Legalized Marijuana is Coming to New York Sooner Than You May Think: What We Know and Don’t Know So Far

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By: Robert Townsley

On Tuesday January 15, 2019, Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled the initial proposal for legal marijuana in the State of New York.  

While the plan anticipates up to $300 million in tax revenues there are still a number of remaining issues that have to be addressed:

Will individuals be able to grow their own marijuana?

  • While a number of nearby states and other states throughout the county do allow individuals to grow marijuana in their own home, the plan unveiled on Tuesday was silent. The proposal noted that law enforcement agencies would still enforce “unlicensed production and distribution, out-of-state trafficking, and underage distribution.”
  • The program would limit the number of producers and retail dispensaries to guard against a market collapse, encourage equity through craft growers and cooperatives, and provide training and incubators to ensure participation by communities hit hard by the war on drugs.

What are the law enforcement strategies to deal with people who drive while high?

  • These programs have yet to be established or revealed in the budget proposal.

How many retail operations will be located in the state?

  • This has yet to be determined.

The plan did lay a framework for a number of issues and answered many questions on the matter, including the following questions:

Who can purchase marijuana?

  • Sales would be legal under to adults 21 years and older.

What happens to marijuana-related arrest records?

  • Marijuana-related arrest records will be automatically sealed

What is the tax rate?

  • The proposal calls for three separate taxes on cannabis, all of which would be imposed at the cultivation or wholesale stage, not at retail.
  • A 20 percent state tax and 2 percent local tax on the sale from wholesalers to retailers, plus a per-gram tax on growers ($1 per dry weight gram on cannabis flower and 25 cents per dry weight gram of the cannabis trim.)
  • Massachusetts charges 17 percent in state excise and sales taxes, plus local governments have the option to tack on a tax of up to 3 percent.

Can counties or large cities opt out?

  • Yes, the plan allows counties and cities to ban marijuana sales within their boundaries.

Who is overseeing the legalization and regulation of marijuana?

  • The plan creates an Office of Cannabis Management (OCM) that centralizes all the licensing, enforcement and economic development functions into one entity. The OCM would administer all licensing, production and distribution of cannabis products in the adult-use, industrial and medical cannabis markets.
  • Similar to the market for alcohol, the office would issue licenses for producers, distributors and retailers. Producers would be prohibited from also owning retail cannabis establishments.

Where is the tax revenue going?

  • The money coming in is flagged for a variety of programs, including regulation costs, data gathering, boosting traffic-safety measures, substance-abuse programs and a small-business development fund. 

When is this going to happen?

  • The Governor’s plan is included in his state budget proposal. A final budget is due to be approved before April 1, when the state’s new fiscal year begins. 
  • It is also likely that after the budget bill is passed that regulations would need to be promulgated.
  • When recreational cannabis becomes legal in New York also depends on how soon the OCM would issue growing licenses. The legislation drafted and supported by democratic lawmakers proposed that the OCM be required to issue licenses within 18 months of the bill being signed into law but that of course assumes regulations can be adopted during this period of time. From there, the licensees would need time to grow it before it can be available for sale.

Cheers! Our Top Stories from 2018

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By: Matthew K. Pelkey

2018 marked another twelve months of articles from the team here at Colligan Law, and as we close out the books on a banner year, we want to share our top stories with you:

  1. Cannabis expansion. A top subject in 2018 was New York’s continued expansion of medical marijuana laws and the consideration of legalizing adult recreational cannabis. Medical practitioners, investors and entrepreneurs are all keeping their eyes on the New York State legislature as it takes up recreational cannabis in early 2019.
  • Changes to New York State Labor Laws. 2018 saw several developments related to New York State labor laws which impacted businesses and families. Paid family leave and minimum wage were the most significant changes. Colligan Law attorney Joe Saeli made sure to keep us updated.
  • No Snakes on a Plane (or dogs or cats?). After the headline grabbing death of several pets on United Airlines flights, the airline changed its pet policy. The most significant change was the prohibition of 47 different breeds of cats and dogs with a complete prohibition on all other pets. Now who is breaking the news to our Amstaff that he won’t be joining us to Miami Beach this winter?
  • Another GDPR email? The Summer of 2018 had privacy attorneys and businesses buzzing with on acronym:  GDPR—or the General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR while only in effect in the European Union extended to businesses across the globe.  GDPR was a massive privacy overhaul and requires careful consideration of existing policies and compliance as the penalties can be substantial.

