As 2022 comes to a close, RZA Legal is looking back on the amazing year we’ve had while looking forward to our plans for 2023 and beyond. We're sincerely grateful for each of our colleagues and clients, and for the opportunity to provide a firm record number of pro bono hours and volunteer services this year. Here are a few of RZA Legal’s 2022 highlights:
RZA served as Cannabis Law Section Chair & Presented at the 6th Annual Cannabis Law Symposium
This year, Rachael served as the Chair of the Cannabis Law Section of the Colorado Bar Association. For the third year in a row, Rachael presented at the preeminent legal cannabis symposium in Colorado - this year on guiding lawyers on the ethics of working with legal cannabis clients.
Lauren Devine Joins the Firm as Associate Attorney
Lauren started with RZA Legal in summer of 2021 as a law clerk in her final year of law school. Since then, Lauren has graduated, passed the bar exam and became a licensed attorney in Colorado and Massachusetts! Lauren has hit the ground running with guiding small business clients on applications, advising on regulatory compliance matters, drafting corporate formation documents and grant proposals, and representing clients for business licenses and other matters before state and local licensing authorities.
RZA Legal expands its reach to assist clients in New Jersey and Massachusetts
When New Jersey legalized adult-use cannabis and New Jersey-native and licensed attorney Brian Blumenfeld joined the team - both in late 2020, we knew it made sense to expand our reach to the Garden State! As a Philly-native growing up going down the shore each summer, becoming a licensed attorney in New Jersey just made sense, and she added New Jersey to the list of states where she could practice law in 2021. Furthermore, when Lauren Devine became a licensed attorney in her home state of Massachusetts this year, we decided to offer our cannabis legal expertise to clients there as well. While we are a small but mighty team, our expertise spans multiple jurisdictions. RZA Legal assists small- and medium-sized cannabis businesses across Colorado, Florida, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and we bring a new meaning to the term "MSO".
RZA chosen to serve on Social Equity Program Advisory Work Group
During the summer of 2022, the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division formed a standing advisory work group to discuss the Division’s social equity program and its effectiveness, and to generate potential legislation, rule, and other recommendations. Rachael applied and was selected to be an advisor to the state licensing authority. She contributes significant time and ideas on ways to increase participation and success of Colorado’s efforts at diversifying and including social equity licensees in the commercial cannabis industry.
Launch of RZA Solutions Cannabis Advisory and Consultancy
Having built a team of dedicated cannabis legal professionals at RZA Legal, Rachael identified a gap for many new cannabis industry entrants who lacked guidance from those who have actually served in operations of regulated cannabis businesses. She established RZA Solutions to bridge this gap between driven and dedicated entrepreneurs who are willing to trailblaze the cannabis industry and the experienced professionals needed to assist in avoiding pitfalls and maintain strict regulatory compliance. RZA Solutions serves as an advisory committee for entrepreneurs and start-ups in states across the country and provides facility compliance audits, SOP and licensing application development, licensing strategy guidance, trainings and more.
RZA Adds Adjunct Professor to the Resume
Since summer of 2022, Rachael has served as an adjunct professor at University of Denver Sturm School of Law, guiding law student externs through their private practice placements. While RZA has hosted many summer interns with the firm over the years to gain valuable first-hand legal experience, becoming an adjunct has allowed Rachael to provide further guidance and mentorship to over 100 students since taking on this role. It is professionally and personally fulfilling to know we are positively impacting the next generation of Colorado attorneys.
In fall 2022, the Community College of Denver launched a seminal class on Cannabis Law in its paralegal program. Rachael created and presented this never-before-taught class to an excellent group of eager students interested in working in law firms servicing the cannabis industry. We look forward to seeing CCD run with this course as cannabis policy and industry continue to change.
RZA & CBA launch Social Equity Pro Bono Program
RZA Legal founder Rachael was instrumental in establishing the Social Equity Pro Bono Program through the Colorado Bar Association. The Program provides social equity applicants with access to a free 30-minute consultation with a cannabis business attorney and connects volunteer attorneys who are knowledgeable in cannabis law with social equity applicants to assist with licensing — local or at the state level — contract review, suitability as a social equity applicant, business formation, compliance, and related guidance. RZA Legal is passionate about getting this program off the ground and doing what we can as cannabis attorneys to assist in leveling the playing field and growing participation in the industry among social equity applicants. At the Cannabis Social Equity Opportunities Conference, described below, volunteer attorneys through the CBA consulted with nearly 20 different groups of social equity attendees.
