In July of 2014, New York State enacted a law allowing the cultivation, sale, and use of medical marijuana under specific circumstances. This law allows New York State businesses to cultivate, manufacture, distribute and dispense medical marijuana and allows New Yorkers with certain specific conditions to receive medical marijuana.
Meyer Suozzi established one of New York State’s first working groups of attorneys dedicated to helping clients understand and navigate the complex and rapidly changing medical marijuana landscape. The multidisciplinary Medical Marijuana Law practice includes attorneys from the firm’s Corporate, Corporate Finance, Land Use, Employment, and Litigation Departments, and is co-chaired by Hanan B. Kolko.
In recognition of the value our attorneys bring to this evolving and complex field, Meyer Suozzi has been named General Counsel to the Medical Cannabis Industry Alliance of New York. Our attorneys have authored several articles regarding marijuana law developments published in the New York Law Journal, and have discussed medical marijuana in forums sponsored by Crain’s, Cardozo Law School, and Women Grow. In addition, they often are quoted on issues involving medical marijuana in publications including Law360, The New York Post, The Guardian and USA Today. We are actively working with clients to assist them in navigating the requirements of New York State’s medical marijuana laws and regulations.
Lobbying and Regulatory Compliance
Inconsistent state and federal laws relating to cannabis create a confusing regulatory maze. With offices in Washington, D.C., Long Island and New York City, Meyer Suozzi is uniquely positioned at the intersection of law and government. Our lobbyists and attorneys track the latest state and national regulations and legislation and are well-versed in the intricacies of government contracting, regulation and procurement. We keep our clients abreast of this evolving regulatory environment.
Land Use, Zoning, and Real Estate Law
Hospitals, private physicians and other businesses seeking to establish medical marijuana-related businesses must, in addition to complying with the new law’s specific requirements, comply with numerous land use regulations. Medical marijuana businesses in other states have faced significant obstacles in connection with local land use regulations. Our attorneys have the knowledge and experience to advise clients with respect to land use permits and land use proceedings potentially affecting the proposed location of medical marijuana facilities, including zoning and other code review, permits, variances, special exceptions and development agreements. Attorneys in our Real Estate practice have significant experience in representing clients in connection with the negotiation, drafting, and modification of leases, another area where medical marijuana businesses have unique needs.
Corporate Finance and Corporate Law
Our Corporate Law attorneys are able to guide entrepreneurs in connection with business formation and start-up company issues, including choice of entity, shareholders and limited liability company operating agreements; trademark and trade name applications; and operational issues including employment and independent contractor agreements and licensing, distribution, supply and vendor agreements.
Attorneys in our Corporate Law Department and Corporate Finance Practice are able to assist borrowers as well as banks and other lenders in senior secured credit facilities, asset-based loans, mezzanine, and other high-yield debt financings. These attorneys also counsel both issuers and investors in fundraising and capital markets transactions including friends and family rounds, angel investments, venture capital, and private equity transactions.
As the legal use of medical cannabis becomes a reality in New York State, business owners will encounter unprecedented workplace challenges. While medical marijuana is not lawful under federal law, under the New York statute, medical marijuana usage is permitted and employers cannot discriminate against individuals lawfully using medical marijuana. The framers of the legislation drafted a specific clause providing that individuals who lawfully use medical marijuana will be deemed to have a “disability” under the state’s Human Rights Law. Employers violating that provision may face administrative charges and litigation based on claims of unlawful discrimination. In addition, employers will have to grapple with the still untested intersection of the newly enacted medical marijuana law and the state labor law provision which bars employers from discriminating against employees for off-duty use of lawful substances. The attorneys at Meyer Suozzi are available to review employment policies to ensure compliance with the new legislation. In addition, our experience in the employment field enables us to assist medical marijuana businesses in drafting employment contracts and crafting employment policies tailored to their unique business needs.
While medical marijuana-related laws are being proposed, amended and passed, clients may find themselves at the center of federal or local investigations, or entangled in employment, contract or other lawsuits. Meyer Suozzi’s experienced litigators are adept at handling complex trials and appeals, advising clients with regard to potential actions taken against professional licenses, and other related civil liability exposure which may potentially arise from selling, ordering or treating with medical marijuana. In cases where traditional litigation is not the best approach, we recognize the emerging role of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a means for resolving matters cost-effectively, efficiently and in the best interest of our clients.