The cannabis industry is one of the fastest-growing sectors of the United States economy, with many states having legalized the use of marijuana for medical and/or recreational purposes. However, inconsistent state laws, coupled with continued federal criminalization, make cannabis arguably the most complex market segment in which to operate. The cannabis industry presents a world of opportunity, but also poses a dizzying array of shifting laws, policies and practical challenges. Cozen O’Connor and our government relations affiliate, Cozen O'Connor Public Strategies, are attuned to these issues and the variety of contexts in which they arise. For two years running, our multidisciplinary cannabis team was recognized as one of the Cannabis Practice Groups of the Year by Law360.
Investors, entrepreneurs, and established legal enterprises within the cannabis industry are navigating uncharted territory, facing complex and unprecedented regulatory, investment, real estate, insurance, banking, intellectual property, and employment law issues, to name just a few. As the cannabis industry expands and insiders develop new strategies to operate effectively in this complex and ever-changing marketplace, they need lawyers who understand the industry and all of its complexities. To meet this need, Cozen O’Connor has developed an interdisciplinary, national team of lawyers and government affairs professionals to guide clients through the labyrinthine landscape of financing, manufacturing, processing, distributing, marketing and retail selling of marijuana under applicable state laws.
In an arena as complex as the cannabis industry, clients do not need the added burden of having to engage multiple law firms to meet their needs. Cozen O’Connor’s cannabis industry team presents a one-stop shop, and stands ready to tackle even the most daunting challenges our clients face. Our team offers the depth and breadth of relevant experience needed to operate effectively in the cannabis industry, offering decades of experience in the areas of the law that intersect with cannabis enterprises. Further, our cannabis industry team is studded with experience on the government and regulatory front, including public affairs professionals whose fingers remain on the pulse of relevant regulatory and legislative developments and who have vast experience representing clients’ interests at the local, state and federal levels.
Cozen O’Connor is uniquely suited to meet cannabis industry clients’ needs. From its humble beginnings in the 1970s as a four-lawyer upstart, to its current status as one of the top 100 firms, with over 750 lawyers in 29 cities across two continents, Cozen O’Connor holds tenacity, creativity and a strong entrepreneurial spirit as hallmarks of the firm’s identity. Our cannabis industry team will bring these qualities to bear on each client’s unique circumstances in this very unique industry.
Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule I controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency, and as such it remains a federal crime to grow, sell and/or use marijuana. Any content contained herein is not intended to provide legal advice to assist with violation of any state or federal law.
March 02, 2021
Steve Katkov and Jon Schoenwetter discuss a Minnesota bill that would establish a framework for the legal use of recreational marijuana.
February 26, 2021
David P. Zambito and Vincent Candiello discuss how Pennsylvania’s regulated public utilities would be impacted by the legalization of marijuana and if they are not permitted to continue their zero-tolerance drug use policies for employees involved in the operation of critical infrastructure.
February 25, 2021
Heidi Schwartz discusses the three bills signed by Governor Murphy that establish New Jersey's recreation cannabis program.
February 17, 2021
Susy Forbath and Tomas Casparian discuss the emergency regulations implementing processes for cannabis businesses to authorize the California Bureau of Cannabis to share licensee information with financial institutions.
January 14, 2021
Rohan Mohanty discusses what the N.J. legislature is doing to create the parameters for one of the largest legal cannabis marketplaces in the country.
December 03, 2020
Ben Shechtman discusses the first-of-its-kind decision by the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court that the MMA did not require a nursing school to accommodate a student’s use of medical marijuana under the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act.
November 23, 2020
David Barron, Joseph Quinn, Jake Rubinstein, Di Addy Tang, Peter Ennis, Adam Gutmann, and Anne discuss various state laws that may impact employers.
November 10, 2020
Julie Dostal discusses the ballot initiatives in Oregon and D.C. to legalize and decriminalize psilocybin.
November 05, 2020
Heidi Schwartz and Lindsey Stillwell discuss the cannabis measures that passed on November 3. 2020
October 29, 2020
Heidi Schwartz discusses five states' initiatives to legalize recreational or medicinal cannabis — or both ― that could help raise millions of dollars of needed tax revenue.
