Cannabis Law Blog

News & Insights for Cannabis Law and Business

We previously explored the applicability of trade secret protection to cannabis-related inventions. Here, we provide an overview of patent trends in the cannabis industry and how cannabusinesses can use patents to protect their technological, agricultural, genetic, or other innovations. In short, cannabis-related inventions may be patentable and cannabusinesses should work with counsel to identify which innovations may benefit from patent protection.

The cannabis plant (“marijuana”) remains a Schedule I drug under federal law, despite the increasing number of states legalizing cannabis. However, there is no express legality requirement for patent eligibility. So while the actual practice or use of a patented cannabis-related invention may be illegal under federal or some state laws, such illegality should not preclude issuance of a patent, if all of the requirements of patentability are met. In fact, the cannabis-related patent landscape has become increasingly crowded over the past five years with companies staking their early claims to growing methods, delivery methods, supply chain management, extraction techniques, vaporizers, medical treatments, pharmaceutical compositions, and more. Further, the number of jurisdictions legalizing cannabis is increasing, signaling the need for cannabis stakeholders to consider developing strategic domestic and foreign patent portfolios.
Continue Reading Intellectual Property In The Cannabis Industry – Protecting Innovations And Products, Part II (Patents)

This post originally appeared as an article in Cannabis Business Executive on December 5, 2019.

A cannabis product business is no simple venture. Cannabusinesses have to innovate to remain competitive just like any other company, but in an industry plagued by complex and changing federal and state regulations of marijuana (aka cannabis). At the heart of every innovation lies potentially protectible intellectual property (IP) rights and that is no different in the cannabis industry. In our two-part article, we provide cannabis entrepreneurs with an overview of the IP protections available to them for their innovations. In Part I, we discuss trade secret protection. In Part II, we will cover patent protection. In both parts, we will address choosing between trade secret and patent protection.
Continue Reading Intellectual Property in the Cannabis Industry – Protecting Innovations And Products, Part I (Trade Secrets)

The California Legislature has passed Assembly Bill 1482 – Tenant Protection Act of 2019 (“AB 1482”), providing for comprehensive statewide residential rent control and eviction protections.  Signed by Governor Newsom in October 2019, and commencing January 1, 2020, AB 1482, among other things, requires a landlord to evict a tenant only for “just cause” if the tenant has occupied the property for more than 12 months.  (See original post here.)  AB 1482 will remain in effect until January 1, 2030.
Continue Reading Tenant Protection Act of 2019 May Have Unintended Consequences in the Cannabis Space

On November 25, 2019, FDA issued Warning Letters to 15 companies illegally marketing cannabidiol (CBD) products. On the same day, U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) published a revised consumer update, “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD,” describing the “very limited” scientific information available about CBD and its health effects. The points made in the Warning Letters and update are nothing new to those closely following the FDA working group on cannabis and CBD, but the actions signal the FDA’s continued enforcement against companies marketing CBD foods, supplements, and cosmetics with unsupported health claims.
Continue Reading FDA Issues Warning Letters to 15 Companies, Consumer Update on CBD Safety

On November 20, 2019, the House Judiciary Committee approved a bill that would decriminalize cannabis on a nationwide scale. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 – or MORE Act – passed with what some are calling a landslide vote of 24-10, with two Republicans – Representatives Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Tom McClintock (R-CA) – crossing party lines to join in supporting bill. This vote marks the first time in history a congressional committee has affirmatively approved to end federal cannabis prohibition. The committee markup of the MORE Act is historical in and of itself, as it represents the first debate that was not centered on whether cannabis prohibition should be abolished, but, instead, focused on implementation of a policy that would ultimately accomplish cannabis legalization.
Continue Reading In a Historic Move, House Judiciary Committee Moves to Federally Legalize Cannabis

The legalization of cannabis in several states had left a major question unanswered: is an employee who violates the federal Controlled Substances Act (“CSA”) by distributing cannabis as part of his or her job still subject to the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which provides for the payment of wages?
Continue Reading Tenth Circuit Holds the Controlled Substance Act Is Not At Odds With the Fair Labor Standards Act

On October 29, 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released its long-awaited interim final rule governing the U.S. Domestic Hemp Production Program. USDA has been developing these interim regulations since hemp was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill. These hotly anticipated rules are important not only for hemp producers and hemp-derived product companies, but for cannabis companies interested in diversifying or pivoting into a crop that is legal under federal law.
Continue Reading BREAKING NEWS: USDA Releases Interim Final Hemp Rule

On October 12, 2019, Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1291 (“AB 1291”) into law, which requires companies to sign a so-called “labor peace” agreement with a union or risk losing their cannabis license; thereby, strengthening already union-friendly statewide cannabis law.
Continue Reading AB 1291 Forces California Cannabis Companies To Sign “Labor Peace Agreements” With Unions, But Statute May be Unconstitutional

As we have long expected, the plaintiff’s bar has focused its attention on the growing CBD product sector. A series of recently filed lawsuits signal that it is more important than ever for participants in the CBD market to know where their product is coming from and to document their testing and labeling methodologies.
Continue Reading CBD Unfair Competition and False Advertising Lawsuits Are On The Rise