This course is no longer available for credit on our site. Here are some similar courses you might be interested in:

Cannabis: Understanding the Cole Memorandum and the Interplay of Federal and State Law

(454 Ratings)

Produced on: October 11, 2015

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by


Course Description

Time 95 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Twenty three states and the District of Columbia now have laws making the use of medical cannabis lawful, under certain circumstances. Four states and the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing recreational use of cannabis. In addition, anticipated ballot initiatives in Ohio, California, and anticipated legislation in Vermont, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island may result in legalized adult use of cannabis in several other states. 


Despite this activity at the state level, the Federal Controlled Substances Act (the “CSA”) applies nationwide, and, under the CSA, the cultivation, processing, distribution, and sale of cannabis is unlawful, regardless of applicable state law. In recent years, the U.S. Department Of Justice (“DOJ”) has issued a number of memoranda addressing the enforcement of the CSA of those operating in compliance with state cannabis laws. Attorneys who represent those in the cannabis industry, or those seeking to participate in that industry, must be familiar with the ideas governing the interplay of Federal and state law and those DOJ memoranda, and this course will address those topics. 


Join Hanan Kolko for a discussion of these issues. Mr. Kolko, a New York City-based shareholder at Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein and a co-chair of that firm’s Cannabis Practice, is also a member of the National Cannabis Bar Association.       


Learning Objectives:  

I.     Grasp the basics of the Controlled Substances Act (”CSA”) and its applicability to cannabis

II.    Appreciate the relationship between the CSA and state cannabis laws and the applicability of the doctrines of Federal supremacy, Federal preemption, and the bar on commandeering

III.   Become familiar with the DOJ memoranda, including the “Cole Memorandum”

IV.   Understand offshoots of the Cole Memorandum such as memoranda on banking and the applicability of the CSA to cannabis businesses operating on reservations   

V.    Recognize the risks presented by the current system

VI.   Gain familiarity with pending legislation that might change the interplay between Federal and state laws

This course originally appeared as a part of our October 2015 Bridge the Gap Event.


Hanan Kolko

Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein, P.C.

Hanan Kolko is the co-chair and co-founder of the Meyer, Suozzi, English & Klein Medical Cannabis practice group. As a member of the National Cannabis Bar Association’s Amicus Committee, Mr. Kolko works with individuals and businesses in the cannabis industry. He assists on matters including state law license application issues, regulatory compliance, legislative drafting and analysis and governmental investigations. Mr. Kolko often speaks on cannabis industry legal issues. He has spoken in forums sponsored by organizations such as, Crain’s New York, Cardozo Law School, Women Grow, the Long Island Association, the Cannabis and Hemp Association, and the International Cannabis Association. He has also made cannabis law CLE presentations on behalf of CLE providers including Cardozo Law School, the Nassau County Bar Association, the Theodore Roosevelt Inn of Court, Law Lines, and Clear Law Institute.

Mr. Kolko is also the co-author of a New York Law Journal article entitled “Marijuana Advertising and The First Amendment.” Mr. Kolko serves on the boards of the Freelancers Union and the Freelancers Insurance Company. He is the former co-chair of the Committee on Technology in The Workplace of the ABA’s Labor and Employment Section. Since 2012, Mr. Kolko has been recognized by New York Super Lawyers.

Mr. Kolko received his J.D. from University of Michigan in 1985, graduating cum laude with a Book Award in Labor Law. He received his B.S. from Cornell University in 1982, where he studied Industrial and Labor Relations.


Jean H.

Best presentation I’ve attended! Fascinating topic and wonderful, engaging lecturer.

Vera M.

Very good at explaining the law in a non-boring fashion. Engaged throughout the entire process.

Ronald H.

Excellent material and presenter.

Josh N.

Excellent Course

Karla O.

Very informative.

Michael L.

Excellent presentation of valuable information.

Ansley W.

The presenter was EXCELLENT! Really knew the subject matter and kept it interesting.

kenneth r.

Mr. Kolko does an outstanding job of showing the conflict between cannabis-legal states and the CSA. It will be especially interesting to see how this plays out in the Trump administration.

Kristine R.

Fave course thus far - speaker was excellent and highly valuable info!

Charles C.

cut and dry, and I liked it

Adam F.

Top Notch

Melanie S.


David J.

This was a very interesting and informative course. A must with new law that is developing in this area of practice.

Mickie B.

excellent course

Valerie M.

This was very interesting.

Jody L.

Great speaker. Very interesting course.

Julie A. B.

Timely topic with content skillfully delivered.

Jeanette taylor J.


John H.

This is an excellent presentation

Susana F.

Great presentation.

Christian B.

It will be very interesting how this progresses. Seems to me that all state officials issuing licenses have the most to risk. Very interesting.

Michael L.

Great instructor, with mastery of the topic.

Matthew D.

Thoughtful material and presentation.

Patrick D.

Bravo Mr. Kolkata; superb presentation; who would have thought there would be a canabis practice group in a law firm? I particularly liked his introduction.

sosi v.

Very interesting. Good presentation

Jeffrey S.

Very interesting topic and information

Load More


Get Unlimited Access to Lawline Courses

Unlimited CLE Subscription gives you access to take almost any course from our catalog and earn as much CLE credit as you need.