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New York’s Seeding Opportunity Initiative

This spring, Governor Hochul and the NY Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) began to roll out the regulated adult-use cannabis market in the Empire State.  Under the state’s Farmers First Program, existing CBD hemp cultivators and processors may cultivate and process cannabis (marijuana) as the first licensed cannabis cultivators and processors in the adult-use market.  Under the State’s Equity Owners Lead Program, business owners with certain New York marijuana convictions will have the first opportunity to apply for retail dispensary licenses and enjoy significant first-to-market advantage.

So, while we wait to learn more about when and how the other license types will become available pending further regulation, we now have an idea of how the early adult-use cannabis market will unfold in New York.  Let’s take a quick look.

Farmers First Program

Under this initiative, New York hemp cultivators and processors who have grown or processed hemp for two of the last four years are eligible to apply for conditional cultivator or conditional processor adult-use cannabis licenses, respectively.  As of May 19, 2022, OCM has issued 146 conditional cannabis cultivator licenses, so seeds are already in the ground.

To qualify, the hemp licensee must maintain at least 51% ownership in the cannabis license applicant and cannabis licensee for two years, and the cannabis licensee must comply with the State’s environmental and sustainability program, and participate in a state-run cannabis industry mentor program.

Equity Owners Lead Program

Under this program, which is still being finalized, applicants that are majority owned by one or more individuals affected by past marijuana convictions may be eligible to apply for the first dispensary licenses in New York.  Among other requirements, the applicants must be at least 51% owned by “justice involved” individuals who have also been part owners of a profitable business.

A justice involved person is someone who has been convicted of, or who has a parent, guardian, child, spouse, or dependent who has been convicted of, a cannabis-related offense in New York before March 31, 2021.  Furthermore, the justice involved individual must have owned at least 10% of a business that was profitable for at least two years.  Finally, one justice involved individual with the applicable business ownership experience must maintain at least 30% ownership interest in, and sole control over, the retailer license applicant for the first four years.

The regulations for the Equity Owners Lead Program are still being finalized.  The public comment period for the draft rules ended on May 30th, 2022, and OCM intends to finalize the rules and open applications this summer.

For much more detail on this early cannabis market in New York and the specific license requirements, please check our YouTube page where a recording of the webinar will be posted within the next week.

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Connecticut’s adult-use cannabis license lotteries kick off in in a few days – here’s what you need to know.

Under Connecticut’s Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis Act (“RERACA”) and the policies and procedures implementing RERACA, there are nine different types of new cannabis licenses that will be issued by the Department of Consumer Protection (the “DCP”), as summarized below.  Lotteries for the first license applications start Thursday, and half of all adult-use cannabis licenses awarded under Connecticut’s program will go to Social Equity Applicants.

License Types and Lottery Dates

For each license type, the DCP will be hold two lotteries, one for social equity applicants and one general lottery.  For the State’s initial application period, the DCP will hold lotteries and issue licenses as, as follows:

  • Cultivator – Disproportionately Impacted Areas: February 3, 2022
    • No lottery; instead, application window open from February 3, 2022 to May 4, 2022 for Social Equity Cultivators located in a Disproportionately Impacted Areas.
    • Grows at least 15,000 square feet.
  • Retailer: February 3, 2022.
    • 6 social equity licenses and 6 general licenses.
    • Sells adult-use only.
  • Micro-Cultivator: February 10, 2022
    • 2 social equity licenses and 2 general licenses.
    • Initially grows between 2,000 and 10,000 square feet.
  • Delivery Service: February 17, 2022
    • 5 social equity licenses and 5 general licenses.
    • Delivers from cannabis establishments to consumers.
  • Hybrid Retailer: February 24, 2022
    • 2 social equity licenses and 2 general licenses.
    • Sells adult-use and patients and caregivers for medical use.
  • Food and Beverage: March 3, 2022
    • 5 social equity licenses and 5 general licenses.
    • Incorporates cannabis into food or beverage intended for human consumption.
  • Product Manufacturer: March 10, 2022
    • 3 social equity licenses and 3 general licenses.
    • Performs cannabis extraction, chemical synthesis, and permitted manufacturing activities.
  • Product Packager: March 17, 2022
    • 3 social equity licenses and 3 general licenses.
    • Labels and packages cannabis.
  • Transporter: March 24, 2022
    • 2 social equity licenses and 2 general licenses.
    • Delivers cannabis between cannabis establishments.

