The complex and changing regulation of cannabis, hemp, and their derivatives creates unique challenges for companies that cultivate, process, distribute, or sell cannabis product—and those who service them. Our Cannabis & Hemp Group is a team of skilled attorneys dedicated to providing quality legal advice on the full spectrum of issues facing this emerging industry.

We help our clients know and understand the regulatory landscape, meet applicable licensure requirements, anticipate compliance issues, and limit exposure when mistakes happen. We assist clients to adapt in real to time to changes in federal, state, and local cannabis regulations by monitoring industry trends and legislative developments and providing timely guidance. We also represent clients before a variety of state and federal agencies, including the IRS, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), United States Patent and Trademark Offices (USPTO), and state tax and regulatory agencies.

Our attorneys also assist clients who service the industry, including landlords, equipment manufacturers, food and beverage organizations, financial services providers, and others. Because many cannabis-related businesses are entrepreneurial in nature, we advise on enforcement of contracts, employment laws, environmental compliance, intellectual property, and other areas of law beyond licensing and day-to-day operations.


Please remember that the possession, use, distribution, and sale of non-hemp cannabis and cannabis products is illegal under federal law, despite certain state laws that decriminalize and/or legalize such activity. While federal enforcement policy may defer to a state’s laws and not enforce conflicting federal laws, the fact remains that compliance with state law in no way assures compliance with federal law, and there is a risk that conflicting federal laws may be enforced in the future. No legal advice we give is intended to provide any guidance or assistance in violating federal law.


News & Insights


  • Legal challenges for cannabis industry continue (podcast)

    Legal challenges for cannabis industry continue (podcast)

    As a partner who leads the cannabis and hemp group at law firm Hodgson Russ LLP, Patrick Hines is often approached at cocktail parties with questions about all the cannabis shops popping up. There’s a widespread belief they must be legal or they’d be shut down. However, that’s not necessarily true, he says. Hines dives into this hot topic with Buffalo Business First Publisher John Tebeau, in the latest episode of the Thought Leaders in Law and Business podcast, presented by Hodgson Russ and The Business Journals.

    “They don't want to put people in jail for cannabis, but they've got to be able to enforce the law,” Hines says. “Right now, the law says, if you're going to sell commercial cannabis to people, it needs to be regulated and you need to have a license. A lot of people are saying, ‘Well, I'm just going to do what I'm going to do.’ And that puts a lot of competition into the marketplace.”

    Listen to this episode to learn about the legal issues businesses need to pay attention to if they’re interested in doing any kind of business in this space.

  • Expert weighs in on key cannabis litigation to watch and the future of the industry (podcast)

    Expert weighs in on key cannabis litigation to watch and the future of the industry (podcast)

    Cannabis is a hot topic across the nation as states continue to roll out the regulatory landscape for recreational programs. The litigation going on in New York will likely impact the entire cannabis industry, according to Patrick Hines, partner and leader of the cannabis and hemp group at Hodgson Russ LLP. So far, the licensing process has been complicated with many starts and stops.

    In this episode of the Thought Leaders in Law and Business podcast, presented by Hodgson Russ and The Business Journals, Buffalo Business First Publisher John Tebeau interviews Hines on where cannabis stands in New York, how the state got where it is today and the recent progress they’ve made.

    Hines knows first-hand how complex complying with these regulations can be. He advises clients on a range of issues affecting the cultivation, processing, distribution and sale of cannabis and hemp products. Hines provides counsel to businesses seeking to operate or do any kind of business in the cannabis industry.

    “All hemp is cannabis, but not all cannabis is hemp,” Hines said. “Hemp is not defined necessarily by being a separate species of plants. It's defined in the law by how much THC it has in it, specifically Delta-9 — tetrahydrocannabinol. If that's 0.3% or lower by dry weight, then it's hemp. If it's higher, then legally it's non-hemp cannabis and would still be a controlled substance as far as the federal government's concerned.”

    Listen to this episode to learn more about:

    Why it’s been difficult to create regulations around commercial production and cannabis sales since the Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act (MRTA) was passed in New York in 2021.The different types of licenses that have been issued so far and why they’re limited.Key litigation to watch, including allegations the Conditional Adult Use Retail Dispensary (CAURD) program is unconstitutional.The chances the federal government will legalize cannabis.How the Farm Bill presents an opportunity to further liberalize cannabis regulations in 2023.

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Cannabis & Hemp / News & Insights