Significant players in the rapidly-evolving cannabis industry rely on Farella to guide them through the substantial legal and regulatory hurdles faced by businesses in this industry. We represent cultivators, manufacturers, retailers, and investors, leveraging our decades of experience working with clients in other highly-regulated sectors to help our cannabis clients move into and navigate the medicinal and adult-use markets in California.

We Represent the Industry Ecosystem

Established cannabis companies require skilled legal advice across a variety of disciplines. These enterprises need lawyers that have experience advising clients in highly-regulated industries. For newer entrants and investors in the cannabis market, working with lawyers that understand the myriad of compliance issues that cannabis companies face from the outset is critical to maximizing every opportunity.

We work directly with executives, founders, owners, and entrepreneurs at cannabis companies. We help our clients identify and mitigate risks, sharpen areas of focus within their enterprise, and tweak their operational models to ensure compliance and keep their transactions on track—ultimately positioning them for business success.

We often act as outside general counsel for our cannabis clients, helping them navigate a complicated and evolving regulatory framework. As the industry has seen a large number of consolidations in recent years, we spend a great deal of time advising clients on merger and acquisition transactions. We also advise non-cannabis companies on risk analysis and mitigation strategies for engaging in transactions with cannabis businesses.

Both investment fund clients and individual investors in cannabis businesses rely on us to review potential investments, negotiate fair and protective investment terms, and guide them in making solid business decisions. Our experience in working with investment clients in other industries enables us to quickly adapt best practices for the cannabis industry and create models and form agreements to drive efficiencies and bring quicker solutions to their business pursuits. Our clients benefit from our depth of experience in working with investors in the cannabis industry as we are able to guide these businesses from the outset to ensure that they are ideally organized to attract investment capital.

From Start-up to Liquidity and Everything In Between

Our teams are smartly-staffed and nimble—led by one or more Farella partners who remain actively engaged in every matter. Farella’s cannabis industry group brings together skilled lawyers who represent clients across the full lifespan of a business. We advise cannabis companies on their initial structuring and formation, through their financings, employment issues, regulatory compliance issues, general corporate issues, and other operational needs—all the way to an ultimate liquidity event such as a sale, merger, or other type of business exit.

We often leverage the knowledge of our insurance group which has a depth of experience in working in other highly-regulated industries. Our employment group has experience across multiple sectors, facing many different client situations and business models, and can craft appropriate employment policies for cannabis operations.

Farella helps our cannabis clients with real estate leasing and acquisition, land use, intellectual property, tax planning, environmental issues, product liability, Proposition 65, and corporate governance. When disputes or internal investigations arise, our experienced litigation and white-collar crime defense teams step in. We also advise clients on potential federal enforcement actions.

Professional Leadership

Our commitment to our clients’ success in the cannabis industry includes our active participation and leadership roles in significant industry legal groups including the Cannabis Law Committee for the Bar Association of San Francisco and the National Cannabis Bar Association. We are also active members of the National Cannabis Industry Association.

The widely-read legal news source Law360 recognized our firm as a “California Powerhouse” in 2018, noting that Farella was one of the first law firms in the state to form a cannabis group. Our cannabis lawyers also regularly appear in national and California-based rankings from U.S. News - Best Lawyers, the Daily Journal, The National Law Journal, and Super Lawyers and Rising Stars annual lists of the top lawyers in Northern California.

Firm Highlights

Publication

California Cannabis Cultivators Face Legal Challenges as Temporary Licenses Expire

California Cannabis Cultivators Stuck Without Licenses: Ab-97 Gives Some Relief, but Immediate Stop-Gap Measures Still Necessary Over the past few months, thousands of California cannabis farms that had been operating legally with temporary state...

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Publication

CBD in Foods and Beverages? Not Quite Yet

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Publication

Evicting Tenants Over “Illegal” Cannabis Operation Comes Back to Bite Landlords in Coverage

A 6th Circuit case decided earlier this year demonstrates how positions taken by insureds in prior litigation can impact or foreclose coverage in subsequent disputes with insurers. See K.V.G. Properties, Inc. v. Westfield Ins...

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Publication

Insurance for the Cannabis Industry Program Takeaways

I recently moderated a Bar Association of San Francisco Insurance Section program co-sponsored with the Cannabis Law Section. The program highlighted recent changes to local insurance requirements and market availability of coverage for cannabis...

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Publication

In the Weeds: Marijuana Legalization & Employment Laws

Over the last several years, attitudes towards marijuana use have rapidly changed in the United States. According to a 2018 Pew Research Survey, 62 percent of U.S. respondents said marijuana use should be legal...

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Publication

Cannabis Companies and the California Consumer Privacy Act

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Publication

Doing Business With the Cannabis Industry? Make Sure Your Insurance Will Cover You

By Shanti Eagle, Farella Braun + Martel, and Martin Fox-Foster, Emergent Risk Insurance Services Much has been written about the difficulties and limitations of insuring leaf-touching cannabis businesses. However, any individual or company simply interacting...

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