Hemp / CBD

Surefooted counsel in rapidly changing legal terrain

The shortest distance between your cannabis business and success? Us.

Cannabidiol’s (CBD) rise to prominence has been met with equal parts discord and dispute. The Agricultural Act of 2014 (also known as the 2014 Farm Bill) allowed for clinical studies of the compound, which have cultivated promising medical applications, leading the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve of Epidiolex, a CBD isolate prescription drug for treating epilepsy.  The Agriculture Act of 2018 (2018 Farm Bill) expanded on its predecessor by legalizing hemp, making hemp products such as food, supplements, ointments oils, and smokable devices widely available. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) oversees hemp at the federal level and will work closely with states under the 2018 Farm Bill where states can license the cultivation of hemp by submitting regulatory plans to the USDA. Overall, roughly 40 states have implemented hemp programs under the 2014 Farm Bill, and no two states have the same hemp regulations.

The FDA has historically pushed back on CBD, concluding that because CBD is already approved as a prescription drug, it cannot be added to food or dietary supplements in the form of hemp-derived CBD (Hemp CBD). Additionally, the FDA sent warning letters to distributors of Hemp CBD products that make medical claims, causing several states to follow suit, in prohibiting the manufacture or distribution of Hemp CBD products intended for human or pet consumption. Other states ignore the FDA in this area by allowing the use of Hemp CBD in food and supplements. This all further complicates the industry and the hinderances to creating and maintaining a business within it.   

Our hemp business attorneys understand how the interplay between federal law, state law, FDA regulation, and USDA regulations complicates things for businesses trying to establish themselves in this budding industry. They are well-versed in the convoluted and sometimes conflicting state and federal laws. Our experience with cannabis dates back to the days of the emerging medical marijuana industry, so we know how challenging inconsistent federal and state laws can be. In addition, we have a team of lawyers versed in international trade, which is becoming an increasingly important market in light of the 2018 Farm Bill and the export and import of hemp and Hemp CBD.

Our hemp business attorneys work on a wide range of businesses within the industry, from small start-ups to major corporations looking to expand into the rapidly growing market. We have worked on the following hemp matters:

  • Investigating the source of hemp products to verify that they are not derived from marijuana and do not contain prohibited levels of THC;
  • Analyzing risks associated with transporting hemp interstate and internationally;
  • Obtaining licenses for the cultivation or processing of hemp;
  • Advising clients on best practices for the manufacture, labeling, and distribution of hemp products;
  • Responding to complaints and seizures of Hemp CBD products;
  • Providing updates to clients as regulations and laws change across the country; and
  • Counseling clients on developing policies and regulations from the FDA and USDA.

In addition, each month our attorneys prepare a 50-State Hemp CBD Risk Matrix. This Risk Matrix provides a brief summary of how each of the 50 states regulates products Hemp CBD as it pertains to the following categories:

  • Hemp-CBD Requirements: General laws, regulations, restrictions, policies, or requirements for Hemp CBD;
  • Consumables: Hemp CBD as used in food, beverages, dietary supplements, and other consumable goods for humans;
  • Smokables: How the state treats Hemp CBD in smokable products such as dried flower, vape products, and cigarettes;
  • Cosmetics: How the state treats Hemp CBD in cosmetics;
  • Enforcement Actions: Whether there has been any adverse enforcement action by law enforcement against Hemp CBD in the last 6 months;
  • Select Laws and Regulations: A non-exhaustive selection of relevant authorities on Hemp CBD, including laws, regulations, and policy statements; and
  • Pending Laws/Regulations: Authorities that are not yet in effect but will impact the sale and marketing of Hemp CBD products.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the Risk Matrix please let us know.

With the guidance of our hemp business attorneys, you can rest easy knowing that your business is in compliance with these complex and evolving laws, and comfortably push your business fullspeed ahead.

Full service planning for legal cannabis business

Our cannabis attorneys actively monitor local, domestic, and international legal and political developments affecting our clients’ businesses, reacting swiftly to keep them informed and in step with local and federal cannabis law.

our services


Entity selection, licensing, operating agreements, employment contracts, corporate shareholder agreements, and partnership agreements can create vastly different rights and responsibilities for new and growth-stage business owners. Harris Bricken attorneys will help you choose the legal strategy that best matches your long-term business objectives.

Our formation services include:

  • Entity selection and registration
  • Drafting of governance documents
  • Financing and capital contribution negotiations
  • Corporate governance and business operations
  • Commercial contracts and corporate transactions
  • Employment contracts
  • Licensing agreements
  • Intellectual property protection
  • Mergers and acquisitions


From business sales or purchases to shareholder approval or spin-off of company divisions, Harris Bricken attorneys give our clients a critical edge in negotiating and closing their most important deals.

Our M&A services include:

  • Purchase and sale agreements
  • Operating agreements
  • Bylaws
  • Shareholder agreements
  • Investment agreements
  • Contribution agreements
  • Ownership option contracts
  • Consultant agreements
  • Vesting equity agreements
  • Lending agreements
  • Security interest agreements
  • Collateralization agreements


We’ve built a national reputation for making the cannabis licensing process as efficient and successful as possible.

