Category: Cannabis Law

Announcing Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC

Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC is pleased to announce the addition of Richard Y. Cheng as a Managing Member of the firm. This strategic appointment strengthens the firm’s commitment to delivering top-notch legal services and marks a significant milestone in its ongoing growth and development.

Richard brings a wealth of legal experience to Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC. His practice focuses on corporate transactions, regulatory & compliance,  governmental investigations, and administrative appeals. Richard has an impressive track record in healthcare law, and represents all facets of the healthcare industry from post-acute care providers, physicians, investment platforms (e.g. private equity, family office, accredited investors, etc.) in healthcare, retail medicine providers (e.g. med spas, IV hydration bars), management services organizations (MSOs), dental service organizations (DSOs), ancillary providers (e.g. labs, pharmacies, rehabilitation providers, ASCs, urgent care centers) digital healthcare companies, veterinarians, chiropractors and wellness companies. Richard’s unique practice combines his corporate transaction background with his regulatory background, making him an experienced practitioner well versed in Stark Law, the Anti-Kickback Statute, False Claims Act, HIPAA, HITECH Act, the Civil Monetary Penalties Law, corporate practice of medicine, Medicare conditions of participation, and other healthcare regulatory issues.

“We are thrilled to welcome Richard to our team,” said Chelsie Spencer, Managing Attorney at Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC. “Richard’s demonstrated experience as a health care law attorney is invaluable to clients navigating complex regulatory schemes within the healthcare sector and his corporate M&A experience uniquely qualifies him as a seasoned professional to advise clients on how to properly structure transactions in a highly regulated industry like healthcare. Also, as a colleague in the cannabis industry, Richard has been representing clients regularly in the cannabis space for many years. We look forward to building a firm that offers exceptional representation for our cannabis clients in Texas and the surrounding region.”

The addition of Richard Y. Cheng also expands the firm’s renowned alternative substances practice, which currently includes cannabis, kratom, ketamine, psychedelics, and more. With his expertise in cannabis, ketamine, and kratom,  the firm is uniquely poised to provide comprehensive legal services to clients in this sector. Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC remains steadfast in its mission to provide the highest quality legal services to its clients. For more information about Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC and its legal services, please visit


Rae Guyse: Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America

Excellence in the Legal Realm

In the vast and intricate tapestry of the legal world, certain individuals stand out for their expertise, passion, dedication, and the indelible mark they leave on their field. Rae Guyse, an Associate Attorney at Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC, is one such luminary, recently shining even brighter with her recognition by the esteemed “Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch” award.

Celebrating Legal Brilliance

“Best Lawyers,” a name synonymous with excellence in the legal profession, has a storied tradition of spotlighting the crème de la crème of attorneys worldwide. Their “Ones to Watch” award is particularly special. It’s not just a nod to an attorney’s past achievements but a resounding affirmation of their potential to shape the future of law.

Delving into Rae’s Journey

Rae’s foray into the legal world, especially her focus on the cannabis and litigation practice groups, has been remarkable. In an industry rife with complexities, especially concerning the burgeoning sectors of hemp, cannabis, and alternative medicine, Rae has emerged as a beacon of knowledge and guidance.

Her academic laurels, crowned by her graduation with honors from the University of Texas School of Law in 2020, set the stage for her professional journey. But her real-world prowess, from assisting a diverse clientele ranging from dispensaries to processors, truly sets her apart. Rae’s nuanced understanding of insurance programs and innovative approach to risk management challenges make her an invaluable asset to clients and the legal community.

A Glimpse into the Future

Recognition by “Best Lawyers” is more than just an accolade; it’s a testament to Rae’s unparalleled expertise and promising legal trajectory. As regulations and landscapes evolve, especially in the dynamic world of cannabis and hemp, Rae is poised to be at the forefront, guiding, influencing, and shaping its course.

The legal community and its observers have much to look forward to, with professionals like Rae Guyse leading the charge. Her recent recognition is a personal achievement and a celebration for the entire legal fraternity, heralding the bright future ahead.


