Many Massachusetts residents take a look around in the middle of their careers and realize that they are not happy in their current work situation. Some are black-market pot dealers looking to go legitimate, and others are simply looking for a change. What they share is that they wish to enter the regulated cannabis industry in the Commonwealth.*
The beginning point for all such people should be an experienced cannabis attorney. The first reason is that attorneys are heavily regulated. They must abide by codes of ethics, and accountability structures are in place. Too many con-artists promise cannabis riches, if you only pay their high “consulting” fee. While many cannabis consultants are reputable, many are not. If they rip you off, you may find yourself in a “buyer beware” financial loss. Licensed attorneys, however, have every incentive for fair dealing.
A second reason to visit an experienced cannabis attorney, before spending any other money in starting a cannabis business, is financial. Cannabis license applications in Massachusetts have an “order of operations,” which can sometimes be inflexible. Even a well-financed company can lose lots of money by putting the cart before the proverbial horse. Too often, entrepreneurs skip ahead, neglect important prerequisite tasks, and find themselves hemorrhaging money, and having to quit or begin again from scratch.
A third reason, and the final one discussed here, is that individuals looking to work in the cannabis space need to know what they’re getting themselves into. They need to understand the tensions in state and federal law, and the major landmines they will face as a business owner. These include but are not limited to banking, taxes, local approval, and state regulation. On top of these types of issues, the fact remains that cannabis remains illegal under the Federal Controlled Substances Act. While state-compliant businesses are typically not high priority for Federal criminal prosecution, even state-compliant businesses and operators could face fines, jail time, property forfeiture, or all of the above, if prosecuted.
Despite the inherent risks, the Cannabis industry remains an exciting and dynamic sector of the economy. Many can find both prosperity and career happiness by following their dream of operating a regulated cannabis business. A recipe for success requires quality legal advice from the outset.
*NON-HEMP CANNABIS REMAINS ILLEGAL UNDER FEDERAL LAW. CULTIVATION, SALE AND POSESSION OF MARIJUANA COULD RESULT IN CRIMINAL CONVICTION, INCARCERATION, FINES, AND PROPERTY SEIZURE. COMPLETE COMPLIANCE WITH STATE REGULATIONS WILL NOT OFFER A LEGAL DEFENSE IN FEDERAL COURT. UNDER THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION AND DECISIONS BY THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT, FEDERAL LAW IS SUPREME IN CASES WHERE STATE AND FEDERAL LAW CONFLICT.