Nonrefundable fees to submit for the lotteries range from $125 – $1,000.  Winning entrants from the lotteries will have 60 days to complete an application.

A Social Equity Applicant is one who is 65% owned and controlled by one or more persons who: (1) has an average household income of less than three times the State median household income over the last three tax years; and (2) either (a) was a resident of a Disproportionately Impacted Area for at least 5 of the last 10 years or (b) was a resident of a Disproportionately Impacted Area for at least 9 years before the age of 18.

Disproportionately Impacted Areas are census tracts in the State that have either a historical conviction rate for drug-related offenses greater than 10% or an unemployment rate greater than 10%, and a list of the Disproportionately Impacted Areas is available here.

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New York State’s newly completed Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) had its first public meeting Tuesday, pledging to move forward in filling out the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) and drafting rules and regulations. Chairwoman Tremaine Wright noted that it would be a priority of CCB and OCM to make up for lost time following the delay from the gubernatorial transition from Andrew Cuomo to Kathy Hochul.

Late last month, Governor Hochul appointed the final two members to the CCB, Reuben R. McDaniel, III and Jessica Garcia. We discussed the previous CCB appointments in my previous blog, NEW YORK FILLS 2ND AND 3RD SEATS ON 5-MEMBER CANNABIS CONTROL BOARD. Mr. McDaniel is the president and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the State’s public finance and construction authority, and has over 30 years of experience in investment banking and financial services. Ms. Garcia is a social worker by training with years of involvement in the immigrant rights community, and she is currently a union leader from the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, UFCW, which represents food workers and non-food retail.

At the Business of Cannabis conference in Manhattan last Wednesday, New York State Senator Liz Krueger, one of the primary sponsors of the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), called the new CCB and OCM leadership the “dream team,” as it’s clear that Governor Hochul gave great deference to the recommendations of Senator Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the other primary MRTA sponsor.  Another industry leader speaking at the conference, Kristin Jordan of Park Jordan, lauded the CCB appointments as a clear signal that New York’s adult-use cannabis rollout is putting “New Yorkers first and small businesses first.” Numerous conference speakers also voiced strong approval of Axel Bernabe staying on as a key OCM staff member.

The CCB’s first meeting consisted mostly of confirming appointments, including the appointment of the OCM’s Chief Equity Officer to oversee the program’s social and economic equity efforts, as well as the expansion of the existing medical cannabis program to allow prescription of whole flower by any practitioner licensed to prescribe controlled substances. The CCB also announced the kick-off of a public education campaign, but they did not provide further detail on developing the adult-use regulatory scheme.

So, how will New York’s cannabis leadership work together to implement the MRTA and when will draft regulations come out?  We do not yet know, but we do know that Governor Hochul’s office has assembled a team that is diverse both in its racial and ethnic makeup and its areas of experience and expertise, has the backing of the local and regional cannabis community, and is committed to working quickly to open the new market in an equitable way. A full transcript of the CCB’s meeting, as well as announcements of future meetings, can be found here.

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Governor Kathy Hochul kicked things off last Wednesday, appointing former Assemblywoman Tremaine Wright to chair the Cannabis Control Board (“CCB”) and former Drug Policy Alliance staffer, Chris Alexander, to be executive director of the Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”).  By nominating these two leaders, Governor Hochul put the rollout of New York’s cannabis legalization back on track, as the program had languished in the final months of former Governor Cuomo’s scandal-plagued governorship.  Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie continued the momentum this past Wednesday, announcing his appointment of Adam W. Perry to the CCB, and yesterday Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins followed suit, tapping former State Senator Jen Metzger, an Ulster County Democrat, as the third CCB member to be selected.

