International Counseling

Robison Law Group works with Colombian, Mexican and Costa Rican businesses and attorneys to optimize business success and promote the responsible regulation of cannabis. Our lawyers have experience in international commercial transactions, IP protection and commercialization and tax.

Compared to marijuana, the economies of scale for hemp and its constituent compounds are higher because, in part, products and product components may be sourced interstate, within the United States. Internationally, the legal landscape varies from country to country, which is how our expertise can help you.

United States

The 2018 Farm Bill permits that export of hemp and products derived from hemp, U.S. hemp products may be exported to various countries around the world. That said, parties to a transaction of this nature must evaluate not only the laws of the country of export but also the laws of the country of import. This is critical. Because of the 2018 Farm Bill and Europe’s history with hemp, stakeholders think transactions involving hemp and products derived from hemp in the United States and Europe are straightforward. This is not the case. Stakeholders in hemp and hemp-derived cannabinoid markets are entering into an increasingly a confusingly regulated industry as tangible goods and intangibles cross U.S. states and international borders.

Canada

In Canada, importing CBD without a Health Canada license could give rise to seizures, summary conviction offenses, administrative or monetary. A stakeholder that does this may effectively be put on a blacklist with respect to participating in the marijuana industry. However, Canadian importers may obtain an Industrial Hemp License. The application process requires the stakeholder to is the activities it intend to engage in and limits the materials to industrial hemp grains, extracts from seed and stalk/stem. Even so, topical creams, natural health products, cosmetics, and supplements made from hemp are commonly exported to Canada. Robison Law Group works with these stakeholders regularly.

Europe

Hemp industry stakeholders, food and supplement, produce and market a wide variety of hemp constituent compounds as ingredients for food or food supplements in European Community Member States. Depending on the method of preparation and the amount of cannabinoids, these may be traditional food or novel food according to the European Novel Food Regulation (EC) No 2015/2283.
Currently, the European hemp and cannabinoid legal landscape is in flux. On one hand, foods, supplements and other products for human consumption containing hemp extracts with cannabinoid levels, including CBD, not higher than naturally occurring in industrial hemp should be regarded as traditional food and not a novel food.

On the other hand, the European Commission is attempting to reclassify CBD as a “novel food,” potentially resulting in CBD food and food supplements being unlawful to sell throughout the entire continent. While the issue is evolving in real time, the European Commission’s Working Group of Novel Foods is stating that the safety of adding cannabinoids – such as CBD – to food and supplements has not yet been demonstrated. This could even apply to extracts from cannabis and hemp, as well as any other plant that contains cannabinoids, plus the products themselves.

China

China has the largest hemp market in the world. Naturally, stakeholders want to collaborate with the development of supplements, nutraceutical, homeopathic items and pharmaceutical products with cannabinoids. Commerce, intellectual property transfers and joint ventures have nuanced invoke nuanced legal issues. While every deal has risk, Robison Law Group has experience working in these matters.

Latin America

From Uruguay to Colombia, international stakeholders are entering these markets. In all markets, the cannabis (hemp and marijuana) industry has nuances including repatriation of proceeds, obtaining licenses to conduct their trade or business and working with local regulators and lawmakers. Frank Robison has spent over 10 years in Latin America working in agriculture, imports and exports.

General Issues

In the short term, hemp production is not the challenge. The challenge is improving hemp processing and being able to distribute the products into markets without unnecessary regulatory interference. Each country has unique legal challenges. For example, the definition of hemp varies from country to country: in the EU the limit is 0.2% THC in upper third of the plant, while 0.3% applies in Canada, the United States and Austria and 1.0% THC applies in Switzerland and Australia. Likewise, whether the hemp product contains or is isolate or distillate, full plant extract or hemp grains, extracts from seed and stalk/stem matters. Robison Law and its affiliates will help guide you through these challenges whether they involve deploying capital, transferring intellectual property or entering a commercial transaction, among other legal issues.

Robison Law Group works on a variety of customs matters including detentions, seizures, penalties, notices of liquidated damages and protests in the cannabis (marijuana and hemp) space.

Frank Robison is a U.S. Customs Broker registered with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and holds a Certificate in International Taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. Please contact Frank to discuss how the Group may assist you.

Over 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and North and South America currently permit the growth, cultivation and production of industrial hemp. Importing and exporting cannabis (marijuana and hemp) to and from a number of countries is rife with complexities and nuances and often requires multiple licenses, permits and government agency interactions.

The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) informal guidance, see CBP: Importing hemp products into the U.S., is unclear at best. Robison Law Group lawyers think the CBP’s statement gives rise to more questions than answers.

In May 2018, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) issued an internal directive to federal agencies clarifying that the mere presence of cannabinoids does not render a Cannabis based product unlawful for importation or exploration into or from the United States. The DEA states that “any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation” in spite of the presence of cannabinoids may be lawful to import and export. Cannabis products and materials may be imported into the United States without restriction under the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act, 21 U.S.C. §§ 951-971 or exported from the United States “provided further that it is lawful to import such products under the laws of the country of destination.” See DEA Internal Directive Regarding the Presence of Cannabinoids in Products and Materials Made from the Cannabis Plant for additional information.

Robison Law Group often works with Hemp without Borders Co. on matters that have a business, regulatory and commercial consulting focus, as opposed to legal counseling and advice. Hemp without Borders works with EU traditional food applications and places extraction equipment in Latin America, among many other international commercial, corporate and business activities involving hemp and hemp equipment.

Please contact Robison Law Group to discuss the laws, regulations, rules and best practices connected to cannabis crossing borders.

Our international services include:

  • Seizures & Detentions, Forfeitures
  • Currency Seizures
  • Civil Penalty Defenses
  • Valuations
  • Admissibility of Goods
  • Country of Origin (Labeling & Marking)
  • Classifications Compliance and Tariff Disputes
  • International Intellectual Property Protection
  • INCOTERMS (passing right, title and interest and risk of loss)
  • Shipping best practices
  • Customs and Imports and Exports

Robison Law Group can provide you with timely, current advice and counsel on the following agencies or administrative laws:

  • Customs Border Protection (CBP)
  • International customs agencies
  • Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • Food Drug Administration (FDA) import practices
  • Registering with the Food Drug Administration for importation purposes
  • Environmental Protection Agency Matters Compliance
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • Federal Trade Commission, particularly with respect to consumer protection and anticompetitive business practices
  • United States Department of Agricultural (USDA)


TRANSACTIONS

We have deep experience counseling on sophisticated transactional matters. Drawing on our expert knowledge of the cannabis industry, we advise clients from deal initiation through contract negotiation, review and drafting. Our core experience includes a wealth of work product on intellectual property and corporate deals.


COMPLIANCE

Cannabis is a highly regulated industry, with rapidly evolving federal and state rules touching every aspect of our clients’ business. We offer up-to-the-minute knowledge of those regulations and we provide legally sound and practical advice on how to ensure compliance. With the enactment of the 2018 Farm Bill, compliance related to hemp, CBD and other cannabinoids remains nuanced and critical to your success.


INVESTMENTS

Marijuana and hemp are growth industries that have attracted sophisticated investors, who require a detailed understanding of the field’s evolving legal framework before they commit financing. We counsel investors and prospective investors on the unique legal, financial, and tax issues that face cannabis businesses.