Photo of Steve Levine

A corporate transactional attorney by trade, Steve transferred his skills from mergers and acquisitions to the hospitality industry – and eventually to cannabis. Since 2010, Steve’s major focus has been on the burgeoning cannabis industry, where he guides clients through the tangle of shifting regulations governing the sale and use of cannabis in both the marijuana and industrial hemp sectors. He leads the firm’s cannabis practice in both Colorado and California.

The Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”) has joined the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“the “FDA”) in enforcing laws related to marketing CBD products. The FDA has historically issued warning letters and pursued companies that illegally market CBD products with claims the products may treat medical conditions.  The FTC has joined the FDA is this pursuit and announced settlements with six different CBD companies involves fines ranging between $20,000-$85,000 in addition to notifications provided to consumers.  Pursuant to these settlement agreements the respondent companies are also prohibited from similar marketing efforts in the future, any health claims must have scientific evidence to support them.

Industry actors making any health or therapeutic claims are vulnerable to action by agencies such as the FDA and FTC, however, they may also be subject to civil suits based on enforcement by those agencies. In April of 2020 Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc. (“CWB”) was served with yet another (its second) class action lawsuit due to how their products are labeled. Benson v. Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc., No. 1:20-cv-00418 (N.D. Ill.)  The suit based a significant portion of the allegations on FDA guidance:

 “Based on available evidence, FDA has concluded that THC and CBD products are excluded from the dietary supplement definition under section 201(ff)(3)(B) of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. § 321(ff)(3)(B)]. Under that provision, if a substance (such as THC or CBD) is an active ingredient in a drug product that has been approved under section 505 of the FD&C Act [21 U.S.C. § 355], or has been authorized for investigation as a new drug for which substantial clinical investigations have been instituted and for which the existence of such investigations has been made public, then products containing that substance are excluded from the definition of a dietary supplement”

Companies facing enforcement actions by the FTC may similarly be subject to civil allegations.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS
Continue Reading CBD Companies Now Facing Monetary Penalties For Deceptive Marketing, Will Civil Liability Follow?

On January 15, 2021, the United States Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) published its final rule (the “Final Rule”) regulating the production of industrial hemp under the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”). The Final Rule modifies regulations set forth in the interim final rule published on October 31, 2019 (the “Interim Rule”). The modifications are based on approximately 5,900 public comments submitted to the USDA over three public comment periods.

The Final Rule contains the following key provisions:
Continue Reading USDA Releases Final Rule Regulating Industrial Hemp

Earlier this year the City of Denver Department of Excise and Licenses created the Marijuana Licensing Work Group (the “MLWG”). This week the MLWG released draft legislation regarding a continued license cap, licensing categories, and Social Equity Applicants. If passed the legislation would have some noteworthy impacts.
Continue Reading City of Denver Releases Proposed Legislation To Extend The Current Licensing Mortarium, Creation Of Social Equity Opportunities, And Development Of A Delivery Framework

cannabis oil and hemp  On Friday, December 4, 2020 the US House of Representatives passed the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act of 2019 (the “MORE Act”), which would effectively legalize cannabis by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act. The bill (H.R. 3884) has several key components.
Continue Reading MORE Act Passes the House – is legalization around the corner?

As a historic election here in the United States unfolds beyond Election Day, one thing is certain – marijuana continues to win – and win decisively. While notable races in several states and counties were too close to call at the end of Election Night, marijuana state ballot initiatives were called early. All five states

In an article published in Marijuana Venture, Husch Blackwell attorneys Nicole Bashor, Steve Levine and Matt Kamps analyze cannabis-centric patent data to see if patents and applications are continuing the rising trend. They also discuss how the current political landscape and the global health crisis could impact the cannabis industry. Read more in

On August 20, 2020, the Drug Enforcement Administration (“DEA”) published an Interim Final Rule on industrial hemp and hemp derivatives (the “Interim Rule”), which immediately went into effect, to conform DEA regulations with the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (the “2018 Farm Bill”).

As we previously discussed, the 2018 Farm Bill effectively removed industrial hemp from the definition of “marijuana” in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Additionally, tetrahydrocannabinols contained in industrial hemp, such as Cannabidiol (commonly known as CBD), were also removed from the purview of the CSA.

Continue Reading The DEA’s Interim Final Rule and its Impact on the Industrial Hemp Industry

In our previous posts,[1] we discussed why state-legal medical and recreational marijuana businesses are likely not eligible to receive federal financial assistance under the Paycheck Protection Program due to the fact that these businesses are inherently engaged in federally illegal activities.

While our view has not necessarily changed, this post is intended to highlight

bright green marijuana plant

On Thursday April 23, 2020, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) introduced the “Emergency Cannabis Small Business Health and Safety Act” in the House. Blumenauer and Perlmutter have been influential in protecting state-legal marijuana businesses from federal interference, most recently under the 2020 federal appropriations rider.

If passed, the Act would