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Cannabis

Ever since California made it legal to grow, distribute, possess and consume cannabis for medicinal purposes, other states have begun to reexamine their cannabis policies. Currently, cannabis is legal under state law for medical use in more than 30 states, including the District of Columbia, and for recreational use in 11 states and counting. Involving a complex interplay between local, state and federal laws and regulations, the cannabis industry requires knowledgeable and experienced advisors to help navigate these unfamiliar and constantly changing waters. Taft’s lawyers have the experience to render this assistance.

In one sense, cannabis businesses are just that, businesses. As such, Taft’s breadth of knowledge and experience advising clients in connection with a wide variety of commercial matters provides our cannabis clients, and their ancillary businesses, with hard-earned business law acumen. On the other hand, due to the complex relationship of state, federal, local and sometimes even tribal law, cannabis businesses are unique and are therefore in need of highly specific and focused knowledge of how these laws affect cannabis businesses. Taft’s experience in representing numerous clients in cannabis-related projects, including hemp CBD-based or infused products, provides the know-how to recognize when a cannabis business is not just another business and to advise the client accordingly.

Taft’s lawyers have been involved in a diverse range of cannabis-related matters. When Illinois passed the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, potential investors from all over the country (and world) were attracted to Illinois in the hopes of receiving one of approximately 80 licenses to grow or dispense medical cannabis. Taft worked with a number of these individuals to assist them in every aspect of applying for one of the highly coveted licenses. The firm was involved in selecting properties for cannabis facilities, drafting leases, obtaining special use zoning, negotiating investments, drafting operating agreements and employment agreements, reviewing growing and dispensary operations plans, obtaining letters of intent from packaging suppliers, and so on.

More recently, Taft has assisted clients with preparing, drafting, assembling and filing Illinois Adult Use, also known as “recreational,” cannabis business license applications. Like the assistance given to those applying for medical licenses, Taft was involved in all aspects the recreational application process.

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Through this application process and representation of various cannabis businesses, Taft has become familiar with the major seed-to-sale software solutions used in the industry, the banking regulations that significantly effect this industry, the federal tax provisions which are relevant to cannabis companies, and the various regulations and rules which govern this unique and growing industry.

In addition to the Illinois matters, Taft has been involved in its clients’ cannabis pursuits in a multitude of other jurisdictions and areas of law. We partner with our clients to provide them the best advice as the industry continues to grow and evolve.

Representative Experience

Examples of work Taft has performed for those in the cannabis or related industries include:

  • Analysis on navigating the complex regulatory State and Federal landscape
  • Corporate formation and structuring advice and assistance
  • Drafting and negotiating operating agreements, shareholder agreements, joint venture agreements and other governing documents
  • Drafting and negotiating private placement memoranda and other capital raise/investment documents
  • Buy and sell-side mergers and acquisitions, including cross-border mergers and acquisitions
  • Tax advice
  • Preparing and filing cultivation, processing, and dispensary applications
  • Advising and forming local cannabis trade associations
  • Securities advice
  • Intellectual Property, including patent and trademark
  • Zoning
  • Litigation
  • Employment law
  • Advising higher education institutions regarding opportunities and obligations under medical cannabis statutes
  • Advice regarding CBD/hemp cultivation and retail businesses

Disclaimer

Please be aware that while the manufacture, distribution, possession and/or use of cannabis may be legal under state law, it remains illegal pursuant to federal law. Potential consequences for violating federal law regarding the manufacture, distribution, possession or use of cannabis include criminal penalties, up to and including imprisonment, and civil and criminal forfeiture. Advice provided by Taft should not be construed as advice, guidance or assistance in violating federal law.

Ohio Medical Use of Marijuana Amendment (2016)

The Medical Use of Marijuana Amendment did not appear on the November 8, 2016, ballot as an initiated constitutional amendment.

