In 2013, the principal of a small, private equity fund client asked us what we knew about the world of medical marijuana. He was acting on behalf of a group that had, at the time, recently obtained one of three such licenses issued by the State of Rhode Island, and that needed help navigating the complexities inherent to the nascent cannabis industry. Leveraging our corporate expertise, we assisted in documenting the capital raise necessary for both the build-out of a cultivation facility and construction of a kitchen. That engagement marked our initial foray into the world of legalized marijuana commerce…
Since then, the industry has exploded.
Per Arcview Market Research, marijuana sales are expected to exceed $20 billion in North America by 2021, excluding revenues generated from ancillary cannabis businesses. Eight states – including the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, in 2016 – have voted in favor of the plant’s legalization for recreational use, and certain states now offer banking options for licensed dispensaries. Last year, there was an IPO for a REIT raising capital to purchase real estate to be leased to cannabis businesses. And throughout the first half of 2017, several bipartisan, cannabis-related bills were introduced in Congress, including one that would permit the possession, production, and sale of medical marijuana, in compliance with states laws. This bill was co-sponsored by two Democrats and three Republicans, including former presidential candidate Rand Paul.
In response to the speed of the space’s growth, its ever-changing regulations, and an increasingly high level of investor interest, Burns & Levinson became one of the first law firms in the country to establish a cannabis-dedicated practice – the Cannabis Business Advisory Group. Our deep knowledge of the legal and commercial intricacies pertaining to enterprise marijuana, combined with our wide-ranging experience, positions us as a “one-stop shop” for clients, with the agility necessary to guide them through the full business lifecycle.
And now, to share our insights and expertise with as many people as possible, we are thrilled to announce the launch of this blog!
Here, we will offer perspectives and lessons learned, exploring issues at the front lines of marijuana’s continued shift to the mainstream. We plan to spotlight emerging opportunities, related business, developing technologies, legal initiatives, and visionary thinkers, serving as a resource for anyone seeking relevant information about entering, operating, or investing the market.
Most importantly, though, we want to convey our enthusiastic optimism with respect to the world of cannabis to our readers. This industry presents rich opportunity for those venturesome enough to participate – parallels to the “wild, wild West” abound. And Burns & Levinson, which has always been committed to getting into the weeds of our clients’ businesses (pun intended!), looks forward to guiding successful outcomes in this exciting, new frontier.