Griffen Thorne Partner

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About Griffen

California is a tough place to do business. Griffen makes it much easier. Businesses routinely look to Griffen to negotiate and close a variety of challenging corporate transactions. His goal is to find the simplest and most cost-effective solution to client problems in complex and often highly regulated transactions. His past experience as a high-stakes IP and commercial litigator allows him to easily diagnose potential cost and liability exposures while negotiating transactions.

Griffen is a broad-based corporate attorney. He negotiates and closes business, asset, and property purchases on behalf of both buyers and sellers. He represents borrowers, lenders, and investors in equity and debt finance transactions, and lessors and lessees in commercial leases. He serves as outside general counsel for corporate clients, assisting with entity formation, corporate governance, general commercial transactions, intellectual property licensing, and more.

A Leading Legal Executive in the Cannabis Industry

Many of Griffen’s clients operate in highly regulated industries, and include physicians, healthcare businesses, cannabis and hemp businesses, and emerging psychedelics businesses. Griffen has helped close to a hundred companies secure hard-fought licenses across the state of California. Griffen was one of the leading executive committee members of the first section of the Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Cannabis Section, writes weekly for the Canna Law Blog and Psychedelics Law Blog, writes regularly for outside publications, speaks on and leads panels, and has been interviewed for cannabis legal analysis by Vice, ReasonTV, The Atlantic, MarketWatch, Bloomberg Law, and Law360.

Before beginning his legal career, Griffen studied music at the University of California, Berkeley, and still plays electric guitar in his spare time. He studied law at Loyola University of Chicago, where he was the Editor-in-Chief of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal and graduated third in his class of 250 students.

In his free time, Griffen enjoys spending time with his two daughters, his wife, and their dog, traveling, studying languages, and volunteering at his local synagogue.

Contact Griffen

Fast Facts

Education

  • Loyola University Chicago School of Law (J.D. magna cum laude)
  • University of California, Berkeley (B.A.)

Languages

  • German
  • Hebrew (Basic)

Bar & Court Admissions

  • The State Bar of California
  • Washington State Bar Association

More About Griffen

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  • Los Angeles County Bar Association – Cannabis Law and Healthcare Law Sections
  • Former Professional Member (2018-2020), International Association of Privacy Professionals
  • Vice-Chair of Membership, Los Angeles County Bar Association (2019-2021)
  • Associate Attorney, Lewis Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP (2015–2018)
  • Certified Information Privacy Professional, United States and Europe (inactive)
  • Member of Board of Directors and Committee Co-Chair, Temple Beth Israel of Highland Park and Eagle Rock (2020-2021)

Mergers and Acquisitions

  • Represented individuals in acquisition of cannabis cultivation facility in Orange County, California.
  • Represented buyer in negotiation and closing of acquisitions of licenses and other operating assets of cannabis wholesaler and three cannabis retailers in various jurisdictions in Oregon.
  • Represented Los Angeles cannabis retailer in Los Angeles in negotiation of acquisition by third party.
  • Represented purchaser of cannabis cultivator in Lake County, California.
  • Represented seller in drafting, negotiating, and closing the sale of affiliated cannabis distributor and manufacturer in Riverside County, CA.
  • Represented buyer in negotiation and execution of purchase agreement for cannabis cultivator in Riverside County, CA.
  • Represented buyer in drafting purchase agreement for healthcare facility in Florida.
  • Represented buyer in drafting and negotiation of purchase agreement for cannabis cultivator in Santa Cruz County, California.
  • Represented transferee of interest in cannabis Orange County, California to former owners.

Real Estate

  • Represented developer in partnership for acquisition and development of apartments in Brooklyn, New York.
  • Represented lessor in drafting and negotiating lease for high-end chocolate retailer in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Represented tenant in drafting and negotiating lease of commercial property for cannabis distribution and manufacturing in Riverside County, California.
  • Represented buyer of commercial property for office use in Marin County, California.
  • Represented client in acquisition of real property for lease to cannabis retailer in San Diego County, California.
  • Represented lessor of commercial property for lease to cannabis producer and processor in Jackson County, OR.
  • Represented lessor in negotiation of lease of large commercial property for multi-use cannabis operations in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Represented lessor in negotiating and drafting options to lease and lease agreements for eight parcels of unimproved property in Sonoma County, California.
  • Represented affiliates of lessor of commercial property for cannabis consumption lounge in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Represented tenant in negotiation of commercial lease for office space in Portland, OR.
  • Represented buyer in sale-lease-back to cannabis facility in Imperial County, CA.
  • Represented client in drafting lease for outdoor event area for hosting concerts and other events in Portland, OR.
  • Represented client in drafting and negotiating commercial lease for multi-use cannabis facility in Riverside County, California.
  • Represented client in drafting and negotiating lease of unimproved property for development of cannabis cultivation facilities in Richmond County, California.

