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Cannabis Law Committee

The WCBA Cannabis Law Committee, newly formed, intends to help lawyers give their clients better advice through sharing educational resources, and otherwise helping New York and Westchester County set the highest possible legal and business (including advice to medical professionals) standards for legalized Cannabis products.

The Committee’s focus is on the new and developing common law and statutes surrounding the growth, distribution and use of Cannabis in New York.  Thirty states and the District of Columbia have legalized Cannabis in some form.  Nine of those states and the District of Columbia have adopted expansive laws for the adult use of Cannabis.  On October 17, 2018, the sale of marijuana for adult use in Canada became legal nationwide.

This summer, Governor Cuomo’s health commissioner, Dr. Howard Zucker, completed a study, commissioned by the Governor, which recommended the legalization of Cannabis for adult use.  According to one senior administration official, the Governor’s thinking has switched from if we should legalize marijuana, to how it can be legalized.  https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/nyregion/new-york-marijuana-legalization.html.

Legalizing marijuana for adult use in New York will touch many different areas of law. For example, a party entering into a contract with a merchant selling Cannabis for adult use must include special provisions that prevent the merchant from arguing illegality in the event of a dispute arising from the contract. Moreover, at present, Cannabis sellers are not entitled to Federal Trademark protection because the Controlled Substances Act prohibits it.  However, an attorney can file for a state trademark, providing some protection. The legislation will impact other areas of law, including zoning, criminal defense and employment law.  There is also a diversity element.  Almost all arguments for legalization involve statistics that show that a disproportionate number of arrests made for possession of marijuana involve people of color.

Anyone interested in joining the Committee is invited to contact us through the Association’s offices at CLE@wcbany.org or complete this Online Form.