how to become cannabis cannabis lawyer california

by Carmela Daugherty Jr. 6 min read

As with any other profession like an accountant or physician, the cannabis industry lawyer has to be licensed in order to practice. If you aspire to be an attorney in the cannabis industry, you have to complete an undergraduate degree at an accredited university. You also have to get a law degree from a reputable law school.

Full Answer

How to become a successful cannabis attorney?

To excel in this industry, a cannabis attorney should become politically active. Your city government, state government, city attorneys, and police authorities are actively forming their cannabis policy. With the right approach, they may be quite receptive and work with you to get the laws and enforcement right.

Who are California’s Top Cannabis criminal defense lawyers?

Serving Southern California and based in Beverly Hills, Bruce Margolin is one of California’s top-ranked cannabis criminal defense lawyers. Dedicated to marijuana criminal defense since 1967, Margolin has defended many high-profile criminal cannabis cases and is also well-versed in the world of cannabis licensing and business regulation.

Why hire our cannabis lawyers?

We are cannabis attorneys and trial lawyers that own and operate businesses in the marijuana industry and have deep knowledge of its risks and trends. Our expertise can help your canna-business gain competitive advantage and mitigate operational risk.

Are there regulations for cannabis businesses in California?

While marijuana use, sale, and cultivation are legal in California (though still illegal at the federal level), regulations surrounding cannabis businesses are continually being updated and can vary considerably at the county or city level.


Are the Cannabis Business License Applications Open in California?

The business license application window will depend entirely on which market you’d want to operate in.

Cannabis Licensing in California

As of 2021, the state’s three licensing authorities have issued more than 10,000 commercial cannabis licenses to cannabis businesses throughout California.

What are the number of Business licenses allowed for the Cannabis industry in California?

California didn’t set a statewide capped number of licenses, contrary to many other states in the United States.

Taxes in California for Cannabis

Effective since November 9, 2016, certain sales of medical marijuana are exempt from the sales and use tax.

How can I start preparing my cannabis application

First of all, you need the right cannabis business plan . As part of the program, you will clarify what kind of license you want to apply for, and what the main points of your business are.

The Patient Relationship

Another important thing to bear in mind is that in the state of California, the marijuana caregiver has to have had some kind of relationship with the cannabis patient and must have been involved in the patient’s care prior to the patient’s use of medical marijuana.

The Requirements

Under the California Medical Marijuana Plan, the marijuana caregiver is able to put in an application for an ID card. This ID card allows the caregiver to avoid arrest due to possession, cultivation and transporting of marijuana. The cannabis patient also needs an ID card under the same state plan.

The Fundamentals

The marijuana caregiver in the state of California will have to main the fundamental documents that ensure legal compliance. These may include ledgers, authorizations ad collective agreements. There are certain requirements to become eligible as a primary caregiver. These would include:

The Medical Condition

In the state of California, only residents legally and medically approved can use marijuana. You have to be seriously ill or have a medical condition that is serious to be able to use marijuana medically. There are certain illnesses that are considered eligible such as:

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What is a good attorney for cannabis?

A good cannabis industry attorney will walk you through the entire licensing process, ensuring compliance with zoning, taxation, and environmental laws.

How to work with a lawyer?

Any time you are working with a lawyer, you’ll want to be sure your communication styles mesh well and that you feel a sense of trust and rapport. Always bring your most important questions and concerns to your initial consultation to get a feel for the firm’s ability to handle your specific case. Don’t be afraid to consult with more than one legal firm before making your final decision.

Do all attorneys practice cannabis?

Not all attorneys practicing cannabis law are created equal. Some attorneys are experts on the business side of cannabis, while others specialize in helping their clients avoid criminal charges. Many firms do offer legal services in both areas, often in addition to other services not necessarily linked to cannabis.

Can a lawyer help with marijuana charges?

If you’re facing criminal cannabis charges, a good criminal defense marijuana lawyer can help you get out of trouble as painlessly as possible. Many of California’s cannabis laws have consistency flaws, allowing law enforcement officials the leeway to determine whether to change an individual with a crime in any given situation. However, these inconsistencies also make it harder to prove a defendant is guilty of a crime in a court of law.

Can you get a marijuana charge removed from your record?

