The burgeoning legal cannabis market in New Jersey continues to rapidly grow, and the State’s recent expansion of its medical marijuana program is projected to create an $80 million local cannabis market in 2019, according to reporting by NJ.com. The total U.S legal cannabis market is expected to reach total annual sales of $24.5 billion by 2021, according to reporting by Business Insider. Participation in the medical marijuana market raises important legal questions and regulatory considerations for businesses and individuals alike. The Cannabis Law team of Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A. offers representation in all aspects of the cannabis market arising from New Jersey’s legal medical marijuana program and the State’s potential enactment of an adult-use recreational program, which is projected to create a $31.4 billion industry by 2021, according to recent research published by market research conducted by the Brightfield Group.
Our cross-disciplinary team unites lawyers from the firm’s business and personal legal services practices, and includes two lawyers who are also registered pharmacists. We serve as legal advisors to producers, patients, caregivers, dispensaries, physicians, hospitals, medical practices and others doing business in or impacted by the legal cannabis market in New Jersey. We also represent clients in matters arising from cannabis use, including employment concerns and family issues.
Members of our team have been helping the firm’s pharmacy, physicians and other healthcare provider clients to navigate the state and federal regulatory framework since the inception of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program in 2010. Our team is co-led by Angelo Cifaldi, who is an adjunct professor of Pharmacy Law at Rutgers College of Pharmacy and frequent presenter of CLE programs to lawyers on topics concerning regulation and ethics associated with participation in the legal cannabis markets. The team is also co-led by Michael Schaff, who has been a frequent lecturer to attorneys on this topic since 2010, serving as Co-Chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association Cannabis Law Committee and as co-author of the New Jersey Law Journal cannabis law monthly column. Mr. Schaff leads Wilentz’s prominent health law practice, which is ranked among the top two health law practices in New Jersey by Chambers USA (2019).
Our Cannabis team offers representation in a number of different areas of law impacted by medical marijuana and the cannabis industry as whole, including but not limited to:
Health and Pharmacy Law
Since the inception of legal medical marijuana, members of our group have advised doctors and hospitals regarding medical marijuana, in connection with licensing, HIPAA, in compliance and in hearings before the Drug Enforcement Agency and other regulatory agencies and related pharmacy-focused issues. We have also advised active medical marijuana dispensaries.
Corporate Structure and Transactions
We provide guidance in corporate structuring and compliance with the new cannabis corporate regulations, including: entity selection and registration, drafting governance documents, capital contribution negotiations, corporate governance and business operations, negotiating and revising commercial contracts and other corporate transactions, drafting employment agreements, and mergers and acquisitions.
Our prominent banking lawyers help to structure, negotiate, document and close of all types of financial transactions, and are prepared to help lenders and borrowers navigate the conflicting laws regarding funding of or investments associated with cannabis entities.
Real Estate, Zoning and Land Use
Wilentz attorneys have extensive experience in handling the acquisition and leasing of commercial, retail, industrial and institutional properties, and obtaining approvals and permits for a wide range of uses. Our attorneys can provide these services as they relate to the acquisition, zoning, permitting and construction of cannabis facilities, including both retail and production.
Energy and Renewables
Our energy team understands utility tariffs and are well positioned to guide cannabis industry producers to achieve energy efficiencies and secure energy savings. As large scale electricity users, energy costs are a substantial component of overall production costs for the industry. While New Jersey has some of the highest electricity rates, it has some of the most generous financial incentives for renewable generation and energy efficiencies. Our attorneys regularly assist clients to navigate these complex programs and have extensive experience advising on renewable and energy management contracts and transactions, siting of energy facilities, on-site generation, power purchase agreement (PPA), financial incentives and renewable energy generation.
Labor and Employment
Our employment team represents businesses of all sizes, as well as individuals, to ensure compliance with the new state cannabis regulations. Our employment services include: business drug-testing compliance and practices, drafting and revising of corporate handbooks, compliance with all disability/reasonable accommodation requirements, employment contract disputes, wrongful discharge or failure to hire/promote, and other potential employment issues that may arise due to legal cannabis use.
We represent individuals in all phases of interaction with law enforcement authorities seeking to investigate or enforce alleged violations of marijuana related laws, ranging from subpoena compliance, civil forfeiture matters, criminal investigations and prosecutions and appellate matters. We also assist clients in securing acceptance into available diversionary programs to avoid prosecution or incarceration, and in securing expungements of prior arrests or convictions related to marijuana offenses.
Wilentz Family Law attorneys assist families in navigating the tremendous financial and emotional burdens of a family law matter. Our attorneys can counsel clients regarding the family issues that can arise due to the use of medical or legal marijuana, including divorce, same sex marriage, child custody, alimony, child support, equitable distribution, domestic violence, same sex marriages, grandparent rights, appeals and prenuptial agreements.
Disclaimer: Per federal law, under the Controlled Substances Act, marijuana is categorized as a Schedule I controlled substance. Possession, use, distribution, and/or sale of cannabis is a Federal crime and is subject to related Federal policy, regardless of any state law that may authorize certain marijuana activity. Compliance with state marijuana law does not equal compliance with federal law. Legal advice provided by Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A. is designed to counsel clients regarding the validity, scope, meaning, and application of existing and/or proposed cannabis law. Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A. will not provide guidance or assistance in circumventing or violating Federal or state cannabis law or policy, and any advice provided by Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, P.A. should not be construed as such.
Angelo J. Cifaldi
Darren M. Gelber
Peter R. Herman
John E. Hogan
Christopher D. Hopkins
Anthony M. Osbourne
Satish V. Poondi
Joseph J. Russell, Jr.
Michael F. Schaff
Roy H. Tanzman
Steven J. Tripp