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Cannabis Litigation: What is “Alter Ego” liability?

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When going into business—whether cannabis or otherwise— the first step is to create a business entity. (This seems obvious but still eludes many in the cannabis industry.) One of the principal purposes of establishing a business entity to limit the personal liability exposure of the founders. Typically, the business entity itself and not the investors, owners, or managers of the entity, is liable for the debts of the business in nearly all circumstances. One exception is the alter ego theory of liability.

The alter ego theory of liability attempts to reach pockets beyond the putatively liable business entity. Doing so is known at piercing the corporate veil. The alter ego theory of liability is not limited just to piercing a company to reach into the pockets of the owners. It may also be used to reach into other entities. And veil piercing may be accomplished in few different ways.

Vertical piercing refers to piercing the veil between a subsidiary and its parent to hold the parent company liable. Horizontal piercing refers to using the alter ego theory of liability to hold sister company’s liable. Reverse piercing refers to using the alter ego theory of liability to hold a company

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2024: Adult Use Marijuana in Florida

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In 2024, we may finally see adult use marijuana in Florida. This week, Smart & Safe Florida, a non-profit political organization, filed its ballot initiative, “Adult Personal Use of Marijuana“, with the  Division of Elections to legalize adult use marijuana in Florida. Make it Legal Florida already unsuccessfully tried to get adult use on the ballot for this year. Notably, this current initiative is backed by Trulieve, the largest cannabis operator in the state. In any event, adult use marijuana in Florida by ballot initiative must first make it past the Florida Supreme Court.

Unlike many states, Florida initiative sponsors can submit petition signatures at any time. After 25% of required signatures have been collected and sponsors submit a ballot title and summary to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State then submits the proposal to Florida Attorney General. The Florida AG then petitions the State Supreme Court for an advisory opinion on “the measure’s compliance with the single-subject rule, the appropriateness of the title and summary, and whether or not the measure ‘is facially valid under the United States Constitution.’” The single-subject rule means that the initiative can only address one subject, topic, or issue. And the Court’s

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New York to Accept Retail Dispensary Apps August 25

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It is finally here: New York’s Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) announced that it will begin accepting applications for the Conditional Adult-Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) Licenses on August 25, 2022. Applications will be accepted through the OCM’s online portal and the application window will close on September 26, 2022. This is obviously a huge deal and the first step towards legal sales of adult-use cannabis in New York.

As a brief refresher, this is a conditional license that moves forward New York’s stated goal of prioritizing social equity applicants. Even if the non-conditional adult-use licenses follow shortly hereafter, it means a lot that the first sales of cannabis in New York will come from businesses owned by individuals who have suffered from New York’s needless and damaging war on cannabis. The two big ticket items for CAURD applicants:

Applicants must have a marijuana-related offense conviction that occurred prior to the MRTA being passed on March 31, 2021, or a parent, legal guardian, child, spouse or dependent with a pre-MRTA marijuana-related offense conviction in the State of New York; and Applicants must have experience owning and operating a qualifying business.

We have all of the critical breakdowns of the

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States to Feds: End Cannabis Prohibition Now

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After a vote last week, the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) adopted a revised cannabis policy measure (the “Directive“) which supports federally descheduling cannabis, as well as cannabis banking reform. At this point, it’s abundantly clear that the states have moved beyond cannabis prohibition.

The NCSL is a non-partisan organization that represents all state legislators nationwide. A state legislator present at the summit, held in Denver, said that most of the discussion leading up to the vote centered on federal cannabis banking reform, but there was no debate on the language of cannabis legalization. The legislator said that there was minimal opposition, with an estimated five to seven states of the 44 in attendance that vocalized their opposition.

NCSL passed similar measures back in 2017 and 2018 calling for cannabis descheduling, though those measures were limited in scope, specifying that states should be free to establish their own cannabis legislation without federal intervention. This time, the NCSL made an explicit call for federal cannabis legalization. The Directive also states that “until cannabis is federally descheduled,” the federal government should focus on enforcing penalties for criminal enterprises in “illicit” cannabis production and distribution instead of citizens who comply with state

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