October 21, 2020
With the 2020 presidential election just days away, the future of cannabis legalization will likely rest on the shoulders of whoever is sitting in the Oval Office on January 20, 2021. So where do Donald Trump and Joe Biden stand with respect to the Cannabis industry? The Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies team brings you perspectives from both sides of the election spectrum.
September 18, 2020
Julie Dostal discusses the September 16 press conference urging the Pennsylvania legislature to legalize recreational cannabis.
September 14, 2020
Julie Dostal discusses the MORE Act and what it would mean for cannabis companies if this legislation is passed.
August 25, 2020
James Davis and Heidi Schwartz discuss Governor Wolf's COVID-19-related relief programs that includes legalizing recreational marijuana to fund portions of the programs.
July 09, 2020
Brett Taylor discusses the California Appellate Court's decision in Susan Metsch et al. v. Jesse Heinowitz et al.
June 22, 2020
Tom Wilkinson and Ryan Kelly discuss the firm's recent win before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
April 10, 2020
Ashley Kessler and Jon Gale discuss recent developments on the state and federal levels that impact the cannabis industry.
January 30, 2020
George Voegele and Adam Gutmann discuss the Palmiter v. Commonwealth Health Systems, et al., case and what employers in Pennsylvania need to know.
January 22, 2020
Heidi Schwartz and Germain DeMartinis discuss possible big changes coming Pennsylvania for cannabis businesses and individuals who use cannabis products.
January 22, 2020
Adam C. Gutmann discusses the decision in Hager v. M & K Constr and the nationwide trend towards broad acknowledgement of the peaceful coexistence of states' medical marijuana law and federal law.
December 02, 2019
Less than one year after hemp production was legalized by the 2018 Farm Bill, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its proposed industrial hemp regulations. These eagerly anticipated regulations establish a proposed federal domestic hemp production program, as authorized by the 2018 Farm Bill.
November 25, 2019
Lindsey Stillwell and Joseph Bedwick discuss the MORE Act and what happens with the legislation now.
October 14, 2019
Ashley Kessler reviews trademark applicant process for hemp and hemp-derived CBD products and how date of “first use anywhere” and “date of first use in commerce” could impact who gets the trademark.
October 07, 2019
Germain DeMartinis discusses the Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019, what happens next, and what this means for the cannabis industry.
September 20, 2019
Germain DeMartinis discusses implications for vaporizer manufacturers and licensed retailers of vaporizers.
August 16, 2019
Adam Gutmann and Anna Wermuth discuss what employers should do to comply with the new Illinois Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act.
August 05, 2019
Richard Fama & Kristin Keehan discuss the different regulatory bodies as well as various state laws that create these challenges for companies marketing CBD-containing products.
July 15, 2019
Richard Fama and Kristin Keehan contributed an article to CBE discussing the high demands of CBD-containing products along with concerns from the FDA.
June 13, 2019
Edward Weisz wrote about the legal landscape for food and beverage manufacturers looking to enter the hemp-based cannabidiol (CBD) market.
May 06, 2019
The USPTO issued an examination guide on May 2, 2019 regarding the examination of trademarks for cannabis and cannabis-related goods and services after the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill. The Guide answers some questions about how applications are going to be reviewed going forward, and how current pending applications are going to be reviewed, but also opens up a whole host of additional questions and uncertainties.
January 17, 2019
George Voegele and Ben Shechtman discuss a New Jersey court's dismissal of plaintiff’s claims of disability discrimination, failure to accommodate, and retaliation and what this could mean for other states including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Delaware, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Connecticut.
December 06, 2018
Mariah Passarelli, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, wrote an article for Law360 discussing the top 10 pitfalls of health care employers pertaining to the ADA, the MMA, and the crossroads between these two complicated statutes.
December 03, 2018
Danielle Sapega wrote about the rise of medical marijuana and the growing trends.
