Partridge Snow & Hahn LLP Firm News Feedhttps://www.psh.com/?t=39&anc=868&format=xml&stylesheet=rss&directive=0en-us20 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800firmwisehttp://blogs.law.harvard.edu/tech/rssLegislation Introduced In Congress To Limit Federal Interference With State Approved Marijuana Lawshttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=90545&anc=868&format=xmlLast week, a bipartisan group in Congress took a big step toward eliminating the current conflict between federal and state marijuana laws by re-introducing a bill that would allow each state to determine its own marijuana position. <br /> <br /> The bill is called the &ldquo;Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Through Entrusting States Act,&rdquo; or STATES ACT for short. The STATES ACT would override many of the federal prohibitions on growing, possessing and distributing marijuana in situations where businesses and individuals act in compliance with state law. Currently, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is legal in 33 states (including Massachusetts and Rhode Island), and the use of marijuana for recreational purposes is legal in 10 states (including Massachusetts, with a proposed bill for legalization pending in Rhode Island). However, federal law still prohibits growing, possessing and distributing marijuana in most circumstances. Although Attorney General Barr has stated that he would not direct the Department of Justice to target marijuana businesses or individuals who comply with state law, individual federal prosecutors are still able to do so in their discretion. This conflict has hindered the growth of the legal marijuana industry in the United States, as businesses and individuals who comply with state laws must remain concerned about whether the federal prohibitions will be enforced against them.<br /> <br /> The STATES ACT is narrow, and does not address various other issues related to the marijuana industry. For example, the STATES ACT does not address whether banks and credit unions can provide banking services to marijuana related businesses, although Congress is considering a separate bill dealing with this issue. Another concern that the STATES ACT does not address is that veterans cannot obtain marijuana for medicinal purposes from V.A. hospitals and doctors, even in states where such use is legal. The proposed bill also would not authorize the registration of marijuana-related trademarks with the U.S Patent and Trademark Office, which refuses to register trademarks for marijuana related products and services that violate federal law.<br /> <br /> Sponsors of the bill are optimistic that it can become law this year. The bill is expected to pass the House of Representatives, which is under Democratic control, but may face a stiffer fight in the Senate, which is under Republican control. President Trump said last June that he would probably support the legislation if it passes the House and Senate.<br />Blog12 Apr 2019 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=90545&format=xmlWill 2019 Be the Year Rhode Island Legalizes Adult Use Marijuana?https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=87573&anc=868&format=xmlGovernor Gina Raimondo has proposed legislation that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults in Rhode Island.<br /> <br /> Proposed bills to legalize recreational use of marijuana in the Ocean State have stalled in the past, or have been sent to committees for more study. Governor Raimondo and other legislative leaders have been reluctant to support such legislation in the past. <br /> <br /> <strong>What has Changed?<br /> </strong><br /> What has changed? Governor Raimondo told the Providence Journal earlier this month &ldquo;I have resisted this for the four years I have been governor. &hellip; Now, however, things have changed, mainly because all of our neighbors are moving forward&rdquo; with legalization.<br /> <br /> The public rationale for the bill is that Rhode Island must act to regulate recreational use because Massachusetts already has, and Connecticut is proposing to do so. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re not doing this for the revenue,&rdquo; said Kevin Gallagher, Raimondo&rsquo;s deputy chief of staff. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re going to be surrounded by [marijuana], and the only way we will be able to control the public health, to make sure we have safe products, control distribution, [and] ensure proper enforcement, is if we take control of our own destiny and establish a framework here that has those significant protections.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Other Rhode Island legislative leaders also seem to have softened their stance against legalization in recent months. In a year end interview on The Public&rsquo;s Radio, Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattielo, who has opposed legalization in the past, said: &ldquo;I think we have to study it and then decide what we want to do as a state, but I am mindful that Massachusetts has legalized it; I believe Connecticut is going to legalize it.