“Since it costs a lot to win and even more to lose, you and me bound to spend some time wonderin’ what to choose.”
Neil M. Willner is Co-chair of the firm’s Cannabis Group. He focuses his practice on the cannabis industry and provides counsel to hemp and marijuana companies across all parts of the supply chain on regulatory and compliance issues. Neil also handles regulatory compliance, investigatory due diligence, mergers and acquisitions, and litigation matters for firm clients. He advises buyers and sellers on regulatory considerations in mergers and acquisitions in many East Coast states.
Neil also participates on cannabis-related trade association committees including the New York State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Section where he serves on the Executive Committee and chairs the Regulatory sub-committee, the International Cannabis Bar Association, and the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH). As Regulatory Counsel to ATACH, Neil helps create policy at the state and federal levels. He is working closely with the recently launched ATACH Cannabis Beverage Council to ensure beverages are permissible form factors in upcoming medical and recreational marijuana programs.
Neil is a prolific writer, co-authoring a chapter in the 2020 edition of Thomson Reuters Health Law Handbook, as well as a chapter in the American Health Law Association’s Health Care and the Business of Cannabis Questions and Answers book.
Neil also serves as a trusted expert to media outlets and has been quoted in articles published by the New York Times, the Village Voice, Forbes, and Lawyer.com.
Working with multi-state cannabis operators on complex regulatory and compliance matters
- Advising third-party technology platforms servicing cannabis businesses
Hemp cultivators, processors, and innovators
Cannabis trade associations and state legislatures and regulators on cannabis policy
Risk management companies insuring the cannabis industry
New York’s largest hospital networks
Ecclesiastical institutions and school districts
- Advise multiple cannabis beverage companies on regulatory and compliance matters.
- Advise multiple companies with their adult-use marijuana applications in various East Coast states.
Served as regulatory counsel to a Canadian holding company in its purchase of a California marijuana licensee.
Advise a hemp company on the permissibility of hemp-derived ingredients in regulated marijuana products.
Advise a nationally recognized hemp-cannabinoid company on regulatory issues surrounding novel cannabinoids.
Represented a CBD company against a consumer class-action lawsuit by successfully arguing the applicability of the primary jurisdiction doctrine.
Counsel multiple hemp-derived cannabinoid businesses on impacts of recent amendments to the PACT Act.
Argued multiple appeals before the New York Appellate Division, First and Second Departments.
My Greatest Strengths
Deploying encyclopedic knowledge of state-specific marijuana and hemp regulations to assist clients in strategically navigating the disharmonized industry.
Cultivating relationships to understand the expertise of others in an effort to best represent a client’s interest.
Relying on my litigation background to quickly identify pressure points and red flags in the early stages of the deal-making process.
I WANT YOU TO KNOW
I am a Co-Chair of the RCCB Cannabis Industry Group.
I serve as regulatory counsel to the American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp’s “CBD Task Force” and “Cannabis Beverage Council.”
I co-authored an Amicus brief on behalf of the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) for a writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court in the case of Washington v. Barr.
Before joining RCCB, I was part of a cannabis practice at an AM Law 200 law firm.
I graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Secondary Education and frequently rely on the skillset I learned as an educator to lecture, write, and guide policy for the cannabis industry.
WHAT MAKES ME UNIQUELY ME
I love live music and have missed, more than anything else, experiencing live music during the pandemic.
I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia as an avid New York sports fan. Moving to New York after college was a pilgrimage for me.
I adore my wife and two kids and traveling the world with them.
What Drives Me
- My curiosity for the unknown of cannabis regulation and ambition to craft state-level marijuana programs in an effort to effect federal cannabis legalization is a driving force behind much of my practice.
