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Kaci Hohmann and Delia Rojas, Attorneys at Emerge Law Group

On September 30, 2022, the federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (“FinCEN”) published final regulations governing beneficial ownership reporting requirements under the Corporate Transparency Act (the “Final Rule”). The Final Rule substantially mirrors the draft rules covered in our earlier blog on the topic. The Final Rule becomes effective January 1, 2024. See our summary and tips below to prepare for the upcoming reporting requirements.

Who must report?

The Final Rule requires a “reporting company” to report certain information to FinCEN regarding its beneficial owners and company applicants. A “reporting company” is any domestic or foreign entity created or registered to do business in a U.S. state or Indian tribal jurisdiction (“Reporting Company”). This definition would seemingly capture nearly all US businesses, although there are 23 categories of exemptions set forth in the Final Rule, including (i) certain inactive entities, (ii) insurance companies, (iii) financial institutions, and (iv) large operating companies employing more than 20 full-time employees, having an operating presence in the U.S., and having gross receipts for sales in the U.S. exceeding $5,000,000.

Who is reported?

Each Reporting Company must report information concerning its “beneficial owners,” which includes any individual who, directly or indirectly, exercises “substantial control” over or owns or controls 25% or more of the “ownership interests” of the Reporting Company (“Beneficial Owners”).

An individual has “substantial control” over a Reporting Company if they serve as a senior officer, have authority over the appointment or removal of any senior officer or a majority of the directors (or similar body), or directs, determines, or substantially influences important Reporting Company decisions.  FinCEN indicated that it designed the “substantial control” element to capture the key individuals of the Reporting Company who direct its actions and to “focus the applicability [of the Final Rule] on the senior officer element of the definition of substantial control”.

In the Final Rule, the definition of “ownership interest’’ more broadly focuses on types of arrangements that directly or indirectly convey ownership interests, such as equity, convertible instruments, and put options. Additionally, the definition of “ownership interest” now includes a catch-all provision for “any other instrument, contract, arrangement, understanding, relationship, or other mechanism used to establish ownership.” Importantly, any option or similar interest of the Reporting Company is treated as exercised in determining “ownership interest.”

In response to extensive public comments on the topic of a “company applicant”, the Final Rule requires Reporting Companies created or registered on or after January 1, 2024, to report information related to a “company applicant.” A company applicant is the individual(s) primarily responsible for directly filing the document that creates or registers a Reporting Company, such as a law firm (“Company Applicant”).  Entities created or registered before January 1, 2024, are not required to report information with respect to any “company applicant.”

What information must reports include?

The initial report for the Reporting Company must include the legal name, any trade name or d/b/a name, principal place of business address in the U.S., state of formation or registration, and its IRS employee identification number. The Reporting Company must also provide the full name, date of birth, current address, the number and issuing jurisdiction of a passport, identification card, or driver’s license, and a photo of the identification document used for each Beneficial Owner and Company Applicant.

When must reports be filed?

Reporting Companies in existence prior to January 1, 2024 must file its initial report before January 1, 2025. Reporting Companies created or registered on or after January 1, 2024 must file its initial report within 30 calendar days of receiving actual notice that it was created or registered to do business with a secretary of state or similar office. If a Reporting Company’s exemption status changes, a report must be filed within 30 calendar days of the change in exemption status. Lastly, if there are any changes to the information filed in the initial report, an updated report must be submitted within 30 calendar days of the change.

What proactive compliance steps should businesses take?

The Final Rule imposes considerable new federal compliance requirements on businesses. Although some entities will be exempted, many will not. Every business should investigate whether it is a Reporting Company or qualifies for an exemption. A Reporting Company’s failure to comply with the reporting requirements could result in significant penalties and possible imprisonment.

Businesses with reporting obligations should create and implement internal policies and procedures to ensure that all reporting is timely and properly made. It’s not too early to begin collecting the information your business may need to report. Additionally, businesses and business attorneys should consider adding provisions to certain agreements requiring the applicable people to cooperation with required information collection and reporting, and update confidentiality clauses to carve out exceptions for reporting requirements.

If you have any questions or concerns about how the beneficial reporting requirements may impact your business, contact an attorney from our Business Group.

See the final rule here.

