Cannabis License Holders and Business Associates


If you are considering hiring an attorney for your cannabis business needs, we suggest reading through our practice areas listed here that will answer common questions you may have about the process


"The go to tax counsel for Colorado dispensaries" - The National Law Journal 



We provide representation throughout the audit process, from inception to completion. We represent clients in federal and state audits, including but not limited to: 280E, income, sales and use, occupational privilege, and personal property tax.

We provide litigation representation in all areas cannabis, including but not limited to: tax defense, land use and zoning disputes, construction disputes, contract disputes, licensing issues, and regulatory disputes. 

Our representation includes but is not limited to: the special use permit or other entitlements process, ensuring compliance with local zoning ordinances, and  working with local regulators and planners to ensure that the business overcomes any land use or zoning obstacles that may arise.  

We represent clients from the beginning phases of construction up through the conclusion of a project

We provide both transactional and litigation real estate representation, including contract and regulatory issues. 

We provide assistance in business formation, general contract review, drafting and negotiation, ongoing business representation, and  licensing and compliance matters.



While cannabis has been legal on the state level for several years, the industry still faces many challenges. The biggest hurdle is dealing with federal and state regulations. As the industry is growing and evolving, it must continuously adapt to ever changing state regulations while navigating unclear federal waters.


Laws involving marijuana change frequently and make it difficult for already busy owners to feel confident that they are staying within the purview of the law. At a minimum, dispensary owners must be aware of how to legally comply with a 443 page document from the Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division. These laws range anywhere from zoning to tax to license issues. Legal advice is absolutely essential in all cases involving the legality, use, distribution and growth of cannabis, as it is vitally important to stay ahead of these challenges.    


At some point, a license holder may be dealt a regulation notice and/or proceeding from state or federal regulators. This is usually not a pleasant interaction and is typically a result of the license holder not being in compliance with some aspect of the law.   It is essential to call an attorney at this stage, as there are many things a license holder can say or do that may harm his or her cause. An attorney can step in and deal directly with the regulators, completely eliminating the license holder of any obligation to correspond directly with the state or federal government.

Thorburn Law Group, LLC realizes that your business is not just a business. It is a product of hard work, sweat, tears, and stress. Your business matters. You are not just another billable hour to us.  That is why some of the biggest names in the industry trust and rely on us.


Our firm is on the forefront of the current federal and state issues affecting dispensaries. We have ongoing, amicable relationships with many state and federal regulators. Our firm is the leader in the most innovative and sophisticated cannabis litigation in the nation, and we have had several published opinions, including that of Justice Clarence Thomas in Standing Akimbo v. United States, in which he questions the legality of federal enforcement against cannabis. We have received national recognition as leading litigators for the cannabis industry's highest profile cases -  and have recognized significant wins for the industry along the way.

In Alpenglow v. United States, the Tenth Circuit Court found that the deduction of costs of goods sold from income is a constitutional right, even for dispensaries. Jim Thorburn also had the honor of arguing Feinberg v. Commissioner in front of now Justice Neil Gorsuch. The published decision has been described as a "technical loss but an artful win for the cannabis industry".  




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Law Books

Feinberg v. Commissioner, 808 F.3d 813 (10th Cir. 2015) (Feinberg I) and Feinberg v. Commissioner, 916 F.3d 1330 (10th Cir. 2019) (Feinberg II) - Click to hear oral argument


Argued on a writ of mandamus, in front of now Justice Neil Gorsuch. Justice Gorsuch’s opinion in Feinberg has been described as a “technical loss but an artful win for the cannabis industry.”


High Desert Relief v. United States, 917 F.3d 1170 (10th Cir. 2019) - Click to hear oral argument


Overruling previous case law that and holding that full rather than abbreviated summary judgment standards apply to federal tax summons proceedings

Alpenglow Botanicals v. United States, 894 F.3d 1187 (10th Cir. 2018) - Click to hear oral argument


In response to Thorburn Walker's arguments, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals determined that costs of goods sold is a constitutionally mandated exclusion from business income for which Congress cannot interfere. 

Green Solution Retail, Inc. v. United States, 855 F.3d (10th Cir. 2017) - Oral argument not available


Arguing whether the IRS has the authority to administratively determine that a taxpayer has trafficked in a controlled substance, without a previous conviction.

Standing Akimbo, Ltd. Liabl. Co. v United States, 955 F.3d 1146 (10th Cir. 2020) - Click to hear oral argument


Addressing the question of whether state expressly legal marijuana laws are preempted by the federal Controlled Substances Act, as well as whether 26 U.S.C. §280E violates the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution by taxing more than constitutional income.