COVID-19 threw law firms and librarians into the deep end of the local law pool. COVID-19 exposed the limits of traditional legal information vendors who focus on laws at the federal and state level. Long before COVID-19 emerged, Amanda Ostrowitz the SVP and founder of Fyllo’s CannaRegs, recognized the need for hyperlocal law to track the emergence of the Canna CBD Industry. Ostrowitz herself has developed a mastery of canna law and the canna law market.
Like other attorney entrepreneurs Ostrowitz sat at her desk thinking — “there’s got to be a better way.” Ostrowitz was working at the Federal Reserve and had to research financial regulations related to the emerging cannabis industry. There were no standard tools for locating the materials related to canna. As she excavated the regulations she discovered that she was in terra incognita — the unmapped and unharnessed regions of hyperlocal law related to regulation of the cannabis industry. By June 2015, CannaRegs was ready for a soft launch. The company was purchased by Fyllo in March 2021.
The Fortune 500 Drove Cannabis Law Into The ALM 100?
Cannabis law was not immediately embraced by the ALM 100 law firms. Ostrowitz tracked the progression. In 2018, only 15% of ALM law firm websites mentioned cannabis/CBD law and 5% had a specialty canna practice. By 2019, those numbers jumped to 35% of ALM 100 firms mentioning cannabis/CBD law and 10% having a special practice group. In 2020, 75% of ALM 100 law firm websites mentioned cannabis/CBD law and 30% had a specialty practice. Even firms that didn’t promote their canna practices had to respond to client canna questions.
Ostrowitz believes that the expansion of canna/CBD law practice in many firms was driven by the Fortune 500. Clients in industries as diverse as finance, pharmaceuticals, agriculture, and real estate started demanding answers that required access to the hyperlocal insights that canna law is designed to capture.
But for other organizations, tracking cannabis law is not a side hustle, it is their bread and butter. There are specialty law firms, investors, government agencies, lobbyists, consulting firms, and advocacy organizations who rely on CannaRegs to track the regulatory landscape.
What CannaRegs Offers
The cannabis regulatory environment is constantly evolving. In a single month there can be as many as 2,000 new or updated guidance documents, policy applications, ordinances, local meetings, etc. Much of this activity happens at the hyperlocal level (city, village, town, borough, county municipality, or township). None of the major legal content vendors are equipped to track laws and regulations at that level.
CannaRegs is described as an intelligent regulatory database that unifies and automates cannabis research across more than 4,300 sources in 16 states and almost 2,000 local jurisdictions.
Key features include:
- Multijurisdictional searching and comparisons driven by cannabis specific filters to focus results
- Advanced tracking, including real-time visibility into legislative updates, at a hyperlocal level
- A timeline view that gives a list of every canna-related activity happening every day
- Highlights that target the most important activities each week. Early indicia of movement
- Quickview feature provides comparative views of the same issue in over 600 jurisdictions
Mapping The Canna Law Landscape (And Then Make Finding The Law Like Buying Shoes Online)
Ostrowitz had to invent the processes and then deploy technology to track the myriad local entities and agencies that signal the emergence of canna activity in a specific locality. California provided a fertile ground for the development process. Since local governments are slow at posting even city council meeting minutes, the company developed processes for tracking every meeting. According to Ostrowitz, it takes an average of four weeks and as long as 20 weeks for a locality to post meeting minutes. CannaRegs collects everything that might be relevant to canna law and provides early insights from town hall meeting videos, city council minutes, forms, guidance materials, studies, and applications for permits. CannaRegs has to undertake a complex onboarding process to optimize the monitoring of each new jurisdiction. Ostrowitz’s goal was to create a site that was as intuitive as an online shoe store. Users should be able to filter and focus on specific issues in specific jurisdictions in a few clicks. Since CannaRegs is ingesting and digesting every local law activity in certain jurisdictions, CannaRegs may provide the only comprehensive and permanent record of all local activities in the jurisdictions that they cover.
Tracking The Green Shoots Of Canna Law Opportunity
Customers have discovered that CannaRegs provides powerful business development insights. It enables researchers to uncover potential policy changes, application windows, or identify new business opportunities before they become common knowledge. Anyone who wants to be the first into the local market needs a heads-up of which market is opening to the cannabis industry next.
Small towns are really important in canna law. But they are not likely to be the last hyperlocal issue. The company is already tracking 2,000 local governments. Here is the interesting thing. Since CannaRegs is collecting all the minutes and documents from every public meeting and agency in over 2,000 localities, they have massive amounts of data that can be repurposed for new hyperlocal products. In fact, they now have software which is identifying emerging local issues which may drive the next “Fyllo regs” product. Possible issues include e-sports, scooters, and ride-sharing. Ostrowitz is interested in crowd-sourcing ideas. If you have a hyperlocal topic you would like to see covered email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post originally appeared on Above the Law April 1, 2021.