“Since it costs a lot to win and even more to lose, you and me bound to spend some time wonderin’ what to choose.”

Biography

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 serves on many cannabis-related trade association committees including the New York State Bar Association’s Cannabis Law Section, 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 also 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.

Client Experience

  • Working with multi-state cannabis operators on complex regulatory and compliance matters.

  • 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

Representative Matters

  • Advising 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.

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  • 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.

Personal Insights

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.

Focus

Practice Focus
  • Regulatory Compliance

  • Investigatory Due Diligence

  • Mergers & Acquisitions

  • Litigation

INDUSTRIES

  • Cannabis, marijuana & hemp

  • Healthcare

  • Life sciences

News

News
Publications

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

Education

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

Admissions

  • New York
    Eastern District of New York

Honors

  • The Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers, 2022-2023
  • Chambers & Partners USA, Associate to Watch, Nationwide Cannabis Law, 2022
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