The measure would have amended the Ohio Constitution to legalize medical marijuana for those individuals with debilitating medical conditions and create a Medical Marijuana Control Dvision to oversee consumption and retail licensing. [1]

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Ohioans for Medical Marijuana suspended their campaign after the Ohio General Assembly passed a medical marijuana legalization bill. [2]

Text of measure

Constitutional changes

The measure would have added a new Section 12 to Article XV of the Ohio Constitution.

Full text

The full text of the measure is available here.

Support

Ohioans for Medical Marijuana led the push for this measure, with Brandon Lynaugh as its campaign manager. [3]

Arguments in favor

Amanda Candow, a campaigner who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, said, [4]

I actually didn’t believe in medical marijuana before I had MS. . I mean to me, it’s a crime to keep something away from somebody that it could literally save their life. . And for you to say no because it’s illegal. [5]

Brandon Lynaugh, campaign manager for Ohioans for medical marijuana, said, [3]

I know that helpless feeling that families have when they watch someone they love have an epileptic seizure. . Passage of this amendment will help bring relief to the suffering of thousands of patients and their families. [5]

Opposition

If you know of any opposition to this measure, please contact [email protected]

Media editorials

Support

The Akron Beacon Journal printed an editorial on April 11, 2016, saying: [6]

While medical marijuana wins, and deserves, much public support, the approach in this proposal features a familiar flaw — a lengthy amendment to the Ohio Constitution. If approved, structural problems encountered in implementation would be hard to address. Once the act is in the state constitution, only another voter-approved amendment could alter it.

Fortunately, lawmakers are considering a better way, passage of a bill legalizing medical marijuana, making future adjustments far easier. Legislation is being drafted in the Ohio Senate. Meanwhile, state Rep. Kirk Schuring, a Canton Republican who heads a task force on medical marijuana, has wrapped up hearings. The task force has heard from dozens of witnesses, among them physicians, attorneys and growers.

It would be far better if the legislature acts first, before the Marijuana Policy Project gathers the signatures it needs or another group starts a petition drive. More, for practical and political reasons, the legislature would do well to broaden the scope of marijuana legislation to include recreational use.

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The practical reason goes to the complications inherent in moving part way to legalizing marijuana. Even a tight regulatory framework could not guarantee that marijuana would be used only for medical purposes. That is especially true if patients have the ability to grow their own.

More, a delay in moving forward on recreational use of marijuana would risk again well-heeled investors such as the ones who backed Issue 3 to try again. Their amendment limited growing sites to places already controlled by those backing the measure. This is the pattern that played out in the passage in 2009 of an amendment establishing just four sites for casino gambling. [5]

The Canton Repository published an editorial in favor of medical marijuana legalization: [7]

Because it could ease the pain and other symptoms of people who suffer from debilitating medical conditions and because the state would be strict in its regulation of it “from seed to sale,” we believe the time is right to legalize medical marijuana. [5]

Opposition

If you know of any media outlets in opposition to medical marijuana legalization, in general, or this measure, in particular, please contact [email protected]

Polls

Ohio Medical Cannabis
Poll Support Oppose Undecided Margin of error Sample size
Marijuana Policy Project
2/17/2016 – 2/18/2016
74.0% 22.0% 4.0% +/-3.8 672
Note: The polls above may not reflect all polls that have been conducted in this race. Those displayed are a random sampling chosen by Ballotpedia staff. If you would like to nominate another poll for inclusion in the table, send an email to [email protected]

Path to the ballot

Petitioners needed to submit 1,000 signatures with the initial petition filing. Rob Kampia submitted the initiative petition on March 15, 2016, and was approved for signature gathering by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine on March 26, 2016. [8]

Supporters needed to collect 305,591 signatures by July 6, 2016, to have the initiative placed on the November 2016 ballot.

As of May 28, 2016, Ohioans for Medical Marijuana suspended their signature collection campaign. This news came after the Ohio General Assembly passed a medical marijuana legalization bill. Ohioans for Medical Marijuana said that it was “a step forward.” [2]