Investigatory Due Diligence
Mergers & Acquisitions
Cannabis, marijuana & hemp
- Life sciences
- Firm News, August 17, 2023
- Corporate/M&A & Private Equity Practice Recognized in 2023 Chambers USA Guide and Four Attorneys Named Among LeadersFirm News, Chambers USA Guide, June 7, 2023
- Neil Willner to Speak at Cannabis Law Institute 2023: Igniting Legal Excellence in the Cannabis IndustrySpeaking Engagement, May 23, 2023
- Speaking Engagement, November 16, 2022
- Firm News, September 2, 2022
- Royer Cooper Cohen Braunfeld (RCCB) Ranked Again in 2022 Chambers USA Guide for Corporate/M&A & Private EquityFirm News, Chambers USA Guide 2022, June 7, 2022
- Neil Willner to Speak at INCBA Conference: "In the Weeds in the Empire State: Cannabis Licensing in New York"Speaking Engagement, May 2022
- Neil M. Willner and Gary S. Kaminsky Speak at New Jersey State Bar Association’s 4th Annual Cannabis SymposiumSpeaking Engagement, April 28, 2022
- Neil M. Willner named Chair of the Regulatory Committee for New York State Bar Association's Cannabis Law SectionApril 15, 2022
- Media Mention, CBDoracle.com, March 23, 2022
- Willner Quoted in Hemp Industry Daily "Minnesota Legal Loophole Could Stir Up THC Trouble for Hemp Vapes"Media Mention, Hemp Industry Daily, September 22, 2021
- Media Mention, Citybiz, August 16, 2021
- Media Mention, The Village Voice, July 23, 2021
- Media Mention, The Village Voice, July 2021
- July 21, 2021
- Firm News, June 1, 2021
- Firm News, March 2021
- Publication, RCCB Litigation Alert, March 2, 2023
- Publication, Cannabis Business Executive, April 21, 2022
- The Tip of the Spear Piercing the Regulated Cannabis Industry: How Intoxicating Hemp Cannabinoids and the Illicit Market Pose Significant Challenges to the Emerging IndustryPublication, Cannabis Business Executive, April 19, 2022
- Publication, RCCB Cannabis Group Alert, February 25, 2022
- Publication, RCCB Litigation Alert, February 18, 2022
- Minors Loophole: Ambiguity In the Controlled Substances Act Leaves A Pathway for Intoxicating Hemp-Derived CannabinoidsPublication, MJBiz Magazine, February 14, 2022
- Neil Willner to Participate in the New York State Bar Association Cannabis Committee’s Annual ConferenceSpeaking Engagement, New York State Bar Association, January 26, 2022
- Publication, National Law Review, February 2021
- (dis)Harmonization of Marijuana and Hemp: Implications of the USDA and DEA Hemp RulesSpeaking Engagement, New York State Bar Association Annual Meeting, January 2021
- Publication, Federal Bar Association, December 2020
- Publication, Bloomberg Law, November 2020
- Thomson Reuters Health Law Handbook 2020 Edition, Medical Marijuana: State and Federal Law Thickets and Practical ImplicationsPublication, Thomson Reuters Health Law Handbook 2020 Edition, 2020
- The State of the Hemp & CBD IndustrySpeaking Engagement, Business Insurance Cannabis & Hemp Conference, May 2020
- Cannabis and Covid-19: How a Federally Illegal Drug Continues to Exist as an “Essential Business” at the State LevelSpeaking Engagement, American Bar Association, April 2020
- FDA Report Brings Hope for CBD Dietary Supplementswww.law360.com, March 2020
- The Empire State of Cannabis: A look into the Future of New York Cannabis RegulationSpeaking Engagement, Celesq CLE, March 2020
- Clear as Mud: The 2018 Farm Bill, the FDA and Uncertainty of Entering the Hemp SpaceSpeaking Engagement, Business Insurance Cannabis & Hemp Conference, October 2019
- Will the DEA’s Marijuana Rulemaking Authority Go Up in Smoke in the Second Circuit?Publication, Bloomberg, July 2019
- As the Smoke Clears (Parts 1 and 2): Marijuana Infused into an Alcohol Product? Not So Fast . . .Publication, Beverage Media magazine, February 2019
Community & Professional
Community & Professional
American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp (ATACH), Regulatory Counsel
International Cannabis Bar Association, Member of the Online Content Committee
Cannabis Committee for the Claims and Litigation Management Alliance (CLM), Co-chair
- New York State Bar Association - Committee on Cannabis Law, Chair, Regulatory Committee
Plainview Old Bethpage Soccer Club, Coach
J. D., cum laude, New York Law School, 2013
- New York Law School Law Review, Staff Editor
- John Marshall Harlan Scholar
B.A., University of Vermont, 2008
- New York
Eastern District of New York
Best Lawyers Ones to Watch, 2024
The Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers, 2022-Present
Chambers USA Associate to Watch
- Nationwide Cannabis Law, 2022-Present