Vicente Sederberg, one of Colorado's first law firms to focus solely on marijuana, is expanding. Two of the firm's partners were involved in crafting Amendment 64, the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana that Colorado voters approved in 2012, and the firm also had a hand in writing Denver's social-use initiative, I-300, which was on the ballot this past November.
The firm represents all things cannabis, handling businesses and investors, while also providing corporate representation, offering full-service licensing and compliance departments, and dealing with real estate and legislative policies. And now it's adding a hemp practice.
"Our legal prowess and comprehensive suite of legal solutions spans all facets of the cannabis industry," says Brian Vicente, partner and founding member of Vicente Sederberg. "With our expanded line of services, we will be able to help and advise even more clients as they navigate this constantly evolving and complex regulatory environment."
The firm's new Hemp, CBD and Cannabinoid Practice Group will be led by senior associate Shawn Hauser and Frank Robison.
Hauser, who joined the firm in 2013, says the primary focus of this new part of the practice will be working with hemp businesses and helping them navigate the complex legal landscape of CBD. It is a common misconception that hemp-based products are legal in every state, but only sixteen states have CBD-specific laws and cannabis laws governing industrial hemp, and the firm is expanding into other states to help local businesses understand the different laws.
But after the firm was set to expand into this area, the DEA dropped a bomb on the industry, adding an additional code for hemp businesses to register their CBD and hemp products.
"It's hard to tell if it really changes anything or if it just clarifies the existing position," Hauser says. But as she leads this new division of the practice, she'll have to navigate what the DEA decision could mean for clients. "They use the term 'cannabis,' which is inclusive of marijuana and the parts of the cannabis plant that were traditionally excluded from the definition of marijuana, which was hemp."
Hemp is taken from the stalks and the stems of the cannabis plant, and it isn't psychoactive, which means it's not part of the definition of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act.
"Because they're not psychoactive, the intent was to allow industrial products and not to regulate products that don't have the potential for abuse," Hauser explains. "This rule changes the interpretation and says no matter what part of the plant it comes from, it's Schedule I."
Which translate s to plenty of legal business for Vicent Sederberg.