste procedures; and
    • Delivery procedures, if applicable.

These changes show that the BCC and the other regulatory agencies are being responsive to their stakeholders and while not all changes are positive, we believe this is a step in the right direction for cannabis businesses in California.If you have any questions about the regulations, please contact Jennifer Briggs Fisher in our San Francisco office or Justin Santarosa in our Los Angeles office.