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.

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

Supreme Court Ruling Expands Reach of Clean Water Act NPDES Permitting

Read the article on California Ag Net , here . In April, the United States Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling clarifying the reach of the federal Clean Water Act. The Court decided that a...

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Publication

Fed Announces New Main Street Lending Program

Loans Will Provide Additional Support for Small and Mid-sized Businesses On April 9, 2020, the Federal Reserve released the terms of its Main Street Lending Program , a $600 billion loan fund for U.S...

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Publication

Weed at Work: Understanding Legalized Marijuana in the Office

Click here  for the audio recording of the webinar "Weed at Work: Understanding Legalized Marijuana in the Office."

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Publication

Coronavirus and Federal Payroll Tax Credits: Relief Available for Cannabis Companies

The cannabis industry rarely looks to the federal government for support. Yet the raft of fiscal relief addressing COVID-19 has caused some in the industry to wonder what options, if any, might be available...

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Publication

AB 37: State Tax Deductions for Cannabis Businesses

cannabis leaf
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Publication

Updated California Shelter-In-Place Orders Include New Requirement for Social Distancing Protocol

Several California counties updated their Shelter-In-Place orders to extend the compliance period and to further define and restrict essential business activities. An overview of the new restriction was published by Farella here . One...

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News

Farella Braun + Martel Attorneys, Practices Recognized by Chambers USA 2020

SAN FRANCISCO, April 23, 2020: Farella Braun + Martel announces that Chambers USA has recognized 12 lawyers and five practice areas in the legal directory’s 2020 edition. Individual Rankings: Tyler Gerking – Insurance: Policyholders...

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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

5 Key Highlights of the CDFA’s Proposed Cannabis Appellations Program

The California Department of Food & Agriculture (CDFA) recently released the first iteration of its Cannabis Appellations Program (CAP), which sets forth proposed regulations for licensed cultivators to establish appellations of origin (i.e., protected...

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Publication

CARES Act Paycheck Protection Program Summary (Updated)

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aims to provide qualifying small businesses, nonprofit organizations, veterans organizations, tribal businesses, sole proprietors, and independent contractors forgivable loans of...

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