Michigan Marijuana Boom: An Opportunity for Legal Eagles

October 16th, 2023 Legal & Crime
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The cannabis landscape in Michigan is rapidly transforming, and the legal community is among the many beneficiaries of this burgeoning sector.

Myles Baker: A Rising Star in Cannabis Law

At the tender age of 31, Myles Baker, an associate attorney at the Detroit-based Dickinson Wright PLLC, stands on the cusp of making partner. This significant milestone usually eludes lawyers until they've had about eight to ten years of experience. However, the legal cannabis boom in Michigan is fast-tracking the careers of many like Baker.

For Baker, the emerging marijuana sector has provided an accelerated route to expertise. He notes, "The rapid evolution of the marijuana industry has allowed me to carve out a niche for myself, keeping pace with attorneys who've been practicing for decades longer." Unlike other areas of law steeped in a century of case law, the cannabis space is still in its infancy, making it a lucrative domain for those willing to navigate its uncharted waters.

The Impact of Legalization

Since Michigan ushered in legal marijuana sales in 2018, lawyers have played an indispensable role in shaping the industry. They have assisted operators in understanding and adapting to frequently evolving regulations, interpreting the intricate interplay between state and federal laws, and ensuring compliance with local municipality guidelines.

Lance Boldrey, a partner at Detroit's Dykema Gossett LLP, highlights the importance of the cannabis sector to the legal profession. "The cannabis industry has significantly contributed to our revenue, making it our fastest-growing practice area. Every domain of our firm has, in some way, represented cannabis."

Cannabis: Michigan's Golden Goose

With sales reaching a staggering $2.3 billion in 2023 alone, Michigan has cemented its position as a dominant player in the marijuana industry. However, it hasn't been smooth sailing for all. While the state witnessed a slump in marijuana prices in recent years, it has rebounded to a healthier figure this September.

The fluctuating market dynamics offer lawyers unique challenges, from securing licenses to assisting businesses in streamlining operations and navigating the intricacies of tax law.

The Legal Labyrinth of Cannabis

For firms like Detroit-based Honigman LLP and The Dragich Law Firm PLLC, the financial struggles of cannabis businesses, such as Skymint's debt issues, present opportunities. Meanwhile, Marshall-based Common Citizen, a significant player in the state, has incurred substantial legal costs since its inception.

But as Boldrey candidly admits, the law industry is not immune to the economic challenges faced by the cannabis sector. He likens the situation to the Dot Com era, where only a handful of startups truly thrived.

Choosing Clients Wisely

Dykema exercises discernment when selecting its cannabis clients. Boldrey emphasizes the importance of thorough due diligence, looking for reputable clients with a solid business background.

Yet, the cannabis sector isn't just about corporate law. Matthew Abel, founder of Cannabis Counsel Law Firm, transitioned from defending marijuana-related misdemeanors and felonies to aiding clients in establishing compliant business models.

Abel recalls the initial skepticism he faced, "Many contemporaries thought I was making a risky move. Today, every major law firm boasts a cannabis practice group."

The Future of Cannabis Law

With the legal framework around cannabis in a constant state of evolution, lawyers, especially the younger ones, find themselves in a unique position. For instance, John Abbo leveraged his expertise in cannabis law to secure a prominent role at Lume Cannabis Co.

Myles Baker eloquently encapsulates the potential of this sector for the legal community, "Cannabis law isn't just about marijuana. It covers every facet of legal practice. We're not just practicing law; we're shaping it for future generations."

In the interplay between marijuana and law, Michigan's legal eagles see not just challenges, but a world of opportunity.

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