Finance and Investments

  • Represented healthcare management services organization in drafting management services and deficit funding loan agreement for healthcare provider in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Represented lenders in negotiation and drafting convertible promissory notes to California cannabis holding company.
  • Represented cannabis cultivator in negotiation and execution of secured equipment finance lease in Riverside County, California.
  • Represented lender in secured loan for construction of tenant improvements on cannabis cultivator in north Los Angeles County, California
  • Represented lender in secured loan for acquisition and improvement of real property for cannabis business in Maine.
  • Represented lender in drafting and executing loan for borrower to secure real property in Monterey County, California.
  • Represented client on investment in Asian cannabis startup, analysis of investment materials, and negotiation of investment agreements.
  • Represented client in coordination with independent corporate counsel with formation of fund for loaning money cannabis cultivator, including drafting parts of fund partnership agreement, PPM, loan agreements with cannabis business, and real property lease in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Represented affiliated cannabis businesses in capital raise through convertible note to fund construction of tenant improvements in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Performed diligence review of potential investment transaction into statewide cannabis operator in California for foreign clients.

Commercial and Technology Transactions

  • Represented property licensing technology platform in drafting CCPA privacy policy and platform terms and conditions.
  • Represented technology company in drafting agreements for advertising pilot program.
  • Represented athlete in negotiation and drafting of NFT development agreement.
  • Represented fitness app company in drafting GDPR privacy policy and app terms and conditions.
  • Represented cannabis business in intellectual property license from rapper to develop brand and marketing efforts.
  • Represented cannabis cultivator and negotiated a cannabis supply agreement for more than 100,000 pounds of raw cannabis plant material in California.
  • Represented music festival host in drafting privacy policy and terms and conditions.
  • Represented cannabis business in drafting and negotiating series of distribution, manufacture, and cannabis inventory purchase agreements in California.

Regulatory and Licensing

  • Represented healthcare provider in drafting practice policies and procedures and provider agreements.
  • Represented clients in negotiating tax payment plans with the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration and City of Los Angeles.
  • Represented client in drafting cannabis application in highly competitive Northern California application process, securing 100% score on written application.
  • Represented public company in formulating regulatory and M&A strategy for acquisitions of or partnerships with healthcare facilities in multiple U.S. states.
  • Represented client in securing suite of retail and non-retail cannabis licenses in San Diego County, California.
  • Represented client in securing new state cannabis distribution license for company after non-renewal by cannabis agency of original license due to purported regulatory deficiencies in Los Angeles County, California.
  • Represented client in obtaining state and local licenses after acquiring partially licensed business and addressing undisclosed liabilities following acquisition in Los Angeles County, California.

What clients have to say about Griffen

Griffen Thorne was invaluable in helping us navigate a real estate transaction that involved a tenant operating a cannabis business. Griffen was able to get up to speed quickly and efficiently on our matter, identifying the relevant regulatory considerations and distilling them down into practical implications for our business. Griffen was professional and left us feeling extremely confident in the representation.”

-Clayton Collett, Development Director | Orange Barrel Media

Griffen Thorne at Harris Sliwoski was invaluable in helping us through a difficult time with our business. Griffen had the unique expertise to resolve the issues effectively and positively when we were dealing with our Tenants licensing and lease agreement issues. He walked us through the process, made it easy for us to understand our options, and answered all our questions, no matter how trivial (even on the weekend!). Now that our legal issues have been resolved, we can focus on growing our business again. Thank you Griffen for your help.

-M. David Torosian, CPA, JD

Griffen Thorne was invaluable in helping us through a difficult time with our business. When we were dealing with all licensing and compliance issues, he had the unique expertise to resolve all issues.  He walked us through the process and made it easy for us to understand our options. Griffen answered our questions, no matter how trivial (even on the weekend!). Now that our legal issues have been resolved, we can get back to focusing on growing our business again.

Griffen held our hands through a two year journey that we would have never gotten over the goal line without him.   We are fully licensed, operational and Griffen and his colleagues will be our intellectual partners forever.”

– Sandy and Josh Wax | JOSHWAX

I am impressed with this law firm. They answered all my questions regarding cannabis businesses and the California framework and they have helped me with a variety of legal issues in a timely fashion, while always clearly communicating with us throughout the process. They also redirected me to other quality people for my business needs. Everyone I worked with at Harris Sliwoski is an expert in their field, and I was in good hands throughout my legal representation.

