The consequences for not following the rules for cannabis cultivation range from fines to prison time. But what happens if there’s a search warrant for your business? Want can you do to protect your livelihood?
California has strict laws about cannabis cultivation and distribution. If you are a business owner, you have an obligation to comply with regulators, and law enforcement and noncompliance can put you in a dire situation.
Everchanging marijuana laws also make being a business owner complicated. These regulations are crucial to your business but they aren’t always clear. Once you have a handle on the rules and requirements, the laws change. Unfortunately, it’s a constant uphill battle for most cannabis business owners, and many lose.
Penalties for noncompliance include:
- Costly fines and fees
- Threats of business closure
- Potential prison time
While you may try your best to keep up with the regulations, it’s easy to fall short of the mark. That’s why it is crucial to have guidance from a legal expert to help you ensure that your business is operating above board.
Why Is the Industry so Complicated?
The best example of government penalties involves the distribution side of cannabis businesses. Distribution is the dissemination and sale of marijuana products and paraphernalia. Distributors may be growers as well, but if they fail to comply with distribution laws, their entire business could be at risk.
Marijuana distributors must have a state-issued license to avoid severe penalties. These licenses are comparable to a medical license which allows practitioners to work within a specific area under local laws.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners have a duty of care to their patients, and a medical license is legal proof of their commitment to providing ethical care. Breaking the rules means that their license could be revoked permanently, so most medical professionals operate under a checks and balances system to keep them accountable and protect the patient. Head nurses, lead residents, and hospital leadership holds practitioners to the hospital’s rules. At the same time, larger bodies like medical boards, the Joint Commission, and Centers for Medicare & Medicare Services keep medical practitioners accountable at the state and federal levels.
Marijuana distributors also have a duty of care to their consumers. However, unlike the medical profession, distributors don’t always have a vast system of checks and balances to protect them. The marijuana industry is relatively new, and as such, the government is still building the infrastructure from the ground up.
Until more structures are in place, regulators rely on rules and enforcement to keep this new industry in line. Unfortunately, this often means that business owners are held to a harsher standard to make up for the lack of structure.
Protect Your Cannabis Business
Regulators often rely on heavy-handed disciplinary measures to keep cannabis businesses in line, but what can you do to protect your business from these penalties?
It may be a no-brainer, but building your business with the right tools is one of the most critical steps as a cannabis distributor/grower. Proper licensing and getting the correct permits go a long way to ensuring that you are safe from the long arm of the law.
However, if you are new to the industry or find yourself in a tough situation with law enforcement, you’re not alone. Even if the police have a warrant to search your business, contacting an attorney can protect you from further issues.
Whether you’re new to the business or you’ve been in the industry since the beginning, it’s never too late to protect your interests. Contact Purdy & Bailey, LLP for more information.