Clark Neubert, a women-owned cannabis law firm based in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has opened offices in Sacramento and Santa Cruz after hiring three new associates to facilitate increased demand for legal services in the recreational cannabis businesses.
Associate Joanna Hossack, who joined Clark Neubert last October, will head the firm’s office in the Golden State capital, while senior associate Nicole Laggner, a former solo practitioner, came aboard this month and will head the firm’s Santa Cruz office. Senior associate Jay Purcell, who joined Clark Neubert in January after working as an associate at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, will handle corporate and securities issues out of San Francisco and Santa Monica.
“The cannabis industry needs good lawyers across all different practice areas—our particular focus happen to be on corporate and transactional work,” said Clark Neubert co-founder and name partner Nicole Howell Neubert. “As their business develops, they take on financing and investments. And as they move into being regulated, where they can operate for-profit businesses, they really need to have good, sophisticated, corporate and transactional advice. That’s a big part of our expansion.”
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As of Jan. 1, California became the sixth state to allow the recreational sale of marijuana, which means certain licensed shops are permitted to sell cannabis products to anyone, even without a doctor’s recommendation. To get those short-term permits, however, applicants have to show that they have the authorization to operate from their local government agencies.
“This transition period has been a little bumpy in terms of the impact on the industry,” said Neubert, who has been busy in recent months fielding calls from all over California.
Neubert explained that the adoption process has been slow because a number of local agencies still don’t allow or have not yet allowed recreational cannabis. Furthermore, the new regulations have also imposed an additional tax on top of state and federal income taxes, which has prevented some smaller businesses from getting the required licenses.
“They are still choosing to go to the illegal market,” said Neubert, describing the current situation for potential pot consumers.
Therefore, Clark Neubert’s expansion to Sacramento and Santa Cruz seeks to further assist the needs of these new businesses in complying with local policies. The Sacramento office will also focus on cannabis legislative and regulatory efforts, Neubert said.
Hossack, who will work out of Sacramento and San Francisco, has been taking the lead in California’s recently passed Medicinal and Adult-Use Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act and the Golden State’s evolving regulatory processes for marijuana. Purcell’s practice focuses on financial transactions for growth companies with a concentration on commercial agreements, employment incentives and M&A deals, the latter of which have recently taken off in Canada ahead of the widespread legalization of cannabis across the border this summer.
Laggner has focused on cannabis businesses in Santa Cruz and Monterey counties since she moved to Northern California in 2012. Her expertise includes cannabis business formation and compliance. Laggner has also settled denial, breach of contract and employment discrimination matters in the fast-growing cannabis field, where several large, national law firms—and boutiques—have sought to expand their operations in recent months.
Since Clark Neubert was started in 2014 by Neubert and fellow founding partner Ariel Clark, the cannabis-focused firm has now expanded to five lawyers, along with two staffers. The team also holds office hours in Humboldt, a hotbed for the nation’s budding legal weed industry.
“Demand for legal services is skyrocketing as cannabis businesses get licensed and enter the adult use market,” said Clark in a statement. “This is an exciting but complex time for business owners. We’re growing to ensure our clients have every resource they need.”