Cannabis Industry

Our Approach

Cannabis-related businesses contend with the same challenges every business faces, complicated and amplified by a web of state and federal law specific to cannabis. Tonkon Torp helps clients solve complex business problems within the regulated cannabis industry. The attorneys in the Cannabis Industry Group bring a combination of deep business expertise and cannabis-specific knowledge and experience to help owners and operators form and sustain successful businesses in this emerging category.
Tonkon Torp assembles teams of practice-area experts to meet the individual needs of each client. With regard to cannabis, this includes providing a full suite of legal services in a byzantine regulatory environment with rapidly changing laws.
Our Cannabis Industry Group is a full service business practice that works with entrepreneurs and companies of all sizes and at all life cycle stages. We work to identify strategies and solutions to help our clients achieve financial and structural growth, all while keeping a keen eye on the special risks and liability considerations inherent in a newly regulated industry.
As cannabis companies mature and evolve, Tonkon Torp’s expertise in corporate governance, business formation, mergers and acquisitions, real estate, business litigation, tax, and other specialties provides continuity in the client/legal advisor relationship. The group advises owners and operators as well as seed, angel, venture and other investors on all aspects of fundraising and investing in cannabis businesses.

Our Expertise

A cannabis venture comes with a built-in set of complexities, and our clients in this category benefit from our firm’s multidisciplinary expertise in business law and dispute resolution.

Structure, Formation & Contracts — Advise on corporate ownership, control, and management issues such as entity formation, tax planning, and executive compensation. Contract drafting and negotiation, licensing, and compliance.

Fundraising — Negotiate and document private and public capital solutions for startup, ongoing operations and business expansion.

Labor & Employment — Promote positive employee relations, protect competitive positions, deal with union activity, and defend against or minimize exposure to employment litigation.

Taxation — Structure businesses and transactions to minimize tax liability while ensuring compliance with the various local, state and federal tax regimes, including 280E considerations.

Intellectual Property — Develop and execute strategies for registering, protecting and leveraging intellectual property assets including trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets and patents. Defend IP disputes through negotiation, litigation, mediation, or arbitration.

Business and Commercial Litigation — Resolve business disputes in and out of court, including contract disputes, owner disputes, business torts, product liability claims, regulatory/administrative disputes, civil RICO claims, and real estate disputes.
Real Estate & Land Use — Acquisitions, land use approvals, and compliance with enhanced zoning requirements for cannabis-related use, environmental clean-up, and leasing of cultivation, distribution, manufacturing and retail facilities.

Compliance — Manage compliance and develop and implement best practices and long-term strategies to minimize regulatory burdens and risk.

Mergers & Acquisitions — Represent public and private companies as buyers, sellers, and targets. Experience in acquisitions, divestitures, spin-offs, control and proxy contests, reorganizations and joint ventures.

Government Relations — Monitor and participate in legislation related to cannabis business operations.

Our Clients

Our cannabis industry clients include licensed producers, distributors, processors, and retailers, as well as ancillary business, funds and investment managers, equipment manufacturers, and technology companies.

Tonkon Torp Wins Dismissal of RICO Claims Attacking Cannabis Industry – First of its Kind in 9th Circuit

Tonkon Torp secured a dismissal of civil RICO claims filed in federal court based on defendants' involvement in an Oregon Medical Marijuana Program grow operation. Four civil RICO cases have been filed this year in Oregon against nearly 300 businesses and individuals engaged in state-authorized cannabis activity.

Shareholder Dispute

When outside investors flexed their power to terminate the founder of a vertically integrated Oregon cannabis company and maneuvered to make her shares worthless, Tonkon Torp brought claims for breach of fiduciary duty and shareholder oppression, ultimately obtaining a favorable buy-out for Tonkon's client.

LLC Member Dispute

When majority owners tried to squeeze Tonkon Torp's client out by forcing sale of the land where the company planned to obtain an OLCC cannabis producer's license, Tonkon brought counterclaims for minority oppression and obtained a settlement where Tonkon's client obtained all of the majority's interest in the company and the land.

Civil RICO

Obtained dismissal of civil Racketeering Influenced & Corrupt Organizations ("RICO") Act claims asserted in federal court based on our clients' state law-compliant medical marijuana activities.

Breach of Contract

Obtained favorable settlement for landowner who provided land and financing for OMMP cannabis production operation after the grower failed to share profits as agreed.

Alex  Tinker
Practice Area Co-Chair

Alex Tinker

Of Counsel

Jessica A. Morgan
Practice Area Co-Chair

Jessica A. Morgan