&rdquo; &ldquo;I think we&rsquo;re probably going to end up with more social costs without the revenues and that would probably be the worst situation of all.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Rhode Island Senate President Dominic Ruggiero sounded less supportive when he stated in November 2018, &ldquo;While I continue to keep an open mind on legalization of recreational marijuana as the state looks into the regulatory and workforce challenges that come along with it, I also have significant concerns, particularly with regard to workforce issues, enforcement around edibles, and impact on children.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Revenue generation also appears to be an underlying rationale. The Governor&rsquo;s marijuana bill is buried in a 541 page budget bill, and is projected to raise $14.3 million in gross revenues for Rhode Island&rsquo;s coffers in the first year after passage through a combination of license fees, sales taxes on purchasers and separate taxes on growers. In addition, the proposed bill gives the Department of Business Regulation wide discretion to create additional types of licenses and impose new license fees on any participants in the growing and distribution ecosystem.<br /> <br /> <strong>Strictest Regulations in the Country<br /> </strong><br /> Under the Governor&rsquo;s proposal, Rhode Island would create one of the strictest regulatory regimes in the country. Unlike residents of Massachusetts, Maine and Vermont, Rhode Island adults would be prohibited from growing their own marijuana for recreational purposes. New, stricter, limits would also be imposed on those growing for medical purposes. While patients registered with the Department of Health now can grow up to 12 plants at home, the proposal would require that they purchase their medical marijuana from the State&rsquo;s compassion centers unless they can demonstrate a &ldquo;need&rdquo; under yet to be developed guidelines. The proposal also would require that single serving of edible products contain no more than 5 milligrams of THC, the psychoactive compound in marijuana.<br /> <br /> Instead of creating an independent agency to regulate medical and recreational marijuana, like Massachusetts, the Rhode Island proposal would consolidate much of the licensing and regulatory enforcement power under the Department of Business Regulation.<br /> <br /> Not all are happy about the proposal. Medical marijuana patients, in particular, are apprehensive about the higher fees and the possible limits on home growing. In response to our request for a statement, Ellen Smith, the President of the Rhode Island Patient Advocacy Coalition, stated: &ldquo;It is heartbreaking this is happening, stressing out medical patients and in truth, will force more and more back into the black market to get away from all these fees and judgments by others.&rdquo; She expressed desire that Rhode Island &ldquo;Make the money off the recreational program being set up and bring our costs down and show compassion to this segment of society,&rdquo; she added.<br /> <br /> The bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee. No hearings have been scheduled to date.Blog31 Jan 2019 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=87573&format=xmlSaving Costs in the U.S. Trademark Registration Processhttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=76502&anc=868&format=xmlBecause of the complexities of the U.S. trademark registration system, many trademark owners from other countries, and their counsel, are reluctant to file national or international applications in the United States. One of the reasons often given is the higher cost of obtaining trademark protection in the United States due to the statutory requirements and the formalities that must be observed. It is frequently overlooked, however, that a U.S. trademark registration covers a largely monolingual (English), highly sophisticated market of over 310 million people.<br /> <br /> There are opportunities for international applicants and their counsel to save money and time in the United States registration process. Broad descriptions of goods and services can be more narrowly tailored to the usual names of products and services to avoid objections by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and third parties. In addition, documentary evidence of the applicant&rsquo;s intent and capability to use the mark in the United States can be obtained and preserved early in the application process to avoid possible loss of registration rights later. Each of these opportunities is discussed further below.