Loading...

Follow Cannabis Law Group's Medical Marijuana Lega.. on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid

It’s not only pot smokers who line outside California’s cannabis dispensaries. Personal injury attorneys may be lurking nearby as well, watching for the opportunity to pounce on a possible product liability claim if an marijuana product makes someone sick or results in an injury. This is particularly true because many states allow punitive damages (up to three times one’s actual damages, intended to penalize the defendant for egregious wrongs rather than simply compensate the plaintiff) for injuries an intoxicated person causes to others. 

Marijuana product liability attorneys in Los Angeles have concluded cannabis companies with perhaps the greatest vulnerability are those that produce edible products. Soda, gummies, truffles, cookies, truffles, brownies, potato chips, wines – the list is endless. But the waters of marijuana product liability lawsuits aren’t well-tested.

Such lawsuits will assert that marijuana products are defective, dangerous, mislabeled and/or the makers and distributors failed to issue adequate warnings about these risks.

In one such case, Kirk et al v. Nutritional Elements, Inc. et al., filed in the Denver County District Court, plaintiffs are the sons of a man who consumed a cannabis edible he purchased legally from a recreational marijuana dispensary in Colorado, soon became consumed with paranoia and shot and killed his wife. He blamed it on the edible, which he said he’d never done before and was not aware the product would affect him that way. The sons are asserting wrongful death against the manufacturer of the marijuana gummy as well as the store that sold it, alleging both failed to warn of its potency and potential side effects, such as psychosis and hallucinations. He was later convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.

Any entity within the chain of distribution – regardless of whether they knew of the alleged defect or danger – is at risk of product liability claims. The store that sold the product to him settled with the family for an undisclosed sum. The manufacturer sought indemnity from its insurer, but as reported by Courthouse News Service, was denied, with the insurer arguing in a federal complaint that the policy expressly didn’t cover bodily injury that might occur after the manufacturer relinquished possession of the product. Further, the settlement the store reached with the family likely prejudiced the the manufacturer/ insurer, the latter of which had never been consulted for it.

While the arbitrary concentration of THC in one’s blood that Colorado considers enough for a person to be impaired for driving purposes is 5 nanograms per milliliter of blood, the husband had about 2.23 grams. It is known, however, that the impact of THC can be greater when a person eats rather than smokes the substance.

At the time that candy was sold in 2014, there were very few requirements on labeling for marijuana products. That has since changed.

Some other potential defendants in marijuana product liability cases may include:

  • Improper labeling of THC concentration, dosage and safety warnings (i.e., 10 mg may be a safe dose for someone who is healthy and 25, but what about someone who is 65?).
  • Containers that are not child-proof. Because so many edible products in particular may be tempting to children (cookies, candies, brownies, chips, gummies, etc.), not only do these products need to be properly labeled, they must be securely sealed.
  • Contaminants. California recently increased its requirements for contaminant testing, but it’s still possible product liability cases could arise if contaminants cause harm to consumers.

Cannabis companies should consult with an experienced Los Angeles marijuana business attorney to minimize their risk of injury litigation.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Insurer Refuses to Cover Marijuana Candy Murder, May 8, 2017, By Emma Gannon, Courthouse News Service

More Blog Entries:

, Jan. 12, 2018, Los Angeles Marijuana Product Liability Attorney Blog

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

A federal lawsuit against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Department of Justice, challenging the constitutionality of the federal law designating marijuana a Schedule I controlled substance proceeded recently to the next level with oral arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. As our Los Angeles marijuana patient attorneys can explain, the crux of the argument by plaintiffs of the claim, first filed in 2017, is that the designation ignores the merits of the drug for medicinal purposes. The appeal was heard last month by the three-judge panel. 

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit include a 12-year-old epilepsy patient, an 8-year-old Leigh’s syndrome patient, an Iraq war veteran and sufferer of post-traumatic stress disorder, a former NFL player who heads a hemp company hawking sports performance products and a non-profit that helps minorities get ahead in the legal cannabis market. Defendants are acting-Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, the acting director of the DEA and the federal government.

The appeal, limited to presentations of just a few minutes per side, rests on a dispute of the assertion that the Controlled Substances Act violates the 5th Amendment, which guarantees the right of citizens to preserve life and health. 

