Tara L. Tedrow believes that Florida can be a good model for emerging marijuana markets. One of the reasons is that the robust regulatory standards in place have helped minimize many of the mistakes other states made in failing to regulate more on the front end. 

“Though the state’s delays in licensing new companies has stymied the industry’s growth, Florida has also shown why ensuring strict standards for operating a business can better protect product quality and patients,” says Tedrow, shareholder and chair of Cannabis & Controlled Substances Group at Lowndes, a large law firm headquartered in Orlando, FL. “I am hopeful that between Governor [Ron] DeSantis and FDACS Commissioner [Nicole] Fried, Florida will be one of the strongest cannabis markets in the U.S.” 

The Cannabis & Controlled Substances Group at Lowndes provides support and guidance to companies, individuals, and investors who are engaged in or considering entry into the cannabis market. Clients of Tedrow’s firm include businesses involved in the cultivation, processing, distribution, and dispensing of cannabis across the U.S. and abroad. 

“We advise clients on the wide range of legal, business and public policy issues surrounding the cannabis industry, as well as questions about entity formation, supply agreements, investments, land use and permitting, environmental compliance, regulatory compliance, intellectual property, real estate, employment contracts and policies, and non-disclosure and confidentiality issues,” she says. 

Lowndes’ attorneys have handled hundreds of mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, public debt placements, balance sheet and asset-based financings, and cross-border transactions. Some have served as general counsel to public and private companies and many have appeared before administrative and regulatory agencies at local, state and federal levels. 

“Our team brings together a diverse group of lawyers to address many business issues in the medical cannabis industry,” says Tedrow.

Tedrow was first hired by one of the original medical marijuana licensees in Florida to assist in getting their dispensaries approved statewide. From there, her career in medical marijuana took off. 

“I knew medical marijuana would be one of the fastest growing industries with a wide range of impacts to existing legal practice areas, so I was interested from a business and academic perspective,” she recalls. 

As a land use attorney, Tedrow was already used to representing clients’ controversial development projects that drew opposition from the community. With medical marijuana dispensary approvals, that dynamic was no different, she notes. 

“I’ve never shied away from engaging on controversial issues that I believed would significantly benefit our community and knew the key to getting everyone to embrace medical marijuana businesses was compassion and education,” she says. “It’s been a pleasure ever since to work with clients in this industry and help move the needle forward in the medical community.”

One key factor that distinguishes Lowndes from others that offer similar services is value, according to Tedrow.

“Our firm brings an incredible value to our clients,” she says. “We represented the first medical marijuana dispensary in the state of Florida and our experience representing cannabis businesses from seed to sale provides a solid platform for us to assist clients in navigating the business, regulatory and legal complexities facing this emerging market.” 

She adds that her firm also truly understands its clients’ businesses and the intricate details of their operations. For example, “it’s not enough to just know that your client cultivates marijuana indoors pursuant to state law,” she says. 

“You need to understand the specific technology utilized for their grow operations, be able to predict problems they may face because of their operational model and to provide referrals to outside industry experts who can assist if problems arise,” Tedrow says. “Having taught the first Marijuana Law and Policy course at the University of Florida Fredric G. Levin College of Law, I have a deep understanding of this area and have been able to work with incredible thought and industry leaders from around the country. The network of referrals and advice our firm provides to clients helps to reduce costs and increase efficiency, both critical components in an increasingly competitive market.”

There are still some legal struggles faced by marijuana businesses in the state of Florida. Putting aside the obvious struggles caused by existing antiquated federal regulations of medical marijuana, simple operational issues arise for cannabis businesses that other companies don’t face. 

“From IRS 280E provisions prohibiting the deduction of certain operating expenses for tax purposes, to the inability to obtain title insurance on properties intended to be used for marijuana operations, these businesses face unique challenges every day,” says Tedrow. “Until there are sustainable solutions for issues such as banking, financing and payment options, medical marijuana companies will continue to face unnecessary hurdles of growth and productivity.” 

For more information, visit https://lowndes-law.com/services-and-industries/industries/cannabis-and-controlled-substances/