Shawn Hauser Discusses Cannabis Compliance on RiskWatch Podcast

Mar 2, 2020

VS partner and Hemp Department leader Shawn Hauser was featured on an episode of RiskWatch, where she discussed cannabis's ever-changing legal landscape, navigating regulatory compliance, and a few core requirements for conducting due diligence.

Risk Watch is a podcast dedicated to shedding light on emerging compliance and due-diligence issues. Click here to listen to the full episode with Shawn.

From Pre-Med to Law School: Shawn's Introduction to Cannabis Reform

Shawn's history with the cannabis and wellness industry started from a patient and medical advocacy perspective. When she entered college, she planned to be a physician, but after reading about endocannabinoids and the positive effects of medical marijuana during pre-med, she became passionate and certain that cannabis was a medicine that patients were in desperate need of. She then moved to Colorado for law school in 2008, got involved with Sensible Colorado and contributed to Amendment 64's legalization efforts, and has been working in cannabis law ever since. 

Helping Clients Understand the Process

With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, many wondered if it would encourage more investors to enter the market. Shawn notes that while yes, the Farm Bill did open the door for some stakeholders, there will always be investors who are more risk-averse and would rather wait until the federal legality of hemp is totally figured out, or are waiting to see if other companies grow and can be successful on a larger scale. However, she also notes that brands in the hemp industry don't have nearly as many restrictions as marijuana and this alone has peaked many investors' interests. 

Having a comprehensive understanding of how cannabis businesses and products are regulated is of utmost importance. This, Shawn says, is one of her key focuses when assisting clients. With laws that differ in regulating both marijuana and hemp at the local, state and federal levels, it's also vital to understand both the known-risks and unknown associated risks. Federal illegality comes with a number of nuanced legal issues, from money laundering to aiding and abetting the sale of a controlled substance. Many companies lack the guidance and due diligence necessary to enter the market successfully, and some end up unknowingly breaking these federal regulations. 

Currently, no one has a clear idea of what federal legalization will look like, what will be regulated by the FDA (if anything), and a litany of additional other unknowns. Understanding what's legally allowed and where the unknowns exist is the first major step in establishing a compliant cannabis business.

Other topics touched on in this podcast:

  • Issues in transparency and disclosing ownership 
  • Recommendations for long-term compliance
  • Red flags during due-diligence checks 
  • Issues with corruption 
  • Managing supplier risk 
  • Lessons learned from Colorado's recreational legalization
  • Shawn's prediction on when we can expect to see cannabis federally legalized 

This is an episode you don't want to miss. Click here to listen.