Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program is in full swing. Since permits were issued this summer, the successful grower/processor and dispensary applicants have been working to become operational, and all accounts point to Spring 2018 as the date when patients will be able to receive and use medical cannabis.

The launch and continuation of the Program bring many legal questions and challenges for businesses, patients, doctors, and lawyers alike. On Wednesday, October 18, 2017, Fox Rothschild’s Josh Horn, Partner in Philadelphia and Co-Chair of the Cannabis Law Practice Group, will be part of a panel of attorneys addressing these issues and forecasting the future of the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania.

Joshua Horn, Partner, Fox Rothschild LLP

Josh Horn

“Nex Steps for Medical Marijuana in PA: Evolving Issues in a Growing Industry” will be hosted by the Pennsylvania Bar Institute on Wednesday October 18, 2017 from Noon – 4:30 PM. Click here for more information or to attend the event!

Pursuant to the law passed earlier this year which implemented Amendment Two (medical marijuana), Florida was required to issue additional licenses for medical marijuana treatment centers (the entities that grow, distribute and sell medical marijuana) to bring the number of licenses up to ten by October 3, 2017.

Florida has missed this deadline due to Hurricane Irma (which caused extensive damage and power outages in South Florida and the Keys) and because of litigation filed recently which alleged that the law was unconstitutional as to the license reserved for a black farmer.

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Dori K. Stibolt is a West Palm Beach, Florida based partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  She focuses her practice on litigation and labor and employment issues.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Bill Bogot, a partner in Fox Rothschild’s Chicago office and Co-Chair of the firm’s Cannabis Practice Group, will moderate a panel entitled, “The Highs and Lows of Marijuana Legalization” as part of the International Association of Gaming Advisors Best Practices Institute. The event will take place on Monday, October 2, 2017 at the Sands Convention Center in Las Vegas, NV.

Skyline of Las Vegas, Nevada
Copyright: rabbit75123 / 123RF 

The panel will confront the intersection between legalized marijuana and the gaming industry, with a particular focus on compliance, employment, licensing, and ethical issues faced by businesses in both industries.

For more details, or to register for the event, head over here.

A lawsuit was recently filed which challenges the constitutionality of part of the Florida law implementing Amendment Two (medical marijuana).  A key part of the law was expanding the number of growing licenses that would be awarded to farmers/operators in the lucrative medical marijuana business.

The law implementing Amendment Two called for an overall increase of 10 licenses by October 3, 2017.  But, the law also provided that one (1) of those licenses go to a black farmer who had been a party to settled lawsuits about discrimination by the federal government against black farmers.  The law also said that the black farmer who receives the medical marijuana license would have to be a member of the Black Farmers and Agriculturalists Association-Florida Chapter.

Columbus Smith, a black farmer from Panama City, Florida filed the lawsuit.  Mr. Smith alleges that the law is so narrowly drawn that only a couple of black farmers could qualify for the license.  The lawsuit contends that the carve-out license is what is known as an unconstitutional “special law.”

The lawsuit said Mr. Smith meets the qualification of being part of the litigation (known as “Pigford I” and “Pigford II”) about discrimination against black farmers.

But, Mr. Smith has not been allowed to join the black farmers association, precluding him from receiving a license.  According to the lawsuit, the association is not accepting new members.

There is no rational basis for limiting the opportunity of black farmers to obtain a medical marijuana license to only the few members of that class of black farmers who are also member of a specific private association.

Mr. Smith’s lawsuit seeks an injunction against the Florida Department of Health’s issuing a license related to the black farmer.

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Dori K. Stibolt is a West Palm Beach, Florida based partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  She focuses her practice on litigation and labor and employment issues.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Venture capital is playing a growing role in the country’s emerging legal cannabis industry. Attorneys Emily J. Yukich and Matthew R. Kittay of Fox Rothschild’s Emerging Companies & Venture Capital Practice will conduct a panel discussion with industry insiders during the American Bar Association Business Law Section’s annual meeting in Chicago.

Cannabis leafThe Angel Venture Capital Subcommittee, which Yukich and Kittay co-chair, will present an in-depth 360-degree examination of venture capital investing in cannabis companies, featuring:

Panelists:

  • Jeremy Unruh, general counsel and director of external communications at PharmaCann, a medical cannabis provider based in Oak Park, Illinois.
  • Charlie Bachtell, founder and CEO of Cresco Labs, LLC, a Chicago-based medical cannabis cultivating and manufacturing company.
  • William Bogot, co-chair of the Cannabis Practice Group at Fox Rothschild LLP.

Date: Thursday, Sept. 14

Time: 10 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Venue: Chicago Ballroom VIII, Ballroom Level, Sheraton Grand, Chicago, Illinois.

Florida continues to make forward progress on implementation of Amendment Two (medical marijuana) with additional licenses and dispensaries being approved or opened around the state.

License News

Three new licenses are being added in Florida.

Dispensary News

The following municipalities in Florida are moving forward with medical marijuana dispensaries:

Those municipalities going with moratoriums are listed below:

Municipalities trying to work around the all or nothing requirement set forth in Florida’s medical marijuana law are listed below.  Some municipalities are rewriting their zoning ordinances for pharmacies since municipalities must regulate and zone medical marijuana dispensaries as they do for pharmacies.

