The cannabis industry presents novel challenges. Business is booming, but market participants face unrivaled uncertainty and an evolving, complicated landscape of regulatory and legal issues. 

Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s Cannabis Law attorneys are fully conversant with rapidly changing laws that govern the introduction of medical and recreational marijuana into more states across our country, the addition of hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD) consumer products into the retail space, and the de-scheduling of industrial hemp commodities that are now set to flourish in the U.S. marketplace. These new products present numerous opportunities to companies in nearly every industry; they also present challenging liability concerns at every turn—from contracting through litigation. 

Shook’s stature as a predominant international products liability firm means that these concerns are directly in our wheelhouse. We are one of the few firms positioned to help answer the needs of national and international corporations, not only state-based manufacturers and retailers, as they navigate conflicts between state laws and the prohibition on cannabis under federal law. The clients who have retained us in this space include some of the largest retailers in the world, as well as, pharmaceutical, consumer and personal care product, and food, beverage and alcohol manufacturers.

Increasingly, global companies are facing difficult business decisions related to the patchwork legalization of medical and recreational marijuana across several U.S. states and Canada; the regulatory uncertainty around the scientific claims of CBD oil and the disparate treatment among states and governmental agencies; and the complications that arise during the interstate sale and transport of industrial hemp in the absence of a federal framework. To this end, Shook has worked with clients to think about their risk from multiple different angles: indemnity, insurance, regulatory, litigation and market-specific business risks. Our attorneys have reviewed websites, social media, and other market representations to advise whether a client may be harmed by claims made by a business partner in its marketing. We have also drawn on our vast experience counseling clients on product labeling and compliance with standards set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), as well as our continued success representing companies in product liability, product recalls, business disputes and intellectual property cases. 

For more than half a century, Shook has been the leader in guiding the world’s largest pharmaceutical, tobacco, alcohol, food and beverage producers through ever-changing regulatory and sociological scenarios that have presented the most challenging of legal obstacles to our clients. Shook’s attorneys already have real-world experience in the plethora of legal questions and consequences that arise when a novel product is made readily available for public consumption. This deep background of specific experience and success is why our clients choose Shook over other firms to handle cannabis law matters. 


Various parts of the cannabis sativa plant have created new categories of products that will continue to expand, such as cannabis-infused beauty and skin care products; cannabis-infused beverages; pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical cannabis oil; cannabis-infused snacks, chocolates and other edibles; and cannabis pet food, treats and supplements, along with the recreational and pharmaceutical direct inhalation of marijuana. The food and beverage industry and the cosmetics and personal care products industries, in particular, present multiple opportunities for cannabis products and profits but also the legal challenges that come with cannabis business opportunities.


With the enactment of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, hemp, the non-intoxicating variety of cannabis sativa—which must contain less than 0.3 percent of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—was reclassified for commercial use and removed as an illegal substance under the Controlled Substances Act. This legislation opened the market for U.S. industrial hemp production and the distribution of derivative products. Yet, legal challenges remain. Shook can help market participants from industrial hemp farmers through product makers and retailers the counsel and litigation support to make the most of their cannabis investments by avoiding pitfalls. With its more than 5,000 applications, including construction, fuel, paper, food, oil, rope and medicine, hemp provides multiple opportunities across industries served by Shook attorneys. 

CBD Oil 

Cannabidiol, or CBD, the increasingly popular chemical compound of the cannabis plant, presents seemingly limitless business potential along with distinct regulatory and litigation challenges. The slightest differences in this hemp-derived oil, including differences in composition, use and marketing, can mean the difference between legal and illegal for everyone in the chain of commerce, from the grower to the retailer. Shook’s attorneys help clients navigate regulatory, litigation, and reputational risks that come with expanding your business to include CBD products.