Los Angeles cannabis lawyers know one of the strongest points plaintiffs have in their favor is the recent approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval last year of Epidiolex, a drug that contains CBD (cannabidiol). Although the lower federal court (U.S. District in New York ruled plaintiffs had yet to pursue all administrative avenues – including petitioning the DEA to reschedule the drug – plaintiff marijuana lawyers pointed out the DEA’s review process can take up to nine years. They are asking for an opportunity to proceed to trial to prove their case that the Schedule I designation for marijuana is not constitutional.

The government argued plaintiffs should proceed with their petition through the administrative process. Federal judges asked the government why, if the medical value of marijuana is proven, should plaintiffs wait nine years to navigate the federal bureaucracy to reach a conclusion that’s already obvious. One of the judges even insinuated it was more likely than not the designation could be deemed unconstitutional, considering the medicinal benefits of marijuana had “been known for decades,” if not longer.

Plaintiffs’ attorney argued that patients who already live in states where medical cannabis is legal by state law live in constant fear that their right to access viable medicine could be arbitrarily stripped at any point if the federal government suddenly decided to pursue enforcement of federal law (which has been done on-and-off in recent years). He further argued that an extensive delay would result in irreversible harm to the patients, particularly the children.

Plaintiff attorney, addressing cannabis supporters outside the court during the hearing, said the questions posed by the judges appeared to be a good sign.

However, if justices deny their appeal, plaintiffs say they could take their case to the U.S. Supreme Court. However, only 10 percent of cases that are submitted to the SCOTUS are accepted for review.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Appeal Hearing in Cannabis Lawsuit Against the DEA, Dec. 13, 2018, By Megan L’Heureux, Cannabis Science Tech

More Blog Entries:

, Jan. 8, 2019, Los Angeles Marijuana Patient Attorney Blog

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As marijuana legalization continues throughout North America, there is still significant public and private interest resistance to its proliferation. One of the legal ground on which these cases have been tested throughout the country is a federal law known as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970, also known as RICO. As our Los Angeles marijuana defense lawyers can explain, this was a law intended to battle organized crime and the mafia. However, it’s been used in several recent federal cases to intervene with legal marijuana businesses and users – one of the most recent in Petaluma, California, marking what is believed to be the first time this legal argument has been used against marijuana businesses in the state. 

But in that case, as in many of the cannabis company RICO civil lawsuits pursued nationally, a federal judge has ruled against the plaintiffs.

According to The Argus Courier, a U.S. District Judge held that neighbors of a cannabis company and its lead grower can’t be sued under RICO anti-corruption laws because nuisances related to noise and bad smells don’t cause the same kind of tangible financial losses intended to be addressed under RICO.

Plaintiffs had alleged that the marijuana business had caused an odor many in the neighborhood had found to be “sickening,” and that this, combined with the loud noise coming from the property had resulted in diminished property values and life enjoyment. The federal judge in San Francisco didn’t rule that the complaints had no merit, but rather, in his 11-page decision, found the complaints raised were the result of personal injuries and nuisances. These, the judge noted, could not be compensated under the civil provisions of RICO.

Unfortunately, the ruling comes about one-hand-a-half months after all operations at the firm totally ceased, per an agreement with the county’s department of permitting, which argued the company failed to comply with the entirety of local rules.

A cannabis defense lawyer for the marijuana company told the newspaper the judge’s ruling was still a win, not only for his clients but also for other California marijuana companies who are the target of legal attacks just because neighbors don’t like the smell. He agreed with the judge that RICO, which allows civil recompense up to three times the actual damages for ongoing criminal acts, is not the appropriate way to deal with nuisance complaints.

Plaintiffs still have 30 days to amend their claim if they did want to reassert a different damages on different grounds. Alternatively, they could pursue personal injury and property damage claims in the county superior court, as the legal standard to prove such claims is much different. It’s not clear if they will. According to some, they feel they’ve already won because the pot farm was shut down, something they say was only done because they pursued a federal lawsuit, forcing county officials to do their duty and enforce state and local codes, including permitting and licensing provisions. The company hasn’t decided whether it will reopen at the same location, calling the county a “very challenging” place to operate.

RICO is pursued because only because despite being legal under state law, marijuana remains a Schedule I narcotic, still illegal for all purposes, under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act.

Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys know the ruling does differ from the findings of a panel of justices for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, which did find plaintiffs in Safe Streets Alliance v. Hickenlooper, could use the RICO Act to pursue damages against state-licensed marijuana firms. However, when the case went to a jury trial, the court found plaintiffs failed to prove they had suffered injury or that the marijuana cultivation was the cause. That could mean other RICO marijuana claims may still be viable in other districts.Last year, a federal judge in the District of Massachusetts agreed to dismiss RICO claims in Crimson Galeria Ltd. P’ship v. Healthy Pharms, Inc., filed by plaintiffs in Cambridge against a not-yet-opened dispensary, arguing potential losses due to noise and smell, on the basis such claims weren’t ripe because the facility hadn’t opened yet.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Federal judge dismisses Petaluma neighbors’ pioneering lawsuit against cannabis grower, Jan. 3, 2019,  By Julie Johnson, The Press Democrat

More Blog Entries:

, Jan. 2, 2019, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Marijuana did not pass muster as a holy sacrament with an Indiana state circuit court judge last year, citing now-Vice President-then-Indiana-Governor Mike Pence’s championed Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Whether the state appellate court might have agreed about the legitimacy of the First Church of Cannabis and its use of the drug for religious purposes won’t be known anytime soon. According to Indiana Public Media, the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed the case after the plaintiff, founder of the church, failed to pay a court transcript fee or respond to the state’s motion to dismiss with an argument for why the court should allow the case to move forward. 

Los Angeles marijuana attorneys know the case won’t have much of an impact here in California, but it was interesting from a legal standpoint for how it might have impacted other states where the drug remains illegal for any purpose.

The state’s RFRA established a legal standard (unique to Indiana) requiring the government prove a compelling reason to restrict someone else’s religious practices and a burden of proof to show that it is doing so in the least burdensome way possible.

An attorney for the cannabis church argued that state laws barring possession of marijuana prevented members of the congregation from their lawful “cannabis rites,” and the fact that church was newly-founded shouldn’t exclude it from entitlement to this protection. The use of marijuana as a sacrament, it was initially argued in the complaint first filed three years ago, was rooted in long-held beliefs of Native Americans, existing long before even the formation of the U.S. Government. Further, the state’s argument that it needed to restrict the use of marijuana was a difficult sell when many other states (like California) have already legalized the drug.

Defendants who had been named in the cannabis lawsuit had been then-Gov. Mike Pence, as well as the state capitol’s mayor and state and metropolitan police agencies.

The final appeal, however, was lost it seems not because the church’s argument lacked merit but because it failed to keep fighting. It’s unclear what it’s odds might have been had a proper response and appropriate legal fees filed. Still, the dismissal was issued “with prejudice,” which means the case can’t be refiled by the same plaintiffs on the same legal grounds.

The state’s attorney general praised the outcome, insisting laws on marijuana prohibition are necessary to protect the health and safety of residents, adding (seemingly tongue-in-cheek) that the “devout worshipers… may find more fertile ground in another state to legally consume their sacrament, but they won’t be lighting up in Indiana.”

This is despite the fact the church is recognized as a nonprofit by federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service. The church’s founder, who goes by the title of “Grand Poobah,” said the church will continue to practice their religion by helping the community and continuing to “preach the gospel of cannabis.” Although he told the Indianapolis Star he’d not spoken to his cannabis attorney about the dismissal, he believed the issue to be one of timing.

Meanwhile, 33 states have legalized the use of cannabis for medicinal uses, while 10 states allow it for recreational use. The problem, according to the First Church of Cannabis’ founder, is that there are those within government who remain “willfully ignorant” to the medicinal and spiritual benefits of cannabis, adding that he “feels sorry for them,” and that he and the church will do their best to continue spreading the education.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Why Indiana court dismissed Church of Cannabis RFRA case to allow marijuana as a sacrament, Jan. 3, 2018, Indianapolis Star

More Blog Entries:

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Marijuana has been around since before recorded history, but as it was illegal for almost the last 80 years of U.S. history, we’re only just now seeing a rush on pot-related patents. Technically, as our Los Angeles marijuana attorneys can explain, the classification of cannabis within the U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has in turn meant it would be tough for anyone patent or trademark holder to defend their right to that protection in federal court. Not to mention: Is it even possible to patent a plant that’s been around forever?