It was a fascinating year for legal developments and we thank all of you for engaging with us and sharing your business needs and stories. We look forward to a new year of content! Be sure to follow us on twitter @colliganlaw to keep up to date on the latest in legal and business trends.

Cheers to the New Year from all of us here at Colligan Law!

2019 New York Employment Law Update

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By: Joseph F. Saeli, Jr.

1.  NYS MINIMUM WAGE

Effective December 31, 2018, the minimum wage for upstate New York increases to $11.10 per hour.  The minimum wage for New York City and Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties is higher.

Effective December 31, 2018, the minimum cash wage for tipped food service employees in upstate New York increases to $9.25 per hour, with a tip credit of $1.85 per hour.  The minimum cash wage and tip credit for New York City and Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties are higher.

2.  NYS MINIMUM SALARY FOR EXEMPT EMPLOYEES

Effective December 31, 2018, the minimum salary for exempt executive and administrative employees in upstate New York increases to $ 832.00 per week.  The minimum exempt salary for New York City and Westchester, Suffolk and Nassau Counties is higher.

3.  NYS SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAW

New York’s new sexual harassment law requires that all employees receive sexual harassment training by October 9, 2019. Also, all employers were required to adopt a sexual harassment policy meeting certain standards by October 9, 2018.

4.  NYS PAID FAMILY LEAVE

The following changes in the NYS Paid Family Leave Law take effect January 1, 2019.

  • The paid leave period will increase from 8 weeks to 10 weeks per year.
  • Employees taking Paid Family Leave will receive 55% of their average weekly wage (up from 50% in 2018), up to a cap of 55% of the current Statewide Average Weekly Wage ($1,357.11).  The maximum Paid Family Leave weekly benefit for 2019 will increase from $652.96 to $746.41.
  • The employee contribution rate will increase from 0.126% to 0.153% of an employee’s gross wages each pay period (capped at the Statewide Average Weekly Wage). An employee’s maximum annual contribution will increase from $85.56 to $107.97.

5.  PROPOSED CALL-IN PAY REGULATIONS

The New York State Department of Labor (“DOL”) has proposed regulations that would require employers to pay non-exempt employees for on-call time, cancelled shifts, or shifts that were scheduled on short notice.  The DOL issued revised proposed regulations on December 12, 2018.  These proposed regulations are subject to public review and comment through January 11, 2019.  It is likely these regulations will be adopted in some fashion as final regulations in the first half of 2019.

This will provide a summary of the main components of these proposed regulations. If they are adopted in final form, we will provide a more detailed explanation of the final regulations at that time.

DOL regulations currently require that non-exempt employees who report to work be paid call in pay for the lesser of 4 hours or the number of hours in the regularly scheduled shift, at the NYS minimum wage rate. Under the current regulations, if the employee’s regular wages for the week are sufficiently above the minimum wage to cover any call-in pay to which the employee would be entitled, there is no obligation to pay call in pay. The proposed regulations eliminate this provision, so that all covered employees would be entitled to receive call-in pay, regardless of their wage rates.   

The proposed regulations would require employers to pay employees under the following conditions.  All of this additional pay is at the NYS minimum wage, even if the employee’s pay rate is higher.    

  • If an employee is required to work a shift on less than 14 days’ notice, the employer would have to pay the employee an additional 2 hours of call-in pay, with some limited exceptions. 
  • An employee would be entitled to 2 hours of call-in pay for a shift cancelled with less than 14 days’ notice, or 4 hours of call-in pay paid at when a shift is cancelled less than 72 hours’ notice, with some limited exceptions.
  • An employee who is required to be available to report to work if needed would be entitled to 4 hours of on-call pay.
  • An employee who is required to contact the employer within 72 hours of the start of their shift to confirm whether to report to work would be entitled to 4 hours of call-in pay.

Some employees would not be covered by the new regulation. These include employees covered by a collective bargaining agreement that provides for call-in pay; employees who are exempt as professional, administrative or executive employees;  public employees; employees who are subject to the Hospitality Industry Wage Order (which includes most restaurants); employees covered by the Building Service Industry wage order; and, certain nonprofit employees.

Colligan Law is always prepared to assist you in complying with these laws and the many other laws which apply to employers.

