Consumer Products + Manufacturing

Cannabis

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

cannabis leafEstablished 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.

Novel and Complex Dispute Resolution

When disputes arise, Farella’s litigators and trial attorneys bring a unique set of experience in highly regulated industries to achieve outcomes for our cannabis clients. Our approach to litigation is focused on the business case, and achieving desired results based on the individual circumstances of each client. From confronting novel issues to solving the most complex, bet-the-company problems, we use lean, experienced litigation teams to focus on the key issues, while protecting important intellectual property, business processes, and individual rights. As one of the first major firms to represent cannabis clients, Farella’s litigators combine this depth of litigation experience with our wealth of knowledge about the cannabis industry. 

Our litigation team has represented cannabis industry clients in a wide range of disputes, including intellectual property, employment, insurance coverage, consumer class actions, real estate, investor and partnership disputes, TCPA and government investigations. To resolve such disputes, our litigators work closely with their transactional and regulatory colleagues to find appropriate solutions for our cannabis clients taking into account the unique challenges and risks facing the industry. 

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

Under FTC’s New Proposed Rule, Employers Will No Longer Be Able to Rely on Noncompete Agreements

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has proposed a rule that would prohibit the use of noncompete agreements in employment contracts. Noncompete agreements prevent employees and independent contractors from pursuing certain forms of employment &ndash...

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News

Jeff Hamilton Listed Among Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers by Cannabis Law Report

Farella Partner Jeff Hamilton has been listed among the Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers 2022/2023 by Cannabis Law Report. In his cannabis practice, Jeff represents investors and investment funds, cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and ancillary businesses...

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Publication

California Extends COVID-19 Leave Through December 31, 2022

Governor Gavin Newsom has signed AB 152 into law, extending Supplemental Paid Sick Leave (“SPSL”) through December 31, 2022. SPSL, which requires California employers with over 26 employees to provide up to 80 hours paid...

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Publication

Survey of Pay Disclosure Laws Across the Country

There has been a wave of new state and local legislation focused on pay transparency for job applicants. Right now, Colorado State and Jersey City are the only jurisdictions that require employers to provide...

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Publication

New California Bill Requires Employers to Offer Bereavement Leave

AB 1949 , a bill passed by the California legislature and awaiting Governor Newsom’s signature, would require California employers to offer five days of bereavement leave to employees each time they lose a spouse...

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Publication

New Laws and Compliance Updates for California Employers in 2023

California has passed several new or amended employment laws covering topics ranging from off-duty marijuana use, reproductive rights, California Family Rights Act, COVID-19, criminal law and the workplace, new avenues of enforcement against employers...

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Publication

California’s AB2188 Now Prohibits Employee Discipline for Off-Duty Marijuana Use

A new law in California will significantly change the way employers can address employees’ marijuana use. While prior law made clear that employers could terminate employees for off-duty marijuana use, a new bill prevents...

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Publication

Hazy Regulations: Cannabis and the Environment

Summary : The U.S. legal cannabis market is an estimated $60 billion industry, with approximately 28,000 businesses operating and employing upwards of 300,000 people, and growing rapidly. Large-scale cultivation requires significant energy usage, nutrient...

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Publication

California Extends Presumption of COVID-19 as Workers’ Compensation Injury and Modifies Notice Requirements for Potential Exposure

In addition to AB 152 extending COVID-19 leave through December 31, 2022 , Governor Gavin Newsom has also signed into law two other COVID-related bills—AB 1751 and AB 2693—affecting employers’ policies regarding employees who...

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Publication

California’s Pay Transparency Act (SB 1162) – Are You Prepared?

This week the California legislature passed a pay transparency act that – pending Governor Newsom’s signature – will require significant changes in how employers draft job postings and how they report pay data to...

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