The legal status of cannabis in America is in a constant state of flux. In the more progressive states, people make fortunes from the cannabis industry. In other states, people serve long prison sentences for minor charges of possession. It’s a difficult landscape to navigate.
Our legal expert, Thomas Howard, has been writing about cannabis law since 2010. He specializes in raising capital and winning licenses for budding (pun intended) cannabis businesses, but recently took up the world’s greatest hobby: growing cannabis at home. He’s Homegrown’s favorite legal navigator and advisor, and wants to share his insights and expertise with you, Homegrown’s loyal customers.
Thomas Howard became a stockbroker after law school in 2008. The next year, he became licensed to practice law in Illinois and began a complex financial litigation practice with community banks and private equity funds as his clients.
In 2010, he wrote a book about the nation’s cannabis laws and began building an online audience that has grown to the hundreds of thousands. By 2015, Illinois had legalized cannabis and Mr. Howard counseled federally insured lending institutions regarding compliance with banking issues related to Marijuana Related Business and FinCEN guidance published to help safely bank the emerging cannabis industry.
This introductory blog seeks to answer a few important questions. What led Thomas Howard into the cannabis industry? What inspired him to bestow his expertise to the world? To write, blog and podcast about cannabis?
How, after so many years fighting, campaigning, and litigating, does he still have the drive and determination to build new partnerships, to team up with organizations like the Homegrown Cannabis Co? And why does he love growing his own?
We interviewed Mr. Howard to find out.
Thomas Howard interview
Have you always grown your own cannabis?
I didn’t start growing until 2020 when it became legal for medical patients in Illinois to cultivate at their homes. That has been a very rewarding experience that has taught me so much. And with so much more to learn, I am always going to be running something in the tent in my basement.
We installed a 5’x5’ tent and even put in a special sink and desk for the materials you need. I can’t wait to upgrade it so my medicine yields even better than it does now.
While growing weed is his hobby, law is his area of expertise. He has been named both a Rising Star from Super Lawyers and an Emerging Lawyer by Leading Lawyers.
He extensively represented secured creditors in various avenues of commercial loan enforcement through all aspects of litigation, from commercial workouts through enforcement of judgments.
He often publishes in his practice areas of cannabis, banking and commercial litigation and has been quoted in leading publications like the Wall Street Journal and Slate Magazine.
What do you specialize in? Why is it meaningful for our customers?
My specialty is winning licenses and raising money for commercial operators, which is pretty much the dream come true of many homegrowers that have practiced for years and honed their craft. They want to go commercial. In my state of Illinois, doing that was almost impossible, my winning clients had perfect applications.
But sometimes the state scores your application wrongly and you have to sue. After you get your license, we need to do some pretty advanced math to calculate the financial model with a valuation of our operating business based on discounted cash flow analysis.
We create those models and structure your company by being its Initial Manager until we get the offering right and shop it to our networks, or coach you on pitching it to your networks.
In 2018, Thomas Howard started a blog, Cannabis Industry Lawyer, and in 2019 a podcast on cannabis business and policy. It became one of the fastest-growing programs in the industry with tens of thousands of subscribers.
YouTube videos like his Cannabis Legalization News have been viewed millions of times, delivering mass exposure to new clients and industry leaders. In addition to YouTube, this podcast is available on all major providers and live-streamed across social media.
In 2020, he launched a law and consulting firm, Collateral Base, which acts as a repository for his non-monetary assets like corporate documents, IP, contracts and other general intangible assets that require protection (and enforcement) through legal actions.
In 2021, he became a Certified Ganjier, and got his real estate license in 2022. He has helped many teams win licenses all over the legal states in both open and limited markets and created Cannabis Consulting Online to provide his services to new entrepreneurs.
His energy and commitment are boundless, and this drive has led him to a partnership with America’s best-loved (yes, we do say so ourselves) cannabis brand.
Why did you team up with Homegrown?
The quality of the team and genetics they have built. Kyle Kushman has taught thousands and thousands of people how to grow, but the other members of Homegrown are stellar. There is Swami, who is involved in the ganjier council and helps people get real mastery of the cannabis plant.
There is Steve De Angelo that helped build the California industry before turning his efforts to focus on ending the failed drug war and releasing the cannabis prisoners with the Last Prisoner Project. Plus, there are too many qualified talented people that have deep cultivation knowledge and I was grateful to help out with my niche in law and finance.
Many people in the industry are confused by such things, and so we can form a better team by having our own unique skills – because the commercial cannabis industry is very corporate as it is a complex business venture with big rewards, like working with the best plant in the world, and big risks, like high operational costs, partnership disputes and regulatory oversight.
We’re obviously delighted Mr. Thomas Howard will be using Homegrown as a platform to share his knowledge and expertise.
You’ll be hearing much more from him on our blog, podcast, and other channels very soon. In the meantime, keep on growing!