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Blake Marvis, Attorney at Emerge Law Group; Oregon Litigation Practice Group

In August, the First Circuit Court of Appeals became the first federal appeals court to address an issue that had been litigated in district courts since 2020.  The question was relatively straightforward – does the dormant commerce clause (“DCC”) prohibit state residency requirements for owners of state-licensed cannabis businesses?

Many states that have legalized cannabis instituted various types of residency requirements for owning or operating a cannabis business within their borders.  The Supreme Court’s decision in Tennessee Wine and Spirits Retailers Association v. Thomas, 139 S.Ct. 2449 (2019) also breathed some new life into the DCC. Multiple cannabis-related cases leveraged that decision to make stronger DCC arguments.

Numerous district court cases that addressed this issue concluded that various residency requirements violated the DCC.  See NPG, LLC v. City of Portland, Maine, 2020 WL 474913, at *10-11 (D. Maine, Aug. 14, 2020) (determining that the DCC “likely restricts the City’s licensing of marijuana retail stores”); Toigo v. Dep’t of Health and Senior Servs., 549 F. Supp. 3d 985, 995-996 (W.D. Miss. 2021) (granting preliminary injunction and determining that Missouri’s “residency requirement is likely unconstitutional under the dormant commerce clause.”); Lowe v. City of Detroit, 544 F. Supp. 3d 804, 815-816 (E.D. Mich. 2021) (granting preliminary injunction against residency requirement based on violation of the DCC).  However, one district court determined that because cannabis is illegal under federal law, the DCC offered no protection or mechanism for striking down residency requirements related to cannabis.  See Original Investments, LLC v. State, 542 F. Supp. 3d 1230, 1234-1237 (W.D. Ok. 2021).

The First Circuit sided with the majority of district court decisions and held that Maine’s residency requirement for officers and directors of medical cannabis dispensaries violated the DCC.  See Northeast Patients Group v. United Cannabis Patients and Caregivers of Maine, 45 F.4th 542, 558 (1st Cir. 2022).  The First Circuit addressed defendant’s three main arguments in making its holding.

First, the Court addressed the argument that because cannabis is illegal under federal law, there is no “interstate” market for cannabis.  Therefore, the DCC does not apply because Maine was not discriminating against any “interstate” market.  Id. at 547.  The Court rejected this argument, stating that Gonzales v. Raich had established there was an interstate market for cannabis that Congress could regulate, even though that market was illegal.  Id.  The Court also looked to the fact that Congress had passed the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, and identical versions every annual congressional appropriation since, which the Court considered a tacit acknowledgement of the interstate cannabis market.  Id. at 547-48.

Second, the Court addressed the argument that because cannabis is federally illegal under the Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”), the DCC offered no protection to such illegal commerce.  Id. at 548.  The Court rejected this argument as well, indicating that the precise question before it was not “whether the CSA preempts the residency requirement,” but rather whether “the residency requirement cannot stand because it transgresses the [DCC] due to the substantial burden that this requirement . . . imposes on interstate commerce.”  Id.  The Court also focused again on how Congress had passed legislation related to state-legal cannabis regimes – including the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment – since the enactment of the CSA, which reflects that “Congress contemplates both that an interstate market in medical marijuana may exist that is free from federal criminal enforcement and that, if so, this interstate market may be subject to state regulation.”  Id. at 549-550.

Third, the Court addressed the final argument from defendants, which asserted that the CSA evidenced Congress’s intent to “consent to otherwise impermissible state regulation.”  Id. at 550.  After extensive discussion about which legal standard to apply (i.e., whether Congress needed to make a “clear statement” or not on the issue), the Court ultimately determined that Congress did not need to make a clear statement that residency requirements were permissible, CSA notwithstanding.  Id. at 553.

Zooming out, the real thrust of the First Circuit’s decision narrowed in on how the situation of state-legal cannabis is unique. The Court avoided a finding that the DCC did not apply without a clearer statement from Congress on the issue.  In other words, the Congressional intent that could be gathered from the CSA, the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment, and other cannabis related legislation was mixed and the Court would not interpret this mixed intent as barring application of the DCC.

It is important to note that the First Circuit’s decision was not unanimous and Judge Gelpi dissented from the holding.  Id. at 558.  The dissent focused on the argument that the CSA rendered cannabis illegal, which subsequently bars application of the DCC.  Id. at 558-559.  In other words, the dissent determined that the “fundamental objective” of the DCC was “inapplicable, because Congress has already outlawed the national market for marijuana.”  Id. at 559.  Interestingly, the dissent agreed that the DCC would render the residency requirement unconstitutional, but that the appellees “should not be able to receive a constitutional remedy in federal court to protect the sale and distribution of a controlled substance which remains illegal under federal law.”  Id. at 560.