November 30, 2018
Edward Weisz and Alanna Miller, both of Cozen O'Connor's Intellectual Property department, published an article in Intellectual Property Magazine, exploring the United States legal landscape for cannabis brands.
November 20, 2018
Mariah Passarelli, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, wrote an article for the Pittsburgh Human Resources Association on the crossroads facing the ADA and the Pennsylvania Medical Marijuana Act.
November 16, 2018
Scott Bettridge, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Immigration practice, wrote an article in Law360 about the impact on Canadians that are involved in a cannabis business entering the United States.
October 11, 2018
Heidi Schwartz and Richard Silpe discuss three cases published this past summer that provide guidance to cannabis businesses and their owners in preparing their federal income tax returns. These cases turn on the application of IRC Section 280E, which precludes taxpayers from deducting any expense relating to a business that consists of trafficking in cannabis.
September 25, 2018
Scott Bettridge warns Canadian professionals employed in the cannabis industry that travel to the United States may not lead to routine entry and should continue to exercise caution on any upcoming travels.
July 05, 2018
On June 22, 2018 Governor Wolf signed HB 2477 (“Amendment”) into law breathing new life into Chapter 20 of the Medical Marijuana Act (“Act”), the country’s first-of-its-kind law for cannabis research. This follows Commonwealth Court Judge Patricia McCullough’s May 22, 2018 issuance of a preliminary...
June 26, 2018
Heidi Schwartz discusses the updated SBA policy prohibiting lending to marijuana and hemp-related businesses — and to businesses that work with them.
June 18, 2018
On June 7, Senators Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Cory Gardner, R-Colo., introduced a bill that would permit states to pass their own marijuana laws without interference from the federal government. The bill is a bipartisan response to the steps taken by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse Obama-era protections for cannabis businesses that are operating in compliance with state cannabis laws.
May 09, 2018
Brett Taylor and Amy Alderfer, members of the firm's Commercial Litigation Department, co-authored, "Pay Attention To The Law And The Science Of Cannabidiol," for Law360.
April 25, 2018
On today’s call, Mark Alderman, Howard Schweitzer, Jim Davis, Allison Wils, and Blake Rutherford of Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies walked through the current marijuana policy landscape, examining the Trump Administration’s impact on the industry, the complexity of conflicting state and federal laws, and the myriad ways the issue has evolved.
March 15, 2018
Thomas G. Wilkinson and Thomas M. O’Rourke discuss a case pending in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania that could seriously undermine the ability of medical marijuana businesses to operate.
February 12, 2018
Thomas M. O’Rourke and Nicole Sprinzen discuss how the budget deal affects the cannabis industry.
January 11, 2018
Robert Lee and Heidi Schwartz discuss the possible impact of Attorney General Sessions recision of the Cole Memo on the Cannabis Industry.
December 20, 2017
Amy Alderfer, a member of the firm's Commercial Litigation Department, details California voters recent approval of Proposition 64, the California Marijuana Legalization Initiative also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act.
December 06, 2017
Tom Wilkinson discusses Keystone ReLeaf's request for an injunction against the state’s medical marijuana program after it was denied one of 12 coveted grower/processor permits granted by the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
September 29, 2017
In May, Attorney General (AG) Jeff Sessions sent a letter to Congress that zeroed in on the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Amendment, a cornerstone of federal cannabis legislation that has handcuffed the Department of Justice from using its resources to enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in states with marijuana-legalization laws.
August 09, 2017
Bob Careless discusses how Pennsylvania municipalities are handling zoning cannabis related businesses.
July 26, 2017
Samantha Evans discusses the problem marijuana businesses are facing getting property and liability insurance coverage.
April 27, 2017
Richard J. Silpe and Heidi Schwartz discuss the obstacles, medical marijuana organizations are subject to limitations in deducting their business operating expenses — even if those business expenses are not otherwise illegal.
April 13, 2017
Richard Emge discusses Delaware's bill to legalize recreational marijuana and the primary restrictions proposed for retail marijuana stores.
March 08, 2017
Robert Lee discusses a new ruling released by the DEA establishing all marijuana extracts, not just THC, as illegal under federal law.
