10 Years of Big Risk and Reward for Attorneys in Cannabis

Dec 16, 2019

“More and more law firms are announcing the formation of cannabis practice groups. But it's hard to imagine a corporate cannabis law practice even existing without Brian Vicente.” -Law360

Law360’s new podcast series, Law360 Explores: Legalization “looks at the murky legal scenarios cannabis businesses must face, as told by the business owners and attorneys on the front lines.” For the series’ fifth episode, host Diana Novak Jones sat down with lawyers who have been working with cannabis for a while, including Vicente Sederberg LLP founding partner Brian Vicente.

Before it was filled with “traditional” professionals dressed in suits and ties, the cannabis industry was something more akin to the Wild, Wild West: Imagine a time when cannabis business attorneys worked in shabby offices, getting paid in cash or trades, or maybe not getting paid at all. A time when transporting large bags of cash with your clients was commonplace. A time when even engaging with a client involved in a state-legal cannabis industry could result in criminal charges or the loss of your license to practice law... or maybe even receiving death threats. This was the very time when Brian Vicente became heavily involved in cannabis law.

Law360 Explores: Legalization - Episode 5: Big Risk for Attorneys

Brian opens the interview with an unsettling anecdote from his activism days. While giving a speech on cannabis legalization in Eastern Colorado, he was interrupted by the county sheriff, who stepped right in front of him to give his stance on cannabis legalization:

“If I had it my way, I would take people that use marijuana out of their car and *gestures with hand like a gun* shoot 'em.”

The 90-mile car ride out of that county was a tense one, but the experience only motivated Brian to continue fighting for legalization. After teaming up with current VS partner, Christian Sederberg and helping to legalize cannabis in Colorado, Vicente Sederberg LLP is “the reason there are lawyers in cannabis,” as Novak put it.

VS is thriving as the cannabis industry continues to grow, but there are still hurdles to jump and obstacles to climb. Regulations are ever-changing, the industry is still new, and marijuana remains a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act.

Give the episode a listen to hear more stories about the industry’s early days and the continuing risks and difficulties of working with cannabis clients.

Click here to see the listen to the full podcast series "Legalization: The Perils, Pitfalls and Promise of Cannabis" from Law360. You can also read the accompanying article "Cannabis Clients Present Unique Risks for Lawyers."