Friday, April 22, 2016
The title of this post is the title of this recent lengthy American Lawyer article which in part explains why I think my novel marijuana law and policy law-school class may not be all that novel in the coming years. Here is how the piece gets started:
On April 20, which each year marks the unofficial “420” holiday for marijuana enthusiasts worldwide, lawyers at big firms across the country spoke with The Am Law Daily about their work in the burgeoning field of semi-legal weed.
Though still not allowed under federal law, rapidly changing state regulations have created a relatively new industry worth roughly $5.7 billion. Clients looking to get involved in funding, growing or selling cannabis are calling upon lawyers to handle venture capital, finance, intellectual property, real estate, employment and regulatory work.
Am Law 200 firms have approached this industry with varying degrees of discretion. T hompson Coburn has a blog, Tracking Cannabis, Seyfarth Shaw has one too in The Blunt Truth and Dykema Gossett will also have one soon. Fox Rothschild managing partner Mark Silow praised the cannabis work of the four-partner group his firm hired in Chicago from Nixon Peabody when the team was brought on last year.
“I don’t think the firm’s ever been shy to put it out there that we’re entrepreneurial,” said Fox Rothschild partner Joshua Horn. The co-chair of his firm’s securities industry practice, Philadelphia-based Horn is also a member of the National Cannabis Bar Association, which was formed last year. On Sunday, Pennsylvania became the 24th U.S. state to legalize medicinal marijuana, so, as opposed to his partners in Illinois, Horn said he hasn’t put in much cannabis work near home. The Pennsylvania Bar Association has yet to officially authorize an ethics rule change that would protect lawyers working in this industry, as noted this week by sibling publication The Legal Intelligencer. But Horn said he is increasingly helping clients in other states raise capital to finance their cannabis ventures.
Baker & Hostetler corporate partner Randolf Katz is also doing marijuana finance work in California, where voters could approve the recreational use of marijuana in November. Katz said his clients are increasingly drawn to pot startups. “One fund was pretty heavily in it,” he said, referring to a client. “Another fund, in the past year, has sent over probably six to eight different potential investments for us to take a look at that are marijuana-related companies.”