Vicente: I think getting a robust understanding of the marijuana laws, part one, is kind of a no brainer. Part two would be just having a general feel for the facts of law generally because I think if you just do marijuana law and you try to do any business transactions you’re going to get into hot water. So that, and try to get retainers.

Robbins: The first thing that I did was look at the practice from an ethical perspective. I don’t want to get myself, my clients or my law firm into any kind of hot water given the federal prohibition. Any lawyer who wants to get into this business needs to proceed very cautiously and read the rules of professional conduct very carefully. Find out if your local bar or your state bar has issued any guidance for attorneys operating in this space. And you need to give your clients similar advice.

Kossovsky: That they really need to learn all the issues affecting the industry and that they need to be always cognizant of the fact that it’s still illegal federally and make sure that all of their clients are aware of that. And that anyone they do business with is aware of that.

Conley: I would say welcome, we need you, this is great. But don’t try to do it all. Just like you wouldn’t try to serve all of your clients’ needs in another industry, i don’t think there’s any such thing as a cannabis lawyer. I think there’s a cannabis compliance lawyer, there’s a cannabis corporate lawyer, there’s a cannabis intellectual property attorney like I am. But the idea that because you work in cannabis you can advise your clients on all aspects of their businesses I think that’s short-sighted. I think that we need to teach our clients that they need to seek out specialists in the same way you would in any industry.

Five years from now, what do you think the state of medical and recreational marijuana will be in the United States?

Vicente: Five years from now I believe marijuana will be legal at the federal level and every state will have a medical marijuana law. I’m fairly confident of that. There’s a lot of turmoil going on in D.C. but it just seems like the momentum is heading in that direction.

Robbins: I’d like to be optimistic and say that within the next five years you are going to see the federal government deschedule cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.

Catia Kossovsky

Kossovsky: I don’t know for sure in five years but maybe in 10 years i think medical research will be done—it pretty much takes that long to get results and information—that concludes marijuana helps with certain ailments. And that I think will change how marijuana is treated. And once it either does get descheduled or things get resolved, I foresee that Big Pharma will come in and acquire a lot of these companies and that drug companies such as Walgreens and Rite-Aid will then come in and buy the dispensaries. And so eventually it will be just like any other regulated industry.

Conley: It’s very hard to say with the federal government at this point. I see the states continuing to develop. I see, hopefully, states working together more. On the panel we just talked about states working together on packaging and labeling. I’m optimistic that we’ll see change federally, that we’ll see an opening up. I’m very optimistic that we won’t see a scaling back, that there’s a recognition that the sky hasn’t fallen, this is a big job creator, that there’s a lot of money in this for everyone. It’s a great opportunity for equity and equality and bringing more women and people of color and traditionally underserved consumers and businesses folks into the industry. So I hope that we continue to push ahead that way, but I’m not relying on the federal government to fix this for us.