People to know in NY cannabis: Simon Malinowski

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Simon Malinowski is the managing attorney of Harris Bricken’s New York office. He answered eight simple questions for NY Cannabis Insider’s ‘People to know’ series.

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What is your position and what do you/your company do in the cannabis space?

I am the managing attorney of Harris Bricken Sliwoski LLP’s (Harris Bricken) New York office.

Harris Bricken has been on the forefront of the cannabis industry since 2010 when Washington State first legalized medical cannabis. Our firm currently serves cannabis clients in New York, California, Washington and Oregon.

As the managing attorney of Harris Bricken’s New York office, I run the firm’s New York-specific cannabis practice, guiding clients through understanding the MRTA, the two ensuing rounds of adult-use rules and regulations, CAURD applications, and the myriad other challenges faced by potential entrants into New York’s adult-use cannabis market.

How long have you worked in the cannabis space?

I was a summer associate with Harris Bricken (then Harris Moure) when the firm started its cannabis practice in 2010. I spent that summer learning Washington’s rules and regulations, creating the compliance structure for clients and then meeting with local municipalities to advocate embracing legalization for the benefit of their respective communities.

What did you do before you were involved in the cannabis industry?

Between my time as a summer associate and opening Harris Bricken’s New York office in March of 2021, I practice primarily in real estate law with a focus on representing real estate developers in transactional matters, corporate governance and litigation.

What led you to the cannabis industry?

For a long time, it has been plainly obvious that the criminalization of cannabis in the United States has been detrimental to our society. I somewhat recently expressed my opinion on this topic here, but felt that way when I first entered the industry in 2010.

As a young almost-attorney, I had the opportunity to positively impact government policy through meaningful advocacy, which is something that attorneys rarely get to say.

Do you have any advice for someone looking to get into the NY weed industry?

Do your homework and care. Because so much of what happens is on the cutting edge from a legislative/regulatory perspective, understanding nuances and the legislative intent behind those nuances is critical to positioning yourself and your clients and actually affecting change. As an attorney, my advice to all other attorneys (and clients as well) is to take a moment to breathe and reflect before giving advice or making a decision, because a moment of reflection can give clarity in your decision making process.

What do you think the NY cannabis ecosystem will look like in five years?

I expect the next two years to be as rocky as the last two years, because the OCM and CCB are “struggling” to reconcile their ideal cannabis industry with the practical reality of creating a new, highly regulated industry, in the most competitive and expensive business market in the world.

Given the fits and starts in rolling out all of the license types, my guess is that New York will pivot to simply issuing licenses to anyone qualified to operate a cannabis business (while maintaining the two-tier system) and let competition reign.

Do you use cannabis? If so, what’s your favorite method (flower, dabs, edibles, tinctures, etc.), and why?

I do and my preferred method is edibles. For a long time, I stopped consuming because of the unpredictability of my response. But with the “new” technology for edibles and precise dosing, I find using edibles to be a consistently pleasant experience.

Who should contact you, and what’s the best method (i.e. email, phone number, LinkedIn handle, etc.)


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