Overall, the First Circuit decision provides an interesting glimpse into how subsequent cases addressing this issue could be litigated.  It seems most likely that other federal courts will follow suit and continue to find that the DCC prohibits various residency requirements implemented by states with legal cannabis industries.  Although, the dissent does provide some potential for contrary arguments.  Similar DCC and constitutional issues will be raised in the recent Oregon lawsuit seeking to overturn the prohibition on interstate cannabis sales.  And this type of reasoning can also be applied to other controlled substances, including the up-and-coming psychedelics industry in Oregon and in other states.

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Duncan Delano, Attorney at Emerge Law Group
Brittany Tovar, Law Clerk at Emerge Law Group

On October 28, 2022, the New York Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) issued a new guidance document (the “Guidance”) to assist Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (“CAURD”) licensees plan their operations before OCM adopts formal regulations. We summarize the Guidance below, including most notably, that OCM reversed course regarding where licensees can locate their dispensaries.  Rather than selecting locations for licensees through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (“DASNY”), as before, OCM appears now to allow licensees to use their own qualifying properties.

CAURD Licensees May Now Use Their Own Properties.

OCM had previously stated that CAURD licenses “may not be right for” an applicant desiring to use their own property to locate their dispensary.  But now, according to the Guidance: “Certain retail dispensary licensees may be permitted to select the location of the licensed premises or relocate the location of the licensed premises,” reflecting a complete reversal of OCM’s previous position.  The Guidance still lists certain restrictions for qualifying locations, including compliance with local zoning ordinance and the prohibition on locations on the same road and withing 500 feet of a school’s grounds or “community facility.” Further, a dispensary may not be located on the same street or avenue and within 200 feet of a building used exclusively as a house of worship.  Nevertheless, by now allowing CAURD applicants to select their own properties, rather than relying on DASNY to do so for them (that webpage is still loading…), OCM just may be closer to fulfilling its promise to open NY’s first dispensaries this year.


The Guidance also covers some operational requirements and restrictions.  For example, dispensaries may not operate between 12 a.m. and 8 a.m. without special municipal approval, but municipalities must allow dispensaries to operate at least 70 hours per week.  The Guidance allows for delivery, drive-thrus, and walk-up windows but prohibits customer loyalty programs and neon-colored advertising.  The Guidance also prohibits dispensaries from selling branded apparel and merchandise containing any brand other than their own.

Supply and Inventory

Under the Guidance, CAURD licensees may only purchase their inventory from licensed distributors, which, for now, includes only Adult Use Conditional Cultivators and Adult Use Conditional Processors who were licensed earlier this year and whose first crop is drying at this very moment.  Dispensaries can purchase the product on credit, but payment must be made within 90 days.  The Guidance also outlines an inventory tracking system and mandates initial inventory reporting to OCM.

Additional Covered Topics 

The Guidance also covers safety and security, including surveillance camera and “secure storage” requirements.  It further outlines employee training requirements and ownership restrictions, including the prohibition against simultaneous ownership in both retail and product supply licenses.

The Guidance leaves many questions unanswered, however, including how Social Equity Fund disbursements will be structured and made.  We will continue to monitor OCM’s communications as they evolve (sometimes without notice and at lightning speed).  So stay tuned!

You can find a link to the Guidance here.

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Alex Berger, Attorney at Emerge Law Group
Kristin Stankiewicz, Senior Counsel at Greenspoon Marder

The Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (“OLCC”) periodically updates its recreational marijuana rules, often just to fix technical errors or clarify existing rules. But sometimes those rule changes can profoundly impact the marijuana business.   OLCC’s current draft rule updates propose changes that, if adopted as written, may significantly impact the industry in ways that could be bad for business.  We discuss below the proposed rules that we think may be the most disruptive for the industry.

Conditional Approval Required for Changes to Business Structure – OAR 845-025-1165(3)

OLCC’s current rules allow a marijuana licensee to add or remove any individual who qualifies as an “applicant” (such as certain equity investors) at any time by simply notifying OLCC before the fact. Then, if OLCC finds the added applicant to be unlicensable, the licensee may remove them from its business structure.  Because the current rule allows a licensee to add equity investors immediately, without having to wait for OLCC approval, it has been a life-saver to the industry, which, especially now, needs investment more than ever.

