DLA Piper launches global cannabis practice

DLA Piper has launched a dedicated global cannabis practice that will sit as a sub-group under its Life Sciences sector. The decision to formalise the firm's offering follows the completion of a significant number of global deals in the sector that have amounted to over USD8 billion to date, as well as a number of large cannabis regulatory advisory mandates.

DLA Piper's Canadian practice has been a leader in its domestic market for many years with the firm now announcing the expansion of its offering globally, having been advising across Europe, Australasia, Latin America, Africa and Asia. The practice's provision of legal services is limited to those clients whose conduct is legal in the jurisdiction in question.

The global medicinal cannabis market is projected to increase in value to between USD44 billion to USD62 billion in 2024.1 There are many significant developments that will stimulate this growth, including increased acknowledgement of its medical benefits, including the treatment of various diseases, which is attracting further research and development investment. Moreover, in a number of jurisdictions, cannabis based products are now available over the counter for a range of uses, from wellness, cosmetics and even pet supplements. DLA Piper has been advising on all aspects and across product lines.

DLA Piper has established itself as a leading participant in the industry, advising (where legal to do so) a variety of stakeholders. These including investors and companies of all sizes and types (from start ups to quoted companies), on a range of legal matters from private and public fundraisings through to acquisition and post-merger integration. DLA Piper has also been advising on the changing regulatory environment across the globe, helping clients understand different legislative regimes by providing a regulatory snapshot of the changing landscape.

The cannabis practice covers a wide range of disciplines; corporate (both private and public financings, M&A and board advisory), regulatory (importantly, both life sciences and financial), intellectual property, technology and R&D, employment, real estate and litigation services. The practice also acts across every segment of the pharmaceutical, biopharmaceutical, wellness and medicinal sectors internationally. The Life Sciences sector is led by Rome-based Marco de Morpurgo and the cannabis practice is led by Toronto-based Robert Fonn and by London-based Dylan Kennett, supported by a global team of over 70 other lawyers and support staff, practicing in over 15 countries across DLA Piper.

Head of Life Sciences, Marco de Morpurgo, commenting on the launch of the practice said:

"The size, importance and growth of the global cannabis market can no longer be ignored. There is an ever increasing acceptance of the medical benefits of cannabis and this knowledge is being rapidly expanded by considerable levels of research and development. DLA Piper has been at the forefront of supporting the legitimate expansion of this market for some time now so it was only right that we formalised our offering through the launch of this practice."

Co-Head of the cannabis practice, Robert Fonn, commented:

"Currently Canada drives an overwhelming percentage of the global cannabis market and we have, from an early stage, been at the forefront of supporting the industry's legal and structured growth. These years of experience give us invaluable insight into the opening up of other geographic markets around the world. There are also expected to be exciting developments in Canada as ‘cannabis 2.0' matures and in the US as the federal government looks ever closer at the benefits of liberalisation. What is certain is that Canadian, US and wider global markets will continue to evolve and, with our newly established practice, we are best placed to help navigate clients through the ever changing landscape."

Co-Head of the cannabis practice, Dylan Kennett, added:

"With the likes of Canada leading the way in liberalising cannabis in a considered manner, it was only a matter of time before other countries looked to Canada's example on how best to similarly regulate their own markets. We work closely with Rob and our Canadian team to develop our global offering, understanding that start ups and multinationals alike would require significant legal input to operate and grow their businesses globally, navigating the ever-evolving legislative framework relating to cannabis. Our thesis has proved correct over the past few years and we can now provide full-service advice with specialist cannabis sector knowledge in over 15 countries globally across DLA Piper. It is a truly exciting time for the sector."

1 Prohibition Partners Global Cannabis Report; IMARC Group - Medical Cannabis Market Report: Global Industry Trends, Share, Size, Growth, Opportunity and Forecast 2019-2024