Lawyer or Cannabis Consultant?
Choosing the right professionals to help you obtain a license for your cannabis business is a decision that can make or break your success. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide who to trust with such a critical task. Two of the most common options are cannabis consulting firms and law firms, but which one should you choose?
Lawyers will be critical in some areas but not as the project manager of your operation or cannabis licensing applications.
Consultants will be critical in most areas including project manager of your operation and cannabis licensing applications.
Navigating Cannabis Licensing Applications: Expertise of Consultants Vs Attorneys
When embarking on the task of completing a cannabis licensing application, newer cannabis entrepreneurs often believe that they must hire a lawyer right from the start. However, what these aspiring business owners truly require is the assistance of a cannabis consultant.
A well-experienced consultant possesses a deep understanding of the licensing application procedure and can guide you on which tasks to delegate to a specialist, such as a lawyer. This extensive knowledge makes hiring a consultant indispensable and cost-effective for obtaining a license successfully.
Opting to have an attorney complete the entire application is likely to result in a significant, unnecessary expense. This is because the high cost of a “full-service” cannabis attorney is often unwarranted, as external services are commonly employed, resulting in supplementary fees.
If you’re feeling perplexed, don’t fret. We’re here to assist you in determining when to engage a consultant versus when to enlist an attorney, enabling you to obtain the best value for your money and present a successful cannabis licensing application.
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The Dilemma of Hiring an Attorney
It appears that many applicants seeking guidance throughout the entire process of acquiring their cannabis license are turning to lawyers for assistance. However, this is usually not the best option.
Lawyers can charge several hundred dollars per hour for their services. Ironically, many attorneys, even those who claim to be well-versed in cannabis, frequently outsource much of the application work to consultants.
Instead of paying one price for complete services, clients are often hit with additional charges to cover consultant fees. By hiring an attorney to handle the licensing application process, applicants can end up overpaying for an underperforming service.
What about cannabis licensing and applications?
Firstly, lawyers typically have busy practices and cannot devote the necessary time and energy to write a winning application and manage the process. This process involves several other professionals, including architects, security and equipment firms, financial analysts, HR and insurance professionals, as well as attending city meetings and working with city hall staff. As a client, you are among many for most successful lawyers.
Secondly, the legal principles in play are currently basic and undefined, especially in cities considering applications for the first time. There is simply no precedent or common practices to rely on at this point. The state of the law is new and unrefined at best, and it could be argued that it is not yet established on so many levels, including tax, banking, and federal issues, including intellectual property. Therefore, no one can be entirely certain of anything in this space.
Thirdly, the application process is not traditionally legal in nature. The cannabis business is not being built in courts of law; rather, it is being formed in the meetings and chambers of the City Council, subject to often turbulent political pressure and uncertainty. Those applying for a local permit must use creative writing, complex premise design, and business plans to persuade city staff and paid evaluators to select them for processing. Once they win, they become applicants for Conditional Use Permits and go through a process with the Planning Commission that focuses on the project itself, including the layout, the neighborhood, and rarely the law.
While some lawyers focus their billable hours on land use and development, they are likely to lack the necessary expertise in the other areas mentioned above and be too expensive to be proper project managers.
When to Engage an Attorney
In the end, attorneys are best suited for offering their specialized knowledge on matters concerning contracts, IP and trademarks, partnership agreements, corporate structure, and IRS codes, such as section 280E taxation. It makes sense to work with an attorney for these specific parts of a cannabis licensing application.
Clients should seek the support of a consultant to handle the majority of the application legwork. The consultant will alert clients to any sections that need a more specialized eye. Then an attorney, CPA, or another expert should be hired to fill in the gaps with their expert knowledge.
Choosing the Right Cannabis Consultants to Handle Your Licensing Application
If a lawyer is not the best choice for leading your cannabis application team, then it is important to consider certain criteria when selecting a cannabis consulting firm. Look for the advantages that consultants have over lawyers.
You need to choose a firm that can provide a comprehensive team, led by an experienced project manager, who can manage and allocate all necessary resources to not only meet deadlines but also address any objections from local officials with a highly detailed application.
This firm should have experts in the application process, including all necessary elements to win and earn a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) afterward. Your application needs to be more than just a narrative, pitch deck, or presentation; it needs to be substantiated enough for the city to believe it can be implemented professionally and effectively without causing any embarrassment.
Your consultants must maintain transparent communication with you and provide feedback throughout the process. It is not uncommon for clients of lawyers or other consultants to be kept in the dark for too long, resulting in a lack of detail necessary for a successful application due to poor time management and leadership.
We strongly believe that hiring a cannabis consultant and a few lawyers who specialize in corporate, tax, and intellectual property laws is the ideal option. This is due to their in-depth knowledge and experience in these fields. While your lawyers will be essential in specific areas, they may not be the most suitable individuals to manage your operation or licensing application as a project manager.
FAQs - Lawyer or Cannabis Consultant?
What is a cannabis consultant?
A cannabis consultant is a professional who specializes in providing advice and assistance to individuals and companies in the cannabis industry.
Why are cannabis consultants more useful than lawyers for licensing applications?
Cannabis consultants have specific knowledge and expertise in the cannabis industry, including regulatory requirements, licensing processes, and compliance issues. They can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the licensing application process, which may be more comprehensive than what a lawyer can offer.
How can cannabis consultants assist with project management?
Cannabis consultants can provide project management services to help ensure that all aspects of a project, from planning to execution, are carried out efficiently and effectively. They can also provide expertise in areas such as cultivation, extraction, distribution, and sales, which can be critical to the success of a cannabis project.
What benefits do cannabis consultants offer over lawyers in the cannabis industry?
Cannabis consultants can offer a range of benefits over lawyers in the cannabis industry, including specialized knowledge of the industry, more cost-effective services, and a focus on practical solutions to business challenges. Additionally, many cannabis consultants have direct experience working in the industry and can provide valuable insights and advice based on their own experiences.
What types of services do cannabis consultants offer?
Cannabis consultants can offer a range of services to businesses in the cannabis industry, including assistance with licensing applications, compliance and regulatory issues, business planning and strategy, project management, product development and testing, marketing and branding, and more. The specific services offered will depend on the consultant’s expertise and the needs of the business.
How can I find a reputable cannabis consultant?
You can find reputable cannabis consultants by conducting online research, checking references and reviews, and networking within the cannabis industry. It’s important to look for consultants with experience and expertise in the specific areas where you need assistance, as well as a track record of success working with other businesses in the industry.
How can lawyers be helpful?
Lawyers can be helpful in the cannabis industry in several ways. They can provide legal guidance and support on complex regulatory and compliance issues, contractual agreements, intellectual property protection, and employment matters. Lawyers can also provide assistance with dispute resolution and litigation if necessary. While cannabis consultants may have more industry-specific knowledge and expertise, lawyers can provide valuable legal advice and representation to ensure that businesses in the cannabis industry are operating in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.