– Cannabis/Marijuana Industry News

Looks like they don’t intend to do things by half…….

Their Press Release

Sheppard Mullin Launches Cannabis Industry Team

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Cross-practice Group Brings Together Firmwide Experience to Support the Fast-Growing Cannabis Industry

June 4, 2019

Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP is pleased to announce the launch of a new Cannabis Industry Team. Currently, the team is comprised of more than 70 attorneys from 12 of the firm’s offices.

“With worldwide legal cannabis spending at more than $12 billion in 2018 and projected to grow to almost $17 billion in 2019, now more than ever cannabis industry businesses need good, sound, experienced legal advice,” said Sheppard Mullin partner Whitney Hodges, leader of the firm’s Cannabis Industry Team. “Sheppard Mullin’s Cannabis Industry Team provides a one-stop shop for clients and is ready to tackle even the most daunting challenges our cannabis clients face. Our team monitors notable industry trends and legislative developments to provide timely guidance to clients seeking to navigate the maze of often-conflicting federal, state and local laws and regulations governing cannabis.”

Added Sheppard Mullin managing partner Robert Beall, “Two-thirds of the states and the District of Columbia now permit recreational or medical cannabis use in some form, so cannabis businesses often have trouble finding well-versed lawyers with mainstream law firms to represent them. Our breadth and depth of experience makes us ideally poised to fill that void.”

Some of Sheppard Mullin’s cannabis industry clients include MassRoots, JoshD Farms, Uniqorn Capital Investments, Mextraction LLC, and Cannelure Partners LLC. The firm currently has more than 40 active clients in the cannabis industry.

About Sheppard Mullin’s Cannabis Industry Team

Sheppard Mullin’s Cannabis team, led by San Diego partner Whitney Hodges and Los Angeles associate Sarah Blitz, helps cannabis and ancillary businesses, including hemp CBD-based or infused products companies, with a wide array of issues attendant to legal cannabis business activities, including regulatory compliance, raising and deploying capital, banking and finance, accounting control and anti-money laundering compliance, real estate development and leasing, litigation, intellectual property, public company representation and SEC filings, land use and zoning, investigations and taxation. In addition to advising participants in the medical and adult-use marijuana industries, as the industry has grown, Sheppard Mullin attorneys experienced in cannabis-related issues frequently advise clients in other sectors whose businesses intersect with the cannabis industry, including real estate development, banking and financing, insurance and employment.

Co Team Leaders  are

Sarah Blitz is an associate in the Business Trial Practice Group in the firm’s Los Angeles office. She is the leader of the firm’s Cannabis industry team and a member of the firm’s Food and Beverage industry and Product Liability teams. 

Areas of Practice

Sarah specializes in commercial and business litigation. Her practice entails matters in state and federal court, including business torts, products liability, professional liability, breach of contract, breach of fiduciary duties and allegations of unfair business practice and fraud.

Sarah also advises cannabis companies and ancillary businesses on regulatory compliance. She also counsels consumer products manufacturers and distributors on products liability and regulatory compliance issues. Sarah also provides regulatory and product liability advice during acquisitions of consumer product and materials companies.

Sarah is experienced in all aspects of California and federal civil procedure, including motion practice, arguing motions in court, taking and defending depositions, trial and alternative dispute resolution proceedings. She also has significant appellate and writ experience before the California Court of Appeal.


Outside the firm, Sarah is involved with the Alliance of Moms. She formerly served on the Advisory Council for City Scholars Foundation. Sarah is also active with the Anti-Defamation League and a participant in the Glass Leadership Institute.

Whitney Hodges is a partner in the Real Estate, Land Use and Natural Resources Practice Group in the firm’s San Diego office. She is the leader of the firm’s Cannabis Industry Team and serves on the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Pro Bono Committee, Recruiting Committee, Energy Team, Multi-Family Team and Latin Business Team.

Areas of Practice

Whitney’s practice focuses on the representation of clients involved in real estate development. She advises and represents major residential, industrial, commercial and mixed-use development projects, as well as Native American Indian tribes and renewable energy developers through all phases of the land use regulatory process and environmental compliance. Her land use experience includes real estate due diligence investigations, negotiating and drafting development agreements, processing land use entitlements, advising tribal governments on environmental and natural resources law, and appearing before governmental agencies and commissions. She also represents developers and management in traditional labor law issues, including union negotiations. Whitney also advises cannabis companies and ancillary businesses on state and local regulatory compliance and.

Real Estate Development

Real estate development has grown increasingly complex and controversial requiring knowledge of applicable federal, state and local laws, as well as the ability to work with a wide range of diverse interests including governmental agency staff, elected officials, landowners, environmental organizations and citizen groups. Whitney’s ability to work with such diverse interests to develop creative, practical and economical solutions is demonstrated by her involvement in the successful approval and permitting of multiple residential, commercial, industrial and mix-used developments during the past several years. Current projects include redevelopment, infill and mixed-use developments throughout southern California, including San Diego, Los Angeles and Riverside counties.

Environmental Compliance

Whitney has assisted public and private sector clients in obtaining permits and approvals from various federal agencies, and has successfully guided clients through the maze of federal, state and local environmental clearances necessary for development including the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), California Fish and Game Code, Subdivision Map Act, California Community Redevelopment Law (including associated dissolution legislation and successor statutes), California Coastal Act, Clean Water Act, Endangered Species Act, California Superfund Law, Tribal-State Compacts, and Multiple Species Conservation Programs (MSCP).

Whitney also has significant experience in working closely with clients and consultants on due diligence review of land use issues, which includes local zoning ordinances, general plans, redevelopment agency plans, and related land use restrictions. Her working knowledge of environmental constraints and the development process proves invaluable when investigating the potential purchase of real estate and the subsequent preparation of acquisition documents.


An experienced litigator, Whitney has handled actions involving development disputes, environmental compliance, real estate transactions, and union disputes. She has represented developers in complex civil litigation and defended challenges to development approvals.

Whitney serves as general counsel for the San Diego Humane Society and is a registered lobbyist with the City of San Diego, the County of San Diego, San Diego Regional Airport Authority, the San Diego Port Authority and the City of Los Angeles. Additionally, Whitney also is a committed pro bono attorney and, in 2016, she was honored with the firm’s Bob Gerber Pro Bono Attorney of the Year Award in recognition of her commitment to volunteering legal services to those in need.


The Bloomberg report ………

The California-founded firm said on Tuesday it would launch a team of 70 attorneys from 12 offices focused on the cannabis industry, which one of the firm’s partners said will account for $12 billion in global spending in 2018.

Illinois last week became the 11th state to decriminalize marijuana and the first to make the sale of recreational marijuana legal via the state legislature, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. It remains illegal under federal law.

At least a dozen other Big Law firms market cannabis practices, including Duane Morris, Fox Rothschild, Seyfarth Shaw, Akerman, Dorsey & Whitney, Goodwin Procter.

Some Big Law partners also have profited from investing in the industry. A trio of Polsinelli partners left the firm in 2015 to launch a medical marijuana company that was sold last year for $682 million.

For its part, Sheppard Mullin said it advises more than 40 clients active in the cannabis industry, including MassRoots, JoshD Farms, Uniqorn Capital Investments, Mextraction LLC, and Cannelure Partners LLC.

The Sheppard Mullin team, led by San Diego-based partner Whitney Hodges and Los Angeles-based associate Sarah Blitz, advises clients on issues related to regulatory compliance, capital raising, banking and finance, accounting control and anti-money laundering compliance, among other areas. The firm also advises business such as banks that do business with cannabis industry clients.

Hodges, a real estate and land use partner, made her first foray into cannabis law by writing an article in January regarding the legal concerns for landowners renting to businesses in the cannabis industry.

Sheppard Mullin’s management debated the idea of marketing a cannabis practice for “many months if not years,” Hodges said. One factor that she said may have swayed them: U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr’s more relaxed stance toward prosecuting cannabis crimes compared to his predecessor Jeff Sessions.

“All of the people in the [Trump] administration will agree [cannabis] is federally illegal, but Sessions was adamant he would go after cannabis cultivation and processing and Barr has not articulated the same point,” Hodges said. “He is not as vehement in the prosecution as Sessions presented.”

The firm’s cannabis-focused attorneys have provided counsel for clients on issues including real estate, intellectual property and regulatory developments. The Food and Drug Administration, for example, held hearings last week on regulating CBD, a cannibis product formally known as Cannabidiol, which has proliferated in products ranging from pain relievers to dog treats.

“Cannabis businesses often have trouble finding well-versed lawyers with mainstream law firms to represent them,” said Sheppard Mullin managing partner Robert Beall. “Our breadth and depth of experience makes us ideally poised to fill that void.”

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