– Corey T., CEO | Thinc Cubed, LLC

You won’t find a better partner than Harris Sliwoski when trying to navigate the complex world of healthcare regulations.  They not only give sound and reliable legal advice, but are also very responsive and are able to guide you in a way that helps you reach your business objectives as well.

– Joseph Axelrod, General Counsel | Irwin Naturals

Harris Sliwoski has been an amazing resource for our company as we navigated entering the Hemp CBD market. We had our website and content reviewed, and they assisted in the production of our Terms of Service, Privacy Policy and Cookies Policy. The work was thorough, and all of our questions were answered quickly.

– MaryRuth’s

California’s passage of Prop 19 and the threat of losing our multigenerational livestock ranch to property taxes, I was looking for more income. I decided to go with leases to a cannabis company. I have a local law office to handle more routine matters but choose Harris Sliwoski to work with as I wanted someone who specialized in the rapidly changing rules of Cannabis contracts. I enjoyed working with Griffen Thorne. When documents needed to be completed rapidly before a county rules change Griffen Thorne gave it immediate attention and even worked into evening on contracts.

– Sharon W.

Proven Expertise for Challenging Legal Issues

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The washington Post logo

Federal health agency recommends easing marijuana restrictions

Griffen Thorne in The Washington Post

 Under federal tax code, companies cannot deduct many ordinary business expenses if they deal in Schedule I or II controlled substances. That prohibition would no longer apply if marijuana becomes a Schedule III substance, finally allowing many cannabis companies to turn a profit, said Griffen Thorne, a cannabis industry attorney based in Los Angeles. “This would be a lifeline for an industry that has really been suffering,” Thorne said.

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CRB Monitor logo.

CA Sends Notices to 90 Cannabis Licensees After Pro-Tech Union Declared Not Bona Fide

Griffen Thorne in CRB Monitor

Griffen Thorne, an attorney for the Harris Bricken law firm in Los Angeles who specializes in cannabis businesses, said these companies will need to “scramble” to get new agreements. He said his firm has prepared “a lot” of notarized statements for start-ups, but none of their clients are unionized that he is aware of.

“As we sit here today, these agreements are more of a nuisance,” Thorne said.

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MJBizDaily logo.

States give marijuana data to Biden administration for rescheduling review

Griffen Thorne in MJBizDaily

“This data is going to be used to support some sort of showing that there is a medical benefit,” said Griffen Thorne, a Los Angeles-based attorney at Harris Bricken.

“Everybody knows there is some medical benefit, at least for pain if for nothing else.”

But will that convince federal regulators? It’s still anyone’s guess.

“It’s hard to deduce what the federal government is doing,” Thorne noted.

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WeedWeek logo.

Is THCa a legal business risk that pays off?

Griffen Thorne in WeedWeek

“I tend to think it’s marijuana practically speaking if not legally speaking…THCa is probably a risk that most people shouldn’t take, there are so many ways it can go wrong.”

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MJBizDaily logo.

Herbl collapse signals wider fallout in California marijuana industry

Griffen Thorne in MJBizDaily

“I don’t think it’s an Herbl thing. It’s just a symptom of the way the industry was set up and the way the market is going right now…There’s a lot of people out there vying for money, and it’s going to be hard for those folks to get paid. This is going to be the first of many failures and flameouts we’re going to see as a result of the creditor crunch.”

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Willamette Week logo.

As a Business, Psilocybin Will Be a Bust, Law Firm Says

Griffen Thorne in Willamette Week

Looking to make money in psychedelics? Look elsewhere.

That’s the message from lawyer Griffen Thorne at Harris Sliwoski Sliwoski LLP, a Portland firm that specializes in the legal cannabis industry and, more recently, psychedelics.

“Anyone familiar with the cannabis industry knows how difficult it is to make money,” Thorne wrote on the firm’s site today. “Things are going to be even worse for people in the state-legal psychedelics industry—much worse.”

Thorne cites a half-dozen hurdles for anyone trying to make a living with psilocybin: competition from physicians if psilocybin wins Food and Drug Administration approval (it’s in Phase 3 trials); opposition from pharmaceutical companies that are working to get those approvals; high costs for running a psilocybin service center; black-market competition; and growing religious use of psilocybin.

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MediaPost logo.

