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As industries start to total their respective losses during the COVID-19 pandemic, legal representatives of cannabis businesses are hoping their still-growing industry isn’t taking a hit.
But Charles Gormally, who co-chairs Brach Eichler LLC‘s cannabis law practice, said one of the major issues for the industry is that it’s caught in a struggle to access banking services. And, although pending federal legislation would help that cause, current restrictions on bankers mean cannabis businesses missed out on coronavirus relief programs.
Under, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), it is illegal “for any person through a pattern of racketeering activity… to acquire or maintain…any interest in or control of any enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities affect, interstate of foreign commerce”. Because marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, state-legal marijuana businesses, by definition, involve racketeering activity in violation of RICO. When the government employs RICO against a defendant, the prosecution must prove, under 18 U.S.C.
So imagine my (not at all) surprise when I scrolled across a tweet from [Florio Perrucci Steinhardt Cappelli Tipton & Taylor LLC], the most politically-influential (hashtag-loving) law firm in South Jersey:
The #NJ & #PA #cannabis industry can look to #floriolaw for comprehensive #legal counsel from #business formation, governmental affairs, #licensing and permitting to #local land use applications. http://floriolaw.com/practice-areas #lehighvalley #cannabislaw #legalizedcannabis #lawyer #law
Two judges clarified a court-ordered stay on New Jersey’s medical cannabis business application review process to apply to all administrative proceedings related to alternative treatment center permits, including the scoring of applications and the ranking and awarding permits.
The New Jersey Department of Health hadn’t halted application review, said Ansell Grimm & Aaron PC Partner Joshua Bauchner, who represents seven applicants whose submissions were rejected before being reviewed due to a technical issue.
The expectations for explosive growth in the cannabis sector, a fuse lit by Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign promise to legalize marijuana in the Garden State, haven’t completely died out.
But, as the future of pot in New Jersey has gotten hazy after a few faltering efforts by lawmakers, those eager to pour investments into real estate and other assets in preparation for the industry’s boom are experiencing some burnout.
There’s one place, however, you don’t find many regrets about early investments into the green gold rush … and that’s at law firms.
The political turmoil over marijuana comes as five northeastern Democratic governors announced last month that they had reached an agreement to fully legalize marijuana. Three of the states — New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, where Democrats are in complete control of the government — already have spent months squabbling over the specifics of complex legislation that would legalize cannabis sales.
Cannabis companies, particularly multistate operators (MSOs), are increasingly incorporating lawsuits into their licensing application strategy in a bid to secure a permit in a highly sought-after market.
That strategy of preparing to fight license rejections by state regulators, especially those lost by a narrow margin, is based on a number of factors:
Marijuana On School Grounds? Proceed With Caution
The primary concern for public school administrators is that marijuana is still listed as a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law, which means the federal government continues to take the position there is no acceptable medical use of the drug. Accordingly, the use of medical marijuana within 1,000 yards of school property could cause schools who receive federal funding to run afoul of the Drug Free Workplace Act and cause a loss of that federal funding.
NJCUMMA provides protection from arrest, prosecution, property forfeiture, criminal and other penalties by the State of New Jersey for those patients who use medicinal marijuana to alleviate suffering from certain medical conditions, as well as their physicians, primary caregivers, and those who are authorized to produce, process and dispense marijuana for medicinal purpose.
In New Jersey, there also have been unsuccessful challenges to the department’s initial licensing application process. In re Inst. for Health Research & Abunda Life Ctr., 2013 WL 4458982 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. Aug. 22, 2013), involved two low-scoring applicants—Institute for Health Research and Abunda Life Center, and Abatin Wellness Center. They challenged the Department of Health and Senior Services’ (“DHSS[’s]”) issuance of licenses prior to the formal adoption of the regulations governing applications.