Chelsie Spencer: A Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyer for 2023-2024

Chelsie Spencer: A Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyer for 2023-2024 2

A Legal Force in Cannabis

In the ever-changing world of cannabis law, it’s essential to have knowledgeable and forward-thinking experts. Chelsie Spencer is one such expert. Recently, she earned a spot on the prestigious “Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyers” list for 2023-2024. Let’s explore what this award means and why Chelsie is a name you should know in the cannabis legal sphere.

Forbes’ Seal of Approval

Forbes Magazine has described Chelsie as the “rare friendly face amid a cutthroat CBD hurricane.” This speaks to her unique blend of expertise and approachability in the complex world of CBD law.

Versatility in Practice

Chelsie leads the cannabis practice at Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC, representing a diverse clientele, from dispensaries to growers and beyond. Her work isn’t just about courtrooms; it’s about shaping businesses through licensing, regulatory compliance, and other critical operational aspects.

A Trademark Authority

Beyond cannabis, Chelsie is a seasoned trademark attorney. She has an impressive track record of securing federal trademarks and managing global trademark portfolios. This dual expertise makes her a valuable asset to clients in the cannabis industry and beyond.

Accolades and Recognition

Chelsie has received national recognition, including titles like Super Lawyer in Cannabis Practice by Thomson Reuters and the Client Champion award by Martindale-Hubbell. The “Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyer” accolade for 2023-2024 adds another layer of prestige to her already impressive resume.

Leadership and Policy Influence

Chelsie isn’t just about legal representation; she’s about shaping the industry. She serves in leadership roles in various cannabis-related organizations and has been instrumental in drafting legislation at both state and federal levels.

A Well-Deserved Honor

The “Global Top 200 Cannabis Lawyer” award for 2023-2024 is more than just a title; it recognizes Chelsie Spencer’s comprehensive expertise and influence in the cannabis legal field. As the industry continues to evolve, experts like Chelsie will undoubtedly be at the forefront, guiding it towards a more regulated and prosperous future.

Chelsie Spencer: Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America

A Leader in the Legal Community

In American law’s vast and intricate landscape, it is crucial to recognize and celebrate the trailblazers who are making significant strides in their respective fields. One such legal expert is Chelsie Spencer, who has recently been honored to be included in the prestigious 2024 edition of the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America. The Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America award is awarded to attorneys for outstanding professional excellence in private practice. This accolade is a testament to Chelsie’s unwavering dedication, expertise, and contributions to the legal community, particularly in the cannabis and hemp industries.

Pioneering the CBD and Cannabis Legal Landscape

Chelsie’s reputation in the cannabis industry speaks for itself. Forbes Magazine’s portrayal of her as a “trusted ally amidst the tumultuous CBD (cannabidiol) storms” captures the essence of her role in this rapidly evolving industry. Leading the cannabis practice at Ritter Spencer Cheng PLLC, Chelsie’s clientele spans a broad spectrum, from local dispensaries to national manufacturers.  She is deeply involved in transactional aspects, focusing on licensing, regulatory compliance, and other business intricacies. Furthermore, she is a recognized voice in the industry, frequently sharing insights and forecasts at national symposiums.

Beyond Cannabis: Trademark Mastery

While Chelsie’s achievements in the cannabis sector are noteworthy, her expertise doesn’t end there. She’s also a formidable force in the world of trademarks. With a track record of securing federal trademarks and managing global trademark strategies, she’s carved a niche in this domain. Her work involves not just the registration of trademarks but also navigating the complex waters of transactional challenges, making her services invaluable to businesses across various sectors.

A Tapestry of Achievements and Recognitions

The Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America honor is a milestone in Chelsie’s career, but it’s just one of many. She’s previously been spotlighted as a Super Lawyer in the Cannabis practice by Thomson Reuters and has clinched the Client Champion honor from Martindale-Hubbell. Additionally, her leadership roles, notably as the President of the Texas Hemp Legal Fund and Vice President of the Texas Cannabis Council’s Board of Directors, speaks to her commitment to the industry and her desire to shape its future.

In law, where change is the only constant, professionals like Chelsie Spencer are invaluable. They don’t just adapt to change; they drive it. Her recognition as one of the Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch® in America is not just a personal achievement; it’s an affirmation of her contributions to the broader legal community. As the legal landscape continues to evolve, with new challenges and opportunities emerging, it’s heartening to know that experts like Chelsie are at the forefront, guiding, influencing, and shaping its future.