<br /> <br /> <strong>Draft the Identification of Goods and Services Narrowly<br /> </strong>Very often the identification of goods and services used in the applicant&rsquo;s country of origin is drafted very broadly, in effect, to claim the class rather than the goods in order to obtain as broad a scope of protection as possible. Listings of goods and services in multiple classes, extending for several pages, are not uncommon. When an application to register the mark is then filed in the United States, either based on the registration in the country of origin under the Paris Convention, or by extension of the International Registration under the Madrid Protocol, very often the applicant is greeted with a lengthy Office Action from the USPTO, requiring a number of amendments to the identification of goods and services. At this point, in order to avoid abandonment of the application, the applicant will be required either to file the response itself, or to engage the services of a U.S. attorney to prepare and file the response.<br /> <br /> If at all possible, the identification of goods and services should be amended before filing the US application. The USPTO has a narrower standard than that used in many countries, and requires the listing of goods and services to use definite terms, and not overly broad language. These terms can be found in the USPTO&rsquo;s &ldquo;Acceptable Identification of Goods and Services Manual,&rsquo;&rsquo; which is available online <a href="http://tess2.uspto.gov/netahtml/tidm.html">here</a>. The identifications in the ID Manual generally are accepted in the examination process without objection. Thus, the applicant, either with the assistance of its own attorney or with a US trademark attorney, can select the most appropriate terms for the applicant&rsquo;s goods and services at the outset and avoid the expense of having to respond later to a lengthy Office Action regarding the identification of goods and services.<br /> <br /> Even if the application has already been filed, the applicant is permitted to amend the application voluntarily prior to the time the application is examined. There is generally a 2-4 month period between the time the application is filed and when it is examined. Filing a voluntary amendment to narrow the identification of goods and services during this time can also avoid the expense of having to respond later to a lengthy Office Action.<br /> <br /> <strong>Preserve Evidence of the Applicant&rsquo;s Intent and Ability to Use the Mark<br /> </strong>When filing an application to register a mark that has not been used yet in the United States, the applicant may file its application based on a &lsquo;bona fide intent to use&rdquo; the mark in the United States, based on its application or registration in its country of origin, or based on an extension of an international registration under the Madrid Protocol. In each instance, the applicant must sign a declaration that it has a &ldquo;bona fide intent to use&rdquo; the mark in the United States in commerce. Applicants unfamiliar with the United States registration process also run into difficulties when their &ldquo;bona fide intent to use&rdquo; the mark is challenged in an opposition or cancellation proceeding.<br /> <br /> These documents can include business plans, marketing materials, documents regarding product development, or any other materials corroborating the applicant&rsquo;s intent to use the mark in the United States. Collecting these documents during the application process ensures that the documents will be available later if needed. If few or no documents exist, the applicant and its attorney also have an opportunity to prepare documents contemporaneously that evidence the applicant&rsquo;s &ldquo;bona fide intent to use&rdquo; the mark. Gathering and preserving these documents also could be the difference between ending an opposition or cancellation proceeding early with minimal cost, or engaging in a long, protracted and expensive proceeding.<br /> <br /> Although the trademark registration process in the United States can sometimes be complex, it need not be expensive. Two ways to reduce costs are: (i) to draft the identification of goods and services more narrowly than is typically the practice in other countries, making sure it states the goods or services in common commercial terms, and (ii) to gather and retain contemporaneous documentation supporting the applicant&rsquo;s claim that it has an &ldquo;intent to use&rdquo; the mark in the United States. There also are other ways that experienced U.S. trademark attorneys can assist clients in reducing the costs of the application and registration process.Blog18 May 2018 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=76502&format=xmlStates Follow Through With Commitment to Protect Net Neutralityhttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=75085&anc=868&format=xml<p>As we discussed in our January <a href="https://www.psh.com/?t=40&amp;an=73198&amp;anc=868&amp;format=xml">blog</a>, states are taking the protection of net neutrality into their own hands. This week Washington&rsquo;s Governor Jay Inslee signed the first state net neutrality bill to prevent internet service providers blocking from websites or charging more for faster delivery of certain sites, which is now permissible under the Federal Communication Commission&rsquo;s recent order repealing the rules prohibiting paid preferences, throttling, and blocking that were adopted under President Obama.