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Robert Schiappacasse

Sills Cummis & Gross P.C.

Chair, Cannabis Industry Practice Group

What aspect of the cannabis industry does your firm specialize in (compliance, growth, distribution, etc.)?

"We bring significant transactional and licensing experience to our clients in the cannabis industry. That experience has seen us serve as counsel on a number of successful mergers & acquisitions transactions in multiple jurisdictions, as well as counsel to several successful applicants for licenses here in New Jersey."

Tell us something someone new to the industry needs to know – that they probably haven’t thought of?

"One of the many new aspects of the licensing process here in New Jersey is the requirement that all license applications be filed electronically, with no option to file a paper copy. Given that technical issues resulted in a number of 2019 applicants being disqualified, it will be important for applicants to be prepared in advance of filing deadlines to ensure they have the capability to file their applications electronically and in the correct format for acceptance by the state’s platform."

Give us one element or factor that is key to getting a license.

"As New Jersey moves into personal-use cannabis, a key element to obtaining a license will be understanding the different classifications of licenses and making sure your application is complete and complies with the requirements for such classification. Given that the state is scoring applications based on a priority system, with those filed first getting preference, any delay resulting from an incomplete or incorrect application could prove to be fatal."

How do you see the industry growing/changing in the next 12 months?

"Due to the litigation that caused the delay in the scoring and awarding of the 2019 applications in the medical program, New Jersey will see significant expansion of the medical program occurring simultaneously with the launch of the personal use industry over the next year."

Give us your elevator speech: Why should someone hire your firm?

"We understand the business side of the industry. Our goal is to blend business and legal advice in a way to best serve the client’s business objectives, and not just the legal objectives."

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