Governor Hochul’s two appointments during an “Extraordinary Session” of the New York State Legislature signal her commitment to moving forward with the State’s cannabis legalization, and her choices reinforce New York’s focus on prioritizing racial and economic justice.  Ms. Wright and Mr. Alexander, both black, have worked hard in advocating for equity in the new cannabis market.

Ms. Wright, an attorney, represented New York State’s 56th District in Brooklyn from 2017 to 2020 and was chair of the New York State Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus.  She has also practiced as a public defender at Brooklyn Law Services.  As Chairwoman of the CCB, Ms. Wright will lead the five-member board as they draft the State’s cannabis regulations, develop the cannabis license application process, and otherwise implement the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (“MRTA”), which Governor Cuomo signed into law in March.

Mr. Alexander was previously the policy coordinator at Drug Policy Alliance, an organization dedicated to reversing the harmful effects of the “War on Drugs” that have disproportionately affected communities of color, and he was later an associate counsel to the New York Senate, where he led the drafting of the MRTA to ensure it included a strong social and economic equity program.  As Executive Director of OCM, Mr. Alexander will oversee the implementation of the State’s cannabis regulatory scheme and administer the program going forward.

As for Mr. Perry, he is an attorney who focuses on employment litigation, with broad experience representing municipal governments and agencies, and he is very involved in the Buffalo community, where he serves as chair of the Citizen Planning Council.  His local government perspective will be particularly useful in developing the State’s cannabis program, where the state and local governments must work together.  Mr. Perry received a ringing endorsement from Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, the lead sponsor of the MRTA, stating that Mr. Perry will be committed to upholding the principles of fairness and justice in helping to shape the new industry.

Ms. Metzger is another long-time public servant, serving as town board member in Rosendale and one term as a state senator representing the Hudson Valley’s 42nd Senate District, during which she was the chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.  Following the announcement of her pick, Ms. Metzger released a statement declaring that she will work hard to ensure the New York cannabis market is environmentally sustainable, equitable, and accountable.  Many believe that she will be a strong advocate for small farms and rural areas.

Governor Hochul must still appoint two more members to the CCB before it is officially seated and can begin the hard task of drafting rules and regulations.  Labor Day is behind us, and there is much work to be done before the adult-use cannabis market opens in the Empire State, but at least now we have four capable leaders to help get us there.

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Although this Zoom screenshot may look like just another boring government agency meeting, it was an exciting day in the New Jersey cannabis world yesterday, as the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (the “CRC”) adopted its initial rules for the rollout of adult-use licensing and sales in the Garden State.  Led by Chairwoman Dianna Houenou, the CRC unveiled its long-awaited regulations two days before the August 21 deadline imposed by the law Governor Murphy signed in February.  Ms. Houenou could not help but point out with a smile that they were ahead of schedule, belying the arduous process that has brought us from voter approval in November of last year to the regulatory framework for legalization in New Jersey that was released yesterday.

As we digest and analyze the details of the new rules, it is clear that the CRC took to heart the significant public input that has been lobbied their way since being officially commissioned in April.  In both the regulations themselves and the CRC members’ comments at the meeting, the CRC has emphasized two core values within this regulatory scheme: local control and a commitment to equity.

While the legislation enacted in February gave municipalities the ability to opt-out of having cannabis businesses within their jurisdictions and the right to impose certain operating restrictions, the rules go further in fleshing that out.  Municipalities will not only be able to control the number and types of cannabis businesses that open within their borders, but they can also enact a local 2% transfer tax on sales between cannabis businesses and—perhaps most importantly—weigh in on licensing decisions with the CRC.  As CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown expressly stated at yesterday’s meeting, the CRC will take into account a municipality’s preferences on whose licenses should be approved.  (Pro tip to all you soon-to-be New Jersey license applicants: time to reconnect with your local elected officials!)

