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Cannabis Law

Navigating the Legal Complexities of an Evolving Industry

Launching a medical cannabis business requires tenacity. It also demands an appreciation for the complexities of the evolving and conflicting federal, state, and local laws governing the operation. While an increasing number of states and foreign countries have legalized marijuana for medical use, hurdles remain in securing capital, operating with limited access to real estate and credit, banking, and navigating federal and state tax issues. These and other challenges, including regulatory scrutiny, necessitate a clear understanding of the applicable laws and regulations, and a holistic approach to business formation and operation.

Licensed entities and ancillary service providers in the burgeoning medical cannabis industry rely on Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys to provide a robust suite of legal services to help form and grow their businesses. From drafting license applications for growers, processors and dispensaries, handling environmental compliance work, drafting private placement memorandum and other vehicles to raise capital, and drafting and negotiating business documents, we have a wide range of experience to support clients in this industry. Our attorneys closely follow the existing and prospective cannabis regulations throughout the country and the world, helping our clients understand the legal implications regarding licensing as well as navigate various compliance issues. In addition, our lawyers regularly research, provide legal advice, speak and write about industry developments, challenges and best practices.

Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys provide counsel regarding, among other things:

  • State agency licensure, including with regard to applicable requirements, application content, and strategies
  • Post-licensing compliance (e.g., standard operating procedures (SOPs) and employee training)
  • Relevant federal law
  • Business formation, contract drafting/negotiation, and tax matters (including IRC 280E)
  • Joint ventures
  • Management agreements
  • Investment and financing
  • Real estate
  • Zoning
  • Intellectual property/licensing
  • Labor and employment


Saul Ewing Arnstein & Lehr attorneys are handling or have handled these select cannabis law matters:

  • Advising several national cannabis companies on employment matters, ongoing litigation, fund raising and regulatory compliance.
  • Represented a medical marijuana grower in Pennsylvania, who received a license from the Commonwealth, in a court challenge to the state’s licensing program by an unsuccessful applicant.
  • Conducted a state and federal law survey regarding businesses that provide ancillary services and products to the cannabis industry.
  • Advised a medical marijuana grower in Maryland on securing land use approvals for its grow facility.
  • Represented a medical marijuana dispensary in Maryland in its agreement with a cannabis consulting firm.
  • Provided regulatory counsel to a cannabis-based medicine company regarding its applications for medical marijuana permits in Pennsylvania. We also advised the client on organizational, tax, and investment structuring matters.
  • Provided regulatory advice to a large U.S. provider of property and casualty reinsurance regarding insurance of state-authorized marijuana businesses.
  • Represented an estate on its investment in a company that will lease manufacturing facilities and license technology to medical marijuana growers and processors.
  • Assisted in the preparation of LLC operating agreements for Maryland medical cannabis license applicants.
  • Advised a joint venture applying for medical cannabis grower, processor, and dispensary licenses in Maryland on application requirements, content and strategies.
  • Represented a medical marijuana grower in Maryland on environmental due diligence for land purchased for a grow facility.
  • Represented a national cannabis company in the acquisition of a cultivation and dispensary facility, navigating complex regulatory hurdles and working with the client from inception through the closing of the deal.
DISCLAIMER: Per federal law, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance. This means that it is a federal crime to sell, distribute, possess, and/or use marijuana or marijuana-derived products, regardless of any state law that may authorize certain marijuana activity. Although federal policy may, at times, recommend enforcement discretion when a business or individual is in compliance with state marijuana law that is deemed to comply with federal enforcement priorities, it is important to understand that compliance with state law does not equal compliance with federal law, and that federal marijuana policy may change at any time. No legal advice we give regarding marijuana law or policy is ever intended to guide or assist clients in violating federal law.

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