As an increasing number of states approve marijuana for legal sale and use (not to mention the fact that it’s now fully legal in Canada), companies are rushing to secure patents from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, which according to a recent Reuters report increased the number of patents issued containing the words “marijuana” or “cannabis” from 14 in 2016 to 29 in 2017 to 39 last year.

Of course, securing patents for possibly new uses of cannabis products isn’t an entirely new practice in the U.S., where the age-old botanical only first gained any measure of legality in California in 1996. But even before that, starting somewhere in the 1990s, some of the world’s largest pharmaceutical firms started quietly securing U.S. patents for medical applications of marijuana. Abbvie reportedly now has the most, with 59 patents and 95 U.S.-published medical applications of the drug. Merck is No. 2., with 35 patents and 55 U.S.-published medical applications. There are also several patents held by universities – and even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (which holds 11 patents and 39 published applications).

The big question will be: Will these patent rights hold any weight in a court challenge? Our Los Angeles marijuana patent attorneys know we’re about to find out – and the outcome could be a very big deal for a whole lot of marijuana businesses nationally. If those patents are affirmed, those handful of companies that hold the patents will be in a position to demand licensing from everyone else nationally.

The first case that is making its way through the courts was filed in July by a company in Colorado that is accusing another of infringing upon its patent that covers a liquid formula high-concentration of CBD oil, the non-psychoactive cannabis ingredient that is touted for its health benefits. L.A. marijuana lawyers understand one of the main issues in that case is whether the patent is “too broad or obvious in consideration of prior art,” which is how the courts currently weigh how novel an invention can be considered.

The fact that marijuana has a very long history of experimentation, these kinds of patents that claim a method or formula is entirely new are probably going to have a tough time fighting off legal challenges. But one of the things they have going in their favor is the fact that there is very little documented prior research on the drug because it’s been illegal. Further as having the highest-restriction of being a Schedule I narcotic, it was rarely written of or experimented with in scientific research.

Patents involving marijuana weren’t able to be tested before at all because they were unequivocally by every measure against the law. Even if a business thought it might have grounds to assert patent infringement by another company, most were reluctant to press the issue and draw attention toward any aspect of their operation that might be deemed illegal. That’s changing now that the majority of the public favor legalization, most states have some form of it and the demand for marijuana formulas and extracts has ballooned.

But the big question is going to be how original any of these formulas are; could one company capitalize on the entire CBD oil market?

The global cannabis industry is likely to expand to roughly $75 billion by 2030, which makes it one of the fastest-growing markets in the U.S., and Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys will be watching these cases closely.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.
Additional Resources:
More Blog Entries:
, Dec. 19, 2018, Los Angeles Marijuana Lawyer Blog
Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As Los Angeles attorneys focusing our practice on both California marijuana law and employment law, we’ve seen that the intersection of these two has never been more apparent. Many of these cases focus on the right of an employee/ user of marijuana (particularly for medical purposes) to use legally-obtained drugs on their own time, so long as it doesn’t interfere with the safety or efficiency of their job performance. The results of those claims have been mixed, though as the American Bar Association notes, the trend has been courts siding with employees.

Now though, our marijuana business attorneys are seeing a new type of claim cropping up among cannabis companies: Employment litigation pursued by workers within the cannabis industry. One of the most recent is a marijuana employment lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon.

Plaintiff was previously employed to provide expertise and labor to an investment company that owned a marijuana grow operation in Junction City. He alleges that despite being a non-exempt employee, in turn requiring the company to pay at least minimum wage plus overtime for all hours worked over 40 in a given week (which he claims he did frequently), the company failed to pay him for approximately 2,500 hours worth of pay. He further alleges the cannabis company failed to provide him itemized pay statements or establish a regular pay day, both in violation of state employment laws. He also incurred numerous expenses on behalf of the company, such as using his personal vehicle for work purposes with no reimbursement. 

He’s seeking actual damages for unpaid minimum wages, overtime, travel reimbursement, penalties, attorney’s fees and costs. Although no specific number is cited, this amount could be well over $40,000, just based on claims related to violations of the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act alone.

The outcome of this case could be influenced by another marijuana FLSA decision pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Kenney v. Helix TCS, Inc., originally weighed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado. Although the Oregon case was filed within the Ninth Circuit, which isn’t obligated to follow the precedent in the Tenth Circuit, sister courts often do take rulings in similar cases to heart.