The initial rules also emphasize the CRC’s commitment to making the cannabis market in New Jersey a diverse and equitable one that is open to small businesses.   Three types of equity applicants will be given priority in the approval process:  Social Equity Businesses, Diversely Owned Businesses, and Impact Zone Businesses.  Social Equity Businesses are owned by people with past cannabis convictions or who live in economically disadvantaged areas, Diversely Owned Businesses are owned by minorities, women, or disabled veterans (and certified as such by the NJ Department of Treasury), and Impact Zone Businesses are located in Impact Zones, owned by people who live in Impact Zones, or employ Impact Zone residents—Impact Zones are municipalities with a large population, high crime numbers, or high unemployment.  While standard applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as they are received, these equity applicants jump to the front of the line.

The CRC will also prioritize applications from “microbusinesses,” which are small businesses capped at 10 employees and 2,500 square feet (among other restrictions), as well as conditional licenses, for which the applicant need not designate a site or obtain municipal approval before applying.  Moreover, the CRC has imposed a progressive, graduated fee structure, both for application fees and annual fees, with some application fees as low as $500 and annual fees as low as $1,000.  Some applicants can submit their application for only $100.

Stay tuned in this space for further analysis on the rules as we dig through the fine print, but the takeaway from yesterday is that the CRC has put in a sincere effort to make the New Jersey cannabis market accessible for small businesses and shaped by the municipalities, with a strong focus on social equity.

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Franchise law is a heavily regulated area of law.  We help clients expand their businesses through franchising and other distribution methods. We have experience in many industries including, restaurants, health, and beauty, alcohol, and cannabis among others. Our representative services include the following:


We also help potential franchisees interested in buying a franchise. We are able to assist with evaluation of franchise opportunities with respect to:

Alternative Structures

However, not all businesses are suited to franchise. We are also experienced with helping clients structure alternative distribution methods to prevent classification as a franchise.


Our M&A attorneys are highly experienced in counseling clients who are considering acquisitions or exit strategies.  We have many years of experience handling deals of various types and sizes, ranging from sales of small closely-held business, private companies, and publicly-traded corporations.  We have represented business owners, private equity firms and investment banks in a wide range of industries. 

We have a deep business bench, and Emerge attorneys have handled transactions of all shapes and sizes.  Whether your deal is valued at $100,000 or $100,000,000, our experienced attorneys will guide you through the deal process.

We understand the intensity, technical skill and judgment needed to get deals done, and we provide our clients with timely, practical and cost-effective legal advice.  We are highly capable in all aspects of M&A, including the following:


Emerge Law Group is highly experienced in the cannabis industry.  We have helped many clients obtain state licenses and local permits to operate cannabis businesses throughout California, Oregon, and Washington.

Emerge attorneys were instrumental in the drafting and passage of Oregon Measure 91, legalizing marijuana in the State of Oregon, and have represented cannabis businesses well before many law firms were willing to enter the cannabis industry. As a firm that has provided legal services in the cannabis space for many years, we are familiar with the unique and complex issues businesses and individuals face in an emerging and highly regulated industry.

We regularly help clients with:

Cannabis laws and rules are also regularly changing.  Members of our team are dedicated to attending legislative hearings, state agency and local city and county meetings to stay up-to-date on any new changes and how to adjust to any new changes.

See our Cannabis Industry page for more information.


There is tremendous excitement about the potential for psychedelic drugs to benefit a wide variety of populations, including terminally ill patients suffering with anxiety and depression. Until recently, psychedelic substances have been accessible only in the illicit market and are illegal under federal and state to manufacture, distribute, or possess. These substances have, since 1970, been treated as having no legitimate medical use, and no commercial application. As such, no one invested in this area or required legal services, outside of the criminal context.

Today, researchers in a multitude of clinical studies are proving the medical safety and efficacy of these medicines, with the objective of changing the treatment of these substances under the Controlled Substances Act. Companies are now actively raising money to develop intellectual property and seize market opportunities associated with psychedelic drugs.

