chatsimple How To Start a Cannabis Business

How To Start a Cannabis Business

By: Barry Chase
: 3 Minutes to Read

Our NYC and Miami Entertainment Law Firm advises and represents clients in all legal matters related to music, sports, television/film, visual and literary works, modeling, online matters, and intellectual property.

How To Start a Cannabis Business

The cannabis industry has grown significantly over the past few years, as more states have legalized the use of cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. If you’re considering starting a cannabis business, it’s important to understand the legal considerations involved in the industry. In this article, we’ll discuss the main legal considerations for starting a cannabis business.

Understanding Federal and State Laws

The first legal consideration is to understand the federal and state laws that apply to the cannabis industry. While some states have legalized cannabis for medical and recreational use, cannabis is still illegal under federal law. This means that cannabis businesses must comply with both federal and state laws, which can be complex and constantly evolving.

Licensing and Permits

To operate a cannabis business, you’ll need to obtain the necessary licenses and permits from the state and local governments. The application process can be lengthy and require detailed information about your business plan, security measures, and financial information. It’s important to work with an experienced attorney to navigate the licensing and permitting process.

In 2019, a California appeals court issued a ruling that highlighted the importance of obtaining the necessary licenses and permits for cannabis businesses. The court ruled that a cannabis business could not sue a city for denying its license application because the business had not obtained the necessary permits from the state.

The ruling was significant because it underscored the importance of complying with all licensing and permitting requirements, both at the state and local level.

Compliance with Regulations

Cannabis businesses are subject to strict regulations that govern everything from cultivation and processing to distribution and sales. These regulations vary by state, but generally require businesses to follow certain security and safety measures, record-keeping requirements, and labeling and packaging standards. It’s important to stay up-to-date on these regulations to ensure compliance and avoid costly fines or penalties.

Intellectual Property Protection

Like any business, cannabis businesses may have valuable intellectual property, such as trademarks, trade secrets, and patents. It’s important to protect your intellectual property through registration with the appropriate government agencies and by implementing policies and procedures to safeguard your trade secrets.

In 2019, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued new guidance that made it easier for cannabis businesses to obtain federal trademark protection. The guidance stated that trademarks for cannabis-related goods and services could be registered as long as they are legal under state law.

However, there are still some challenges to obtaining trademark protection for cannabis businesses. For example, federal trademark protection is not available for products that are illegal under federal law, which includes cannabis products that contain more than 0.3% THC.

Tax Considerations

Cannabis businesses are subject to unique tax considerations. For example, businesses cannot deduct ordinary business expenses on their federal tax returns, which can significantly increase their tax liability. It’s important to work with a tax professional who has experience with the cannabis industry to ensure compliance with tax laws and minimize your tax liability.

Employment Law

Employment law is another important legal consideration for cannabis businesses. Cannabis businesses must comply with federal and state employment laws, including anti-discrimination laws, wage and hour laws, and workplace safety laws.

In 2018, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issued a ruling that highlighted the challenges that cannabis businesses face when it comes to employment law. The court ruled that a medical cannabis user could not be fired from her job for failing a drug test, as long as she was not impaired while on the job.

The ruling was significant because it recognized that medical cannabis use is protected under state law and that employers may need to make accommodations for employees who use medical cannabis.

Cannabis Compliance Consulting​

Banking and Financial Services

Cannabis businesses often face challenges in accessing banking and financial services. This is because cannabis is still illegal under federal law, and many banks are hesitant to work with cannabis businesses due to the risk of federal prosecution. It’s important to work with a financial institution that is experienced in working with the cannabis industry to ensure that your business has access to the banking and financial services it needs.

In 2014, the U.S. Treasury Department issued guidance that provided some clarity for banks and credit unions that wanted to work with cannabis businesses. The guidance stated that banks could provide financial services to cannabis businesses as long as they followed certain reporting and compliance requirements.

However, many banks are still reluctant to work with cannabis businesses due to the risk of federal prosecution. As a result, many cannabis businesses are forced to operate on a cash-only basis, which can be risky and inefficient.

In conclusion, starting a cannabis business requires careful consideration of the legal and regulatory landscape. Working with experienced attorneys, accountants, and other professionals can help you navigate the complex legal considerations involved in the cannabis industry and position your business for success

ChaseLawyers, Your Trusted Advisors in an Evolving Legal Marketplace

ChaseLawyers has deep industry knowledge and experience with providing legal guidance on all matters concerning cannabis law. We provide quality representation to cannabis businesses, CBD and other alternative strains providers, paraphernalia eCommerce brands and cannabis influencers.

Whether you need us to help you enforce your intellectual property rights or you need legal counsel on state or federal compliance, ChaseLawyers can help you navigate the ever-evolving regulatory environment with minimum effort.

Want to know how we can help you? Get in touch with us now!


Barry Chase

Barry Chase, Esq., Senior Partner at ChaseLawyers®, is a distinguished figure in the realm of sports and entertainment law, offering Harvard-level representation that is both cost-sensitive and exceptional. An honors graduate of Yale College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School, Chase's illustrious career commenced at a prominent Washington, D.C. law firm, now known as Wilmer Hale. Here, he honed his expertise in Communications and First Amendment law, representing media titans such as CBS, the Times-Mirror Company, and Time, Inc. in pivotal Federal Communications Commission (FCC) matters.

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