Best Dispensary Law Firms in Alabama

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Contributor, Benzinga
August 1, 2022

Legally operated cannabis dispensaries are coming to Alabama soon, and they will offer a much-needed resource for the community. 

Many people with various medical conditions rely on cannabis to help with pain management and anxiety. But because the cannabis industry has regulations that are still evolving, it’s important that new business owners in the industry hire a good attorney to help them navigate the unfamiliar waters. 

If you want to open a cannabis dispensary in Alabama, here are some great lawyers you can work with. 

Best Cannabis Dispensary Law Firms in Alabama

Alabama passed Senate Bill 46 on May 6, 2021, allowing patients to legally use medical cannabis. The state is accepting applications for dispensaries and will approve only four for the time being. However, it has stated that it will add more if there is demand for it. 

The application deadline is Sept. 1, and if you want to open a dispensary in the state, you will need a good cannabis law firm to help navigate the complicated rules.

Benzinga researched and found the best cannabis dispensary law firms in Alabama and presents you with the list below.

Leaf Legal PC offers business formation services in Alabama. Because federal law is different than regulations in states that have legalized marijuana, new business owners need to understand the corporate formation and tax implications in their state. 

Leaf Legal PC offers consultation and advice for new cannabis dispensaries opening in Alabama. The firm specializes in advising new cannabis dispensary owners on what expenses are allowed when filing taxes in light of the IRS rules regarding cannabis-related business.

The firm also acts as a cannabis-specific registered agent for cannabis businesses. While many states require that corporations have a registered agent, a cannabis-specific agent will keep up with and understand the ever-changing laws in the marijuana industry. Using one may keep you out of legal trouble that could otherwise occur if you don’t understand the complex cannabis laws in your state.

  • The firm works in many different states, including Alabama.
  • The firm works in various areas of the cannabis industry.
  • The firm does not handle cannabis regulatory compliance issues in Alabama.

 2. Wilson Elser

The Wilson Elser cannabis law practice is located in Birmingham, Alabama, and offers extensive services related to the cannabis industry. 

Some of the areas the firm advises in are how to approach interrelated governance between state and federal laws, issues related to commercial operations, employment, product liability, coverage issues, business formation, tax assistance and risk management as it relates to the cannabis industry. 

The firm also works with startups in the cannabis industry to help guide new cannabis store owners through the maze of regulations and possible legal challenges.

Pros of working with Wilson Elser

  • The firm covers all aspects of the cannabis industry.
  • The firm’s lawyers attend regulatory hearings with clients.

Cons of working with Wilson Elser

  • The firm only has one office in Alabama.

3. Cannabis Industry Lawyer

Cannabis Industry Lawyer is a law firm that represents cannabis-related business owners across the United States, including Alabama. Its lawyers specialize in the cannabis industry and understand the laws and regulations in each state along with the federal laws that cannabis business owners must follow. 

The law firm offers comprehensive services that include an analysis of your proposed business, budget strategy along with an analysis of your startup costs, a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of your team, cannabis application strategy, fundraising methods and requirement advice, knowledge about emerging trends and cannabis-specific marketing advice.

Although this law firm does not have offices in Alabama, it handles all of the above for Alabama business owners who want to start a cannabis business.

Pros of working with Cannabis Industry Lawyer

  • The firm is knowledgeable in all aspects of starting and operating a cannabis business.
  • The firm offers an in-depth analysis of the new business.

Cons of working with Cannabis Industry Lawyer

  • Alabama business owners will have to work via phone, internet conference or other means as the firm has no office in the state.

4. Bradley

The Bradley law firm has 600 lawyers with some specializing in the cannabis industry. The firm includes two groups that work directly with those wanting to set up a cannabis dispensary in Alabama. 

The first group is the Cannabis Industry Team, and the second is the Governmental Affairs Practice Group. The Cannabis Industry Team helps you understand and navigate the regulations from the Medical Cannabis Commission and the Department of Agriculture & Industries. The Governmental Affairs Practice Group works alongside you and state officials to help ensure that you are approved for a license. Both groups work with clients of the firm.

The law group also helps clients with things like mitigating business risk and planning for growth. It advises clients on areas such as cannabis banking laws, compliance with regulations, intellectual property, licensing, taxes, corporate transactions and dispute resolution.

Pros of working with Bradley

  • Multiple attorneys in the firm specialize in cannabis.
  • Seven attorneys in the firm are ranked in the Chamber USA 2022.

Cons of working with Bradley

  • Bradley is a national firm, and you may not work with an Alabama lawyer.

5. Watkins & Eager

Watkins & Eager was named as one of the best cannabis law firms in the Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers. The firm is in Mississippi but also works with clients in Alabama who need legal advice for their cannabis business. The firm helps entrepreneurs navigate the quickly changing regulations in the cannabis industry and helps them reconcile the state and federal laws so they will stay out of legal trouble.

