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Law school podcast: Cannabis and the law

Lawyers discuss the complexities of the marijuana business, their role in the evolving industry

CHICAGO - Stoner jokes aside, cannabis is a truly budding industry, and there are looming legal ramifications in the pipeline.

In the 14th episode of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Planet Lex podcast series, host Dean Daniel Rodriguez talks to Charlie Bachtell, CEO of Cresco Labs, and Northwestern Law alumna Dina Rollman, chief counsel at Green Thumb Industries (GTI), about the complexities of the marijuana industry, including how Illinois has set a precedent for regulatory programs, the banking challenges facing cultivators and the battle for more research within the United States.

They also discuss the role of lawyers within the cannabis business, and how they each got involved in this new and evolving industry.

On the current state of understanding regarding the benefits and risks of medical cannabis

“Unfortunately, it’s more limited than anybody would like. While there’s a ton of anecdotal research and data that’s available, from an FDA-approved, double-blind placebo controlled-study perspective, it’s very limited in the United States. It’s a Schedule 1 and it’s very difficult to do FDA-approved research on a Schedule 1 drug,” Bachtell said. “However, research around the world -- Israel has been at the forefront of this -- other countries, the United Kingdom, Spain, have been doing research for a couple of decades. The research is compelling. One study published by JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), that I believe came out a year and a half ago, showed a correlation between a reduction in opioid abuse in states that have active medical cannabis programs.”

On the banking challenges facing cultivators in Illinois

“Illinois is actually better situated than many states in that there are a few -- and when I say few, less than three -- banks willing to bank the industry,” Rollman said. “State-chartered banks that understand the compliance hurdles are willing to take them on and dedicate all of the extra effort that they to need to expend in order to stay in compliance having cannabis companies as customers.”

About Planet Lex

Northwestern Law Dean Rodriguez hosts and the Legal Talk Network produces the Planet Lex podcast series. The podcasts typically feature interviews with prominent Northwestern faculty members, discussing the law’s role in changing global, societal and technological landscapes.

Topics of earlier episodes include defending Brendan Dassey; the evolution of music copyright law; sexual misconduct on campus; the regulation of public corruption; technological advancements and the law; law enforcement and implicit bias; and integrating the law and STEM-focused multidisciplinary education; online privacy and cybersecurity; and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Listen to all 14 episodes.

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