In anticipation of the coming opening of CDFA’s appellations program, Sarah and I wanted to publish the limited appellation-related services we are offering in an effort to make the process of selecting legal support as streamlined and transparent as possible.
Our firm is breaking the work into two categories: (1) entity and business development (i.e. “the legal stuff”) and (2) project management (i.e. drafting the petition and collaborating with consultants and soil/water/geological scientists). Not all of that work needs to be done by an attorney, so here’s more detail about our available services, as well as a few suggestions to best manage the appellation petition preparation process:
Entity Formation and Contract Drafting Services (The “Legal Stuff”)
For simple liability reasons, our firm is likely to advise hopeful appellation groups to structure their appellations as business entities (LLCs, corporations, b corps, etc.) with appropriate arm’s length agreements between the appellation business entity and the farmer-members’ entities. This is true legal work that should be performed by an attorney.
Formation documents often form the basis of ownership disputes in the future, so thoughtful entity formation and governance is often critical to the sustained success of a new business venture, especially in light of the legacy (i.e. long game) strategy of the appellations program.
Project Management Services
As we’ve done for clients many times in the past, we will likely prepare a “Project Management Task List” and use that document to delegate tasks and to calendar deadlines for task deliverables. In that document, we will name a project manager, identify team member roles/responsibilities, and track assigned consultant or scientific reports (including due dates).
Our Project Management Task Lists ensure all tasks are being handled, that everyone has clear responsibilities, and that communications are efficient.
Petition Drafting Services
Appellations petitions require two different types of reports: (1) technical (i.e. scientific) reports and (2) non-technical (i.e. not scientific) reports. Due to the significant time it takes to draft these reports, preparation of these documents is the most expensive and time consuming piece of any application process. Taking the time to delegate each writing task in a cost-effective manner can save THOUSANDS of dollars. No joke.
For example, it may be more cost-effective to assign the bulk of the non-technical drafting work if someone in the appellation’s core team is proficient in writing narrative-style reports for the various regulatory agencies (CDFA, CDFW, water board, etc.) since those reports require a similar skill set. Another way we keep our clients’ drafting costs down is the use of template and sample documents, which we prepare based on the regulations and usually include writing prompts. That way, folks can fill the narrative reports themselves (and save $$ on drafting costs).
In any event, we will support our clients in non-technical drafting in whatever way makes sense.
Regulatory and Land-Use Support Services
As with any new venture in California cannabis agriculture, the application of commercial standards to what would otherwise amount to pure agricultural activity leads to intensive regulatory and land-use issues. Just as with local land-use permits and state licensing, this type of work can be performed by any competent consultant and oftentimes by the appellation groups themselves. We can, however, provide oversight and guidance when needed.
As with all our services, our fees for appellation development and petition support are negotiable and, to ensure our rates are fair, we intend to graduate our billable rates based on the complexity of the services required. For example, petition drafting services will be billed at a lower rate than legal and entity structuring tasks.
Sarah and I are committed to seeing California’s appellations through to a new era of business transactions where the craft cannabis produced in our hills fetches the highest price in the regulated marketplace. We understand the importance of this program to our shared community and are hopeful for the honor in assisting in this historic endeavor.
*This post is subject to Rule 7.1-7.3 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. This communication (1) is an advertisement, (2) may not contain any untrue statement, and (3) is directed to the general public via a website. Our firm’s name and address is Origin Group Law LLP: 431 Uren Street, Suite C, Nevada City, CA 95959.