Specialized cannabis lawyers are really hard to find, but it is likely to be a focus of more lawyers as legal marijuana becomes more accepted throughout the United States. Marijuana is a controversial topic and controversy means business for lawyers. The state of in-between that the cannabis industry currently resides in means that the industry, and the laws ruling it, will be adapting and changing and that means there will be more lawsuits. The trouble is that many lawyers have not focused there time on learning cannabis law due to the fact that cannabis is still illegal federally. Many litigators may not have believed that legal cannabis is here to stay, but that may now be changing.
Napa’s largest law firm, Dickenson Peatman & Fogarty, has made a name for itself serving the legal needs of the wine industry.
Now it plans to do the same with another controlled substance – cannabis.
Earlier this month, DP&F announced the official launch of its cannabis practice group, based in Santa Rosa. This group now offers a specialized, full-service approach to serving the business needs of clients navigating California’s complex cannabis industry.
The news of a law firm getting involved with the cannabis industry might sound surprising, but it’s a good fit for the firm, said representatives.
“Every day, DP&F attorneys serve clients who operate in highly regulated industries,” said Carol Kingery Ritter, one of the firm’s managing partners.
“We are experts in the alcohol beverage industry and given the breadth and depth of our practice, we are set up to serve the cannabis industry seamlessly,” Kingery Ritter said.
“Ultimately cannabis is an ag product,” Kingery Ritter said.
“It wasn’t a far stretch to think about taking our skills and applying it to another ag product that is having a real impact on the economy of Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.”
“We’re in a whole new world,” said Erin Carlstrom, senior counsel, who leads the DP&F cannabis practice group based out of its Santa Rosa office. She joined DP&F about a month ago.
“This is real industry that deserves a sophisticated response from the professionals that serve it and a robust conversation in every community,” said Carlstrom.
Carlstrom worked in cannabis compliance and land use at her previous firm, specializing in government relations and permitting.
She has ushered statewide clients through major projects, from incorporation to operations, and has been responsible for obtaining entitlements all over California.
For now, the DP&F cannabis practice remains based in Santa Rosa, and for a specific reason.
“We’re not trying to compete with the wine industry in Napa,” said Kingery Ritter.
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