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SEC Cracks Down on ICO social media influencers

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By: Kevin O’Brien

On November 29, 2018, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) announced settled charges in the first cases ever brought by the SEC alleging touting violations involving Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”). The SEC Orders found that professional boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. and music producer Khaled Khaled, better known as DJ Khaled, received promotional payments from Centra Tech Inc. (“Centra”) to tout Centra’s ICO and that both did so on their social media accounts without disclosing that they were paid promotions. Centra’s ICO has previously come under scrutiny – in April 2018, the SEC filed a civil action against Centra’s founders alleging that the ICO was fraudulent, and criminal authorities separately charged and arrested both defendants. The SEC further found that Mayweather failed to disclose promotional payments he received from two other ICOs.

This result is consistent with two separate releases issued by the SEC in 2017: (1) A July 2017 report indicating the SEC’s position that coins sold in ICOs could be considered securities; and (2) a November 2017 release warning investors about celebrity endorsements of ICOs.

Here is a link to the SEC press release:

https://www.sec.gov/news/press-release/2018-268

 

Elon Musk and Other Securities Law Lessons for Entrepreneurs

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By: Kevin O’Brien

It is no secret that Elon Musk is a regular contributor on social media and that he has recently invited legal scrutiny into his social media habits both professionally (See https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/16/judge-approves-elon-musks-settlement-with-sec.html) and personally (See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-09-17/elon-musk-is-sued-by-cave-rescuer-over-pedo-guy-remark). Given Mr. Musk’s high profile, there has been no shortage of commentary on these events, and the over the top nature of the communications make the lessons to be learned fairly straight forward: (1) don’t claim that you have secured funding to take your publicly traded company private at a specific price if you can’t support that claim (and, as a secondary lesson, I thought my girlfriend would laugh at my drug reference is not a compelling defense to an allegation of securities fraud); and (2) don’t call someone “pedo guy” to your 22 million closest friends unless you want to be a defendant in a defamation lawsuit. I’m sure most people – including Mr. Musk himself – are aware of the potential consequences of such actions.

Times They Are a Changing: New York Expands Marijuana Laws

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By: Robert Townsley

Last Monday, governor Cuomo signed legislation (S8987A/A 11011-B) that amended public health law “allowing for the use of medical marijuana as an alternative to opioids for pain management and substance use disorder.”[i] This law allows a registered practitioner to certify patients for medical marijuana as an alternative to prescribing opioids. The registered practitioner needs to sign off on the prescription of medical marijuana by agreeing that a patient’s pain degrades health and functional capability, along with other requirements.

What You Need to Know about New York’s New Sexual Harassment Policy

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

 

 

By: Christina Kennedy

New York Employers Must Act Before October 9, 2018 to Implement Sexual Harassment Policy

On October 2, 2018, New York State issued final guidance on how the new anti-sexual harassment legislation signed on April 12, 2018 must be implemented by employers. This article will summarize the new obligations for employers in New York State.

BLJ – Ruling in Colorado bakery case prompts look at bigger picture

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Colorado baker last week, handing down a 7-2 decision. The ruling, however, was a narrow victory for those in favor of the baker, as it was dependent on the specific facts of the case. The wide precedent expected in the case was not realized.

In the case, Masterpiece Cakeshop owner Jack Phillips, who cited his beliefs as a Christian, refused to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple in Colorado. At the time, same-sex marriage was legal in Colorado but the Supreme Court had yet to weigh in nationally.

The Reason You’re Getting So Many Privacy Policy Update Emails

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By Robert Townsley and Shawn Roche

You’ve probably noticed all the notifications about it popping up on your phone and in your email. It’s not just you. Inboxes everywhere are experiencing a flood of emails for privacy policy updates or requests to opt-in to different types of data collection. Spotify, Etsy, Instagram, NVIDIA, Reddit, Yahoo!, and websites across the globe have been updating their privacy policies and terms of service.

Legalized Sports Gambling – Coming to a state near you?

Written by Colligan Law on . Posted in Articles, News

By Robert Townsley

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to strike down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act. This 1992 law prohibited states from authorizing sports gambling with Nevada being the sole exception.

As a result, states can now “sponsor, operate, advertise, promote, license, or authorize” sports gambling.” Meaning each state can now independently introduce legislation that would legalize sports betting. The specific questions such as must the gambling be done in person or can it be online? Will there be the option to place wagers in the middle of a game? What are the compliance and regulatory restrictions?—will be determined by each state.[i]