Articles by: Danny Zlatnik

Federal Enforcement: Where Do We Stand?

While turmoil swirls in Washington, and with California’s state-legal cannabis industry just getting started, here is a check-in on the prospect of enforcement of the federal laws against cannabis. Cole Memo In January, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was rescinding the “Cole Memorandum.” That memorandum provided guidance to federal prosecutors with respect to […]


The California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (“CDTFA”) recently released new tax guidance concerning cannabis. In one release, CDTFA provided an explanation concerning the excise tax and its application to products that were in retailers’ inventories as of January 1, 2018. Retailers must collect the 15% excise tax from their customers and pay the […]

Emergency Regulation Addresses Tax Puzzle

As California scrambled to get rules in place for its new state-legal cannabis market, one welcome, if imperfect, feature of has been flexibility with respect to pre-existing inventory. For example, Section 5029 of the Bureau of Cannabis Control’s emergency regulations allows businesses to sell goods in inventory that do not comply with labeling requirements under […]

Beyond Licensing: Prop 65 Liability Risks for California Cannabis Companies

California has finally ushered in the era of state-licensed cannabis, and cannabis is now a commercial product much like any other (well, at least in the state’s eyes). Forward-thinking companies will not rest on their laurels after obtaining their state licenses, however. As with any product sold to consumers, selling cannabis carries various liability risks. […]


After months of uncertainty, the California Secretary of State may finally be preparing to open the flood gates for potential applicants seeking to register trademarks and service marks for cannabis, as well as related good and services.  The Secretary of State’s website,, now includes a portal specific to the cannabis industry:, which features […]

Proposed Emergency Regulations Raise a Range of Concerns

On November 16, 2017, the Bureau of Cannabis Control (“BCC”) released its proposed emergency cannabis regulations. The emergency rulemaking procedure is expedited and allowed only a five-day window for the public to submit comments. The next step in the rulemaking process occurred on November 28, when the BCC submitted the proposed rules to the Office […]

[UPDATED 3-21-2018] The Blurred Line between IRS Tax Collection and Federal Drug Laws

As California prepares for state-legal cannabis sales to begin, expectations of a robust, highly profitable market are rampant. But looming legal issues may cramp such sky-high expectations. Heavy tax burdens, for example, may strain profitability. Here we discuss Internal Revenue Code section 280E, which has a major potential effect on cannabis companies’ federal tax burden. […]

Santa Rosa Planning Commission Considers Cannabis Ordinance, Plans to Include Adult Use

On November 9, 2017, the Santa Rosa Planning Commission held a public hearing concerning the city’s pending comprehensive medical cannabis ordinance. The most significant topics discussed were the location restrictions affecting various cannabis activities, and whether the ordinance should be modified to include adult use (recreational) cannabis as a permitted activity. What Does the Proposed […]

California Cannabis Companies Still Await Trademark Recognition

California is set to begin issuing licenses to cannabis businesses as early as January 1, 2018. There is sure to be adequate demand for cannabis right out of the gate, but demand alone does not guarantee a functioning market—especially one as heavily regulated as California’s cannabis market. At least one initial problem with that market is […]

Graceful Transition, or Not? Current California Cannabis Laws Cast Doubt

Previous Laws Introduced Multiple “Grace Period” Measures for Transitioning to a State-Legal Market When California enacted the Medical Cannabis Regulation and Safety Act (“MCRSA”) in 2015, laying out a system of licensing for medical cannabis businesses, it did so within the context of an already-existing “gray” market. That market, which still continues today while the […]