Looking ahead to a post-prohibition Cannabis landscape

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LOS ANGELES - Change is in the air in the cannabis world.

Recreational legalization has reached 19 states, with more than two-thirds of adults supporting some level of legalization, regulation, or taxation of cannabis. While federal legalization is closer than ever, top litigators who specialize in cannabis face a multitude of challenging regulations and gray areas in mitigating cases.

In an ever-evolving, maturing industry, change is a constant that requires companies and leaders to remain adaptable—especially in preparation for the post-prohibition era.

With cannabis steadily becoming easier to purchase legally, federal legalization may seem to lose its urgency in the eyes of the average consumer. However, legalization is essential for the growth and health of the industry as a whole, allowing for national safety standards, organic labeling, medical research, healthcare coverage of cannabis, and much more.

Regardless of the many positive impacts, legalization will alter the cannabis environment around the country. The federal government will earn revenue on cannabis taxes, yet rising taxes have forced many operators into financial hardships. From a regulatory standpoint, legalization and federal oversight of safety would stifle some anti-cannabis sentiment and boost trust in products. Interstate commerce of cannabis will allow flexibility in where businesses cultivate, manufacture, and more. Incredible potential exists for the post-legalization landscape—though not without challenges.

"Federal cannabis legalization remains a high priority for the industry, yet many operators fail to consider the depth and breadth of changes that will take place once that goal is achieved," said Kathee Brewer, editorial director at Inc Media, parent company of award-winning trade journal mg Magazine. "While nationwide safety standards and economies of scale most likely will be positive, other evolutions—like additional taxes, industry consolidation, and competition from corporate giants in the consumer packaged goods space—could produce unwelcome stress. Business leaders need to be ready for a number of potential scenarios, which makes planning for the future challenging."

On the litigation front, attorneys specializing in cannabis are key to the success of companies and their compliance with evolving regulations, and women increasingly are taking control in the courtroom. Esther H. Lee at Fox Rothschild obtained a $100-million award for her cannabis client, while Allison B. Margolin at Allison B. Margolin PLC has fought for cannabis consumers and social equity regulations. Meital Manzuri at Manzuri Law was one of the first cannabis and hemp attorneys in California, where she has litigated federal and state cases as well as helped procure licenses and transactions. In all sectors of the industry, female lawyers are powering growth, setting standards, and establishing critical legal precedents.

Region: California