Photo of Hilary Bricken

With a passion for organizational growth, Hilary advises clients in the cannabis, healthcare, and life sciences spaces on transactions, regulatory compliance, governance matters, and other corporate needs.

Hilary likes being a dealmaker: she values building collegial relationships with clients and other attorneys, and she loves helping clients create value and business opportunities. She also appreciates the in-depth strategies that transactions rely on.

Much of Hilary’s practice is devoted to mergers, acquisitions, and other transactions, as well as to serving as first point of outside counsel for certain clients. She also assists with entity formation and the drafting of various governance documents and asset portfolio management. In addition, Hilary advises clients on industry-specific regulatory compliance.

Hilary’s experience with the cannabis industry dates to 2010, when she began assisting medical cannabis providers with business questions. It was immediately clear to her that this emerging, growing industry had a massive need for corporate counsel, and she has advised cannabis clients—including many major national and international companies—ever since. Her experience includes cannabis licensing; marijuana and industrial hemp regulatory compliance; mergers and acquisitions; corporate and transactional matters, including negotiating management services agreements, fee slotting agreements, cultivation supply agreements, and intellectual property licensing agreements; receiverships; dissolution and wind downs; and financing and debt restructuring. In 2023, Hilary joined Husch Blackwell out of enthusiasm for the firm’s deep bench of innovators in the cannabis and healthcare space.

Hilary also devotes a significant portion of her practice to healthcare clients, including physicians, physician groups, and medical services organizations, and she represents clients regarding the off-label application of controlled substances.

Known for offering a commonsense business approach to legal questions, Hilary never gives legal advice in a vacuum. She provides clients with definitive guidance that has practical applications, adding value and supporting business goals.

Taxing the sale of marijuana

Dealing with creditors is never a fun experience. However, some creditors are more severe than others, especially in the cannabis industry. One of those is the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (CDTFA), which administers California’s sales and use, fuel, tobacco, alcohol, and cannabis taxes, as well as a variety of other taxes and fees that fund specific state programs. It’s no secret that CDTFA cannabis taxes are crippling the California cannabis industry. For example, I recently recorded a Cannabis Law Now podcast episode with Anthony Almaz, general counsel for Catalyst. Catalyst is challenging various emergency rules promulgated and adopted by CDTFA that would further expand taxable items in California’s cannabis industry. This post though is about the CDTFA cannabis creditor relationship and the myths and truths around it.Continue Reading CDTFA Cannabis Creditor: Myths and Truths

If you’re in house counsel at any company, you’re likely looking to cut down on the day to day, high volume minutia posed by a variety of commercial agreements and transactions that come your way time and again. Doubly so in the cannabis industry given the fact that you have bigger fish to fry with labor and employment issues, day to day operational issues, fundraising and finding more capital, and dealing with the precarious legal environment created by the current federal law conflict (even with possible rescheduling on the horizon). To alleviate some of that in house stress, general counsels should be considering instituting cannabis corporate playbooks (or alternative language libraries) to make the company’s contracting process more turnkey, predictable, and efficient while cutting down on risk. Continue Reading Cannabis Corporate Playbooks

In November of last year, we wrote about how Total Wine & More jumped into the cannabis drinks arena in Minnesota. Since then (and probably before that), there’s been an influx of “THC Beverages” hitting the marketplace, and I don’t mean the state-licensed cannabis marketplace either. At this point, you can buy these drinks online or in person at a number of retail outlets and locations that don’t have any kind of state cannabis licensing at all (here’s one in Alabama, for example). How, you may be asking, is this legally possible and why are these libations picking up great speed with consumers?Continue Reading What’s in Your “THC Beverages”?

Between LinkedIn, Twitter, the media, and diehard marijuana investors, there is more noise and froth in the industry about a marijuana reschedule than I’ve seen since Washington and Colorado legalized it back in 2012. When speculation about the Feds starts to explode in the industry, I usually ignore most of it as fairly useless hearsay backed by a lot of hope, negativity, and/or hypotheticals.

This time, the tea leaves surround the number one question in the industry, will there be a 2024 marijuana reschedule from the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on the back of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) schedule III recommendation? Namely, is a marijuana reschedule imminent that could change the entire course of success for the industry? Continue Reading All the Outcomes of a Marijuana Reschedule

In October 2022, President Biden asked the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. In August 2023, the HHS marijuana recommendation went to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). In October 2023, HHS released a heavily redacted copy of its recommendation to DEA. And until last Friday, no one outside of Bloomberg News and choice government insiders had seen the totality of the HHS marijuana recommendation. However, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act legal battle by lawyer Matt Zorn, the public can now see all 252 pages of (and related to) HHS’s marijuana recommendation to DEA. Continue Reading HHS Marijuana Recommendation Now on Blast

I split my time between Los Angeles and Milwaukee these days (I’m eligible to practice law in Wisconsin), and I often find myself working from my firm’s Milwaukee office depending on the month. Wisconsin is an incredibly interesting state when it comes to marijuana in that it is surrounded by states that have both adult use and medical cannabis legal regimes while it has nothing. Wisconsin’s state government is mainly controlled by Republicans who are anti-cannabis legalization. However, they seem to be alright with the concept of Wisconsin medical marijuana. It will be limited though and if the Republicans’ proposal goes through as presented (we don’t have an actual bill yet), Wisconsin will have state-run dispensaries with state-employed pharmacists.Continue Reading Wisconsin Medical Marijuana…Maybe

The Table is Set on Marijuana Rescheduling

On October 6, 2022, President Biden made a statement in which he asked the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Attorney General to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law. In his statement, the President appeared to express disappointment that marijuana is listed in the same schedule as “drugs that are driving our overdose epidemic” (Id.). It was highly anticipated that this review would lead to the rescheduling, or even de-scheduling, of marijuana. On August 29, 2023, HHS submitted its recommendation to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that marijuana be rescheduled from Schedule I to Schedule III. Continue Reading Marijuana Rescheduling: Process and Procedures To Know Now

Artificial Intelligence (AI) continues to jump leaps and bounds in 2024. As a lawyer, I’m always curious about how to integrate AI into my practice in order to better serve my clients. And now and then I check in with this seemingly omnipotent technology to ask what it deems top of mind for the cannabis industry. Given that we’re fresh into the new year, I logged into ChatGPT to ask it “What are the most asked questions about cannabis law”, and its answers honestly surprised me. Mainly because, after almost 14 years of practice in this area, it seems that the same questions remain despite all of the legal progress and reform in the area state by state.Continue Reading Top 10 Questions About Cannabis Law in 2024

As the cannabis industry continues to navigate choppy economic and legal waters into 2024, some cannabis companies are pivoting to the smokable herbs market. And I do not mean to those hemp-derived intoxicating cannabinoids (HDIC) either (which are part of a legally precarious loophole anyway depending on who you ask). The smokable herbs to which cannabis companies and entrepreneurs are turning to are things like wormwood, valerian, tarragon, and mugwort (among others). Of course, these smokable herbs face a different set of legal and compliance issues altogether than hemp and/or cannabis do.Continue Reading A Cannabis Pivot to Smokable Herbs