What cycling and practicing cannabis law have in common
In late 2018, my esteemed partner, Whitt Steineker, recruited me to join the newly formed Cannabis Industry team. At that time, groups in Mississippi were actively seeking signatures to put together a ballot initiative for a medical cannabis program. Seeing the opportunities for me and my business and understanding that if this initiative were to ultimately pass, being one of the first participants in such an exciting, interesting and unique industry in Mississippi seemed fun and rewarding, so I put on my jersey and joined the team.
Shortly after deciding to join Bradley’s cannabis industry team, I also decided it was finally time for me to implement some real and meaningful form of exercise into my life. Running hurt my ankles and knees. I never liked lifting weights and was intimidated by CrossFit. So my nearly decade-old hybrid bike seemed like a good place to start. As the 10 mile runs turned into 20 mile and then 30 mile runs, I realized this was a form of exercise I could do and actually enjoy. This culminated in buying a real road bike at the end of 2019 and, although I said I never would, I did it all – spandex and all. Now, over 10,000 miles later on this road bike, and after several centuries or other gran fondo rides, I’m totally hooked.
As you can imagine, these long drives leave me plenty of time to think about a lot of things. Recently, while riding, it occurred to me that my experiences developing a cannabis law practice and getting into cycling share many similarities. Let me explain.
Be ready for the unexpected and overcome it
Mississippi’s path to legalizing and rolling out its medical cannabis program has been anything but predictable. I challenge anyone who says they anticipated the high level of voter support for Initiative 65 only for the state Supreme Court to strike down that constitutional amendment because Mississippi’s ballot initiative process is “broken.” Supermajority Legislative Support [VS4] of the Medical Cannabis Act shocked many. And the rollout of the medical cannabis program presented potholes and the need to alter the original route.
We have seen regulations that were still in the “proposed” stage when the application portal went live for non-dispensary applications, and then released the final regulations. These online applications requested information that many had not anticipated based on regulations and the law. Then some sections of the app were changed and some categories of information were removed.
These unforeseen events resemble some I have encountered on the road. In my nearly three years of riding the roads of Madison, Hinds, and Rankin counties and other parts of Mississippi and the South, I’ve dealt with more flat tires than I care to admit; unexpected, long patches of gravel or very rutted roads; motorists not so happy; the bridges being out; chasing dogs that appear out of nowhere; and bonking and needing a ride home.
Being able to assess unforeseen circumstances, make informed decisions, pivot and follow a course of action is a must in both a cannabis law practice and in cycling. I have had many opportunities to follow these steps in both companies and feel that my preparations have led to a smoother path.
Surround yourself with the right people
Let’s be realistic. Legal cannabis is relatively new to the Southeast and brand new to Mississippi, so we knew we had our work cut out at the start. In addition to my and my colleagues’ deep dive into the nuances and challenges that a cannabis law practice presents and constant monitoring of the ever-changing landscape, we deliberately began at the beginning of this practice to meet and to surround ourselves with people of all facets. Of the industry. We’ve spent hours attending conferences, meeting and talking to lawyers from other jurisdictions practicing in this space, meeting people from the cannabis-related financial services and insurance industries, meeting with various consultants, exploring opportunities commercial group and recruited Bradley lawyers who had established practices in the many areas in which cannabis businesses would need assistance (e.g., business formation/organization, real estate and zoning, banking and financial services, insurance coverage, etc.). insurance and intellectual property).
Cycling is no different. Early on, I developed relationships with good people at the local bike shop, joined a local cycling group, and grew my online cycling network through Strava. Whether those connections led to gear suggestions, better riding techniques, hydration and nutrition tips, or just helped motivate me to get on the bike and take the road, these contacts proved to be essential.
Don’t hesitate to get help
Surrounding yourself with a large network of people doesn’t do you much good unless you know when to put their knowledge to good use. Throughout my time in the cannabis law field, I have used my connections inside and outside the firm. When legal questions about real estate arise, for example, I call my real estate partner at Bradley to help me. When a zoning issue arises, I walk down the hall and talk to my partner who has experience handling zoning disputes for business owners versus municipalities in Mississippi. Similarly, when the cultivation application asked applicants to submit proof of insurance, although these applicants do not have a license to operate the business, not to mention some who do not even have facilities built , I call my contact in the insurance industry to help.
Knowing when to ask for help with cycling is also essential. There were several times when I overworked, overheated, or flattened out, but I was hours away from home. At times like these I would have to call my wife or a friend to pick me up or hop on YouTube (again) to watch a video showing how to replace a blown tube. Or there were other times when my bike didn’t feel right and caused discomfort, so I visited the bike shop and learned that my seat needed adjusting.
In both worlds, it was imperative that I recognize when a problem or circumstance arises that requires someone else’s help, and then lean on that help, which hopefully will me a better cannabis advocate and cyclist in the process.
Buckle up, saddle up and enjoy the ride
The practice of cannabis law and cycling share other similarities, but I’ve said way too much already, and it’s time to stop. In conclusion, however, I am grateful to have chosen these two paths. Entering the field of cannabis law has greatly expanded my network, introduced me to some truly fascinating, smart, and innovative people, and allowed me to play a role in helping shape and launch a whole new market in my home state. .
Besides the health benefits of cycling, this hobby has also allowed me to meet great people, showed me familiar parts of the state in a whole new way, and shown me unknown areas in my backyard – with all the sights, smells, and even tastes you can only experience on a bike (I swallowed way too many bugs).
Who knows exactly what the future holds for me when it comes to my cannabis and cycling law practice? No matter what, though, I’m confident I’ll keep riding with my eyes wide open, no matter if I have a tailwind pushing me or a headwind trying to hold me back.
© 2022 Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLPNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 206