Cannabis Legislation is a Fluid Situation

New laws impacting cannabis businesses are being introduced all the time at federal, state and city level. Some of the new legislation is a positive move forward for the cannabis industry, whereas some of it has a detrimental effect on growers, distributors and retailers.

Quite often the new laws impacting cannabis dispensaries are the ones that make the headlines. The relaxing or tightening of zoning restrictions for cannabis dispensaries can have a significant impact on the availability of marijuana and the livelihoods of those who supply it.

Changes in legislation that fail to gain the attention of the media often go unnoticed – unnoticed that is until a licensing inspector or law enforcement officer turns up at the door of a cannabis business and informs the owner that they are in breach of a recently-introduced law.

Most owners already have enough on their plate complying with existing regulations, and have no time to stay abreast of new laws impacting cannabis businesses. For this reason it is always in your best interests to speak frequently with a cannabis business lawyer.

An Example of New Laws Impacting Cannabis Dispensaries

It was mentioned above that new laws impacting cannabis dispensaries are quite often the ones making the headlines and, early in 2016, new laws introduced in the city of Detroit were widely reported after the story of Kim Gaetano made the national news.

Kim is not a novice in the cannabis industry. She had run legal medical marijuana stores in Washington and Colorado before moving to Detroit to be closer to her family in 2013. Her business in the north-east of the city always passes local code inspections and she even has a 24-hour drive-through for patients who find it difficult to get out of their cars during the cold winter months.

However, the city introduced new laws impacting cannabis businesses that stated she could no longer be situated within 1,000ft of schools, churches, off licenses, strip clubs or other dispensaries – Kim´s dispensary is 371ft away from an off-license. Furthermore, if Kim gets special permission to remain open, she will now be unable to open her drive-through service until 10:00am.

Kim´s case is in the hands of a cannabis business lawyer, but she is receiving little sympathy from the author of the new regulations – Detroit Councilor James Tate – who has gone on record as saying that an ordinance is a “living document” and that “we are not in the same place as we were two and a half years ago” (when the bankrupt city found it hard to attract business). He claims “the community wants businesses like coffee shops and business stores”.

New Laws Impacting Cannabis Businesses are Inevitable

As the marijuana industry is evolving, new laws impacting cannabis businesses are inevitable. Even Colorado´s Director of Marijuana Coordination – Andrew Freedman – has admitted “We´re making the plane as we are flying it”, explaining that since he assumed the role of “Marijuana Czar” changes have been made to the laws relating to pesticide use and edible pot-packaging among others.

The new laws impacting cannabis businesses and cannabis dispensaries are complex and often precedent-setting. Sadly – such as in the case of Kim Gaetano – they are written by public officials with no sympathy towards the marijuana industry or the people who are served by it. Consequently, it is recommended that you build a relationship with a cannabis business lawyer.

A cannabis business lawyer will have up-to-date information about the new laws impacting cannabis businesses and the new laws impacting cannabis dispensaries in your area. He or she will advise you of any action you need to take or make sure your suppliers are taking to be in compliance with the new regulations and represent you should there be an issue with inspectors or law enforcement officers who themselves are confused by revised or repealed legislation.

If you are in the position where you are considering opening a marijuana business, you should speak with a cannabis business lawyer at the earliest possible moment. The lawyer may be aware of proposed legislation not yet on the public record that may impact the viability of your enterprise. As was mentioned previously, changes in legislation that fail to gain the attention of the media often go unnoticed until it is too late. Make sure you are aware of new laws impacting cannabis business in your area by speaking with a lawyer as a priority.