OLCC now proposes to eliminate this rule and require licensees to obtain “conditional approval” prior to the addition or subtraction of an individual applicant.  If adopted, this rule would be a step backward, causing delays for businesses trying to add capital or make management changes.  In years past, before adopting the current rule, OLCC could take six to nine months (or longer) to approve new applicants, slowing licensees’ ability to change and adapt to the market.  Reverting to a pre-approval system, even just “conditional approval,” could again delay capital raising for an already hobbled industry.

Prohibition on “Operating a Licensed Business” Pending a Change of Ownership – OAR 845-025-1170(3)

This draft amendment would prohibit a proposed buyer from “operating” an OLCC-licensed business until the OLCC approves the buyer’s change of ownership application.  Currently,  change of ownership approval can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days. Under the current rules, a buyer may assist with the seller’s business operations so long as buyer and seller comply with applicable OLCC disclosure rules.

Though it’s not entirely clear from the amendment’s language, the proposed rule may inhibit a buyer’s opportunity to work with a seller in the period leading up to a change of ownership. We see no reason that a buyer should not be able to assist the seller in operating its business so long as that person or entity has first been disclosed to OLCC through the standard change of business structure notification process.  Again, this change appears to be a step backwards from OLCC’s current, streamlined licensing approach, and, if adopted, could disrupt purchase and sale transactions and smooth transitions from sellers to buyers in an already volatile marketplace.

Major Changes to OLCC “Combo” Change of Ownership and Location Actions – OAR 845-025-1170(6)(a)

Currently, OLCC allows a recreational marijuana licensee to submit simultaneous change of ownership and location applications, in what the OLCC calls “combo” actions.  Combo actions allow a licensee to sell an OLCC-licensed business to a buyer who can simultaneously move the business to a new location.  This proposed rule would condition a combo action on the seller first requesting to surrender its license before the OLCC assigns the change of ownership application to an investigator.  And the amendment specifically states that OLCC will process the seller’s license surrender even if the change of ownership process is not ultimately completed, which would leave the seller without a license if the sales transaction falls through.  Such a change could reasonably eliminate most, if not all, combo actions, because the seller risks losing its license if the sale doesn’t close.

Regardless of OLCC’s intent, if adopted, the rule may only serve to undermine the efficient sale and purchase of licensed businesses.  To avoid losing its license, a seller would either need to complete a change of ownership first and then a change of location, or vice versa, each of which requires 30-90 days of wait time.  And doing separate change applications would increase the necessary documentation and assumed legal risk (such as entering into a lease at a location where a seller or buyer does not intend to operate).  Of all the new proposed rules, this one may have the most significant impact to OLCC-licensed businesses, and frankly, would likely create significantly more work for OLCC.

Potency Audits and Relabeling Requirements – OAR 845-025-5760(4)

Current rules permit OLCC to require a licensee to submit any of its products to OLCC audit testing.  However, this proposed rule would allow OLCC to require the batch of product to be relabeled at the cost of the licensee if audit testing reveals a “statistically significant difference” in potency (THC/CBD) results from the initial compliance test. OLCC estimates that such relabeling could cost a licensee $10,000-$30,000, though the actual cost would depend on many factors including batch size, labor costs, supplies, etc.

This proposed amendment would effectively permit OLCC to penalize producer, processor, or wholesaler licensees for a lab licensee’s inaccurate potency test results.  In other words, even if a licensee complies with all testing rules, the OLCC may effectively impose a civil penalty on that licensee, which has not committed any violations, if a laboratory provides that licensee with inaccurate potency numbers.

Further, this proposed amendment presupposes audits of fully packaged and labeled products, including, presumably, those products already on retail shelves and available for purchase.  Auditing products when they are already available to the public seems to undermine the point of audit testing in the first place – to protect the public.  Also, from cost and logistical perspectives, audit tests performed after product distribution would necessitate that product’s recall and collection prior to relabeling.

To address these issues, the OLCC could craft a rule in which it conducts audit testing immediately after, or in conjunction with, compliance testing, so that the licensee can label it accurately the first time around.  Crafted that way, the rule would better protect public safety while sparing producer, processor, or wholesaler licensees from penalties based on a lab’s inaccurate results.

