December 11, 2018 Feature

Cannabis: Legal and Business Issues Abound in a Growing Industry

By Michael W. Drumke

Around the globe, cannabis is poised to move from a nascent industry to multi-billion-dollar-a-year business over the next 10 years, according to research cited in Forbes Magazine. https://www.forbes.com/sites/thomaspellechia/2018/03/01/double-digit-billions-puts-north-america-in-the-worldwide-cannabis-market-lead/#2cd572a36510. Spending on legal cannabis worldwide is expected to hit $57 billion by 2027. The adult-use (recreational) market will cover 67 percent of the spending; medical marijuana will take up the remaining 33 percent.

Already, recreational marijuana is legal in nine states and medical marijuana is legal in 30 states. Cannabis initiatives were on the ballot in four more states this November. The number of Americans that support legalization continues to climb, with a 2017 Gallup poll showing that 64 percent of Americans favor legalization.

This year, under the direction of TIPS Chair Roy Cohen, the Section has launched a new Cannabis Law and Policy Task Force. The reason for doing so is simple: The cannabis industry will touch on a myriad of legal issues including federal, state, and local regulation; insurance; banking and finance; product liability; intellectual property; employment; real estate zoning and land use; public nuisance; and water rights—just to name a few.

In addition to navigating the legal terrain for clients in a new and growing industry, lawyers face the additional challenge of ethically providing legal advice at a time when the substance at issue is still listed on Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act and, hence, is illegal under federal law.

In the coming months, the TIPS Cannabis Law and Policy Task Force will be examining the emerging business and legal issues for lawyers and clients involved in the cannabis industry. The initial members of the task force have experience in the field, but as with every TIPS task force and committee, we welcome all interested TIPS members to join us as we begin to develop our programs and plan our publications. Please feel free to contact the task force cochairs, Michael Drumke (mdrumke@smbtrials.com) and Daniel Gourash (dfgourash@sseg-law.com) for more information on the task force’s activities and how to get involved. And, add to your knowledge of this hot topic by reading the feature articles on cannabis by Lisa Dickinson and Lisa Pittman in this edition of TortSource.

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By Michael W. Drumke

Michael W. Drumke is a partner with Swanson, Martin & Bell, LLP, in Chicago, Illinois, where he focuses his practice on trials involving complex business litigation matters, including toxic tort, product liability, pharmaceutical, class action, and commercial litigation. He is a past chair of the Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Section (2014–15), a TIPS representative to the ABA House of Delegates, and current cochair of the TIPS/ABA Standing Committee and the Cannabis Law and Policy Task Force. He may be reached at mdrumke@smbtrials.com.