New Partner Spotlight: David Ullian

Jun 9, 2023

Vicente LLP recently announced our new rebranding and that six of our top attorneys were elevated to partners. In this next post in our special New Partner Spotlight series, we’re proud to share more about our exceptional colleague and new partner, David Ullian.

David Ullian is a member of the firm’s Land Use & Zoning, Licensing, and Regulatory Compliance Departments. His practice focuses on assisting a wide range of commercial cannabis clients, from multi-state operators to small family-owned companies, in obtaining state and local cannabis licenses, permits and approvals, and navigating the regulatory landscapes of the industry. David is recognized by his peers in the "Best Lawyers: Ones to Watch" list for his work in Land Use and Zoning Law and was also named one of “Boston's Top Lawyers” by Boston magazine.

What attracted you to the legal field? What attracted you to working in the cannabis, psychedelics or emerging therapies industries?

For the legal field generally, I really enjoy using my critical thinking and communication skills to help my clients tackle complex legal issues and accomplish their goals. And the cannabis industry is particularly fascinating because it is new, constantly evolving and expanding, and varied between jurisdictions. I often find myself working collaboratively with clients, local municipalities, and regulators to find creative ways to navigate legal issues that no one has ever considered previously. The uncertainty and lack of established precedent can sometimes be challenging, but it is very special to be a part of creating a legal, responsible and successful cannabis industry after so many years of wasteful and harmful prohibition.

What is your specialty and what do you think differentiates you from other lawyers clients could choose?

I concentrate my legal practice on cannabis regulatory, licensing, local permitting and compliance matters. My work is mostly based in Massachusetts, but I also work with clients in other jurisdictions up and down the East Coast. Not many other lawyers have focused almost exclusively on cannabis law for more than seven years, and as a result, I have developed substantial experience navigating state cannabis laws, regulations and licensing in Massachusetts, as well as municipal approval and permitting processes. In addition to Massachusetts, I am also licensed to practice law in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Washington, D.C. and am uniquely positioned to utilize my cannabis expertise to assist clients in those new markets as they develop.

What markets do you see having big developments over the next year?

In Massachusetts, I expect to see major progress over the next year related to the licensing of social consumption cannabis establishments. The sky is the limit for this exciting new license type, and I am eager to see and help it develop. Aside from Massachusetts, other markets that I believe will really start to explode are the NY/NJ/CT Tri-State area, Minnesota, and Washington, D.C. as more licensing opportunities become available over the next year. Finally, I am still cautiously optimistic that North Carolina and South Carolina will both finally adopt medical cannabis programs within the next year or two, which will provide new opportunities for businesses to serve patients and caregivers in the Southeast.

How would you advise people looking to enter the market now?

Potential operators should seriously consider the types of cannabis businesses they really want to operate and gain a real understanding of the market before jumping in. For example, considering the dropping price of wholesale flower in Massachusetts, I would advise a client to think hard about starting the lengthy process to apply for a license to operate a small cultivation facility in the Commonwealth. The cannabis industry is also becoming more competitive as new businesses in new jurisdictions begin to commence operations, so it is very important to think practically and focus on specific realistic goals. 

And as always, I recommend taking the time to ensure sufficient capital resources are available and find experienced professionals (especially attorneys!) to help navigate the complex process of creating and operating a successful business in the highly regulated cannabis industry.

How do you see Vicente being a differentiator for companies seeking legal services and consulting in the industry you serve?

Vicente LLP has been at the forefront and focused on the legal cannabis industry in the United States since its inception. Our attorneys helped write the laws legalizing adult-use cannabis in multiple jurisdictions, including Colorado and Massachusetts, and there are very few other firms that can match our years of experience and substantial expertise in cannabis law and policy. We are also a national law firm with licensed attorneys and established relationships across the country, which is particularly valuable for operators that are engaging in complex transactions and regulatory approval matters in numerous jurisdictions.

Contact David Ullian to discuss how he and his team may be of assistance and stay tuned for our next post in this series about Vicente LLP’s 2023 new partner class. 

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