Chicago law firms cultivate marijuana practices

Monica Gutierrez wants to be an intellectual property lawyer. But here she is, sitting in a law class on marijuana.

The gray area between state and federal law intrigues Gutierrez — she needs to learn how to help cannabis businesses get their names federally registered, she said — and she’s not alone.

Law firms throughout Chicago, from national firms to solo operations, are carving out cannabis practices. Full of lawyers with expertise in real estate, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property, and other specialties, firms are increasingly offering to help companies navigate the highly regulated world of medical marijuana, in Illinois and elsewhere.

But that world remains limited, compared with other industries, and plagued by uncertainty. Plus, the stigma surrounding the federally illegal drug still remains, barring some firms from advertising their cannabis practices.

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