Business Law

Business Law News 2019, Issue 4

Cannabis Clients-High Times, or Buzz Kill?1

Neil J. Wertlieb

Neil J. Wertlieb is an experienced transactional lawyer, educator, and ethicist, who provides expert witness services in disputes involving business transactions and corporate governance, and in cases involving attorney malpractice and attorney ethics. He is a Founding Member and Co-Chair of the California Lawyers Association Ethics Committee. The views expressed herein are his own. For additional information, please visit

In November 2016, California legalized marijuana for recreational use.2 The new law created tremendous business opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and others—including attorneys, many of whom jumped into a new practice area of advising operators, growers, distributors, dispensaries, and other participants in the cannabis marketplace.

However, while recreational and medical use is now legal in California, marijuana remains a Schedule 1 restricted drug under the Federal Controlled Substances Act,3 which prohibits the production, distribution, sale, use, and possession of marijuana.

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