August 2022

Early Bird Tickets Available Now: 6th Annual State of the Cannabis Industry Conference

Join us on Monday, October 17, for Burns & Levinson’s nationally recognized State of the Cannabis Industry Conference! Each year our team convenes national experts and industry leaders to share unique strategic legal and financial perspectives on forecasted trends, regulations, M&A, investments, and more. Make connections, develop partnerships, and gain insight from industry leaders.

We’re back for our sixth and best event yet with a full day of in-person programming at the Westin Waltham Boston — although there is a live stream option for those who’d like to access the panels remotely.

Early bird tickets are on sale for a limited time for a discounted price of $149. Click here to purchase.

This year’s panels include:

  • A discussion on restructuring, workouts, and distressed mergers and acquisitions,
  • A spotlight on women executives in the cannabis industry,
  • A deep dive into capital markets, financing, debt, and the state of M&A,
  • A fireside chat with Steven Hoffman, the former chairman of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission,
  • A CEO roundtable.

Be sure to subscribe for more updates on confirmed speakers and panels.

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“If you build it, they will come.” These were the words spoken from above to Kevin Costner’s character, Ray Kinsella, in Field of Dreams, as he walked through an Iowa cornfield and envisioned Shoeless Joe Jackson standing in what would become a beautiful ballfield. And this vision did come true. Like Ray, countless entrepreneurs have walked through farmlands, warehouses and retail shops alike – dreaming of building state-of-the-art cannabis facilities.

The cannabis industry is home to some of the hardest working, gritty, thoughtful, and passionate entrepreneurs in the world, and there are plenty of success stories out there. However, the industry at large is quickly experiencing a difficult truth: it’s not as simple as if you build it, they will come. The saying for the industry, at this point, should probably be something more along the lines of if you build it, and build it in a great location, and are well capitalized, and execute effectively, with a great team that provides customers with a consistent product, then they will come.

Yes, there is momentum from 2021’s state legislative victories that resulted in Connecticut, New Mexico, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia all legalizing adult use. But … Keep reading

IDFPR Provides Key Guidance Regarding Management Service Agreements for Conditional License Holders in Illinois

On July 1, 2022, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR)—the regulatory department charged with implementing and administrating multiple aspects, including licensing, of Illinois’ Adult Use Cannabis Program—published an Advisory Notice online providing information to conditional dispensary licensees (Conditional Licensees).

Buried amongst otherwise relatively straightforward guidance regarding rules related to business operations and timing expectations for the conditional license process was new crucial guidance regarding the use of Management Service Agreements (MSAs) by Conditional Licensees.

The IDFPR stated that MSAs require new Principal Officers to be added to the ownership structures of Conditional Licensees. Conditional Licensees are barred from changing their Principal Officers until they have received an active license—so the IDFPR’s declaration effectively prohibits the use of MSAs by Conditional Licensees.

The IDFPR’s stance is somewhat surprising given the definition of “Principal Officer”:

Principal Officer includes a cannabis business establishment applicant or licensed cannabis business establishment’s board member, owner with more than 1% interest of the total cannabis business establishment or more than 5% interest of the total cannabis business establishment of a publicly traded company, president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, partner, officer, member, manager member, or person with a profit sharing, financial interest, or revenue Keep reading

Massachusetts Cannabis Industry Reform

Over the past few years, August has become a popular month for cannabis industry reform in Massachusetts.

Most recently, the Massachusetts legislature approved a bill, S. 3096, earlier this week that significantly changed many of the challenges faced by operators in the Commonwealth’s cannabis market for years. At a high level, the reforms focused on two main aspects – social equity and host community agreements (HCAs). The bill has been sent to the desk of Charlie Baker for approval.

Here’s the top three things you need to know about the updates to social equity and HCA as proposed in the new bill.

Social Equity

  • Leveling the HCA Playing Field – The new bill establishes that the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission (CCC) will now have the power to develop a model HCA with minimum standards and best practices to be implemented during the negotiation process between social equity licensees and their host communities that they intend to operate. These standards will be specific to social equity businesses (SEBs), which presumably could give SEBs a leg up in negotiating power with municipalities with respect to HCAs that may not necessarily be available to other licensees.
  • Cannabis Social Equity Trust Fund
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