Monica Gutierrez, wants to become a intellectual property lawyer, but here she is sitting in a law class on the highly regulated world of marijuana.
The giant gray area between state and federal law is what intrigues Gutierrez , she wants to find out how she can help cannabis companies get their names federally registered and she’s not alone.
Law firms in Chicago – from national firms to solo operations – are carefully crafting cannabis practices filled with lawyers from all across the boards. whether it be real estate, Intellectual property, mergers and acquisitions or other specialties, firms are trying their hardest to offer help to companies that need to navigate the heavily regulated word of medicinal marijuana.
The medicinal marijuana world is still limited in comparison with other industries. Not to mention the stigma surrounded the federally illegal drug, barring firms form advertising their cannabis practices. When it comes to dealing with a substance the federal government puts marijuana in the same drug class as heroin an LSD.
“Every area of law you can think of, when it intersects with cannabis, it gets complicated,” said Dina Rollman, who teaches cannabis law at Illinois institute of technology with her business partner, Bryna Dahlin.
The two woman formed their firm Rollman & Dahlin in January of 2016 to focus on the marijuana industry, they were able to see their workload increase exponentially over the first year, said Rollman. The firm aims to help companies that grow and sell marijuana including business that intersect with the industry, from vaporizer manufacturers to advertising agencies.
Their practice’s growth reflected the growth of the cannabis industry, starting in illiniois and branching to other states , Dahlin said.
The law firm Thompson Coburn helped multiple companies in Illinois’ initial application process for marijuana cultivation licenses in 2014 and is still helping those companies navigate the ever-fluctuating laws that vary as they expand to different states.
Based in St. Louis, the firm now has an recognized medicinal marijuana practice of which attorneys across four of its offices with varying areas of expertise contributed towards the world of medicinal marijuana.
Cannabis law covers a lot of legal principles, which is causing a multitude of firms to carve out whole practices that cater to this ever-growing industry, said Bob Morgan, president of the Illinois cannabis bar association.
“A cannabis business needs not just a cannabis-focused lawyer but also one that really understands litigation and corporate law and intellectual property law and all these different types of practice,” said Morgan, the first coordinator of the medical marijuana pilot program in Illinois.” A Single attorney would not normally be able to have that kind of competency.”