Some attorneys for cannabis law in California also offer expungement services. Anyone charged in the past with a cannabis-related offense for something that is now legal (or has been downgraded in severity – from a misdemeanor to minor infraction, for example), you can appeal to have the charge changed or removed from your record. This is helpful when applying for jobs or housing, and can be particularly important if you end up in legal trouble in the future, as prior convictions can lead to stiffer penalties.

Is it legal to own a cannabis business?

If you operate a business in the legal cannabis field (including but not limited to retail, distribution, cultivation, manufacture, and testing ) seeking out experienced legal counsel is a must. It’s also wise to do so if you own a property that will be home to a cannabis-related business. From taxes to local regulations, legal considerations for the cannabis industry are abundant. The last thing you want is to put your business at risk by missing something crucial.

Is it wise to seek legal counsel for a business in California?

It’s wise for anyone starting a business to seek legal counsel, and this is especially true for entrepreneurs in California’s brand-new legal cannabis industry. A good cannabis industry attorney will be able to walk you through the entire licens ing process, at the state and local levels, ensuring compliance with zoning, taxation, and environmental laws.

What is the other side of the marijuana industry?

The other main side of the industry is cultivation . If you have (unofficial) growing experience and already know you’re very much into cannabis cultivation , you will probably have to start at the “bottom,” which means beginning as a trimmer. Trimmers are the ones trimming the buds from the branches, and sometimes they even help with the care or harvesting of the plants. From here you could become an assistant grower and then a lead grower if you work hard and have a passion for this part of the marijuana industry.

Is marijuana legal in California?

Things are going great in California cannabis-wise. Recreational and medical marijuana both have been legalized, businesses are popping up everywhere, and potential employees are getting their resumes together to start working legitimately in the marijuana industry . It’s time for you to get your foot in the door to begin building your cannabis career in California. Keep reading for some useful information before you start applying.


State v. Federal

  • Marijuana is still illegal federally. Some states have forged ahead with full legalization for adult use. These states have relied upon, inter alia, the Cole Memo, issued on August 29, 2013 by the U.S. Department of Justice. The Cole Memo informed federal prosecutors that state-regulated marijuana ought to be their lowest enforcement priority…but i...
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Practice Areas

  • Marijuana law, like entertainment law, is an amalgamation of other practice areas, including business law, administrative law, intellectual property, criminal law, employment law and tax law. I would advise that any attorney targeting the cannabis industry should start with a firm foundation in business law. If the governing documents and contracts are subpar, you will very quickly sully …
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Personal Knowledge

  • You should become adept in the subject matter. I am not advocating the consumption of large amounts of cannabis, or even any at all. However, you should know everything there is to know regarding marijuana. If you were to represent a liquor distiller, getting as drunk as the day after law school finals doesn’t (necessarily) help the matter, but you should know how liquor is distille…
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First Impression

  • In every state on the path to legalization, marijuana is governed by brand-new regulation, modeled after systems that aren’t quite analogous. This creates an issue that is unique to this area of law. The laws and regulations will change quickly and be applied inconsistently as the governing bodies learn and adapt to the subject matter. As a result, understanding of the law is not enoug…
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  • Many clients in the marijuana industry have no experience running a proper legal business. They will be lost and seeking your help in all aspects of starting and growing a business. Legal expertise is what we, as attorneys, provide. Not going further will be a disservice to your clients and leave them vulnerable to an industry that is far more competitive than any they have thus fa…
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  • Does your state bar support a marijuana practice that is advises clients how to break federal law? Check the ethics opinions of your bar association or, if none exists, request an ethics opinion. If you are disbarred, you may be left with little choice but to grow fields of weed for a living. Determining if this is a better career path for you, I will let you discuss with your mom.
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Choose Your Clients

  • It is very important that you choose your clients with care. Do not be afraid to send them to your competitors. Many of the most experienced people in marijuana are long-time criminals. All are criminals under federal law. Most often, veteran marijuana kingpins are rather docile. However, some of the people knocking on your door may be more dangerous and prone to shady dealing. …
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Off You Go

  • Marijuana law is a fantastic but mine-filled practice area. If you are looking for something different, where you can help forge the laws, culture, and trajectory of an entire industry, there is nothing like it. Nothing is boilerplate and everything requires creative thinking. There is no place I would rather be.
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