Pitt alum offers legal advice for cannabis industry – University of Pittsburgh The Pitt News
Pitt alumna Sarah Carlins is making Pennsylvania a little greener, one court case at a time.
As chair of Houston Harbaugh’s Health Care Law Department in Pittsburgh, Carlins provides legal counsel and representation to business owners, patients, employees and shareholders in the medical cannabis industry — a growing business due to recent legislation. Senate Bill 3, which Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law last April, allows patients who are under a physician’s care to use medical marijuana for the treatment of a serious medical condition, such as autism, cancer or Crohn’s disease.
“The fact that medical marijuana was recently legalized in Pennsylvania means that yes, there is now new ‘law’ to interpret and abide — in the form of new regulations, for example,” Carlins said.
Houston Harbaugh’s Health Care Law Department has seven lawyers, including Carlins, working with different sectors of medical cannabis: labor, employment, real estate, health care and corporate.
Health care law deals with changes in regulation and insurance protocols for physician groups and business counsel for hospitals and institutions, among other legal needs. In connection to medical marijuana, health care law applies to dispensaries, growers and laboratories.
These groups, in addition to medical marijuana distributors, also need to make sure they are compliant with the Pennsylvania labor laws as well as with Pennsylvania real estate code. This is where the labor and employment sector of the law department comes in.
Farms, production companies and dispensaries function like any other business entity in Pennsylvania, so their corporate legal needs are similar, such as managing shareholders to investors.
At Houston Harbaugh, Carlins — who received a law degree, an MBA and a master’s degree in International Affairs from Pitt — is in charge of each sector. Two months ago, she began working for the Pennsylvania Medical Cannabis Society, a