February 22, 2017
Avin S. Singh discusses the growing issue for those in the chain of distribution of the contents of a product’s label and whether it provides for an adequate warning of the side effects associated with consumption of marijuana.
February 02, 2017
Robert Lee and Rachael Wallace discuss the health and safety concerns created by a federally unregulated cannabis industry.
December 20, 2016
This client alert addresses trademark protection for companies in the cannabis industry and suggests strategies to address the limitations imposed on such companies by the current state of the law.
October 26, 2016
Robert Lee and Rachael Wallace discuss big banks’ refusal to service marijuana-related businesses.
October 18, 2016
Tom Wilkinson, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Commercial Litigation department, discusses Pennsylvania's new medical marijuana law in the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
September 15, 2016
Robert Lee and Rachael Wallace discuss a recent (and unexpected) Ninth Circuit decision that barred the Department of Justice from pursuing criminal prosecutions of individuals from California and Washington who had strictly complied with state medical marijuana regulations.
August 29, 2016
George Voegele, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses the impact of Pennsylvania's new medical marijuana act on employers.
August 22, 2016
On August 18, 2016, the Secretary of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health (“DOH”), Dr. Karen Murphy, announced that the DOH has posted draft temporary regulations (“Regulations”) focusing on the 25 medical marijuana grower/processor permits that will become available under Pennsylvania’s Medical...
May 10, 2016
George Vogele, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses what employers should know about the new PA medical marijuana law in Law360.
May 09, 2016
On April 17, 2016, Governor Wolf signed Act 16 of 2016, making Pennsylvania the 24th state (plus the District of Columbia) to legalize marijuana for medical use. The full text of the act is available here.
Physicians, not surprisingly, will play a vital role in making medical marijuana available...
April 14, 2016
Jim Davis and Joe Bedwick discuss Senate Bill 3, legalizing medical marijuana in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, which the Pennsylvania Senate had approved the bill earlier in the week and the state House of Representatives passed on April 13, 2016. The governor announced he will sign the legislation on Sunday, April 17.
June 18, 2015
While the case highlights the growing tension between state and federal marijuana law, it is also welcome relief for employers who have or are considering a zero-tolerance drug policy based on federal law’s continued classification of marijuana as an illicit drug.
February 01, 2021
Patrick Martin was quoted in Law360 discussing a CBD bill that is about to be reintroduced.
January 13, 2021
Mariah Passarelli was quoted in SHRM discussing the impact the Biden administration could have on the workplace and marijuana laws.
January 06, 2021
Patrick Martin was quoted in Law360 discussing the future of the cannabis industry now that the Senate is Democrat.
December 01, 2020
Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce that the firm has been named a Law360 2020 Practice Group of the Year in Cannabis.
November 11, 2020
Patrick Martin was quoted in Cannabis Business Times discussing the impact the Senate could have on the cannabis industry.
November 02, 2020
Mark Alderman was quoted in Forbes discussing the states that will vote on legalizing recreational and medical cannabis.
September 01, 2020
Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce that Thomas O’Rourke, a member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation Department, has been named to the National Law Journal’s list of Cannabis Law Trailblazers.
August 03, 2020
Patrick Martin was quoted in Cannabis Dispensary Magazine discussing Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act that would federally decriminalize cannabis by removing it from the Controlled Substances Act, and cannabis industry stakeholders are taking notice.
July 08, 2020
Cozen O’Connor is pleased to announce that Thomas O’Rourke, member of the firm’s Commercial Litigation department, has been named a Law360 “Rising Star” in the Cannabis category.
May 20, 2020
George Voegele was quoted in Cannabis Business Times discussing a proposed changed to New York City's ban on pre-employment cannabis testing.
April 07, 2020
Steve Katkov discusses how Cannabis Based Municipal Bonds (CMBs) could offer relief for governments and financial institutions impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic in Forbes.
March 25, 2020
Joe Bedwick discussed with Cannabis Business Times about some of the broader trends he’s seeing in the market, the frequently asked questions from his clients, and what the industry might look like at the end of the global pandemic.
