As the trend in criminal prosecutions for marijuana continue to point downward, lawyers are looking to expand from defending marijuana prosecutions to providing legal advice for the cannabis industry.
One of the main arguments for marijuana legalization and decriminalization is the reduction in marijuana-related criminal prosecutions. According to a recent article in International Business Times about marijuana arrests in Colorado:
“the number of marijuana-related charges has plummeted by more than 90 percent when it comes to charges of possession, distribution and cultivation”
(source: International Business Times “Marijuana Arrests in Colorado Plummet After Legalization: Report“)
With more states moving to enact legislation that legalize or decriminalize marijuana, lawyers are seeing new opportunities as one source of revenue disappears.
One area of opportunity for fast moving law firms is advising marijuana businesses navigate the complex state and federal laws. With inconsistent state laws and their conflict with federal laws, issues such as location, labeling, and promotion are all areas where a marijuana business owner could get themselves into legal trouble. Many small and mid-sized law firms are starting to develop the staff and expertise necessary to serve this fast developing niche and building a name in the cannabis industry.
Ideally, people should be given the freedom to treat the cannabis plant as a plant. A business owner doesn’t need a specialized tomato lawyer to start selling tomatoes; cannabis should be the same in an ideal world. But in the current environment, lawyers are an absolute necessity for any marijuana business. It will be interesting to see which law firms are able to provide the quality of service and become an advocate for the marijuana industry.