Clarification on Retailer Walk-Up and Drive-Through Windows– OAR 845-025-1300(1)(g)

Current OLCC rules regarding retailer deliveries to customers outside the licensed premises seem to conflict in some ways. The rules have always prohibited the delivery of marijuana through walk-up or drive-through windows. At the beginning of the pandemic, however, the OLCC adopted temporary rules to allow the on-site delivery of marijuana within 150 feet of a licensed premises.  These rules became permanent and have been good for retail customers who want a contactless purchase experience.

Under the current rules, retail staff can simply bring the order out to a customer’s car parked within 150 feet of the licensed premises but cannot sell products through a walk-up or drive-through window. To resolve this conflict, OLCC’s proposed amendment removes the prohibition against walk-up windows, but not drive-through windows. Given that retailers may already deliver to customers in cars nearby, the continued prohibition against drive-through windows seems illogical and may prevent retailers from maximizing their efficiency.

Categorization of Rule Violations, Generally

The proposed rule amendments add categories for rule violations that were previously uncategorized.  This is a positive change insofar as it provides certainty for licensees regarding the penalties for different types of rule violations.  However, some arguably minor violations, including some that pose no threat to public safety, carry fairly stiff penalties under the proposed amendments.

For example, pursuant to the draft amendments, the failure to notify OLCC of a temporary business closure lasting 30-days or longer would be a Category III violation (OAR 845-025-1160(5)(a)). Category III violations are considered “violations that create a potential threat to public health or safety,” and OLCC would typically impose a $2,500 fine or a 10-day license suspension for the first violation in a 2-year period. Notably, “temporary business closure” is undefined, so a licensee may not know when it is in violation of this rule.  Other proposed Category III violations include failure to notify OLCC of change in an applicant’s contact information, and failure to notify OLCC of disciplinary action by another governmental entity (such as a county or city) (OAR 845-025-1160(5)(a)).

Have Your Voice Heard!

The above examples, though significant, represent only a fraction of the proposed amendments.  We encourage all OLCC licensees to read these proposed rule changes and let OLCC know what you think about them.  OLCC has scheduled a public hearing on the proposed rules on October 25, 2022 from 10am-11am, and you can provide testimony virtually at that time by visiting the listed event here under the “Recreational Marijuana” meeting schedule:  .

You can also provide feedback to OLCC by sending in written comments to the proposed rules by October 31, 2022, at noon.  Comments should be emailed to OLCC Rules Coordinator Nicole Blosse at

Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have questions or need guidance regarding these proposed rule changes.

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It’s estimated that 75% of cannabis transactions in California occur outside the regulated market. Dwell on that for a moment: Most cannabis transactions in California fall outside the regulated market. We use euphemisms to describe this: illicit, illegal, grey market, unregulated, legacy. Proposition 64, which created a regulated California cannabis market, passed in 2016, and now, almost 6 years later, three in four cannabis sales avoid the system Proposition 64 created. 

Why? Most jurisdictions ban the system that Prop. 64 created. Even though Prop. 64 passed, two-thirds of California cities prohibit what Prop.64 created: cannabis manufacture, distribution, retail, cultivation, and testing.  

For most California cities, the cannabis business is “illegal-only.” Too often, we focus on the people in the illicit/illegal/grey market, the “outlaws.” Let’s instead focus on the structures blocking the legal market: the cities responsible for blocking legal cannabis. Local governments blocking Prop. 64 are responsible for illegal-only zones. This “illegal-only” language may be provocative; cities will retort, “We don’t require illegal-only. We simply decline to authorize legal cannabis businesses.” Fair enough.  

One such city is Los Gatos, near San Jose. Los Gatos provides a good case study on “illegal-only” cities because its town council studied residents’ views and the impacts of cannabis normalization (read more here).  In the year after Prop. 64 was approved 57% to 43% statewide, and 62% to 38% in Los Gatos, the City passed an ordinance prohibiting commercial cannabis. In other words, Los Gatos residents voted in favor of legal, regulated adult-use cannabis, but the Town Council removed the blocked it. Four years later, in 2020, the Town Council affirmed this ban, but began further study. In January 2022, Los Gatos hired consultants to provide additional analysis and community engagement. Six years after Prop. 64, a majority of Los Gatos residents (58%) again supported commercial cannabis in their city. But, in June 2022, the Town Council affirmed the 2017 ban for a second time. Why?  

