In September of 2023, Barton Morris will undertake yet another leadership role in Michigan’s cannabis industry when he becomes the Chair of the State Bar of Michigan’s Cannabis Law Section. The mission of the CLS is to improve and expand the knowledge of lawyers who engage in the practice of cannabis law.
The State Bar of Michigan is an association of all the lawyers in the state. Practice specialty sections have been created for 42 different areas like criminal law, personal injury, and tax law, for example. The cannabis law section was formed in 2016 and was the first cannabis law specialty section for a state bar association in the country. Barton Morris was selected as a member of that inaugural group and has served as a council member of the section having been re-elected to the council two times. Barton has been an officer of the section since 2021 when he served as the Secretary. In 2022 he served as the organization’s Vice-Chair and in 2023 he will be chosen as the section’s Chair at the Annual Meeting and Conference taking place at the Grand Hotel, Mackinaw Island from September 28, 2023, through October 2, 2023.
Cannabis Law Section’s Role, Influence, and Activities
The primary role of the CLS is to educate and inform the section’s members. This is performed in a number of ways. First, the section hosts a well-attended three-day annual conference in different parts of the state. The conference features speaker presentations from industry experts mostly regarding cannabis legal-related issues. The location for 2023 is the Grand Hotel on Mackinaw Island. The conference features keynote presentations from nationally known experts who have included Paul Armentano Deputy Director of NORML and John Hudak from the Brookings Institute. In 2023, the keynote presentations will be delivered by author and attorney Hilary Briken from the nationally acclaimed cannabis law firm, Harris Briken headquartered in Oregon. The conference also features social events, after-parties, and dinners to provide opportunities for camaraderie and fun. With more than 800 members, the CLS is the fastest-growing section of the State Bar.
The section also conducts one-day seminars during the year on various issues including legislative and administrative rule-making. They produce a monthly webinar and write for the State Bar of Michigan’s monthly journal in July of every year when the topic is Cannabis Law. They also maintain a library of resources on their website (for members only).
On a monthly basis, the council meets with the leadership of the Cannabis Regulatory Agency (CRA) which includes its Executive Director, Brian Hanna. Director Hanna provides the council with a summary of activities and news within the CRA while providing an opportunity to ask questions. Further, the council regularly conducts a business meeting one time per month to perform the business of the council and hear reports from the different committees and the chair.
The section has an email discussion forum where members communicate with each other about cannabis law related issues. It’s a place to ask questions and connect with fellow members.
Cannabis law evolves and changes quickly due to its early stages of development. When new areas of cannabis law are proposed the CLS takes official public policy opinions on behalf of the State Bar of Michigan and its members. The CLS and its council are very influential, because it is made up of the best cannabis lawyers in the state. Therefore, when the council speaks or informs on a new cannabis policy or proposed legislation, the position is taken very seriously.
Barton’s Tenure on the CLS Council
Barton’s cannabis expertise has been regularly consulted during his tenure on the counsel. In 2018 he wrote an article for the section published in the State Bar of Michigan on the issue of Cannabis Driving Laws. He has conducted five different webinars on various cannabis law related topics. At the seven prior annual conference seminars, Barton has presented at five of them and will be conducting his sixth presentation at the 8th Annual Conference on the topic of Ballot Initiatives pursuant to the MRTMA.
Barton has been the author of one CLS policy position, is a member of the section’s legislative and rules, and webinar committees. He is also the former committee chair of is science committee. Because Barton is the President of the Michigan Association of OWI Lawyers (MIAOWIA), every spring, Barton coordinates with the CLS a joint conference usually teaching lawyers about cannabis and driving conducted in East Lansing, Michigan. Barton regularly presents at these conferences as well.
Beginning September of 2023, Barton will be presiding over the CLS’s monthly meetings, conducting the meetings with the CRA leadership, and being the figure head of the CLS of the SBM.
Barton’s Goals as CLS Chair for 2023-2024
I am proud of the role we play in the Michigan cannabis industry. As lawyers, we have proven to be very influential with different agencies in the development of cannabis law and polices. Cannabis law is still in its infancy and has a lot of growing to look forward to. Growth and positive change is particularly important in the areas of social consumption, cannabis infused food services events and the commercial retail industry. The regulated industry has recently gone through great difficulty as it has struggled to compete with unlicensed and unregulated product and operators. Michigan was blessed to be one of the first states to adopt medical marijuana in 2008 which has created a very strong cannabis culture in Michigan. We should be proud of it, while accepting the issues it brings to what we are trying to become in the future. With our strong consumer base and commercial industry expertise, Michigan will continue to be a model for the national cannabis industry which will be important as we near national legalization. Lawyers have, and will always be at the center of the cannabis legalization movement and I will ensure that the State Bar of Michigan’s Cannabis Law Section will maintain its influence and authority upon the industry to ensure positive growth.
At The Law Offices of Barton Morris and Cannabis Legal Group, we are proud of our position and advocacy for the Cannabis Industry in Michigan. Founder and Principal Attorney, Barton Morris is a prominent figure in Michigan’s cannabis industry, and will take on the role of Chair for the State Bar of Michigan’s Cannabis Law Section (CLS). The CLS aims to enhance the knowledge and expertise of lawyers practicing cannabis law. As the first cannabis law specialty section for a state bar association in the country, the CLS plays a vital role in educating its members and shaping cannabis law and policies. The section organizes an annual conference, seminars, webinars, and maintains a library of resources to keep members informed. With over 800 members, the CLS is the fastest-growing section of the State Bar, making it influential in shaping the industry. Barton Morris has been actively involved in the CLS and will lead the section as Chair, focusing on positive growth, addressing industry challenges, and positioning Michigan as a model for the national cannabis industry.