&nbsp; A number of other states have proposed similar legislation, and governors in New York and Montana have signed executive actions with prohibiting such conduct. &nbsp;In addition, twenty-three states, including Massachusetts and Rhode Island, have filed of a petition for protective review challenging the repeal of net neutrality.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The success of these state efforts remains to be seen as any laws enacted by the states and executive actions taken will unquestionably end up being litigated.&nbsp; In its order repealing net neutrality, the FCC explicitly stated that the states could not create their own rules as only the FCC has authority to oversee broadband internet services given its interstate nature.&nbsp; There are also sure to be challenges by internet service providers in favor of the repeal of the net neutrality rules, as they (and the FCC) believe the repeal will foster innovation and modernization and ultimately benefit consumers.</p> <p>As we predicted, net neutrality remains a contentious issue in 2018&mdash;stay tuned for further developments. &nbsp;</p>Blog06 Mar 2018 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=75085&format=xmlThe FCC's February Meeting Agenda Reflects Its Desire to Innovate And Modernizehttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=75071&anc=868&format=xml<p>Earlier this month, the Federal Communications Commission (&ldquo;FCC&rdquo;) held an Open Agenda Meeting where a number of items were set for discussion. As Chairman Ajit Pai designated February &ldquo;Innovation Month&rdquo; at the FCC, the meeting agenda included, among others, the following issues which were geared at promoting that goal: &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>First, the FCC eliminated the requirement that low power TV, TV and FM translator, TV and FM booster stations, cable television relay station licensees, and cable operators with more than 1000 subscribers maintain paper copies of FCC rules.&nbsp;</p> <p>The FCC considered modernizing outdated payphone rules, including eliminating the requirement that completing carriers file an annual report prepared by an independent third party auditor to verify their ongoing compliance with the FCC&rsquo;s payphone call tracking system requirements.&nbsp; With fewer people using payphones, these audits can cost as much as, if not more than, the compensation they were meant to verify.&nbsp;</p> <p>The FCC also considered an&nbsp;order&nbsp;addressing the remaining issues raised by the seven petitions filed seeking reconsideration of the Mobility Fund Phase II Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which was adopted last year and provides $4.53 billion in high-cost support over 10 years to extend mobile voice and broadband coverage to unserved areas.&nbsp; The proposed order would resolve challenges to the previously adopted order, including requests for clarification and modifications.&nbsp;</p> <p>Additionally, the FCC considered a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning Section 7 of the Communications Act that sets forth a policy of encouraging the provision of new technologies and services to the public and requires the FCC to determine whether any new technology or service proposed in a petition or application is in the public interest within one year after such petition or application is filed.&nbsp; Because the FCC never adopted rules or procedures to implement this section, the proposed order would 1) adopt specific filing requirements and particular factors to be used to evaluate requests seeking consideration under Section 7, and 2) require the FCC to evaluate the request and determine within 90 days whether the proposed technology or service qualifies for Section 7 treatment.&nbsp; If adopted, the order would require the FCC to take swift action to evaluate the technology or service, serving the public interest.&nbsp;</p> <p>Lastly, the FCC considered a&nbsp;Notice of Proposed Rulemaking&nbsp;that seeks comment on proposed rules that would apply to the spectrum above 95 GHz for licensed services, unlicensed operations, and a new class of experimental licenses. &nbsp;Although the spectrum 95 GHz has been considered the outermost edge of the usable spectrum, the FCC has recently seen increased interest in these bands as a result of new technology and is thus considering rules to enable innovators and entrepreneurs to further develop technology that can effectively use this spectrum.