How to Open a Dispensary in Texas

Although recreational marijuana has not yet been legalized in Texas, Texas currently has a limited medical marijuana program established by the Texas Compassionate Use Act in 2015. The Texas Department of Safety (“DPS”) administers the Compassionate Use Program (“CUP”), including all licensing processes for dispensing organizations. In early 2023, DPS opened the full application process for dispensing organization licenses for the first time since licenses were initially awarded in 2017. The application window closed on April 28, 2023. Currently, only three dispensing organizations have been granted licenses by DPS to cultivate, process, and dispense low-THC cannabis to qualifying patients in Texas: Compassionate Cultivation, Fluent, and Surterra Texas. An announcement on the award of new licenses has not yet been made, and DPS has not confirmed how many licenses it expects to award. Pursuant to the Compassionate Use Act, DPS may only issue the number of licenses necessary to ensure reasonable statewide access to and availability of low-THC cannabis for patients registered in the compassionate-use registry.

Texas is a vertically integrated state, meaning that all dispensing organizations must cultivate, process, package, and dispense the medical marijuana from a single location. Currently, only low-THC cannabis is approved for dispensation under CUP, currently limited to 1% THC by dry weight. The program also has restrictions regarding qualifying conditions and does not include certain conditions, such as chronic pain. Applicants must also follow all other administrative and statutory rules of the Texas Administrative Code (“TAC”) Chapter 12, and Texas Health and Safety Code Chapter 487.

All applicants must pay a non-refundable application fee of $7,356.00 dollars. If approved, licensed dispensing organizations must pay a new licensing fee of $488,520.00 for a two (2) year period. A biennial renewal license costs $318,511.00. Dispensing organizations must also pay fees per employee to register them with DPS. Entry costs for Texas are very high compared to other states.

Everything You Need to Know About The Cannabis Regulators Association

As the cannabis industry continues to experience an influx of financial opportunities, scientific studies, and legislative changes, states are coming together to share institutional knowledge and regulatory best practices. In November 2020, cannabis regulators from various states formed the Cannabis Regulators Association to provide federal lawmakers and administrative agencies with the resources needed to regulate cannabis. Since then, the national organization has made strides in cannabis-based education nationwide. Read below to learn more about the Association and how it benefits the cannabis industry. 

DSHS Moves to Ban White Labeling of Smokable Hemp Products in Texas

On June 24, 2022, the Texas Supreme Court upheld Health and Safety Code, Section 443.204 (4), which prohibits the processing and manufacturing of consumable hemp products for smoking in Texas. However, the Court upheld our challenge to the state’s retail and distribution rule, meaning that the retail sale and distribution of consumable hemp products for smoking remains legal in the state. Read on to learn more about the latest update on Texas’ Consumable Hemp Program from the Texas Department of State Health Services (“DSHS”) and how it will impact the Texas hemp industry.

Texas Compassionate Use Program: DPS Now Accepting Applications for Dispensing Organization Licenses

In 2015, the Texas Legislature enacted the Texas Compassionate Use Act, Senate Bill 339. Under TCUP’s regulatory regime, the Texas Department of Public Safety (“DPS”) would create a secure registry for licensed physicians to prescribe low tetrahydrocannabinol (“THC”) to patients suffering from a limited list of medical conditions, including ALS and intractable epilepsy.

Since establishing the Texas Compassionate Use Program (“TCUP”), DPS has issued licenses to only three dispensing organizations to dispense low-THC cannabis to registered TCUP patients. Currently, only two are operational in the state of Texas. Recently, DPS’  Regulatory Services Division announced that department officials are now accepting new applications for dispensing organization licenses. Read below to learn more about the TCUP and the licensing application process. 

6 Key Considerations When Expanding into New Cannabis Markets

The cannabis industry has substantially grown in response to significant developments in legalization. As a result, multi-state operators (“MSOs”) and budding entrepreneurs nationwide are entering prospective state cannabis markets. Given the legal intricacies surrounding the cannabis industry, there is much to consider before jumping into starting a cannabis-related business.