Our licensing and registration services include:

  • Guidance regarding compliance with state regulations and the interplay between governing state agencies
  • Business plan development
  • Education regarding ongoing compliance with applicable regulations
  • Development of required manuals and handbooks to meet state regulations
  • Financial reviews to ensure compliance with state regulations
  • Compilation of license and registration applications
  • License application assistance for cultivators, manufacturers, and retailers


Harris Bricken provides due diligence and careful vigilance regarding changes in state and local regulations to ensure our cannabis clients remain fully compliant with all state and federal law.

Our cannabis compliance services include:

  • State license application assistance
  • Drafting and managing of operational plans to be submitted to states and municipalities for operational licenses
  • Advice and assistance on local permitting and licensing processes
  • Legal compliance audits
  • Monitoring existing and changing state and local regulations for marijuana businesses


Decision-makers owe duties of good faith, loyalty, and good care to their companies, and they must know what those duties entail. Harris Bricken attorneys provide business entities and their leadership with a thorough understanding of their rights and responsibilities so that they can prevent and quickly resolve their internal issues.

Our corporate governance services include:

  • Negotiating and drafting operating agreements and shareholder agreements
  • Drafting corporate bylaws
  • Creating plans to maintain meeting minutes and other corporate documents
  • Identifying and accounting for conflicts of interest
  • Mediating corporate disputes
  • Drafting initial financing and loan agreements


A sound contract is invaluable for providing stability and predictability to businesses engaged in a rapidly-changing market. Our big picture perspective ensures that we understand the nuances and terms of each deal.

We negotiate and draft virtually all types of corporate and commercial agreements, including:

  • Shareholder Agreements
  • Employment Agreements
  • Non-Compete/Non-Disclosure Agreements
  • Commercial lease review and advisement
  • Company purchase and sale agreements


Cannabis businesses contend with a variety of complex legal issues as they seek to register, protect, and license their trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other intellectual property. We are well-versed in the unique challenges cannabis companies face with their IP and we take swift action to identify and implement the specific protections they need.

Our IP services include:

  • Branding establishment and support
  • IP licensing
  • IP contract drafting and negotiation
  • State and federal trademark searches
  • Counseling on trademark law, trade secret, and other intellectual property matters
  • Trade secret agreements
  • Non-compete agreements
  • Non-disclosure agreements
  • Employee secrecy agreements
  • In-state screening and registration of trademarks
  • Policing and enforcing of registered trademarks
  • Domain name disputes
  • Copyrights
  • IP litigation
  • Trademark and other intellectual property counseling related to secondary merchandise such as clothing and glassware


Harris Bricken has successfully represented cannabis businesses in legal disputes relating to contracts, corporate governance, intellectual property rights, licensing, administrative appeals, municipal disputes, and landlord/tenant issues. Having both defended and prosecuted a wide range of claims on behalf of marijuana businesses in multiple states, we know how to guide you through this complex process and to help you achieve the sustainable results your business needs.

  • Litigation against cities in defense of your cannabis business
  • Administrative hearings regarding the denial or revocation of business license
  • Administrative hearings regarding the denial or revocation of your state-issued cannabis license
  • Tax litigation against IRS and Departments of Revenue from state to state
  • Civil litigation regarding commercial leases and landlord disputes
  • Civil litigation of zoning compliance issues
  • Litigation of employee disputes
  • Litigation of contract disputes
  • Litigation of trademark disputes
  • IP litigation

To learn more about our cannabis litigation practice, please go here.


Failure to comply with the strict timelines and detailed rules mandated by your state can mean compromising your appeal or losing your window to appeal altogether. We will work with you to build the timely, and well-researched arguments crucial to maintaining your successful appeal.

  • Business license revocations and denials
  • Specialty license revocation denials
  • Fines, sanctions and penalties for violations


Through effective lease, purchase and sale negotiation, Harris Bricken attorneys help build secure and sustainable relationships between landlords, tenants, buyers, and sellers across the country. Beyond lease and purchase and sale drafting and review, our attorneys regularly defend and prosecute a wide range of claims involving eviction, unpaid rent, purchase and sale default, and property damage.

Our real property services include:

  • Developing landlord marketing packages to describe cannabis business models for banks and other lenders
  • Drafting leaseholds to accommodate cannabis businesses
  • Reviewing and advising on commercial leases
  • Drafting real property purchase and sale agreements
  • Amendments to commercial leases
  • Land use
  • Water rights
  • Litigation and mediation
  • Due diligence for real property purchases and sales


Understand your rights, responsibilities, and opportunities everywhere you operate.

Follow our Canna Law Blog for in-depth analysis and up-to-the-minute information on the laws and issues affecting the cannabis industry.

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Top industry organizations and media outlets throughout the country and abroad turn to Harris Bricken for our perspective on the latest cannabis law developments.

COVID-19 Update: Since March 5, all of our attorneys and staff have been working remotely to ensure social distancing.
We are continuing to work on our clients’ matters and we are still accepting new clients. We are here for you.


You can reach us by phone at (206) 224-5657 or by email at firm@harrisbricken.com.


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