Other News

  • The Florida Board of Medicine is also working on regulations that will guide discipline for doctors that improperly prescribe medical marijuana.
  • In the education world, school boards are working on creating policies for children to take medical marijuana during school hours if prescribed in that fashion.
  • There is a question whether someone taking lawful medical marijuana can also be sold a firearm (since marijuana is still illegal under Federal law)

 


Dori K. Stibolt is a West Palm Beach, Florida based partner with the law firm of Fox Rothschild LLP.  She focuses her practice on litigation and labor and employment issues.  You can contact Dori at 561-804-4417 or dstibolt@foxrothschild.com.

Today, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an excellent piece about local law firms that have embraced the legal cannabis industry, despite some of the risks and uncertainty inherent in the business for both lawyers and entrepreneurs. The article explains how important lawyers are for emerging cannabis businesses, and showcases some of the firms on the forefront of Pennsylvania’s budding industry.

“Lawyers bullish on cannabis despite risk” discusses Fox Rothschild’s cannabis practice and quotes my colleague Josh Horn, Co-Chair of our practice group. To read more, check out the article online or in today’s print edition of the Inquirer.

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the establishment of the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Program’s Practitioner Registry. As I noted there, having doctors registered and approved to certify patients as medical marijuana cardholders is critical for the success of Pennsylvania’s program. In the Department of Health’s Press Release announcing the Registry, the DOH noted that it surveyed close to 200 doctors, and 75% of them indicated they would register for the Program.

According to Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Physician General and the Acting Secretary of Health, those initial estimates appear to be accurate. In an announcement made via Twitter, Dr. Levine stated:

It is yet to be seen whether all of these doctors will complete the process (including the required training), but it is a positive sign for patients and business owners looking forward to the full implementation of Pennsylvania’s program in 2018.

As always, stay tuned…


Joseph McNelis works in Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell, PA office and focuses his practice on labor and employment matters. Joe also tracks legal developments in the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Joe can be contacted at 610-397-2332 or jmcnelis@foxrothschild.com.

Yesterday, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017.  The bill, which Senator Booker first announced on Twitter and then described more fully on Facebook Live, aims to end the federal prohibition on cannabis with a multi-faceted approach.  First, the bill seeks to amend the Controlled Substances Act to declassify marijuana as a controlled substance under Schedule I of that Act.  Presently, marijuana is in the same category as heroin.

U.S. Capitol Building
Copyright: mesutdogan / 123RF Stock Photo

Although Senator Booker describes the legalization of marijuana at the federal level as “first and foremost,” he describes the declassification as “just the beginning.”  As written, the legislation is retroactive, requiring each federal court to issue an order expunging each conviction for a marijuana use or possession offense entered by the court before the date of enactment.  The bill would provide individuals presently incarcerated for marijuana-related offenses with an opportunity have their sentences reviewed as though the Act was in effect at the time the offense was committed.

In addition to the shift in federal law, the legislation incentivizes states to become more flexible in their criminalization of marijuana.  Under the proposed legislation, states would be ineligible for certain funding if they disproportionately arrest or incarcerate “low-income individuals” or “minority individuals,” as those terms are defined in the bill, for marijuana-related offenses.

Finally, the bill creates a “Community Investment Fund” of $500 million for communities that Senator Booker describes as having been “disproportionately impacted” by the enforcement of current laws.  Senator Booker would have the community investment fund available to finance job training, reentry services, expenses related to expungement of marijuana-related convictions, community centers, and libraries.

Although the bill has been described as a “long shot” in the Republican-controlled Congress, given the ever-increasing presence of the legal cannabis industry, it is one worth following.  You can learn more about the bill in the press release on Senator Booker’s website, and watch the Facebook Live video of Senator Booker discussing the bill:

In a July 26, 2017 Press Release, the Pennsylvania Department of Health announced the opening of its Practitioner Registry. This marks the next critical step in implementing Pennsylvania’s Medical Marijuana Program, which the DOH expects to be fully operational by 2018. Physicians can find out more about the Medical Marijuana Program here and complete the Registry here.

Medical marijuana in jar lying on prescription form
Copyright: megaflopp / 123RF Stock Photo

Last month, the DOH released final Regulations for Physicians and is now officially soliciting doctors to participate in the program. The role of physicians is essential for patients who wish to use medical marijuana, as Pennsylvania law requires every patient to receive a “Certification” from a licensed practitioner that the patient has a “serious medical condition” and that the use of medical marijuana would benefit the patient. See 35 P.S. § 10231.403.

Under the current Regulations, the registry will be publicly available and will include each practitioner’s name, business address, and medical credentials. According to the Press Release, the DOH, “surveyed physicians and found that of the 191 that participated, 75 percent said they would register with the program.”

Now the hope for patients, grower/processors, and dispensaries is that these physicians follow through on the registration and complete the puzzle necessary to move the program forward. Stay tuned here for more updates!


Joseph McNelis works in Fox Rothschild’s Blue Bell, PA office and focuses his practice on labor and employment matters. Joe also tracks legal developments in the cannabis industry in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Joe can be contacted at 610-397-2332 or jmcnelis@foxrothschild.com.