&nbsp;</p> <p>As stated by Chairman Pai, February's agenda reflected the FCC&rsquo;s goal under the current administration to further unleash innovation, close the digital divide, and modernize the rules, which the FCC has been pushing to do over the past year. &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p>Blog21 Feb 2018 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=75071&format=xmlAttacks Mount Against FCC After Repeal of Net Neutrality Ruleshttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=73198&anc=868&format=xml<p>The Federal Communications Commission&rsquo;s (&ldquo;FCC&rdquo;) repeal of net neutrality in December was certainly not the final word on the matter. The FCC&rsquo;s decision to roll back Obama-era rules prohibiting paid preferences, throttling and blocking in the order captioned <i>Restoring Internet Freedom</i> (the &ldquo;Order&rdquo;), which became final on January 4, is currently under attack on multiple fronts and others are sure to come.</p> <p>Massachusetts is one of the many states joining the fight to restore the rules on net neutrality reversed by the FCC last month.&nbsp; On January 16, 2018, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey tweeted breaking news that Massachusetts would be suing the FCC to restore net neutrality and protect equal and open access to the internet.&nbsp; AG Healey was referring to a recently filed suit wherein Massachusetts, along with twenty-two other states, is petitioning the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the FCC&rsquo;s recent Order.&nbsp; Specifically, the states filed a &ldquo;protective petition for review,&rdquo; which essentially reserves them a spot in court challenges against the FCC.&nbsp;</p> <p>Back in December when the FCC issued the proposed order that was ultimately adopted, AG Healey joined a coalition of AGs from other states in sending a letter to the FCC urging it to obtain a full and accurate picture of the impact of the changes to the net neutrality policy before making any changes.&nbsp; After the FCC voted to implement the Order, AG Healey indicated that Massachusetts would be joining in such a lawsuit.&nbsp;</p> <p>AG Healey further tweeted that &ldquo;[Massachusetts is] challenging the FCC&rsquo;s Order not only because it&rsquo;s bad for consumers, students and small businesses &ndash; but because it is illegal.&rdquo;&nbsp; Questions concerning the legality and consequences of rolling back net neutrality have dominated the news recently, and PS&amp;H has analyzed these issues in previous <a href="https://www.psh.com/?t=40&amp;an=71907&amp;anc=868&amp;format=xml">blog</a>&nbsp;<a href="https://www.psh.com/?t=40&amp;an=70459&amp;anc=868&amp;format=xml">posts</a>.&nbsp;</p> <p>The lawsuit seeks a determination that the FCC&rsquo;s Order is &ldquo;arbitrary, capricious, and an abuse of discretion&rdquo; within the meaning of federal law and FCC regulations. &nbsp;As such, the lawsuit requests that the Court hold the FCC&rsquo;s Order as unlawful.&nbsp;</p> <p>The states&rsquo; lawsuit is only one line of attack.&nbsp; Some states have taken matters into their own hands by attempting to pass their own net neutrality laws.&nbsp; In the final version of the Order, the FCC not only repealed its own net neutrality rules, but it also claims the authority to prevent state and local governments from enacting their own similar net neutrality rules.&nbsp; However, Nebraska, California and New York are proposing to do just that.</p> <p>Senator Adam Morefled proposed a Nebraska bill to prohibit internet service providers (&ldquo;ISPs&rdquo;) from &ldquo;impair[ing] or degrad[ing] lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, application or service or use of a nonharmful device, subject to reasonable network management.&rdquo; The proposed Nebraska bill also bans paid prioritization except for in circumstances where the ISP can demonstrate that it benefits the public and &ldquo;would not harm the open nature&rdquo; of its Internet service.</p> <p>Senator Scott Wiener introduced a California bill that would indirectly enforce net neutrality.&nbsp; That proposal requires that net neutrality be part of cable franchise agreements, as a condition to using the public right-of-way for Internet infrastructure.&nbsp; The proposed California bill would also strengthen the consumer protection laws and laws against unfair business practices in ways that support net neutrality.&nbsp; Another California senator, Senator Kevin de Leon, took a more aggressive approach and introduced a bill simply banning blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.&nbsp;</p> <p>In New York, there is proposed legislation requiring state agencies and local governments to only do business with ISPs that adhere to net neutrality principles.&nbsp; There is a similar bill being considered in the Washington state legislature as well.&nbsp;</p> <p>This state-by-state approach is far less effective than reinstating the federal requirements but could force the larger ISPs that do business in some of these states to follow to net neutrality principles.&nbsp;</p> <p>Attacks continue to mount on other fronts as well.&nbsp; Several nonprofit public interest groups like the Free Press and Public Knowledge and the Mozilla Foundation, the group behind the Firefox web browser, filed lawsuits against the FCC.