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Dear Pot Lawyer,

I think I need to sue my cannabis business partner. What should I expect?

Litigation is not a pleasant experience for either side, and this applies whether you’re in the cannabis business or not. Plaintiffs are frequently frustrated by the slow pace of litigation, while defendants often face seemingly unreasonable demands. Both are frustrated by the expense and intrusion in their lives. In the modern world, litigants on both sides will face the heavy burden of e-discovery. Both sides will be required to turn over all emails, text messages, and documents even tangentially related to the core dispute. You will be asked to pore over all your old records for every relevant scrap. Nobody likes putting out all their dirty laundry for the world to see.

The opposing attorney will probably want to depose you to ask you a series of invasive questions under penalty of perjury. This can feel like the attorney is trying to trick you, but really the purpose of a deposition is for the attorney to gather information and get an idea of what you will testify to at trial. Don’t lie! Once you get caught out for lying you will lose all credibility in the eyes of the fact-finder, and often, your credibility will be all that you have.

While very few cases actually go to trial, if your case does go all the way, be prepared for a uniquely unpleasant experience. You will spend hours each day in the courtroom, and more hours each night talking with your attorney. It will seem like the judge has it out for you (she doesn’t), and you will have to sit quietly as the opposing party lies (in your view, anyway) to the jury. And during all of this your attorney or attorneys will be working around the clock, and billing you for every minute.

There is one thing to keep in mind that can make the litigation experience less unpleasant. Try your best to keep your emotions out of your decision-making process. Nobody wins when a dispute that is fundamentally about money becomes a dispute about emotions. Once either side stops making economic decisions and starts acting out of hatred for the other side, the chances of settlement (and avoiding trial) drop dramatically. If you can, try to treat settlement negotiations as any other business negotiation.

Lastly, think long and hard about whether litigation is the right choice for you. Win or lose, you’ll be lucky to get through litigation for less than $100,000 in attorney fees, and even after winning a money judgment you will likely need to pay an attorney even more to try to collect your winnings. As distasteful as it may seem, you might be better off paying your opponent some nuisance cash instead of paying your attorney.


Got a question? Email us at potlawyer@portlandmercury.com. And remember that if you have a legal problem, contact a lawyer! Our educational musings cannot be relied upon as specific legal advice.