In addition, advocates at the state and local levels are not waiting for the rescheduling of these substances and are active in undertaking efforts to decriminalize these substances and/or make them affirmatively legal under state and/or municipal law. Decriminalization already has occurred in cities including Denver, Oakland, Santa Cruz, and Ann Arbor. Oregon is poised to be the first state to make psilocybin therapy affirmatively legal. Emerge Law Group is working with a wide array of clients pushing forward in this emerging area.

See our Psychedelics Practice Group page for more information.



Businesses of all kinds benefit from a customized but systematic approach to structuring legal relationships. Emerge Law Group helps businesses and business owners with a variety of tax planning matters.

Representative client services include:


Estate planning encompasses everything from a will and power of attorney to combined estate and business succession planning. In almost all cases, the purpose of the plan is to help the client protect those they care about most in the event they can no longer be there for them.

Emerge Law Group has experience with a wide range of tools used in estate planning, including wills, trusts, and family business entity planning.


Emerge Law Group can assist with the resolution of difficult tax controversies. Our areas of emphasis and experience include:


Emerge Law Group assists clients with a wide range of real estate transactional matters.  We regularly help clients with:


Emerge Law Group also assists clients with all aspects of local government land use and development processes, ranging from preliminary property analyses and building permit issues to complex land use reviews and hearings. Our attorneys are experienced in obtaining land use entitlements and development permits for a wide range of uses.

We regularly help clients with:

Above all, we understand the value of working with cities and counties to enhance communities while developing the land to its potential. We strive to create solutions to land use issues that serve to better our clients and the communities in which they live and work.


The attorneys in Emerge Law Group’s Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution practice group litigate commercial, intellectual property, and public interest matters in state and federal courts, as well as private mediation and arbitration proceedings.  Our lawyers have represented national and regional financial institutions, major media, entertainment and technology companies, and other Fortune 500 companies in a broad array of high-stakes disputes.  Our team of litigators has handled leading cases that have shaped the law in cutting-edge business, technology, free speech, and public interest impact lawsuits in trial and the courts of appeal.

We have particular expertise in handling civil litigation and regulatory enforcement matters in the cannabis and psychedelic industries.  While many firms claim expertise in the these industries, few have our depth of experience successfully litigating contract, trademark, partnership, shareholder, land use, and real estate disputes in court and arbitration.  Even fewer firms have our level of experience handling writ of mandate proceedings against the government regulators.

Our litigators practice in California, Oregon, and Washington, but have appeared in state and federal courts nationwide.  Our knowledge of our clients’ businesses, goals and concerns, and our experience litigating at the highest levels, give us unique insight into possible outcomes and pitfalls as we continuously confront issues of new impression.

No matter what the industry, we pride ourselves in achieving our clients’ objectives through efficient and creative solutions primarily designed to avoid disputes in the first place—which is always the best litigation strategy.  Many times, our clients obtain excellent outcomes before or at the earliest stages of litigation because our adversaries quickly recognize the challenges they will face in litigating against us.  When litigation is unavoidable, however, we work hard to provide our clients with both cost-efficient and “big firm” quality representation.



Your intellectual property (or “IP”) strategy can harness your most valuable information and intangible assets including your name, your brand, your designs, your content, your services, and your products — what makes your business stand apart in a competitive world.  We can help you evaluate and build your IP portfolio, then secure it, monetize it, and protect it.

IP encompasses multiple areas of law and different types of information or material.

Our Intellectual Property practice focuses on:


Trademarks include names, signs, logos, designs, phrases, slogans, expressions, and sometimes even colors, sounds, or smells that identify or distinguish one business compared to others.  Trademark protection is fundamental in securing your “brand.”


Copyright covers original works of creative authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression.  This includes literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, designs, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed.  Depending upon the type of work, “moral rights” (such as the right of attribution) may be implicated as well.


Trade secret laws can vary somewhat between states, but generally trade secrets cover information, including drawings, cost data, customer lists, formulas, recipes, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques or processes that derive economic value from not being generally known and are the subject of efforts that are “reasonable under the circumstances” to maintain secrecy.