&nbsp; Additional suits are sure to come from the giant internet content providers like Netflix, Google and Apple.</p> <p>The lawsuit filed by the states is joined by every state with a democratic attorney general.&nbsp; Moreover, Senate Democrats are doing what they can, employing a little known tool in the Senate called the Congressional Review Act to try and overturn the FCC&rsquo;s Order.&nbsp;&nbsp; The Congressional Review Act requires a majority of the Senate&rsquo;s support (51 votes) as a first step.&nbsp; The vote to overturn the FCC&rsquo;s Order would then go to the House and the chance of it passing there is slim.&nbsp; Finally, President Trump would need to sign onto any action to overturn the FCC&rsquo;s Order&mdash;an unlikely possibility considering the White House has expressed its support for the repeal of net neutrality.&nbsp; Although this process will ultimately be futile, the Democrats are seizing on the widespread public disagreement with the FCC&rsquo;s decision to build political capital.&nbsp; Senator Markey of Massachusetts has stated that &ldquo;[t]here will be a political price to pay for those on the wrong side of history.&nbsp; Momentum is on our side.&rdquo;&nbsp;</p>Blog19 Jan 2018 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=73198&format=xmlCanadian Grower Announces Plans to Purchase Providence Cultivation Spacehttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=72422&anc=868&format=xml<p>Future Farm Technologies, Inc., a Vancouver based marijuana cultivator, has announced that it plans to purchase a 15,000 sq. ft. building in Providence for $750,000. The closing is set for January 15, 2018.&nbsp; The location of the building has not been disclosed.</p> <p>According to Future Farm&rsquo;s press release, the building is zoned for marijuana cultivation.&nbsp; Once licensed, Future Farm will use the building to grow marijuana for sale to state-licensed medical marijuana dispensaries.</p> <p>Future Farm&rsquo;s website discloses that the Company has projects throughout North America including California, Florida and Maryland. The Company&rsquo;s business model includes developing and acquiring technologies that will position it as a leader in the evolution of Controlled Environment Agriculture (CEA) for the global production of various types of plants, with a focus on marijuana.</p>Blog14 Dec 2017 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=72422&format=xmlUncertainty Over Impact of Massachusetts Recreational Marijuana Sales on Rhode Island Medical Marijuana Industryhttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=71997&anc=868&format=xml<p>Will next summer&rsquo;s opening of the recreational marijuana market in Massachusetts impact Rhode Island&rsquo;s medical marijuana demand? An industry leader and a government regulator recently expressed different views to committees of the Rhode Island General Assembly.</p> <p>Earlier this month, Norman Birenbaum, the Principal Policy and Economic Analyst for the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation was quoted in the <a href="http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20171107/will-recreational-pot-in-mass-kill-ris-medical-marijuana-program">Providence Journal</a> as telling a legislative committee that the recreational marijuana establishments in Massachusetts will not kill off Rhode Island&rsquo;s medical marijuana program.&nbsp; Birenbaum did state, however, that the effect on the Rhode Island medical marijuana market is a &ldquo;moving target.&rdquo;&nbsp; Birenbaum noted that recreational stores would not offer some medical applications of marijuana, such as certain topical products.</p> <p>Seth Bock, the CEO of the Greenleaf Compassion Care Center in Portsmouth, RI, presented a less promising view to a different legislative committee.&nbsp; To Bock, the CEO of one of only three medical marijuana dispensaries in the state, the opening of recreational stores in Massachusetts is his biggest business concern.&nbsp; Rhode Island medical marijuana patients must renew their patient cards annually, pay a $50 fee, and pay for an annual doctor visit.&nbsp; Bock suggested to the committee that patients would rather cross the state lines and buy from the recreational stores in Massachusetts than deal with the Rhode Island costs and red tape.&nbsp; Bock also suggested that the General Assembly consider changing the length of the patient registration to three years.</p> <p>The new stores in Massachusetts may also have an impact on the Rhode Island budget.&nbsp; In fiscal 2017, the three medical marijuana dispensaries collected approximately <a href="http://www.providencejournal.com/news/20171114/ri-medical-marijuana-dispensary-ceo-fears-impact-of-recreational-pot-sales-in-mass">$3.1 million in taxes from the $28.2 million in sales</a>.&nbsp; If patients purchase their marijuana in Massachusetts, those taxes will go to Massachusetts instead of Rhode Island.