As Marijuana Venture’s long-term readers already know, this magazine has blazed a trail when it comes to disseminating valuable business information for the cannabis industry. At times, it’s caused some irate responses from people who disagree with my point of view. However, to me that’s a sign that we’re saying things that need to be said and starting discussions that might be long overdue.
One of my basic themes has been that a lot of the people in this industry jumped in because they thought that growing marijuana in their basements or garages qualified them as “master growers.” Therefore, some entrepreneurs were in for a nasty surprise when it came to the job of managing a big commercial grow operation.
The production and sale of legal marijuana is not a skill acquired from reading High Times or Weed World. Instead, like all other forms of legal commerce, launching a successful legal marijuana business requires real skills and a team of savvy business people, including lawyers and accountants.
In this issue, we’ve included the 2017 Cannabis Industry Legal Guide, a booklet that lists most of the law firms and attorneys in the U.S. who practice marijuana business law — an important resource for anybody operating in this highly complicated space.
Obviously, with the cannabis industry growing as fast as it is, there will be firms we missed, and we apologize in advance for anyone we overlooked. But we wanted to publish the guide because, in our view, good legal advice is crucial in this industry. It’s also the reason we’ve made legal columns a centerpiece of Marijuana Venture since the first issue.
When a problem pops up in your pursuit of marijuana riches — and they will pop up — it will probably be the first time you’ve encountered that issue. The value of having trusted and experienced counsel is that they have likely run into and helped others address the same type of problem in the past. They’ve cut their teeth from the same scenarios.
Having a lawyer on your side should not be viewed as optional. I say this from experience, having spent 20-plus years owning and running the largest privately owned consumer software company in the U.S. I negotiated hundreds of licensing deals with some of the biggest names in consumer media programming, including National Geographic, Scholastic, Playboy, Disney and PBS. And I can say from experience that there were numerous times in which a quick review by one of our attorneys saved me from missing a key point or omission in a contract that could potentially have caused problems down the road.
In my opinion, attorneys are best viewed as preventative medicine rather than a cure. In other words, spending a few hundred dollars in advance to have a lawyer look at a contract or agreement before you sign it could save you tens of thousands and a protracted lawsuit down the road. It’s really that simple.
Three years of publishing this business magazine and meeting with dozens of folks in the industry have taught me that the expansion of the legal marijuana market is fraught with potential problems and land mines. However, most are clearly marked and easy to see if you’re looking and know what the warning signs are.
That’s what good attorneys do: They spot the problems before the cow dung hits the fan, so to speak. They protect you, the client, from all those things you might not have thought of.