Arizona-based Rose Law Group enters Alaska cannabis scene

The Alaska cannabis industry has a new gun in town.

Rose Law Group, an Arizona business law firm, has sent an attorney to the Last Frontier to represent marijuana industry interests, including lobbying during the 2016 legislative session.

The move is a new stage in development for Alaska cannabis businesses. Much of the current legal representation for industry leaders draws from criminal practice, rather than business.

This includes Lance Wells, an Anchorage attorney who represents marijuana club Pot Luck Events and who started the Alaska Cannabis Law Group LLC in partnership with attorney David Schlerf. California criminal and medicinal marijuana attorney Ben Adams has branded himself “Alaska’s pot attorney,” and has aggressively courted industry since Nov. 2014.

Jana Weltzin, a Fairbanks native who recently moved to Anchorage from Rose Law’s Scottsdale, Ariz., headquarters, said her firm has what Alaska’s budding industry needs most: business expertise and political savvy.

“I’m not a criminal lawyer,” said Weltzin. “I’m a business lawyer, a client advisor. I structure businesses so they make sense. A criminal lawyer sees an action as legal or illegal. I have to look at it and say, technically, maybe it’s not illegal, but is it politically smart? I have to weigh those considerations. There’s a huge difference between something being legally allowed and politically smart.”

Rose Law entered the marijuana industry in 2010 after Arizona legalized medicinal marijuana. Since then, the firm has built a cadre of cannabis business attorneys specializing in marijuana cultivation land development, zoning for cultivations and dispensaries, cultivation management agreements, and business transactions.

“We structure their business to maximize profits and minimize risk,” said Weltzin. “There are things we point out you should have.”

Weltzin said Alaska industry, which has no existing marijuana business infrastructure, can benefit from Rose Law’s Arizona expertise and experience.

“The market’s not fleshed out here,” Weltzin said. “At Rose Law, we’ve gotten to see how that industry works. If you haven’t seen that firsthand, it’s really difficult to conceptualize.”

Founded by Jordan Rose in 2000, Rose Law specializes in real estate and business law, practicing in land use, zoning, renewable energy, government relations and lobbying, administrative law, transactional real estate, employment law, water law, Native American relations, infrastructure finance, special districts taxation, business formation/corporation issues, and business litigation.

Rose Law has an extensive clientele list in the Southwest and a solid reputation for representing marijuana interests.

“They’re quite successful,” said Kris Kane, former associate director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law. “They’re very politically connected in Arizona and a very influential firm in the state. Their reputation on (marijuana) has been very positive. One of the biggest complaints I hear about them is they’re very expensive and bill aggressively, but you can say the same about any good law firm.”

11/24/2016 - 12:34pm