The Many Facets of Cannabusiness

In the constantly changing landscape of medical marijuana laws, lawyer Michele Brooke boldly treads where few dare to go.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | 9:49 pm

Michele Brooke, owner of Brooke Law Group, is no stranger to the caveats and complications stemming from the legalization of medical marijuana. As well as many other legal practices that she covers, Michele and her associates now deal in the special area of Marijuana Business Law or ‘Cannabusiness law.’

Cannabusiness law currently deals with the various business aspects of a budding industry focused around legal cooperative activity among valid medical marijuana patients; and includes, but is not limited to, business formation, contracts, product labelling, cultivation, litigation, if necessary, and other ancillary services catering to these patients.

A native of Southern California, Brooke has seen first-hand the change in public perception of Cannabis from when she first became interested in this niche practice area. Her perception is that although some people will always be opposed to medical marijuana, others are becoming more educated and are emerging into a new understanding of what many believe is a wonderful and effective herbal remedy.

“I find the plant to be fascinating for medicinal purposes; I had to do my own research to convince myself that there was a medicinal purpose for marijuana because when I first got into this field, I didn’t believe that,” explains Brooke. She, like many others, weren’t immediately convinced there were legitimate benefits to the plant and its legalization for medicinal use in this state.

However, after conducting her own research, Brooke says, “I think the plant, for medical purposes, has great and vast potential.”

With legal experience of over ten years, Brooke is a member of the Pasadena Bar Association, The Los Angeles County Bar Association, NORML.org, The National Cannabis Industry Association, The American Herbal Products Association (sitting on the Cannabis and Sports Nutrition Committees), American’s for Safe Access, The Esquire Network, and the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce, amongst others.

Brooke says she has been engaged in the discussion of legalization of cannabis and its medical effectiveness since the states of Washington and Colorado first began contemplating their laws on recreational marijuana.

She began to look at Marijuana Business Law seriously after attending some continuing legal education courses, which had a broad-spectrum approach to the cannabis industry in California. Some educational courses included discussions related to landlord tenant issues, collectives or dispensaries, federal government concerns, and marijuana DUIs, among others.

As for the land lord tenant issues in particular, California law provides a limited criminal immunity for the possession of up to eight ounces of marijuana, and permits cultivation of at least six flowering plants and six non flowering plants; in some cases, landlords do not wish to rent or lease their property to medical marijuana patients who cultivate marijuana, even though they have a valid medical recommendation from their doctor. In addition, and in some instances, medical marijuana patients who cultivate at home may find their neighbors concerned.

Unfortunately, in some instances some these landlords may feel pressure to seek injunctive relief or evict tenants who may be, for example in breach of their lease agreement.

Brooke says California law has also confused a lot of people who think that they are legally starting a medical marijuana dispensary, to for example serve persons who cannot grow medical marijuana at their homes for various reasons.

Some start cultivations only to learn the hard way that ignorance of the law is no excuse. For example, some cities permit dispensaries, such as Los Angeles with its one hundred thirty-four limit storefronts, Palm Springs, Cathedral City, Santa Ana, San Diego, San Francisco, etc. Even Santa Monica and Lake Forest are now considering the permitting of brick and mortar dispensaries.

“Young entrepreneurs, they open up these store fronts and they just don’t know the law. They think they are complying with California law,” says Brooke. “However, hopeful business operators must also consider local ordinances and general county plans, in addition to state laws.”

“Sometimes they end up with really awful surprises like the district attorney contacting them after they have invested their hard earned money.”

Brooke says she understands these mistakes can be made by innocent people, who are just trying to make what they think is an innocent living helping by people with something they believe in, or who who want to be a part of this expanding industry. And sometimes, cities issue these entrepreneurs Sellers Permits, city inspectors will inspect their property for safety, and the cities accept tax money from these businesses, then suddenly the local authorities confront them with a local ordinance, asking them to leave.

Situations like these can be deceiving to some of these business owners. They think that because they have applied for a sellers permit and are paying taxes, the local government welcomes their business; this is called a “mixed message.” This has happened in Los Angeles for years. Unfortunately, some of these businesses may still be required to close due, for example to a local ordinance prohibiting such business.

She added this growing area to her expertise because she is challenged by this new industry.

“It’s not often you get to be part of something unique and new.”

She believes that more states will join in the legalisation recreational use of cannabis, considering that already on board are Washington, Colorado, Alaska, and Oregon. This slow turn of public opinion means that her company Brooke Law Group has seen their ‘Cannabusiness’ grow steadily over the last three years.

Michele Brooke is a dedicated Professional and Professor at Pasadena City College. At Brooke Law she works alongside a team of accomplished and multi-faceted lawyers, including Ajay S. Thakkar who is experienced in immigration and citizenship, Michele Ferroni an accomplished criminal defense lawyer with twenty-five years experience; and Rebecca Hutton who represents entrepreneurs, in established, and newly established businesses and practices employment law.

The Brooke Law Group is located at 225 S. Lake Ave. Ste. 300, Pasadena. For more information, call (626) 375-6702 or visit www.brookelawgroup.com.

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