Moderator | Scott Moskol

Payment, delivery and e-commerce platforms have been evolving, innovating, grabbing market share and attracting serious capital. Thought leaders from companies that are blazing trails in the cannabis industry with new technologies share strategies on how to be dominant players in the space.

Click here to watch the full video.… Keep reading

Moderator | Max Riffin

How is the cannabis industry accessing capital? What is the status of the M&A market? Are SPACs the new exit? How are deals being structured, and who are the active players? Our panel of experts consists of buyers and sellers, capital sources and advisers who offer answers rooted in firsthand experience.

Click here to watch the full video.… Keep reading

Navigating Regulation & Legislation: Where Are We Really Headed?

Moderator | Scott Moskol

The marijuana industry’s ever-evolving regulatory and legislative updates create layers of complexities and hurdles for businesses and investors – but can also generate ample opportunities. Our panelists will share opinions on the latest legal and political developments, predictions on what’s next, and strategies to take advantage of new opportunities and thrive in this shifting space.

Click here to watch the full video.… Keep reading

The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act: Too Much Too Soon? Too Little Too Late? Or Just the Right Time?

On July 14, 2021, Senators Chuck Schumer, Cory Booker and Ron Wyden introduced a bill to legalize and regulate cannabis at the federal level, titled “The Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act.” This short, impactful bill is sure to stir up controversy and polarizing debate among legislators when, and if, it ever reaches the Senate floor.

The deadline for public comment recently passed – September 1, 2021 – and, unsurprisingly, the drafters of the bill were flooded with input from special interests groups, including the U.S. Cannabis Council, the Marijuana Policy Project, a number of prominent universities and legal scholars, and the DC Fiscal Policy Institute.

While not required, it is likely the drafters of the bill will revise based on some of the comments received, with the actual filing of the bill to follow. Once filed, it will be sent to committee for continued revision and debate.

Recent polls state that 60% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis, but, despite the ideological promises of a representative government, popular support does not necessarily convert into affirmative votes on the Senate floor. The bill requires the support of every Democratic Senator and at least 10 Republicans.

Many Washington insiders are … Keep reading

Featured on CUInsight | Reading the Fine Print: Are Your Directors and Officers Protected?

Cannabis banking can offer many valuable financial benefits for credit unions choosing to serve the industry. However, implementing a well-managed, compliant cannabis banking program requires considerable planning and an understanding of all potential areas of risk. This includes ensuring that the credit union’s directors and officers are covered by their institution’s Directors and Officers (D&O) liability insurance policy. Shield sat down with corporate and finance-focused attorney Scott Moskol, a partner of Boston-based law firm Burns & Levinson and co-chair of the firm’s Financial Restructuring & Distressed Transactions and Cannabis Business & Law Advisory practices. Named an inaugural “Cannabis Trailblazer” by The National Law Journal in 2018, Scott has been providing corporate counsel to clients in the cannabis industry since 2013 and offers his insights on this complex issue.

Read the rest on CUInsight.com.… Keep reading

Cannabis Reform Hits the Senate: A Brief Overview of the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act

This past week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) unveiled the first draft of his long-awaited bill to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sen. Schumer presented the proposal at a July 14 press conference. Titled the Cannabis Administration and Opportunity Act, the legislation – which was partly modeled after the social equity-focused Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act – largely aligns with advocate and stakeholder expectations.

See “MORE Act: Federal Cannabis Legalization Reintroduced in House” for discussion of the House legislation and its social equity provisions.

“Communities that have been most harmed by cannabis prohibition are benefitting the least from the legal marijuana marketplace,” reads the findings section of the bill, further noting that a “legacy of racial and ethnic injustices, compounded by the disproportionate collateral consequences of 80 years of cannabis prohibition enforcement, now limits participation in the industry.” If enacted, the senators’ bill would decriminalize and deschedule cannabis, expunge prior convictions, and allow the states to create their own marijuana policies.

The proposal is multifaceted and comprehensively addresses several critical issues:

  • Federalism: States may decide whether or how
Keep reading
Cannabis Capital Markets in New York: M&A Deals and Capital Raises Are Skyrocketing

 

When New York became the 15th state to legalize recreational cannabis on March 31, 2021, it opened one of the largest cannabis markets globally. Not surprisingly, the state’s capital raises and M&A activity in the cannabis space have meteorically accelerated following the legislature’s legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law the New York State Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) to legalize recreational use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, although the recreational market in New York will take longer to bloom. The state’s timeline for opening recreational cannabis dispensaries was originally expected to take at least 18 months, but this projection may be further delayed due to an apparent legislative impasse over who should lead the new Office of Cannabis Management and the Cannabis Control Board, which were created under the MRTA to regulate New York’s legal cannabis industry.

Nonetheless, the enthusiasm of the capital markets cannot be contained. A recent graph from Viridian Capital Advisors tracks year-to-date capital raises and M&A deals with New York-based companies as either acquirers or targets:

As noted by Viridian, both capital raises and M&A transactions have skyrocketed to record levels since New York … Keep reading

The SAFE Banking Act: A Reasonable and Narrowly Tailored Approach to Addressing Public Safety Concerns and Lack of Financial Services in Today’s Cannabis Industry

Compared to businesses in other industries, there is no debate that legally operating cannabis-related businesses (referred to herein as “cannabis companies”) are disadvantaged in their efforts to raise capital and thus grow their business. This disparity is especially stark as it relates to cannabis companies seeking to raise debt capital through loan arrangements with financial institutions and private lenders. As a result of the continued federal illegality of marijuana, would-be lenders are hesitant (or, more commonly, outright unwilling) to deploy their capital to cannabis companies for fear of being penalized by federal banking regulators. The primary justifications for assessing penalties on lenders who do transact with cannabis companies are (1) that the proceeds of a loan to a cannabis company inevitably fund “unlawful activity” (i.e., the cultivation, processing and sale of cannabis products) and/or (2) the proceeds deposited by cannabis companies in saving institutions are deemed generated from unlawful activity and are therefore subject to anti-money laundering (AML) regulations.

How Limited Financial Services Affect the Cannabis Industry

The unwillingness of many banks and other financial institutions to provide financial services to cannabis companies hamstrings the companies in a number of ways; most prominently, it (1) limits the financial services … Keep reading

MORE Act: Federal Cannabis Legalization Reintroduced in House

Just before the start of Memorial Day weekend, U.S. House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler reintroduced the MORE Act – formally known as the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act – which would federally legalize cannabis by removing it from the federal Controlled Substances Act. This would allow people with cannabis convictions to have their records expunged and would create a federal tax on marijuana with the revenue allocated to community reinvestment programs. This is not the first time the MORE Act has made its way through Congress. During the previous Congress, the House passed a similar version of the bill by a vote of 228-164, but it failed to advance in the Republican-controlled Senate.

If approved by both chambers and signed by President Biden – which is possible, but by no means a certainty – the MORE Act would provide enormous economic opportunities for plant-touching and ancillary businesses across the country. Further, federal legalization would disrupt the current patchwork of state-legal marijuana markets. To date, 18 states and Washington, D.C. have legalized adult-use cannabis, although states have yet to officially launch their programs. The opportunity for interstate trade and the formation of regional (and national) cannabis markets would spark … Keep reading