FDA Sidesteps Regulatory Guidance For CBD In Food, Beverages

Griffen Thorne in MediaPost

“This news isn’t shocking to me,” says Griffen Thorne, an attorney with the Harris Sliwoski Sliwoski law firm.

“What is shocking is that if they were going to reach this conclusion and it was kind of destined to be this way, why is it only happening now after so many years?

“I think you have to be careful reading this because they’re not saying it’s unsafe. They’re just saying we don’t know if it is safe.”

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The washington Post logo

How do U.S. marijuana policies compare globally after Biden’s pardon?

Griffen Thorne in The Washington Post

Many if not most people serving time are in state systems,” said Griffen Thorne, an attorney at Harris Sliwoski, a law firm that works with cannabis companies.

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US 0.3% THC limit challenge dismissed: what could it mean for hemp producers?

Griffen Thorne in CBD-Intel

“There’s a lot of problems with this rule,” said Griffen Thorne, an attorney at Harris Sliwoski. “The issue is that when you take a hemp plant and you want to turn it into any kind of product, like oil or concentrates, you have to go through stages.”

Thorne added that at some point during the process the THC level is going to go up. “I’m not a scientist, but I’ve talked to enough people to know that it’s almost impossible, if not impossible, to prevent that from happening. Because you have such a low threshold [at] 0.3%.”

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Orange County Register logo.

Mushroom rabbi grows ceremonial psilocybin for Denver congregation — but is that legal?

Griffen Thorne in Orange County Register

According to Griffen Thorne, an attorney with the Harris Sliwoski law firm in Los Angeles, the ruling spawned widespread backlash and even conservative religious groups were critical of implications under the First Amendment. That led Congress to pass RFRA as a test that judges use to evaluate whether a law or government action infringes on religious liberties protected by the First Amendment.

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MJBizDaily logo.

How to sell your marijuana retail store without selling yourself short

Griffen Thorne in MJBizDaily

Griffen Thorne is a Los Angeles-based attorney with the law firm Harris Sliwoski. He has experience representing both buyers and sellers in cannabis M&A transactions, including retail acquisitions.

“The buyer’s going to have a lawyer,” he said. “They’re going to put together a purchase agreement and send it to the seller. And if the seller doesn’t know what they’re reading—or doesn’t know some of the finer points or dynamics in an M&A deal—they’re going to miss out on opportunities to negotiate.”

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East Bay Express

Shroom Boom: Moves to decriminalize some hallucinogens have spurred investment, but even those are tiny steps

Griffen Thorne in East Bay Express

For it to be placed on the ballot in November of next year, proponents must gather 623,212 signatures. Getting to that number will be “a tough fight in a state that tends to have a much higher conservative vote than people think,” Attorney Griffen Thorne wrote over the weekend on the website of his firm, L.A.-based Harris Sliwoski, which specializes in cannabis law.

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PEW Charitable Trusts logo.

The Hemp Boom is Over. What Now?

Griffen Thorne in PEW Charitable Trusts

“States are banning this stuff left and right,” said Griffen Thorne, a Los Angeles-based attorney for law firm Harris Sliwoski and a member of its corporate cannabis team.

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North Bay Business Journal logo.

Business of cannabis front and center in April 7 seminar

Griffen Thorne in Business in North Bay Business Journal

“We know prohibition didn’t work. This market’s not going anywhere. (California’s) resources are not going to enforcement.”

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Emerging Litigation Podcast logo.

Psychedelics Decriminalization and Regulation with Griffen Thorn‪e‬

Griffen Thorne on Emerging Litigation Podcast

He focuses on corporate, transaction, intellectual property, data security, regulatory, and litigation matters across a wide variety of domestic and international industries.

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KCRW logo

Oregon legalizes hard drugs and the active ingredient in magic mushrooms. Will California follow suit?

Griffen Thorne on KCRW Greater L.A.

“Decriminalization does not mean legalization, people often mix the terms up. And in fact, a handful of cities across the United States from Denver to Oakland to Santa Cruz, Anarbore, and Washington D.C. have all decriminalized psilocybin and in some cases other psychedelic plants. Which just really means the existing criminal laws stay there but local law enforcement is directed not to enforce those laws or to at least make enforcement a very low priority.”

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Asia Times logo

Flying with vapes

Griffen Thorne in Asia Times

Unfortunately, there have been and most likely will continue to be CBD-related airport arrests. Cannabis law expert Griffen Thorne says that this will continue until the laws are very clear and explicit.

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Orange County Register logo.

