What To Look For When Hiring an Expert Witness for Cannabis-Related Litigation

Because the legal cannabis industry is still in its infancy (or maybe it’s a toddler in some markets), operators and ancillary businesses are still figuring out the best—and proper—ways to do the job. And that means litigation has become quite common across the country. 

Whether facing regulatory disputes, product liability claims, or other legal matters, having a knowledgeable and credible expert witness can make or break a case. However, finding an expert witness who not only possesses the requisite legal and accounting expertise, but also understands the intricacies of business operations, presents a significant challenge.

Cannabis Litigation and the Courts

Cannabis-related litigation requires a nuanced understanding of the industry. Unlike more traditional businesses, cannabis enterprises contend with unique variables, from cultivation processes and quality standards to equipment specifications. And then there’s regulatory compliance for everything from product testing to inventory management. Therefore, when seeking an expert witness, it’s crucial to identify a professional who can navigate the issues with precision.

Industry-Specific Knowledge: Beyond Legal and Accounting Expertise

While accounting and legal experts are abundant, finding an expert with a profound understanding of cannabis business operations is a much heavier lift. The complexities of the cannabis industry demand an expert witness who can delve into the specifics of industry-standard yields, quality assurance and potency assessments, and operational practices. 

This is where Next Big Crop stands out. Our team has many years of hands-on experience in designing, building, and operating commercial cannabis businesses that meet compliance metrics in U.S. and international cannabis markets. The time we’ve spent navigating such complex and differentiated regulatory environments has given us unique insights and perspective on cannabis policy-making and legislation, business management, and common compliance challenges operators face. 

What to Look for in a Cannabis Expert Witness

1. Comprehensive Understanding of Cannabis Operations

When litigating a cannabis-related case, it is essential to enlist an expert witness who can speak the industry’s language. This involves not only knowledge of cultivation processes but also an awareness of the technology and equipment specific to cannabis production and product manufacturing. 

Facility infrastructure and HVAC systems, in particular, play a critical role, as improper design or miscalculations can result in costly crop loss or failure. Experts like those at Next Big Crop, who have hands-on experience in building and operating cannabis businesses, bring well-informed perspectives to the table.

2. Specialized Knowledge in Cannabis-Specific Equipment

Cannabis cultivation often relies on specialized equipment that may differ significantly from those used in other agriculture sectors. A knowledgeable expert witness should be familiar with all types of cannabis cultivation equipment, understanding how each component contributes to the overall success of the operation. This level of expertise is crucial in evaluating whether equipment failures or human error played a role in the legal dispute at hand.

3. The Economics of Running a Cannabis Business

Beyond the cultivation process, a competent expert witness must possess a deep understanding of the economics of running a cannabis business. This includes knowledge of standard operating procedures, profits and losses, startup costs, retrofits, upgrades, and ongoing expenses, to name a few. 

Next Big Crop’s extensive experience in cannabis facility design, equipment sourcing, and operations management is what positions us as experts on all levels of a cannabis enterprise. We know firsthand how to evaluate the financial aspects—an invaluable quality for expert witnesses during litigation. This expertise comes into play when cannabis cultivation yield metrics and revenue losses must be accurately calculated.

4. Regulatory Compliance and Industry Standards

Given the highly regulated nature of the cannabis industry, an expert witness must be well-versed in local and state regulations. This includes an understanding of industry standards for quality, safety, and compliance. A seasoned expert witness can assess whether the business in question adhered to these standards or if certain deviations played a role in the legal dispute.

Expert Witnesses for Cannabis Litigation Cases

If you think that the cannabis industry is complex now, with a landscape of constantly evolving regulations that vary from state to state, just wait. Federal legalization—or the more immediate possibility of rescheduling cannabis out of Schedule I—will present exciting new challenges for operators. The potential of increased government oversight, clashes between federal and state regulations, the opportunity for interstate commerce, and more will all make for a chaotic transition from the current paradigm to whatever’s next.

Unfortunately, the fallout could lead to a greater number of lawsuits and litigation within the cannabis industry. Some experts feel certain that evidence is already being gathered for the first wave of suits that will follow significant federal cannabis reform. 

Cannabis operators, regulatory bodies and cannabis legal service providers should prepare now for that possibility. That preparation could include identifying potential cannabis-fluent expert witnesses who can speak to both the precise rules and the many nuances that define the industry as we know it.  
So whether you’re seeking proven expert witness services for an ongoing court case, consider Next Big Crop. The difference between a successful or costly legal case.