</p>Blog28 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=71997&format=xmlThe End of the Open Internet? Chairman Pai Proposes Net Neutrality Rollbackhttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=71907&anc=868&format=xml<p>The FCC&rsquo;s Commission Chairman, Ajit Pai, released a statement concerning net neutrality on Tuesday, announcing a plan to stop the federal government's &ldquo;micromanaging&rdquo; of the internet. Chairman Pai stated that, under his proposal &ldquo;the FCC would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that&rsquo;s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.&rdquo; The proposal, which was released Wednesday, would essentially allow internet service providers to create fast and slow lanes for subscribers.&nbsp; This would permit them to choose whether to block or slow certain websites and to charge more for better quality.&nbsp; However, internet service providers would have to publically disclose whether they engage in slowing down a site, blocking, or other forms of paid prioritization.&nbsp;</p> <p>The proposal has received both criticism and support from internet providers and companies, telecom giants, and consumers.&nbsp; Internet companies like Google and Amazon have voiced their concerns over rolling back the net neutrality provisions put in place by the Obama administration because it would allow telecom companies to act as the gatekeepers of information and entertainment.&nbsp; There is concern that the proposal would allow telecom companies to play favorites, limiting or slowing access to certain sites unless consumers pay additional amounts.&nbsp; Smaller business worry they will not be able to compete if they have to pay for faster connections.&nbsp; However, telecom companies believe the current regulations prevent them offering a boarder array of products to consumers at higher and lower price points, ultimately benefitting the consumer.&nbsp; Chairman Pai has stated that he believes the current industries stifle innovation and that deregulation of the industry will allow greater investment in networks and infrastructure.&nbsp;</p> There was a significant online protest this summer when the FCC solicited comments on this issue, and all sides are expected to lobby hard in advance of the FCC&rsquo;s vote on the proposal on December 14, 2017.&nbsp; However, the five-seat FCC Commission is comprised of a Republican majority, Chairman Pai and two others, who generally vote with Chairman Pai. &nbsp;Thus, the age of the open internet is likely at its end.Blog22 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=71907&format=xmlMassachusetts Department of Public Health Issues Guidance to Convert Registered Marijuana Dispensaries to For-Profit Entitieshttps://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=71761&anc=868&format=xml<p>The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) recently issued guidance to allow licensed medical marijuana dispensaries to operate as Massachusetts business corporations.</p> <p>Until July 2017, Massachusetts law required medical marijuana dispensaries to operate as non-profit corporations. However, the bill passed into law in July that allows the recreational use of marijuana, also contains a provision that permits the dispensaries to operate as for-profit business corporations.</p> <p>The new <a href="http://www.mass.gov/eohhs/docs/dph/quality/medical-marijuana/corporate-conversion-guidance-2017-10-02.pdf">Guidance</a> document applies to entities that are licensed or that have pending license applications, as well as to new entities seeking licenses.&nbsp; Entities that are already licensed or with existing applications must complete and file conversion documents with the Massachusetts Secretary of State and the DPH for approval.&nbsp; The entity also must advise the DPH if any other documentation that the entity previously submitted to the DPH has been modified or will no longer be in effect because of the conversion.</p> <p>Entities filing new applications for a medical marijuana dispensary license may organize as either a non-profit corporation or Massachusetts business corporation.&nbsp; If the applicant applies as a non-profit corporation, it must comply with existing regulations and guidance for non-profit applicants.&nbsp; These regulations include restrictions on management fees, compensation for employees, rental and other real estate fees, revenue sharing and conflicts of interest.</p> Dispensaries considering conversion also must consider various other issues not addressed by the Guidance, including tax, contract and employee benefit issues.<br /> <br /> If you are interested in being kept up-to-date on the issues impacting this industry, <a href="mailto:dms@psh.com?subject=Keep%20me%20updated%20on%20The%20Massachusetts%20Recreational%20Marijuana%20Law">please email us with your contact information.<br /> </a><br /> <br type="_moz" />Blog14 Nov 2017 00:00:00 -0800https://www.psh.com/?t=40&an=71761&format=xml