Cannabis Law in Colorado Treatise is Published
We’ve actually written the book on Cannabis Law in Colorado! Rachael served as managing editor and co-author of this first edition publication that breaks down the practice of cannabis law. Associate attorney Lauren Devine and paralegal Steph Davis are also co-authors for this trailblazing resource for Colorado legal practitioners.
Colorado Cannabis Business Office Awards $50k and counting to RZA Legal’s clients
The Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT) launched its Cannabis Business Grant this past year – RZA Legal is proud to share that one of our clients, Tetra Hospitality Group, was among the first round of winners! The Cannabis Business Pilot Grant is a funding opportunity for social equity cannabis businesses who have been awarded, or are actively pursuing, a regulated business license from the Marijuana Enforcement Division. This program was developed to support cannabis entrepreneurs through access to capital to promote social equity, innovation, and job creation across the industry. As a recipient in the growth category, RZA Legal also helped a number of our clients through the second round of grant funding applications, so we are keeping our fingers crossed and looking forward to the awards announcement in early 2023!
Cannabis Social Equity Opportunities Conference in Denver
In November 2022, we attended the Cannabis Social Equity Opportunities Conference at the Commons on Champa in Denver. The conference was hosted by the Colorado Cannabis Business Office, Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division (MED) and the City and County of Denver. At the conference, Social Equity participants and applicants had the opportunity to attend educational sessions, network with other stakeholders, and speak one-on-one with representatives from the MED and attorneys participating through the Colorado Bar Association’s Social Equity Pro Bono Program.
Denver’s Cannabis Process Navigator, Shannon Donnelly, was a driving force in organizing and managing the conference which turned out to be one of the most widely attended social equity events since Colorado’s Social Equity Program was created. RZA Legal attorneys Rachael and Lauren both attended the conference and provided free, one-on-one, legal strategy sessions to several attendees back-to-back during the three-hour conference.
Launch of RZA Legal Subscription Plans
We realize that cannabis businesses have varying legal needs along their lifecycle. As cannabis business owners, (yes, RZA Legal is a cannabis business!) we know that predictable costs are critical to budgeting, growth and profitability. In response, we developed the RZA Legal Subscription Plans to provide crucial legal and regulatory guidance and strategy to cannabis entrepreneurs and businesses at a set monthly rate.
Investment in RZA Legal Operations Subscription Plan allows small to medium sized cannabis companies to have priority access to an expert legal team who understands the nuances of the unique issues facing their business. We know we are a different kind of law firm and we are committed to offering different, efficient and innovative ways to assist our clients. Schedule a call for more information on our subscription plan offerings.
Attorney Brian Blumenfeld’s Continued Successes Representing
RZA Legal in Greater Colorado
In 2022, the Town of Grand Lake voted unanimously to appoint RZA Legal’s Brian Blumenfeld as the town’s administrative hearing officer. Hearing Officer Blumenfeld’s role is to hear appeals of certain violations of its municipal code. Furthermore, the Town has hired RZA Legal to advise, draft and implement their marijuana ordinances after a landmark vote where commercial marijuana legalization passed by a margin of 6 votes! As a long time Grand Lake resident, Brian continues to volunteer with Grand County Search & Rescue and Rocky Mountain National Park Rescue and looks forward to hosting the 6th Annual Pond Hockey Classic in beautiful Grand Lake, Colorado in February 2023!
Paralegal Rebecca Ray guides Denver’s first Mobile Cannabis Hospitality Business through Regulatory Hurdles
In her role as a cannabis compliance consultant, Rebecca provided invaluable compliance and licensing guidance this year to one of Colorado’s first mobile cannabis hospitality businesses, all while keeping RZA Legal clients in compliance with business licensing renewals, facility compliance audits and cannabis product packaging and labeling reviews. RZA Legal clients have come to rely on Rebecca’s impeccable organization skills, prompt attention to their licensing and compliance needs and deep knowledge of regulatory and operational issues to effectively solve problems that our clients face
Paralegal Steph Davis is Running for Mayor of Seminole, Oklahoma
Steph Davis is not only a paralegal rockstar, lover of chickens and beagles, and committed cannabis activist, she is also incredibly involved in her local community of Seminole, Oklahoma. When Steph sees an opportunity to help people, she will never back down. We are so proud of Steph for her dedication to bettering her community and support her bid as Seminole’s next mayor!
We are very proud of the work we have accomplished in 2022 and look forward to continuing the momentum in 2023 and beyond - happy and joyous new year to all!
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