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  January 17, 2018

As part of its mission to bring its members valuable thought leadership and tools to help Be Ready for the regulatory uncertainty facing the cannabis industryon January 22nd the NACB will conduct the NACB Legal Symposium: Preparing for 2018 and Beyondan event to focus on the critical issues of banking, finance and regulation in the cannabis industry.  

Hosted by the international law firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP and produced exclusively for NACB members and associates, the NACB Legal Symposium will feature speakers from additional premier law firms and top-ranked boutique firms with dedicated cannabis expertise. They include Jones Day, Davis Polk, King & Spalding, Torys, Hoban Law Group, Harris Bricken, and Frontera. Additional participants will include NACB industry partners and experts to help shed light on the shifting and expanding cannabis landscape.  


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Exploring Access to Financial Services 

The symposium will focus on the current landscape and issues surrounding banking and financial services, which remain some of the most difficult hurdles faced by even the most ethical and responsible cannabis businesses 

Despite more and more states legalizing cannabis for medical and adult use, the illegality of cannabis on the federal level means that cannabis business operators across the country find themselves with few, if any, options to access the same banking and related services available to other industries. Many previous attempts to set up banking solutions in legal states have been stymied by federal authorities. As a result, cannabis businesses have resorted to operating on a largely cash basis, or have turned to other banking “solutions” with high fees and whose legality have not been tested.   

NACB CEO Joshua Laterman sees the NACB’s leadership in this area as essential: “The NACB has built an unparalleled team of experts and advisors with deep experience in government, law, technology and cannabis, all of whom are dedicated to empowering the best cannabis related businesses. The NACB Legal Symposium will bring together many of the nation’s most prominent attorneys with deep knowledge of banking and regulatory systems as well as some of the nation’s best cannabis-centered law firms. In fact, many of our participants are former regulators themselves. Producing such an important event was made possible because of the deep access to world-class expertise that we can deliver to our members. We are poised to offer the most incisive, creative and up-to-date thinking on legal issues in cannabis anywhere. 

Cheryl Reicin, a partner at the law firm of Torys LLP, is looking forward to the event. Said Reicin, “Given the pace of changes happening in the cannabis industry, we look forward to getting the top legal experts on cannabis related issues in one room to tackle these cutting edge matters.” 


The distinguished presenters at the NACB Legal Symposium: Preparing for 2018 and Beyond include: 

Jodi Avergun of Cadwalader, Wickersham, and Taft LLP. Avergun has served in numerous capacities in the Department of Justice, including as Chief of Staff of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, and as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of New York. Her current practice focuses on white collar crime, anti-money laundering and business and securities regulation. She will discuss the role of the IRS in regulating cannabis-related money and shed light on the DEA’s role in regulating legal cannabis, as well as ethical responsibilities of attorneys representing cannabis businesses.  

Eric Berlin of Jones Day. Berlin is one of the nation's leading cannabis law attorneys, advocating full-time for clients in or impacted by the state-legal cannabis industries and tensions with federal law. In addition to representing private operators in the industry, he has also worked with state general assemblies and other stakeholders to help create the Illinois medical program and to draft and help pass the Ohio bill. He will discuss the cannabis market’s evolution in the regulatory state and long-term strategies for the growth of the industry amidst federal-state uncertainty. 

Cheryl Reicin of Torys LLP. Reicin is the Chair of Torys' Life Science practice and is based in Toronto. She advises companies as well as private equity/venture capital funds and investment banks on venture and later-stage financings, IPOs, mergers and acquisitions, licensing transactions and joint ventures or alliances with strategic partners. She also coordinates domestic and international structuring. She will discuss U.S.-Canadian financial cross-border issues in the cannabis industry. 

Eileen McMahon of Torys LLP. McMahon is the Chair of Torys' Intellectual Property and Food and Drug Regulatory Practices. Her experience includes strategic advice on identifying intellectual property and regulatory assets; obtaining and maintaining market exclusivity using intellectual property and regulatory laws; exploiting intellectual property assets; and enforcing intellectual property rights. She will discuss Canada's regulatory approach to cannabis.

Peter Aziz of Torys LLP. Aziz's practice focuses on all aspects of regulatory compliance in the financial services and payments industry, including mobile and other emerging payment technologies. He has expertise with Canada’s anti-money laundering, anti-terrorist financing and economic sanctions legislation, and regularly advises banks, investment advisers, and others on their compliance obligations. He will discuss Canadian banking in the cannabis industry.

Jeanine McGuinness of Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. McGuinness is counsel in Davis Polk’s Financial Institutions Group, concentrating in U.S. trade and investment laws applicable to cross-border transactions, anti-money laundering laws and other aspects of financial regulation. She will discuss the challenges large banks face in deciding whether to accept cannabis-related funds and potential ways forward. 

Kyle Sampson of King & Spalding. Sampson’s practice focuses on Food and Drug Administration regulatory, compliance and enforcement issues, representing pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies in the full range of regulatory and enforcement issues. He will discuss FDA oversight and the ways this important federal agency exerts influence over the cannabis industry. 

Robert Hoban of Hoban Law Group. Hoban is the HLG’s Managing Partner and is recognized as one of the leading commercial cannabis practitioners nationwide; representing private and publicly-held clients in numerous states and abroad. He will be discussing M&A transactions in the cannabis space and the tax implications of corporate/transaction structuring on cannabis businesses.  

Justin Keller of Frontera Law Group. Keller represents a host of best-in-class cannabis companies, brands, products and ancillary service providers in legal issues surrounding corporate structuring, formation and governance, business strategy, partnerships, private equity and venture capital, and all aspects of state and local licensing. He will discuss the impact of California’s entry into the legalized cannabis market and corporate structuring for cannabis businesses. 

Robert McVay of Harris Bricken. McVay represents cannabis business on matters including company formation, Washington State regulatory compliance and intellectual protection, as well as in the areas of export controls, customs, regulatory and trade compliance. He also contributes regularly to the influential Cannalawblog. He will discuss the approaches small banks take to handling cannabis-related funds and offer an evaluation of alternative banking solutions. 

Douglas Fischer of the NACB. Fischer serves as the NACB’s Chief Legal Officer. He was previously an attorney at Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP, where his practice included advising on white-collar crime defense, compliance, cannabis law and financial regulation. He will discuss the NACB’s process of creating and validating its National Standards. 


The Symposium will also feature insights from non-attorney experts, including: 

Malik Burnett MD, MBA, MPH. Dr. Malik Burnett is a physician advocate and entrepreneur, who served as a policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance and successfully co-chaired the Initiative 71 campaign, which legalized cannabis in Washington D.C. He currently works with local and state governments through the advocacy organization Doctors for Cannabis Regulation and provides consulting services to cannabis business through his firm, Prevision Strategies and Analytics.

Adam Orens. Orens is a founding partner of the Marijuana Policy Group. He has 10 years of experience in economic and policy consulting, with expertise in public finance, market analysis and regional economic analysis. His research related to the cannabis industry has been recognized by the New York Times, 60 Minutes, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and the Huffington Post.   

Author Bio

Eugene Morgulis is the NACB’s Director of Legal and Strategic Initiatives and an experienced data security and litigation attorney. His practice focuses on the emerging areas of law, technology, and complex regulatory structures, including data privacy, compliance, internal investigations, risk assessment, e-discovery, voting rights and Constitutional law.