In the Kenny case, plaintiff previously worked for a company that provided security services to marijuana businesses and was classified as an exempt employee. That meant the security firm didn’t pay him overtime, as required by FLSA. Plaintiff alleges he was misclassified, should have been paid overtime and sued for it. The employer moved to dismiss the case, arguing the worker wasn’t entitled to federal labor law protections because marijuana was expressly forbidden by the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. The federal judge denied the motion, but then certified the question to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit: Are employees of cannabis companies entitled to federal labor law protections even though they are essentially engaged in drug trafficking, which is expressly forbidden by federal law?

California cannabis lawyers know these kinds of cases are increasingly going to arise so long as the drug is barred by federal law.

Generally speaking, it’s just good practice as an employer of a marijuana business – or any business – to make sure you’re properly labeling your employees (easier said than done as employee misclassification is California is tricky even when you’re trying to get it right). Consulting with an experienced Los Angeles marijuana business attorney with specific experience in employment law will help make sure you aren’t vulnerable to employment litigation – which will save you more in the long run.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

Kenney v. Helix TCS, Inc., Jan. 15, 2018, U.S. District Court of Colorado

More Blog Entries:

, Dec. 31, 2018, Los Angeles Marijuana Attorney Blog

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Strict state regulations on transport and distribution of marijuana in California has spawned a thriving new ancillary industry: Third-party logistics (3PLs). These are independent companies that don’t grow or produce cannabis or related products, but help ensure orders are accurately filled, delivery demands are met on time and products are properly preserved between destination points. Of course, third-party logistics firms have been around for ages, working within just about every national or international market sector, but as Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys can explain, they’re pretty new to this particular economic sector. In California, the state requires licensing for “distributors” and “transporters,” basically the “mandatory middle-men.” 

One recent report by logistics trade publication Supply Chain 24-7 detailed burgeoning efforts to build a strategy for state-level supply chains, but also for what some believe may sooner than later become a global supply chain. One logistics firm working on this has its sights on Canada, and with development help from its technology and finance partners is hoping to on-board major licensed marijuana producers, retail distribution centers and government regulators.

Most global third-party logistics for cannabis are likely to employ some type of blockchain, given mandates that product be tracked and accounted for from seed-to-sale. Blockchain is a type of digital ledger for sales transactions made on a cryptocurrency platform like bitcoin, which are meticulously recorded in chronological order and recorded for the public. Cyrptocurrency is likely to be the preferred method of payment for ancillary cannabis companies that have expanded to the point of needing a third-party logistics firm to manage its supply chain. This will help not only keep track of cannabis products and sales, it will improve consumer safety and allow for rapid recalls of tainted marijuana, ensure legal sourcing of marijuana products and facilitate automatic tax and legal process requirements.

Given projections that cannabis will explode into a $500 billion industry worldwide, Los Angeles marijuana business attorneys know California cannabis suppliers, product manufacturers and retail distributors were going to have to stay on top of this trend just to stay competitive anyway. Even now as the industry is brand new, most cannabis companies in Southern California don’t have the capacity to handle their own distribution. Growers, concentrate producers, edible makers and others in the industry are in the business of putting out the best product, and logistics is a critical component of the business that requires more workers, vehicles, licensing and precise standard compliance. Many are finding it’s easier to leave the logistics to companies that have already established effective technology, partners and routes. Some firms specialize in distribution of high-maintenance products, such as raw flowers. Others will take on a variety of products.

The biggest conglomerate of distributors – now representing 50 of them – launched in Los Angeles has been operational since 2016, preparing for launch even before recreational marijuana was legal in California, after the state made changes to the medical marijuana regulatory system and designated a specific license type for distributors.

There are some variations of these third-party firms, some focusing solely on preparing, packing, shipping and delivery, while others do that plus marketing for their marijuana business customers. Arranging the right transport and distribution partner is important to your success. A marijuana business plan attorney in California can help you verify licensing and be certain you’re making a sound business choice.

The Los Angeles CANNABIS LAW Group represents growers, dispensaries, collectives, patients and those facing marijuana charges. Call us at 714-937-2050.

Additional Resources:

B2B Cannabis Logistics and Compliance Platform WAYV Raises $5 Million Seed Round, Oct. 29, 2018, Business Wire

More Blog Entries:

, Dec. 9, 2018, Los Angeles Marijuana Business Lawyer Blog

Read Full Article
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview