Marijuana Taxation and Regulation


Colantuono, Highsmith & Whatley has a robust practice helping cities and counties regulate California’s burgeoning marijuana industries.

With experienced practice group leaders in Pasadena and Grass Valley, we assist local governments in drafting tax, land use, business license and health and safety ordinances to tax and regulate commercial and personal cultivation, distribution, sales, dispensaries, delivery services, manufacturing, and testing. We advise our clients about state and federal legal developments affecting their authority to regulate.

We use an array of tools — including cost recovery — to enforce our clients’ rules against an industry which includes more than a few people with casual attitudes about the law. Tools include administrative citations, civil code enforcement actions, and criminal action in the few cases in which it is cost-justified. We work with lenders and landlords as well as dispensaries and other business operators to achieve compliance.

We help our clients recover legal fees and other enforcement costs, including administrative fines, court-ordered restitution, nuisance enforcement liens, receiverships and suits under the unfair business practices statute.

We are California’s leading experts on municipal revenues and have drafted many marijuana taxes and fees ordinances as to marijuana businesses and advise on Proposition 64’s impact on sales taxes.

We are also skilled at defending our clients’ taxes, policies and enforcement actions in trial and appellate courts. Most recently, we represented the League of California Cities, the California State Association of Counties and the International Municipal Law Association in California Cannabis Coalition v. City of Upland, which the Supreme Court will decide in mid-2017, involving a disputed initiative measure to legalize dispensaries in that City. We have pending appeals on enforcement matters in the Courts of Appeal in Los Angeles and San Francisco, and recently won an appeal in Sacramento.