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Agustin is sought after by clients for his strategic counsel on their most challenging competitive and regulatory compliance issues, including tobacco Master Settlement Agreement issues, federal and state enforcement investigations, licensing and excise tax issues, developing compliance programs, and evaluating advertising and marketing practices. A partner in the firm’s Regulatory Investigations, Strategy + Enforcement (RISE) Practice Group as well as its Tobacco and Cannabis law practices, he represents manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and suppliers in all aspects of their businesses, including regulatory compliance, FDA requirements, administrative disputes involving federal or state governmental entities, mergers and acquisitions, commercial agreements, and taxation matters.

On October 30, Virginia’s hemp industry suffered an early defeat in its effort to overturn Virginia SB 903, a law that imposed stricter limitations on hemp products than what is currently required under federal law.

Continue Reading Federal Judge Says Virginia Did Not Overstep Its Authority in Regulating Intoxicating Hemp Products

Recently, NJOY LLC filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against more than 30 foreign and domestic defendants that manufacture, market, distribute, and sell tobacco products in an (indirect) effort to force them to comply with federal and state laws. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and R.J. Reynolds Vapor Company (collectively, RJR) also recently filed a complaint with the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) against more than 25 foreign and domestic manufacturers, distributors, and retailers (collectively, the respondents) that seeks to prevent the import and resale of certain tobacco products. These lawsuits serve as two examples of how industry is trying to take independent legal action to target allegedly noncompliant actors and force them to comply with applicable law.

Continue Reading ENDS Companies Take Legal Action Against Allegedly Noncompliant Competitors

On October 2, the Virginia Board of Pharmacy posted a general notice indicating that it had voted to rescind the request for applications (RFA) for a Pharmaceutical Processor license in Health Service Area I. The RFA will now be conducted by the Virginia Cannabis Control Authority (the CCA) sometime after it assumes oversight of the state’s medical cannabis program on January 1, 2024.

Continue Reading Application for Last Available Medical Cannabis License in Virginia to Be Supervised by Virginia Cannabis Control Authority

In September, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued two new rounds of warning letters to online retailers, manufacturers, and distributors for reportedly selling or distributing unauthorized e-cigarette products. Notably, FDA’s most recent letters target several popular disposable flavored products, including Elf Bar, EB Design, Lava, Cali, Bang, and Kangertech, which FDA states are particularly appealing to youth. FDA also sought civil money penalties against 22 retailers for failing to comply with prior warning letters and, for the first time, sought the maximum penalty allowed by law.

Continue Reading FDA Ramps Up Enforcement Against Flavored Disposable E-Cigarettes as External Pressures Mount

State attorneys general (AG) are continuing their push for cannabis banking reform, underscoring the need for action to promote public health and safety in legal cannabis markets. On Wednesday, a bipartisan group of 22 state AGs sent a letter to Congress urging passage of the Secure And Fair Enforcement Regulation (SAFER) Banking Act, coinciding

The Senate Banking Committee is scheduled to mark up a new version of the SAFE Banking Act, now known as the “Secure And Fair Enforcement Regulation Banking Act” or the SAFER Banking Act (SB 2860). The revised bill addresses concerns around potential bad actors, but also establishes guardrails in the case that federal regulators may want to put pressure on banks to not service certain customers, such as “marijuana-related businesses” or other high-risk industries.Continue Reading Senate Banking Committee to Advance SAFER Banking Act

Introduction

On September 12, the New York Cannabis Control Board (CCB) approved final regulations governing the adult-use cannabis industry in New York,[1] marking a long-awaited moment for industry participants and state regulators alike. The CCB’s approval signifies a significant step forward for the state’s cannabis market. The regulations are designed to govern all aspects of the industry, from cultivation and processing to distribution, retail, on-site consumption, and delivery services. Among these regulations, one rule stands out for its complexity and potential impact on industry participants: the definition of a “true party of interest.”Continue Reading The Evolving Cannabis Industry in New York: Final Regulations and the True Party of Interest Rule

On August 9, a lawsuit was filed in Connecticut that aims to stop all legal cannabis activity in the state and declare the state’s 2021 legalization framework as unconstitutional.[1] The complaint, filed by a local homeowners advocacy group against the Zoning Board of the City of Stamford and the Stamford Mayor, alleges that Connecticut’s legalization framework, the Responsible and Equitable Regulation of Adult-Use Cannabis Act (RERACA), violates both the state and federal constitutions by legalizing federally prohibited conduct, and is therefore preempted under both. In addition, the complaint alleges that the state’s social equity council violates the Connecticut constitution by providing exclusive public emoluments or privileges to certain groups based on race, and that the approval by certain board members of changes in zoning regulations was invalid due to several board members terms having previously expired.Continue Reading Legal Cannabis on Trial: Federal Preemption and Connecticut’s Cannabis Challenge

Introduction

The cannabis industry in the U.S. is on the cusp of a potential transformation. On August 29, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made a significant recommendation that could reshape the legal and regulatory landscape surrounding cannabis. In this post, we will delve into HHS’s groundbreaking proposal to reschedule cannabis from its current classification as a Schedule I substance to Schedule III under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and the effect that rescheduling may have on cannabis industry participants. While this recommendation represents only the first step in the rescheduling processes, it is essential to understand the implications for various stakeholders.Continue Reading HHS Proposes Rescheduling Cannabis to Schedule III – What It Means for the Industry