According to NJBIZ, New Jersey has expanded its medical cannabis program, and legislation is expected to be introduced before the end of the year. According to some estimates, the North American cannabis industry is worth $10 billion to $50 billion, and law firms are preparing to meet clients’ needs in this emerging market.
Pat Harrity, a leader of McCarter’s cannabis practice efforts, shares with NJBIZ that forming a cannabis group requires a multidisciplinary approach. “One of the most important issues is to be cognizant of the business and industry nuances and to ensure that the skills of your law firm match up,” he says. “You start by identifying the firm’s talent, resources, and expertise and see if you’ve got what it takes or if you need to recruit outside talent, too.”
Pat also discusses the role that law firms will play regarding regulatory and federal concerns: “Marijuana is illegal under federal law, although some states have legalized aspects of its use… we end up serving as a kind of business advisor in addition to counseling clients on legal issues.”
He recommends using resources such as “West Coast states that have some experience with legalization” and industry conferences for legal guidance in this area.
As a leader in McCarter’s Venture Capital and Emerging Growth Practice, Dave Sorin explains how proficiency in this area is essential for the cannabis industry: “It’s an emerging market, and everything I do is in emerging markets… When I started working in New Jersey in the early 1990s, life sciences, biotech, and pharma were the growth areas. By the mid-90s, it was medical devices, computers, and cable, followed by mobile telecommunications. Each time, I applied my emerging market skill sets and leveraged my existing understanding, took advantage of our firm’s learning and training resources, and applied them to each new market.”