Some Los Gatos residents told the Council that cannabis businesses would harm the town’s image, would not provide significant tax revenue, and would create intolerable risks for users and children (cannabis is a “destructive addictive drug that can ruin lives and destroys developing brains;” “every addicted drug user, which causes homelessness, started their addiction with cannabis. It is a gateway drug;” “allowing storefront marijuana dispensaries in Los Gatos completely negates  efforts that our town has upheld for [good, well supported schools]”). Cannabis opponents also point to neighboring jurisdictions who have also outlawed regulated cannabis businesses, such as Cupertino, Saratoga, and Campbell.  Residents support lifting the ban for predictable reasons: “Adding tax revenue, providing safe access and eliminating the [illegal] market by allowing legitimate businesses seems like an obvious choice.”  But the minority opinion seems to hold more sway with the Town Council. 

Los Gatos isn’t any worse than most places in California – most jurisdictions continue to ban the legal cannabis market. Senate Bill 1186 aims to eliminate cannabis deserts, beginning with the delivery of medicinal cannabis products. Written by Senator Scott Wiener and co-sponsored by Assemblyperson Ash Kalra (whose district abuts Los Gatos), SB 1186 blocks prohibitions of medicinal cannabis delivery. In other words, after SB 1186, Los Gatos may not prohibit delivery of medicinal cannabis. Residents of Los Gatos can order medicinal products for delivery, beginning January 1, 2024.  

Prop. 64’s authors (and most of us in California) assumed the adult-use market would swallow the old medicinal sector. But medicinal products continue to exist, despite bans of (adult-use and medicinal) cannabis businesses. SB 1186 means that, in about 14 months, licensed delivery companies can bring medicinal cannabis anywhere in the Golden State. SB 1186 became law on September 18. Check out the podcast with Senator Wiener about 1186 and what’s next.. 

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By: Duncan Delano and Brittany Tovar

Applications for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary Licenses to Open Next Week

The New York Office of Cannabis Management (“OCM”) announced it will begin accepting applications for Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (“CAURD”) licenses beginning next Thursday, August 25, 2022. CAURD licensees are scheduled to make the first legal adult-use cannabis sales before the end of 2022.

Atonement for the War on Drugs

Applicants can apply under the qualifying business track or qualifying nonprofit track. The business track requires that one or more owners of at least 51% of the business be (a) “justice involved” and (b) have “qualifying business experience”, and one such owner must hold at least 30% of the company’s equity and exercise sole control over the company.

  • “Justice Involved” means that the person or one of the person’s parents/guardians or children/dependents was convicted of a marijuana offense in New York prior to March 31, 2021.
  • “Qualifying Business Experience” means that the Justice Involved person has owned at least 10% of a business (anywhere, not just New York) that was profitable for at least 2 years.

New York State to Site and Construct Dispensaries

New York’s Cannabis Social Equity Investment Fund (the “Fund”) has been established to position qualifying social equity entrepreneurs to succeed in New York’s adult-use cannabis industry. The Fund is a public-private limited partnership charged with financing and equipping up to 150 CAURDs in New York.

The Fund, operating through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (“DASNY”) will help approved CAURD license applicants cover certain initial operating costs, including locating, designing, and constructing retail sites. Financing for the Fund’s will include up to $50 million in licensing fees and revenue from the adult-use cannabis industry and up to $150 million in private sector funds.

Once locations are located and built out, the Fund will then sublease the “turn-key” dispensaries to CAURD licensees.  The state intends to locate CAURDs in 14 geographical regions, and CAURD license applicants will be able to select their top 5 regions when applying.  As of the end of last week, the state had not yet acquired any sites for the CAURD program (CAURD applicants may not find and acquire their own property).

Earlier this year DASNY chose a minority-led investment team to run the Fund: Social Equity Impact Ventures, LLC (“Impact Ventures”). Impact Ventures is a joint venture partially run by NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber.

Application Process and Guidance

The CAURD license application will consist of two parts and must be submitted to OCM.  Applicants must first submit evidence of eligibility.  Once deemed eligible, applicants must then submit a full application.  Applications must be submitted by September 26, 2022.  If you or someone you know might qualify for these first-to-market cannabis retail licenses, please reach out to us.