February 14, 2020
Mark Alderman, chairman of Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies, was quoted in a Law360 article discussing comments submitted in response to the initial version of the USDA’s industrial hemp regulations, released last October.
November 01, 2019
Debra Friedman was quoted in Law360 discussing pre-employment testing policies.
August 14, 2019
Debra Friedman was quoted in the North Bar Business Journal about how the legalization of cannabis impacts businesses managing pre-employment drug-testing.
March 13, 2019
Rich Fama discussed with Marijuana Ventures the rise of CBD products and the lack of clarity at the federal level on regulating CBD.
February 13, 2019
George Voegele discussed with Politico how the legalization of marijuana in states will likely make it more difficult for cannabis employers to find trained staff, who must pass certain background checks and receive approval by state's marijuana regulatory bodies.
February 08, 2019
Edward Weisz discussed with Corporate Counsel how different strains of cannabis can be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office under the federal patent law which allows for patents to be places on plants.
January 17, 2019
Joe Bedwick, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Corporate practice, was quoted in Cannabis Business Times discussing how companies can be prepared to negotiate their terms.
January 02, 2019
Acreage will issue approximately 6.4 million Subordinate Voting Shares to Form Factory shareholders at a deemed price of $25 (USD) per share. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2019.
December 09, 2018
David Hackett, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, appeared on NBC10 @ Issue discussing the potential legalization of marijuana in New Jersey with host, Rosemary Connors.
October 22, 2018
Scott Bettridge, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Immigration practice, did a question and answer in Forbes discussing the recent impact on immigration with the legalization of marijuana in Canada.
October 21, 2018
Scott Bettridge, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Immigration practice, was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times discussing the recent impact on immigration with the legalization of marijuana in Canada.
October 18, 2018
Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, interviewed with ZBM 9 News of the Bermuda Broadcasting Company about the impact of that the legalization of cannabis has on the insurance industry.
October 18, 2018
Scott Bettridge, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Immigration practice, was quoted in Politico discussing the recent impact on immigration with the legalization of marijuana in Canada.
October 16, 2018
Scott Bettridge, chair of Cozen O'Connor's Immigration practice, spoke with USA Today about the legalization of marijuana across Canada and the widespread fear that U.S. border guards will block Canadians working in the cannabis industry from traveling south into the United States.
April 19, 2018
Ed Weisz, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Intellectual Property department, discussed in Cannabis Dispensary Magazine about the trademark infringement disputes of Citigroup and a California dispensary.
April 17, 2018
Stephen Pate, of Cozen O'Connor's Global Insurance department, was quoted in the Business Insurance article, Marijuana Insurers in Holding Patter After Sessions Memo.
April 04, 2018
Tom Casparian, a member of the firm's Commercial Litigation Department, was recently quoted in Cannabis Business Times's article, "The Golden State Rules."
March 14, 2018
George Voegele, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, was invited to discuss the intersection of medical marijuana and the law during a session at Philadelphia City Hall.
February 07, 2018
Richard Close, a member of Cozen O’Connor’s Real Estate Practice Group, discusses the legal concerns of recreational marijuana growers due to the numbers of states legalizing the industry in Super Laywers.
August 21, 2017
Joe Bedwick, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Corporate practice, discusses Philadelphia area law firms setting up cannabis practices on Philly.com.
March 17, 2017
Mark Alderman and Jim Davis, both of Cozen O'Connor's Public Strategies, discuss PA cannabis cultivation application process in the Cannabis Business Times.
March 10, 2017
Mark Alderman, chairman of Cozen O'Connor's Public Strategies, discusses medical marijuana licenses in Pennsylvania on Philly.com.
December 19, 2016
Tom Wilkinson, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Commercial Litigation department, discusses how Big Law is becoming more involved with cannabis legislation in Law360.
May 16, 2016
George Voegele, a member of Cozen O'Connor's Labor & Employment department, discusses Pennsylvania's new medical marijuana law on LVB.com.
April 14, 2016
Daniel Harrington discusses professional conduct in light of Pennsylvania's new medical marijuana legislation.