Define your legal problem
Most people will encounter a legal problem while in the cannabis business. While some legal problems can be handled without the assistance of a lawyer, others, including matters involving regulators like the California Department of Cannabis Control or the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Regulations, may be more complicated and require the help of a specialized cannabis law firm. In addition, tax law, criminal law, and intellectual property issues are typically best handled by an experienced subject matter expert – even if that firm has limited legal experience in the cannabis industry.
Research different cannabis law firms specializing in your type of legal issue, e.g. cbd, medical marijuana, adult use, etc.
If your adult use or medical marijuana business has a legal issue, it is essential to seek an attorney specializing in this area. California’s cannabis law is a new and dynamic field, so you want to ensure your lawyer has the most up-to-date information and knows how to navigate complex regulations.
Attorneys at our firm have
spent over a decade in the Los Angeles and California cannabis industry. They have interacted with the same regulators and attorneys at the Los Angeles Department of Cannabis Control and the Department of Cannabis Control since each agency’s inspection. Many on our team have built respectful working relationships with government agents and regulators, sometimes leading to quick and cost-effective results for our clients. This experience will ensure that you have the best representation possible and that your rights are protected at all stages of the legal process.
Don’t settle on the first cannabis law firm you meet with.
Many in the business world don’t realize they need an attorney until they are in the midst of a nasty legal situation. At that point, it’s often too late to start looking for representation. The best time to find an attorney is before you need one. That way, you can take your time to find a person or firm that is a good fit for you and your case.
When you are ready to seek an attorney, schedule consultations with a few different lawyers; this will allow you to meet with the attorneys, get a feel for their personalities and styles, and see if you can informally gauge their understanding of the law. You can also ask questions about their experience to understand how they might handle your case. Once you have met with all the attorneys, you can decide who to hire.
Do not settle for the criminal defense attorney who moonlights as a cannabis specialist.
Unfortunately, many California lawyers who have traditionally taken on criminal defense cases will hold themselves out as cannabis specialists who “represent medical marijuana businesses” or purport to run a legal practice that “focuses” on marijuana laws. This is typically a lie. Few, if any, of these moonlighting attorneys understand the legal protections and risks that impact cannabis companies – most can’t cite a single applicable law. They have little knowledge of corporate formation, local or state licensing, regulatory compliance, the promulgation of new regulations, or the nuances of administrative hearings. Many have never come across a California land use issue or run a compliance audit in their lives.
Choose an attorney who understands the interplay between local, state, and federal laws.
While cannabis may be considered a legal and emerging industry, in the eyes of the federal government, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug under the controlled substances act. In other words, people or business entities who engage in the cultivation or sale of medical or recreational cannabis, whether inside of California or if engaging in interstate commerce, are breaking federal law. Being a licensed member of the California cannabis industry will not change this fact. Even if prosecution is unlikely, marijuana businesses remain at constant risk of prosecution by federal agencies. This is not a risk that “normal” businesses face.
Ask each attorney questions about their experience in the cannabis industry, their experience working with cannabis businesses, and how they would handle your case
The Department of Cannabis Control oversees the cannabis industry in California, and they have specific rules and regulations that attorneys should be aware of. While interviewing an attorney, learn if they have experience working with the Department of Cannabis Control and any local agency or regulator that governs your cannabis business. It is also vital that clients ask attorneys what their strategy will be, and the scope of services the attorney will provide. Asking questions will help you find a marijuana attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable about cannabis laws and can represent you effectively.
Choose the attorney you feel most comfortable with and who you think will best represent your cannabis business.
When choosing a marijuana attorney, it is important to select someone who you feel comfortable with and who you believe will be the best advocate for your case. There are several factors to consider when making this decision. First, you should look for an attorney with experience in handling cases similar to yours, not just in California, but also in your specific jurisdiction. This will ensure that the attorney is familiar with the applicable laws and procedures. Additionally, you should ask for references from past clients to understand what it is like to work with this specific attorney. Finally, you should schedule a consultation to meet with the attorney and get a better sense of their personality and how they would manage your case. By following these steps, you can be sure to choose the right attorney for your needs.
If you are hiring an attorney to obtain a license, then it is important to know they have provided those types of services to clients in the past. For example, an attorney in Riverside County specializing in hemp production law, employment law, or whose firm provides services unrelated to marijuana, will make a poor choice to represent a business in the cannabis industry. On the other hand, a cannabis business seeking a license will see much better success by retaining a cannabis attorney with a practice dedicated to obtaining licenses for marijuana businesses.
What are the risks of not hiring an attorney?
If you represent yourself, you are taking on a huge risk. There are many things an attorney can do to help your case that you cannot do alone. An experienced attorney will know the relevant cannabis laws inside and out and will be able to guide you through the legal process. They will also be able to negotiate with the other side on your behalf and ensure your rights are protected. Without an attorney, you could make costly mistakes, resulting in the suspension or loss of your cannabis license. The risks of not hiring an attorney are too great to ignore. Contact our office today for a consultation with an experienced Los Angeles marijuana lawyer if you have any questions about this topic.
Work with law firms with a track record of success.
At Baghoomian Law, we have provided legal services to Los Angeles marijuana businesses for over a decade. From Los Angeles to Sacramento to San Diego, we have represented every type of marijuana business, from dispensaries to cultivators. We have assisted clients in a full range of matters, including:
- marijuana business structuring.
- obtaining licenses
- advising on new and upcoming regulations, including industry changes
- regulatory litigation
Contact us if you have any questions about finding an attorney or need help getting started. Our experienced attorneys are here to help you with all your cannabis-related legal needs.