Depending upon where you live or operate, there is a special patchwork of laws and regulations that protect and regulate personal information.  If you are handling or giving out personal or potentially sensitive information, you may be implicating privacy laws.


Publicity rights address the commercial use of an individual’s face, name, image, or likeness.  These rights vary state-to-state.  Marilyn Monroe, for example, lived in multiple states which created complex questions about her publicity rights.

Our Intellectual Property services include:


In states where new cannabis banking opportunities exist, Emerge Law Group has the proven expertise in creating canna-banking programs to efficiently capitalize on those opportunities. Our Banking Practice Group specializes in working with banks and credit unions to develop regulatory compliant programs and operational best practices. We also train banking staff to become experts in canna-banking so they can effective understand and manage the risk affiliated with canna-banking.

We regularly help clients with:


At Emerge Law Group, we recognize that employees are the heart and soul of any successful business.  Our Employment Law Practice Group works with employers to help them effectively manage their workforce, navigate the complex web of federal, state and local employment laws and, if necessary, defend against claims before administrative agencies and in court.

We regularly help clients with:


Our corporate finance and securities lawyers are experienced attorneys who have practiced at large law firms, worked as in-house counsel for public companies and investment banks, and owned and operated start-up companies. We work with clients to help achieve their financing goals while safely navigating the highly technical securities law landscape. 

In addition to representing issuers, we also routinely represent institutional and individual investors, including in connection with fund formation and investments.

Our expertise includes:

We have a deep understanding of the financing options available to businesses, including simple unsecured loans, asset-backed financing, convertible debt, common and preferred equity, crowdfunding and various other structures.  We work closely with our clients to understand their business and financing needs, ensure they are prepared to approach investors and choose the right partners, structure and negotiate terms, navigate the due diligence process and successfully close the deal.



Emerge attorneys have represented businesses in the alcohol and beverage industry, including wineries, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, bars, movie theaters, golf courses, and gas stations.  We can help you vet new locations, acquire existing locations, and apply for the appropriate liquor license.  We also provide training to comply with applicable rules and regulations, prepare operating procedures, submit renewals, and keep clients protected in the event of any potential violations or administrative hearings.


Emerge Law Group is highly experienced in the cannabis industry.  We have helped many clients obtain state licenses and local permits to operate cannabis businesses throughout California, Oregon, and Washington.  We regularly help clients with:

Cannabis laws and rules are also regularly changing.  Members of our team are dedicated to attending legislative hearings, state agency and local city and county meetings to stay up-to-date on any new changes and how to adjust to any new changes.

See our Cannabis Industry page for more information.


Emerge Law Group is a leader in the psychedelics industry.  There is tremendous excitement about the potential for psychedelic drugs to benefit a wide variety of populations, including veterans struggling with PTSD and terminally ill patients suffering with anxiety and depression.  Until recently, psychedelic substances have been accessible only in the underground; they are illegal under state and federal law to manufacture, distribute, or possess.  These substances have, since 1970, been treated as having no legitimate medical use, and no commercial application.  As such, businesses have not invested in this area or required legal services, outside of the criminal context.

Today, psychedelics are proceeding toward legalization on multiple paths.  Researchers in a multitude of clinical studies are proving the medical safety and efficacy of these medicines, with the objective of changing the treatment of these substances under the federal Controlled Substances Act, opening legal access to them.  Private and public companies are now actively raising money to develop intellectual property and capitalize on the market opportunities associated with psychedelic drugs.  Opportunities to be early actors in this new arena are tremendous.

See our Psychedelics Practice Group page for more information.


Our business transactions team is made up of highly experienced transactional attorneys who have practiced at large law and accounting firms, worked as in-house counsel for public companies and investment banks, and owned and operated start-up companies. We understand complex legal matters and provide high quality legal services in a cost-effective manner.  Our clients value our experience, knowledge and judgment.


Our team routinely advises clients regarding:


Emerge attorneys also advise on-going concerns with: