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Editorial

Index of tables

  1. Cannabis
  2. Leading individuals
  3. Next Generation Partners
  4. Rising stars

Leading individuals

  1. 1

Next Generation Partners

  1. 1
    • Robert Fonn - DLA Piper (Canada) LLP
    • Jonathan Sherman - Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP
    • Peter Simeon - Gowling WLG

Rising stars

  1. 1

Who Represents Who

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A prime-mover in the cannabis space, Bennett Jones LLP’s focus on building a full-service offering has paid dividends, and the firm houses a well-rounded industry group across its Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary offices. The national department is led jointly from Toronto by IP litigator Dominique Hussey and corporate finance specialist Aaron Sonshine, who recently led the firm’s advice to Cresco Labs on its $100m oversubscribed funding round, which represented the second-largest private funding round in US cannabis history. In addition to its corporate finance experience, the practice group has specialist expertise in M&A, consumer markets, agribusiness and health law. In 2019, the team welcomed the arrival of Curtis Cusinato, who was formerly head of the corporate group at Stikeman Elliott LLP. Ranjeev Dhillon and Rami Chalabi left to join McCarthy TĂ©trault.

Practice head(s):Aaron Sonshine; Dominique Hussey

Other key lawyers:Curtis Cusinato

Testimonials

A first-mover in the cannabis space, Bennett Jones has established an impressive track record in the sector.’

Key Clients

48North Cannabis Co. (formerly DelShen Therapeutics Corp.)

Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Auxly Cannabis Group Inc. (formerly Wheaton Income)

Beleave Inc.

BLOCKStrain Technology Corp

Canaccord Genuity Corp.

Canopy Growth Corporation

Cresco Labs (US)

FSD Pharma Inc.

Harvest One Cannabis Inc.

Indiva Limited

Lennox Lewis

PlantExt Ltd.

Segra International Corp.

The Supreme Cannabis Company (formerly Supreme Pharmaceuticals Inc.)

TILT Holdings Inc.

VIVO Cannabis Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Cresco Labs on a series of deals including its $100m oversubscribed funding round and it’s C$2.2bn reverse take-over transaction and public listing on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
  • Advised Canopy Growth Corporation, and its various subsidiaries, on various trademark and trademark enforcement matters.
  • Canadian counsel to Baker Technologies, a Colorado-based provider of cannabis-specific customer relationship management software, on its proposed business combination with Santé Veritas Holdings, Briteside Holdings and Sea Hunter Therapeutics.
  • Advised PlantExt on corporate, regulatory and IP issues connected with its joint venture with Hebrew University, Agricultural Research Organization, and ongoing corporate and financing needs.
  • Acted for VIVO Cannabis on its C$133m acquisition of Canna Farms.

Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP stands at the forefront of trends in the emergent cannabis sector. A top choice for pathfinder and innovative transactions, the firm has had a hand in many of the sector’s most pioneering transactions. The firm is a regular participant in complex securities matters, and complements its sophisticated corporate finance expertise with supplementary offerings in IP, regulatory compliance and branding. Department co-chair Jonathan Sherman is among the most active lawyers in the cannabis space and made partner in 2019, despite being of only four-years’ call. Senior corporate and securities partner John Vettese is also another key contact.

Practice head(s):Jonathan Sherman

Other key lawyers:John Vettese

Testimonials

Cassels Brock has the leading corporate finance practice in the cannabis area.

The firm has worked hard to establish close relationships with some of the biggest cannabis companies operating in Canada.’

Dentons has a prolific cannabis practice, which counts some of the largest producers and distributors in North America among its clients. Though it is perhaps best known for its corporate finance expertise, the department draws upon the firm’s full-service offering to advise industry participants on M&A deals, celebrity partnership transactions, cannabis supply agreements and regulatory issues. The wider firm’s global network, particularly its US platform, is also an attractive feature for rapidly growing cannabis companies looking to expand into new markets. Toronto-based group head Eric Foster is widely recognized as a thought leader in the industry. In 2019, regulatory specialist James Wishart left to join client Canopy Growth.

Practice head(s):Eric Foster

Testimonials

Dentons’ cannabis group leverages its global network, particularly its US arm, to sell itself as an international partner to growing cannabis companies.’

Eric Foster has established himself as a leader in this field; he is very experienced and active.’

Key Clients

Canopy Growth Corporation

SLANG Worldwide Inc.

Embark Health Inc.

Bank of Montreal

GR Companies Inc.

GMP Securities LP

Emblem Corp.

Avicanna Inc.

Fire & Flower Holdings Corp.

MXY Holdings LLC

Gene Simmons

PharmaCann LLC

Wolverine Partners Corp.

The Supreme Cannabis Company Inc.

Halo Labs Inc.

Beacon Securities Limited

Greenlane Holdings, LLC

Work highlights

  • Advised Canopy Growth on regulatory issues in over 20 jurisdictions, among other matters.
  • Advised SLANG Worldwide on its acquisitions of Organa Brands and FireFly Vaporizers.
  • Advised Embark Health on financing transactions worth C$35m as well as on the C$10m acquisitions of cannabis extraction facilities in the provinces of Ontario and British Columbia and the state of Kansas.
  • Advised BMO, as agent for the lenders, on C$200m syndicated credit facilities for Aurora Cannabis.
  • Acted for GR Companies on both its $90m private placement of convertible debentures, and its $875m sale to Curaleaf Holdings.

Blake, Cassels & Graydon LLP’s multi-disciplinary group stands out for the diversity of its practice and its geographical coverage. The firm benefits from overseas offices in New York, London and Beijing, and has notched up an impressive number of cross-border deals, advising on the Canadian aspects of transactions involving the US, Australia, Africa and Europe. Clients include domestic and international companies from across the industry, but it is particularly active for cannabis licensees. Finance specialist Alexis Levine is the key senior contact, while associate Chris Nyberg is recognized as a rising star in the cannabis industry.

Practice head(s):Alexis Levine; Chris Nyberg; Kevin Rusli; Cheryl Satin

Key Clients

TerrAscend Corp.

Khalifa Kush Enterprises Canada ULC

Horizons ETFs Management (Canada) Inc

Cannabis Growth Opportunity Corporation

Computershare Trust Company of Canada

Chemistree Technology Inc.

Evolve Funds Group Inc.

Mera Cannabis Corp. (formerly Avana Canada Inc.)

Canaccord Genuity Corp.

CannabisOneFive (C15)

Hunny Pot Cannabis Co.

Trec Brands Inc.

Eight Capital

Canopy Rivers Inc.

Cronos Group Inc.

Tilray, Inc.

Organigram Holdings Inc.

Auxly Cannabis Group

GMP Securities LP

Work highlights

  • Acted as Canadian counsel to Tilray on its $202m cross-border IPO.
  • Advised Cronos on its subscription agreement with Altria Group, pursuant to which Altria has agreed to make a C$2.4bn equity investment in Cronos on a private placement basis in exchange for common shares in the company.
  • Acted for Khalifa Kush on its exclusive consulting services agreement with Supreme Cannabis Company.
  • Assisted Chemistree Technology with its C$4.5m non-brokered private placement.
  • Advised CannabisOneFive, a provider of management and document control software systems for the cannabis industry, on various regulatory and commercial issues.

McMillan LLP has positioned itself as a key player in Canada’s cannabis sector, having recently secured plum roles in several transformative transactions. In particular, its close relationship with Aurora Cannabis (the world’s second-largest cannabis producer) has led to a string of high-profile engagements. Most notably, the team advised Aurora on its C$3.2bn acquisition of MedReleaf in July 2018, which represented the largest merger in the Canadian cannabis space to-date. Entertainment and sports specialist Desmond Balakrishnan and capital markets partner James Munro are the key contacts in the Vancouver office.

Practice head(s):Desmond Balakrishnan; James Munro

Torys LLP’s multi-disciplinary practice combines a top-tier corporate offering with strong expertise in food and drug regulation and life sciences. The firm advises a wide range of industry players, including blue-chip companies, licensed producers and start-ups, across the full cannabis ecosystem, with medical cannabis standing out as a particular strong suit. The practice group in jointly led from Toronto by Eileen McMahon, who chairs the intellectual property and food and drug regulatory practices, and life sciences head Cheryl Reicin.

Practice head(s):Eileen McMahon; Cheryl Reicin

Key Clients

BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc.

TMX Group

Village Farms International, Inc.

Therapix Biosciences Ltd.

Scientus Pharma Inc.

The Green Organic Dutchman Holdings Ltd.

CannaRoyalty Corp. (dba Origin House)

Trichome Financial Corp.

Syqe Medical Ltd.

Canaccord Genuity Corp.

The Cronos Group/Peace Naturals

Eureka 93 Inc.

M Partners Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acted for Cronos on its negotiation of a joint venture with an affiliate of Agroidea, Colombia’s leading agricultural services provider.
  • Advised Village Farms International on its C$22m bought deal offering and its C$10m private placement.
  • Advised Scientus on its C$15.6m private placement of common shares.
  • Assisted Origin House with its C$43.7m acquisition of River Distribution.
  • Advised the Green Organic Dutchman Holdings on Aurora Cannabis’ C$55m investment in the company.

Toronto-based Aird & Berlis LLP has a presence in the mid-market and has used its historical strength in advising early stage companies to its advantage in the cannabis sector. Clients are drawn from the medical and recreational spheres and include producers, distributors and healthcare organizations. The group has experience across the full spread of transactional and regulatory matters, but corporate finance remains the key driver of activity, and the team is routinely involved in financing and go-public transactions. Capital markets co-head Sherri Altshuler and corporate finance partner Richard Kimel are the key contacts.

Practice head(s):Sherri Altshuler; Richard Kimel 

Work highlights

  • Advised Harvest One Cannabis on its acquisition of biotechnology company Delivra Corp.
  • Assisted MediPharm Labs with its C$75m bought deal offering of common shares.
  • Advised Eve & Co Incorporated on its C$10.4m bought deal private placement of special warrants.

DLA Piper (Canada) LLP stands out in the capital markets space, with market sources singling out Toronto-based group co-head Robert Fonn for his ‘prolific financing practice’. A top choice for both corporate issuers and banks, the practice group handles the full range of securities, M&A, venture capital and going public transactions, with supplementary service offerings in IP, regulation and employment matters. Corporate co-chair Ted Maduri, also co-leads the practice from Toronto.

Practice head(s):Ted Maduri; Robert Fonn

Key Clients

Canaccord Genuity Corp.

Acreage Holdings, Inc.

Charlotte’s Web Holdings, Inc.

Newstrike Brands Ltd.

Bloomera

HEXO Corp. (Previously The Hydropothecary Corporation)

The Green Organic Dutchman Inc.

Grey Wolf Animal Health Inc.

The Flowr Corporation

Trulieve Cannabis Corp.

KES VII Capital Inc.

James E. Wagner Cultivation Corp.

Work highlights

  • Acted as Canadian counsel to Acreage Holdings on its $3.4bn acquisition by Canopy Growth, pursuant to federal legalization in the US.
  • Advised High Street Capital Partners on its $314.2m subscription receipt financing, reverse takeover of Applied Inventions Management Corp. and the listing of the resulting issuer, Acreage Holdings, on the Canadian Securities Exchange.
  • Assisted Charlotte’s Web Holdings with its $110m IPO.
  • Acted for Canaccord Genuity Corporation, as lead underwriter for a syndicate of underwriters, on Aurora Cannabis’ C$230m bought deal financing.
  • Advised Trulieve Cannabis Corporation on its C$65m private placement of subscription receipts, its reverse takeover by Schyan Exploration and its CSE listing.

Fasken’s cannabis practice is best known for its robust regulatory offering, which is complemented by the wider firm’s strength in securities and M&A. The team acts for the full range of industry clients, including licensed producers, distributors and suppliers, and also draws on firm’s financial services expertise to act for lenders to and insurers of industry participants. Communications specialist Barbara Miller heads the department from Toronto and has a strong background in regulatory and transactional matters.

Practice head(s):Barbara Miller

Testimonials

Fasken, especially Barbara Miller, is a powerhouse when it comes to cannabis law.

Cannabis is an emerging industry and the team at Faskens always seems to be ahead of the curve. ’

Barbara is amazing at bringing in and managing whatever different resources and practice areas are needed from within Fasken to contribute to getting a transaction done. Between the size, scope, and timeframes of the deals we have asked her to deliver on, she’s basically pulled off miracles.

Key Clients

The Flowr Corporation

Redwood Asset Management Inc. (now Purpose Investments Inc.)

Canaccord Genuity Corp.

GMP Securities L.P.

Nuuvera Inc.

Integral Associates

BZAM Holdings Inc.

BZAM Management Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised BZAM Management Pursuant on its C$41.5m acquisition, under CCAA proceedings, of all assets of the Canadian business of Ascent Industries Corporation.
  • Advised The Flowr Corporation on a wide variety of federal and provincial regulatory matters, including retail operations.
  • Advised Verano Holdings on its $850m sale to Harvest Health & Recreation.
  • Advised Canaccord Genuity, as co-leader of a syndicate of underwriters, on Green Thumb Industries’ C$80.3m bought deal financing.
  • Assisted Aphria with its offering of $350m of convertible senior notes.

Goodmans’ cannabis practice has a strong emphasis on transactional work, drawing on the firm’s premier corporate offering to advise leading industry players on flagship M&A, securities and joint venture arrangements; it is also experienced in regulatory and licensing matters. Of particular note, the team serves as counsel to the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation, which operates Ontario’s online cannabis store and serves as the wholesale supplier for private stores in the province. Transactional specialists Victor Liu and Neil Sheehy jointly lead the practice, which enjoys strong support from the corporate and banking departments.

Practice head(s):Victor Liu; Neil Sheehy

Testimonials

The firm prides itself on helping to facilitate deals and being commercial, which makes it a pleasure to work with as it focuses on the key issues rather than getting overly bogged down in the details.

The group provides excellent client service, practical advice and good industry knowledge. Lawyers are very responsive to tight deadlines.

What makes Goodmans unique is the quality of corporate finance lawyers that can be on any file, whether it be cannabis or otherwise.’

Key Clients

Altria Group, Inc.

Cura Partners, Inc.

Mettrum Health

Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation

Fire & Flower Inc.

AltaCorp Capital Inc.

Canaccord Genuity

GMP Securities L.P.

OrganiGram Holdings Inc.

Work highlights

  • Acted for Cura Partners on the C$1.2bn sale of its Select brand, the leading cannabis wholesale brand in the US, to Curaleaf Holdings.
  • Assisted Mercer Park Brand Acquisition Corporation with its $402.5m IPO.
  • Acted for Altria Group on its C$2.4bn strategic investment in Cronos Group.
  • Assisted Cura Partners with its $75m private placement of convertible debentures.
  • Assisted the Ontario Cannabis Retail Corporation with various regulatory, contractual and corporate matters.

Gowling WLG’s national practice strikes a balance between transactional and regulatory matters, with the firm’s signature IP strength being a considerable asset on the advertising and product regulatory fronts. The firm also punches above its weight on the capital markets side, enjoying a significant recent run of cross-border deals involving the US and Latin America. Jointly led by Ottawa-based regulatory specialist Lewis Retik and corporate finance partner Peter Simeon in Toronto, the multi-disciplinary industry group also draws upon the expertise of partners in the real estate and litigation departments.

Practice head(s):Lewis Retik; Peter Simeon

Testimonials

The team we work with on both the trademark and promotions/marketing side are excellent. They are extremely knowledgeable and thoughtful on the matters we need advice on and also proactively advise us on industry trends to look out for.’

The group is timely and detailed in their responses and work. Specifically, Natalie Rizkalla-Kamal and Lewis Retik are incredible advisors and we feel lucky to have them on our team.’

Key Clients

Namaste Technologies Inc.

SOL Global Investments Corp.

Khiron Life Sciences Corp.

Molson Coors Canada

Canopy Growth Corporation

Aleafia Health Inc.

Phivida Holdings Inc.

Gabriella's Kitchen Inc.

Cannabis One Holdings

TREC Brands Inc.

Wink Cannabis Inc.

Blissed Media Inc.

Ascendant Laboratories Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Scythian Biosciences on the C$193m sale of its Latin American and Caribbean assets to Aphria.
  • Advised Namaste Technologies on a C$51.7m bought deal financing.
  • Acted for Khiron Life Sciences on its C$28.7m bought deal financing.
  • Advised Molson Coors Canada on the creation of Truss, a joint venture with HEXO Corp, to pursue opportunities to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market.
  • Advised Canopy Growth on planning and real estate property matters associated with the production, storage and distribution of cannabis.

In a significant boost to McCarthy TĂ©trault’s ambitions in the cannabis space, the firm recently bolstered its industry expertise with the hires of recognized specialist Ranjeev Dhillon and talented younger partner Rami Chalabi, both of whom joined the Toronto office from Bennett Jones LLP. The firm has industry experience in securities transactions, M&A, joint ventures and regulatory matters, and is especially active on the lender side of financing deals, where it leverages its strong banking relationships.

Practice head(s):Ranjeev Dhillon; Rami Chalabi

Testimonials

Very seasoned and experienced partners in the area of cannabis-related law both in Canada and internationally. The team is well-connected with influential stakeholders in the global cannabis ecosystem.’

Ranjeev Dhillon has a wealth of knowledge in all facets of the law related to cannabis business and licensing and Rami Chambli has a similar level of knowledge. Together, they are building a top global cannabis law practice and are having a very positive impact on the cannabis industry overall.’

Key Clients

Canopy Growth Corporation

Auxly Cannabis Group Inc.

Nesta Holding Co.

Greenhill & Co. Canada Ltd.

Aphria Inc.

Dixie Brands, Inc.

Honest Inc., dba Province Brands of Canada

Feather Company Limited

Anson Funds

Valens Groworks Corp.

Sundial Growers Inc.

51st Parallel Inc.

Aurora Cannabis Inc.

Supreme Cannabis Company Inc.

AV Cannabis Inc.

Work highlights

  • Advised Greenhill & Co. Canada, as financial advisor to Canopy Growth Corporation, on Constellation Brands’ C$5bn equity investment in Canopy Growth.
  • Acted for Feather Company on a C$40m joint venture with a large publicly listed licensed producer.
  • Acted for CIBC, as administrative agent, and BMO on a C$65m secured non-revolving term loan credit facility to Cronos Group.
  • Advised Avana Canada on numerous matters, including private placements, strategic alliances and its successful application to become one of only four retailers of cannabis and cannabis products in the Province of Manitoba.
  • Acted for Sea Hunter on its business combination with Baker Technologies, Briteside Holdings and Sante Veritas Holdings to form TILT Holdings, a leading technology and infrastructure platform in the cannabis industry, and also on its concurrent C$119m subscription receipt financing.

Norton Rose Fulbright’s cannabis practice has a particular focus on regulatory matters. The practice group has provided regulatory advice to clients such as Auxly Cannabis Group, the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance, and KushCo Bottle Supply. The team can also utilize the wider firm’s national business group for transactional support when needed, with Vancouver-based corporate finance partner Michael Posnikoff being a particular asset transactional side.

Key Clients

MedReleaf Corp

Auxly Group

Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance

Fleurish

HEXO Corp.

Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation

KushCo Bottle Supply

Apollo Applied Research Inc.

BC Green Pharmaceuticals Inc.

Cura-Can Health Corp

PureSinse Inc.

Emerald Harvest

Resolve Digital Health

WeedBox

Medi-Can Health Solutions Ltd.

Work highlights

  • Advised Auxly Cannabis on licensing advertising and marketing matters.
  • Advised Canadian cannabis producer HEXO Corp on several matters, including on its joint venture agreement with Molson Coors Canada to pursue opportunities to develop non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused beverages.
  • Advised Cultivator Catalyst on its C$100m reverse takeover transaction and CSE listing.
  • Advised Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation on equity and debt financings.
  • Provides ongoing regulatory and commercial advice to cannabis packaging supply company, KushCo Bottle Supply.

IP heavyweight Smart & Biggar is a popular choice for regulatory and commercial matters. Comprising a cross-practice team of lawyers from the IP, life sciences, compliance and marketing areas, the cannabis law group is geared to provide key industry brands advice on licensing, commercialization, patent and trademark issues. Toronto-based life sciences specialist Alice Tseng and Vancouver-based IP partner Theodore Sum lead the department.

Practice head(s):Alice Tseng; Theodore Sum

Testimonials

The team has positioned itself at the forefront of the nascent cannabis industry with its understanding of the science and the competitive landscape.’

This is a brand new Industry and yet lawyers are not learning this on our dime; they are up to speed with everything new coming up. I feel well supported as a client.’

Key Clients

HEXO Corp.

Work highlights

  • Advised HEXO on its joint venture with Molson Coors Canada to develop non-alcoholic cannabis-infused beverages for the Canadian market.

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