Will mushrooms go the way of cannabis? Legalization efforts are growing

Griffen Thorne in The Orange County Register

So far, Griffen Thorne, a Los Angeles-based attorney who works with businesses interested in getting into this space, said the federal government hasn’t interfered into any of these city or state programs. He expects this area of law will be treated much like cannabis, which remains illegal at the federal level though states are now largely allowed to set their own rules regulating use and sales.

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Cannabis Business Times logo.

A Look Inside This Year’s Adult-Use Legalization Campaigns

Griffen Thorne in Cannabis Business Times

(The amendment language was sent to the state before it legalized hemp cultivation and processing and the USDA approved a state industrial hemp plan, though Harris Sliwoski’s Griffen Thorne has noted that aside from a smokable hemp ban, South Dakota hasn’t established clear regulations addressing the sale of hemp.)

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WeedWeek logo.

“Expensive Awakenings:” States Step Up Cannabis Compliance and Enforcement

Griffen Thorne in WeedWeek

“It takes a lot of time and money to get a license. It’s very easy to lose that license,” said Griffen Thorne, a California-based attorney with the Harris Sliwoski law firm.

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LAWeekly Logo

California May Ban Flavored Cannabis Vapes

Griffen Thorne in LA Weekly

Griffen Thorne is an attorney at Harris Sliwoski. This article originally appeared on  Canna Law Blog and has been reposted with permission.

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WeedWeek logo.

California’s Pot Delivery Wars Go to Court

Griffen Thorne in WeedWeek

Griffen Thorne, an attorney at cannabis law firm Harris Sliwoski, says the judge’s Thursday ruling raises a “pretty significant” point—that some of the plaintiffs lack a delivery-related ordinance.

While the cities had said they might adopt such ordinances, “[Judge McGuire] just knocked that argument out of the park,” Thorne said.

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WeedWeek logo.

Does Federal Law Apply to Cannabiz? Labor Case Appeals to Supreme Court

Griffen Thorne in WeedWeek

Griffen Thorne, an attorney at Harris Sliwoski, is not involved in the case but has watched it and written about it at the firm’s Canna Law Blog. If the Supreme Court did take it, he expects it would uphold the circuit court ruling.

“It’s a real hard sell, I think,” Thorne said of the petition’s argument. “In my view, it’s just like paying taxes.”

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bloomberg

California Pot Firms Aim to Deliver Privacy Weed Users Want

Griffen Thorne in Bloomberg Law

Despite the compliance efforts, many pot companies are not ready for the new law, said Griffen Thorne, data security and cannabis attorney at Harris Sliwoski in Los Angeles.

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Web md logo on a black background.

Is CBD Safe to Carry on a Plane

Griffen Thorne in WebMD

Los Angeles attorney Griffen Thorne, who is familiar with cannabis issues, urges passengers to be cautious. He recommends not taking CBD on international flights.

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The Atlantic Logo

CBD Crackdown Has Begun

Griffen Thorne in The Atlantic

According to Griffen Thorne, a California-based attorney who specializes in cannabis law, that lack of standardization is what makes most regulatory agencies nervous about CBD. “The packaging and labeling requirements aren’t there yet in states that don’t have a cannabis regime,” he told me when I spoke with him about CBD’s sudden popularity in food. “If you go buy a CBD beverage and it’s not specially packaged—it just looks like another coffee or whatever—someone might take a sip who doesn’t intend to.” Purveyors also often make medical claims about CBD’s effects for which there is little scientific proof, including its potential as an anti-inflammatory and a treatment for aches and pains. Thorne said that those promises could also be a source of legal trouble for businesses in the future.

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Sad News About CBD Cupcakes

Griffen Thorne in The Atlantic

Even if you live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, the mainstream sale of CBD in bakeries and coffee shops is still a whole different issue, according to Griffen Thorne, a California-based attorney with Harris Sliwoski, a firm specializing in cannabis-trade issues. For cannabis, “one of the things that’s a really big requirement in California is safety testing at the distributor level,” Thorne says. “That’s not really there yet for hemp CBD products.” For instance, CBD products sometimes contain enough lingering THC to produce psychoactive effects.

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bloomberg

Law Firms Growing Cannabis Practices With Privacy Cases in Mind

Griffen Thorne in Bloomberg

A data breach could put a cannabis company in a precarious position if it has to alert a consumer in a state where marijuana isn’t legal, Griffen Thorne, tech and cannabis attorney at Harris Sliwoski, told Bloomberg Law. A state attorney general opposed to marijuana legalization, for example, may target out-of-state marijuana companies for partisan or personal reasons, going after them for minor privacy infractions, like not having updated privacy policies or leaking non-sensitive data, he said.

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