The firm handles many areas in the cannabis industry ,including real estate, taxes, employees, zoning, corporate formation, government relations and regulatory compliance. The firm has been in business for 125 years and has a solid reputation.

Pros of working with Watkins & Eager

  • The firm is established and capable of providing sound advice for the cannabis industry.
  • The firm offers all areas of cannabis-related help to new business owners.

Cons of working with Watkins and Eager

  • The firm is located in Mississippi so working relationships may consist of phone calls and online meetings.

How to Choose a Cannabis Law Firm

Finding the right cannabis law firm is an important step to properly setting up or expanding a cannabis-related business. By following these tips, you will improve your chances of finding the right firm.  

 Understand what you need: Depending on what stage your cannabis business is in, you need to look for cannabis law firms that offer different services in their practice. For instance, if you are just starting your cannabis business, you will need an attorney that can help with corporate formation, licensing and fundraising. If you have already taken care of these issues, you will need a lawyer who will help with real estate evaluation and permits. If you have already selected your real estate space and are ready to open your doors, look for an attorney who can draft contracts, negotiate with vendors and represent you in legal matters.

Ask for referrals: If you know anyone in the business, ask for referrals to good cannabis attorneys. Just as in any industry, a referral can mean the difference between hiring a good cannabis attorney and one that lacks the qualifications you need. You can also use the list above as a starting point. Be sure to speak to all of the lawyers on the list so you can determine whether they fit your needs.

Meet the lawyer: If possible, you should meet the lawyer in person. During the consultation, you can ask questions that pertain to your business and get an idea of how well you and the lawyer would work together. Look for any red flags during the meeting such as a lack of knowledge about the areas you need advice in or a reluctance to commit to a time frame.

Talk about the fee structure: It’s important to understand the attorney’s fee structure up front so you know what you will be responsible for. Ask for a fee schedule in writing, and be sure to ask about any additional expenses such as copy fees, mailing fees, and secretarial fees.

Make a list: Now that you’ve spoken to all of the possible lawyers, it’s time to make a pros and cons list for each of them. Think carefully about your answers, and you should be able to narrow down the list when an attorney’s cons outweigh the pros. Continue to narrow the list until you land on the right cannabis law firm for you and your business.

Keep in touch: Once you hire a cannabis lawyer for your business, it’s important to stay in contact with them as you build your business. If you are making a decision about your company, it’s a good idea to run the details by your lawyer. Because cannabis laws are new in many states, including Alabama, your lawyer can help ensure that you stay within the legal boundaries.

What Do You Need to Buy Cannabis in Alabama?

Alabama is in the process of legalizing cannabis, and the state has approved certain items that are legal to consume with certain conditions. If approved, you will be able to purchase capsules, gels, oils and creams for topical use, tablets, tinctures, suppositories, transdermal patches, nebulizers and liquids or oils you can use in an inhaler.

 Here’s what you need to buy these cannabis products in Alabama:

 1. You must be 19 or older to apply for a medical card and have one of the following conditions: autism, cancer-related weight loss or chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, depression, epilepsy or another condition that causes seizures, HIV/AIDs-related weight loss or nausea, panic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, persistent nausea that is not related to pregnancy post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), sickle cell, spasticity that stems from diseases such as amotrophic late eral sclerosis (ALS), multiple sclerosis (MS) and spinal cord injuries, a terminal illness, Tourette syndrome or chronic pain that is not managed by conventional therapies.

2. If you are a minor, your parent or guardian can register you for the medical cannabis card.

3. Schedule an appointment with a doctor to be diagnosed with one of the conditions listed above.

4. If the doctor confirms the diagnosis, they will register you with the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission.

5. You will receive the Alabama Marijuana Medical Card from the commission.

6. You can use the card in dispensaries in Alabama.

 Frequently Asked Questions

Q

Is cannabis legal in Alabama?

A

Alabama passed the Senate Bill 46 in 2021. The bill allows certain cannabis products to be sold to people in Alabama who hold an Alabama medical marijuana card from the Alabama Medical Cannabis Commission. But only certain cannabis products are legal in Alabama. For instance, it is still illegal to buy or sell cannabis products that you can smoke or vape. So, cannabis is legal in Alabama under certain conditions.

Q

Are THC and CBD the same?

A

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are not the same things although they come from the same plant. THC and CBD are cannabinoids that come from the cannabis plant. THC is a psychoactive compound that gets the user high. CBD, also from cannabis plants, does not contain the psycoactive component and is used to treat conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, inflammation and seizures.

About Suzanne Kearns

Suzanne is an expert in the insurance, personal finance, real estate and retirement planning space.