Bruce Kennedy ~ WeedWorthy ~

A Florida-based firm is opening three new offices in cities where cannabis is an emerging industry, and it has plans to open more.

Another sign of how the legal cannabis industry is growing and maturing: the arrival of established law firms, looking to represent those involved in what was once an outlaw enterprise.

Earlier this week the Florida-based law firm of Greenspoon Marder announced the opening of new offices in Las Vegas, Denver, and San Diego – cities in regions that it says “are central to the advancements, legalization and regulation of cannabis including medical marijuana, hemp, and Cannabidiol (CBD).”

Founded 35 years ago, Greenspoon Marder has 180 practicing attorneys. Its focus has been on corporate practices in sectors such as healthcare, alcohol, firearms and tobacco. And according to Gerald Greenspoon, the company’s co-managing director and one of the firm’s founders, legal marijuana has some similarities in its legal issues to other business sectors.

Greenspoon Marder’s work in the alcoholic beverage sector, for example, involves situations where laws and regulations can vary from state to state or even within a state’s counties and cities. “So we’re accustomed to dealing with that complexity,” Greenspoon tells WeedWorthy.

He also says his company has been “fascinated” for some time by the medical marijuana community, and the growing acknowledgement by many doctors and healthcare officials that cannabis has medical benefits. It was that changing perception, along with the rise of the legal cannabis movement in the U.S., which prompted the firm to pivot towards marijuana.

"Observing the politics in general we came to conclusion that this is an industry that is here to stay,” Greenspoon adds, “and that will be expanding nationally at a very rapid pace.”

The legal cannabis sector also has its own unique legal challenges, such as the banking and finance industry’s reluctance to work with legal marijuana companies. There’s also the controversy surrounding Section 280E of the federal Internal Revenue Code – which denies legal marijuana businesses standard tax deductions, because cannabis remains a Controlled Substance under federal law.

At the same time, Greenspoon notes, legal cannabis enterprises still have to deal with mainstream business issues such as corporate planning, as well as federal and state taxation.

“Because as you know, although illegal under federal law, the Internal Revenue Service is quite happy to collect taxes for what is an illegal business under federal law,” he says.

While monitoring the legal cannabis industry’s evolution, Greenspoon says his company noted a void when it came to larger, full-service law firms available to the industry; firms with experience in dealing with complex and multi-disciplinary legal issues.

“From our perspective as lawyers, we feel that those entering the industry deserve and require in-depth legal representation,” he adds. “And the industry to date has been represented, for the most part, by smaller firms or sole practitioners without the depth of experience required.”

In its announcement this week, Greenspoon Marder said it expects to open additional offices in states that are likely to “play a key role” in the cannabis industry’s future.

“By November more than half of the states in the Union will have some sort of legalized marijuana industry,” notes Greenspoon. “So we see this continuing to grow, continuing to gain momentum, and a likely, gradual, increasing relaxation the federal ban on this product.”

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