See OCM’s FAQ and an application mockup.  Additional information can be found through the following links:

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By Russell Rotondi, Shareholder

One of the most important relationships a beer supplier or brewery will enter into is with that of its wholesale distributor.  As such, the malt beverage distribution agreement is one of the most important contracts for the brewery and wholesaler alike.  In Oregon, like many other states, this relationship is highly regulated.  But unsuspecting breweries, especially start-ups, are often unaware of the pitfalls of entering into a supplier-wholesaler relationship without understanding the statutory and administrative law that works behind the scenes to the supplier’s disadvantage.

It should be noted at the outset that Oregon law provides that as an exception to its tied-house rules (i.e., prohibition against suppliers, wholesalers or retailers in owning a financial interest in one another), Oregon malt beverage suppliers licensed as a brewery-public house (BP) are allowed to self-distribute up to 7,500 barrels of the beer it brews per year.[2]  For context, of the reporting U.S. breweries in 2021, greater than 92% of them produce fewer than 7,500 barrels of beer per year (one barrel equaling 31,000 gallons).[1]

That said, what if a supplier (of any size) wants to focus on plying its beer-making craft and intends to rely on a third-party wholesaler for its distribution needs?  Unfortunately for suppliers, most U.S. state legislatures have placed their thumb on the scale to create what this author considers to be an unfair advantage to wholesalers with respect to the supplier-wholesaler relationship.

This interventionism from state legislatures was originally justified as protectionism by the state in favor of smaller, local distributors dealing with larger, often multi-state, breweries (e.g., Anheuser-Busch) importing their beer into local jurisdictions and taking advantage of the “little guy.” However, in the beverage industry of 2022, distributors have become the large, often multi-state, operators, and the suppliers are often craft brewery start-ups that would traditionally benefit from such protectionism.  In other words, over the years, the balance of power has shifted one-hundred and eighty (180) degrees.

Alcohol franchise law is the body of state law that serves to govern the relationship between two contracting licensee parties.  In the case of the supplier-wholesaler relationship, it is this author’s opinion that franchise laws often distort the free market relationship to restrict the ability of a brewery to leave its distributor.  Even worse, suppliers are often unaware of the imbalance of power created by franchise law when entering into such relationships.

In Oregon, the relevant statutes are contained in Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) §§ 474.005-474.115.  Some of the highlights of Oregon’s beer franchise law are as follows:

  • Wholesale distribution agreements must be in writing (ORS § 474.007);
  • Good cause is required for a supplier to terminate, cancel or fail to renew a distribution agreement and distributors have an opportunity to cure and take corrective action for 90 days (ORS § 474. 011);
  • In the event of a termination by supplier that is not for good cause, or in bad faith, the distributor is entitled to compensation from the supplier pursuant to “fair market value” (ORS § 474.011) and the supplier has the burden to prove it acted reasonably (ORS § 474.075);
  • There are limited grounds for supplier to terminate without providing an opportunity to cure (ORS § 474.015);
  • Successors in interest are bound by such agreements (ORS § 475.025) and a supplier may not unreasonably interfere with the transfer of a wholesaler (ORS § 475.045); and
  • The territory of the distribution agreement must be designated in writing and filed with Oregon’s relevant regulatory agency, the Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Commission (OLCC) (ORS § 475.115).

While on its face, the statutory provisions may seem innocuous, but given the generous cure period, the economic consequences of “fair market” compensation, and the totality of statutory protections for the distributor, state alcohol franchise law, and specifically Oregon’s beer franchise law, often serve to grant the distributor indefinite and typically exclusive rights to sell a supplier’s products, no matter the distributor’s performance (good or bad) in the relationship.  This leaves an opening for distributors to abuse the system to the detriment of suppliers.

Before an Oregon brewery enters into a relationship with a third-party wholesale distributor, it should familiarize itself with Oregon’s beer franchise laws and consult an experienced attorney to understand its rights, what material terms are dictated by statute even if contrary to the terms of a written agreement, and what material terms are open for negotiation and on what commercially reasonable terms.

[1] Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) § 471.200


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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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Governor Newsome Budget Proposal

On May 13, 2022Governor Newsom released his proposed California Budget which included cannabis tax reform. The state has acknowledged that the current cannabis tax framework is overly complex and burdensome to both operators and consumers. The hope is to simplify the tax structure, remove unnecessary burdens and costs, and temporarily reduce taxes with hope to assist in stabilizing the cannabis market. The major proposed changes are as follows:

  • eliminate the cultivation tax beginning July 1, 2022 and temporarily maintain the excise tax rate at 15%;
  • shift the collection of the excise tax from the distributor to the retailer starting January 1, 2023;
  • allow the excise the tax to increase between January 1, 2024 to July 1, 2025 depending on the amount of tax revenue received; and
  • starting July 1, 2025, increase the excise tax to 19%.

The release of the proposal is the first step in the legislative process. The proposal will be reviewed and potentially accepted, rejected, or amended over the next four-weeks. Reach out to your local advocacy groups for information on how to reach out to your state representatives and voice your thoughts.

Other tax related bills have been moving forward through the California legislative process, including SB-1074 (eliminates the cultivation tax and increases the excise tax by an undetermined amount) which has recently been ordered inactive, and SB-1281 (discontinue cultivation tax and lowers the excise tax to 5%) which has been held at its current desk.

AB-2691 – Temporary Event Cultivator Retailer License

As of May 26, 2022, this bill has been ordered inactive at the request of Assembly Member Wood. The bill would have allowed equity applicants and cultivators of less than an acre of cannabis (inclusive of all licensed premises) to obtain up to 8 temporary event retail licenses per year to sell cannabis direct to consumers at licensed cannabis events. Additional work needs to be done to get this bill, or at least some version of this bill, to move forward.

SB-1148 – Cannabis: California Environmental Quality Act

The bill was last amended on May 23, 2022. If passed as written, CEQA review would not be required by the state agency to issue a state license if the local jurisdiction filed a notice of exemption or determination with the Office of Planning and Research specific to the cannabis activity. The exemption only applies to the activities associated and reviewed under CEQA by the local jurisdiction. As of May 27th, this bill was moved to the Assembly, read for the first time, and held at the Assembly desk.

SB – 1186 – Medicinal Cannabis Patient’s Right of Access

This bill prohibits local jurisdictions, on or after January 1, 2024, from adopting or enforcing any regulation that prohibits the delivery of medicinal cannabis within the local jurisdiction. On May 23, 2022, the bill passed the state Senate and ordered to the Assembly. Given that there are still a majority of the local jurisdictions that banned commercial activity, it has been burdensome for medical patients to receive their medicine. This could help ensure access to patients that don’t have the capability to travel to the nearest dispensary. As of May 24, 2022, this bill was moved to the Assembly, read for the first time, and held at the Assembly desk.

This blog is for informational purposes only and is not intended for legal advice. Emerge is tracking numerous pieces of state and local statutes, ordinances, and rules. If you have any questions, reach out to attorneys Genny Kiley or Delia Rojas.

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The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has published proposed rule amendments that would subject certain marijuana and hemp items to additional testing, namely mycotoxin, microbiological contaminates, and heavy metals testing.  See the notice of proposed rulemaking and rule revisions here.

OHA claims that the cost of the additional testing – set to go in effect in July 2022 and January 2023 –  would largely be offset by additional proposed revisions including, among other things, updating lab sampling protocols (including combining sample increments into a single sample without requiring an approved control study), expanding the harvest lot timeframe from 72 hours to seven calendar days, increasing a marijuana test batch from 15 pounds to 50 pounds, and repealing certain water activity test requirements and removing the control study concept altogether.  OHA estimates that the greatest increase in costs to licensees would arise from the additional equipment, personnel, workspace modifications, and accreditation testing labs would have to undergo to provide the additional testing.

Other proposed testing rule changes include shifting the testing scheme toward “end product” testing, including new rules for finished inhalable cannabinoid product testing prior to transfer to a retailer and for baked edible products.  Additional standards for accredited testing labs include the adoption of stricter standards and methods to ensure more accurate and consistent testing among different labs.

The proposed revisions could have a major effect on nearly all marijuana producers, marijuana and hemp processors, and wholesalers who test marijuana and hemp items.  The complete proposed revisions can be found here.  OHA is currently seeking input on the proposed rules (read: This is your chance to comment on rules that affect you!).  You can provide oral comment at the public hearing set for February 16, 2022, at 11 am by registering at and written comments to the same email address until 5 pm on February 21, 2022.

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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: