Cannabis Receiverships: A Viable Alternative to Bankruptcy

Doing organization in California’s authorized hashish sector continues to be a dangerous endeavor. The vast majority of the market is still unlicensed, tax rates at the condition and neighborhood concentrations are higher (notwithstanding a current reprieve from California’s cultivation tax) and there are not more than enough licenses to fulfill geographic need all through the point out. Outdoors funding remains hard to secure for equipment, tenant advancements, account receivables and doing the job cash mainly because, beneath the federal Managed Substances Act (CSA), hashish remains a Timetable I narcotic. Hence, entrepreneurs, buyers and creditors who have stakes in point out-sanctioned hashish enterprises anticipate to see returns that justify the higher degree of danger, which sites further fiscal stress on hashish companies. In addition to the market unique issues, the United States economic climate is on the verge of a recession that may possibly further more hamper the business notwithstanding the industry’s resiliency throughout the pandemic when it was deemed to be an “essential” industry that benefited from purchaser spending of stimulus monies.

These outside pressures ever more guide to ownership disputes and creditor defaults that final result in litigation and the will need for restructuring. In some instances, business partners are unable to agree about command and funds of the accredited enterprises and in other scenarios unpaid creditors file go well with to enforce their interest in a company’s assets. And at times a area municipality discovers wrongdoing by an operator and initiates a wellbeing and protection lawsuit to cease the unlawful situation.

Bankruptcy reorganization is an alternative normally used by struggling corporations to drop or restructure credit card debt. Cannabis companies, even so, are not able to acquire advantage of individual bankruptcy solutions since personal bankruptcy is a product or service of federal law and federal law continue to prohibits the sale of cannabis.

As a end result, stakeholders in authorized California cannabis enterprises need to think about alternate options to bankruptcy to gather what they can on their financial loans and investments in the celebration the organization becomes bancrupt or needs restructuring. A perfectly-founded different to individual bankruptcy is a state court solution – the appointment of a receiver in excess of the belongings of a small business or more than the entire organization operations. Via the receivership approach, stakeholders could receive a lot of of the exact same protections offered to them as a result of bankruptcy

A. Federal Illegality Bars Access to Bankruptcy Protection

More than the past 10 many years, personal bankruptcy courts have routinely prohibited certified cannabis organizations from in search of bankruptcy protection due to the fact cannabis stays illegal at the federal degree below the Managed Substances Act (CSA). Personal bankruptcy trustees are typically billed with managing and working property in the same fashion that the proprietor would be bound to do if in possession thereof. For the reason that cannabis remains unlawful at the federal amount, trustees are not able to manage and function licensed hashish enterprises.

B. Receivership as an Alternative to Bankruptcy

Below California regulation, a receiver is a neutral agent of the courtroom appointed to protect, management, handle and eventually dispose of assets that is issue to the litigation ahead of the court docket.1 The receiver, therefore, retains residence for the court docket, not the get-togethers to the litigation.

Appointment of a receiver is a statutory provisional cure. Other than corporate dissolutions underneath Code of Civil Process portion 565, the legislation does not have a specific result in of motion to appoint a receiver. Consequently, the proponent of a receiver should have a valid lead to of action in an underlying lawsuit.

1. The Appointment of a Receiver

The appointment of a receiver rests inside the demo court’s discretion. Code of Civil Process portion 564 incorporates the broadest statutory authority to appoint a receiver. Subdivision (b), specifics twelve feasible scenarios in which a receiver might be appointed, most of which are outside of the scope of this report. The most frequent of these is a lender’s ask for to appoint a receiver when a borrower defaults on a personal loan and the financial institution seeks the appointment of a receiver in excess of its collateral. The statute, even so, clarifies that the situations shown in the statute are not special: a court docket could appoint a receiver “[i]n all other cases exactly where necessary to preserve the property or legal rights of any bash.”

The receiver’s powers are limited by the statute beneath which the courtroom appointed the receiver and these conferred by the court docket. The appointment order should really, as a result, depth the duties the receiver owes to the court docket, and steps that the courtroom authorizes the receiver to acquire to carry out all those tasks. The order should really also specify the house that will be portion of the receivership estate.

2. The Receiver’s Powers

The receiver has standard statutory powers.2 The statutory powers incorporate (i) commencing or defending litigation (ii) getting and possessing property of the receivership estate, (iii) acquiring lease, amassing money owed, and creating transfers, and (iv) acting in accordance with the court’s instruction with respect to the house.3 But the court’s authorization is necessary to sue the receiver and for the receiver to begin litigation.4 In the foregoing eventualities, the receiver is immunized individually from tort legal responsibility, but not in his or her formal ability as receiver.5

In addition to having possession of assets, the receiver may dispose of receivership property with the court’s acceptance.6 If the receiver is an fairness receiver, the receiver could get possession and satisfy collectors from all the debtor’s belongings.7

The court docket could more authorize the receiver to concern “certificates of indebtedness” to increase revenue to administer the receivership estate.8 This product permits the receiver to give liquidity to the estate and presents the certificate holder an desire-bearing priority assert from the receivership estate.

3. Liquidating Cannabis Assets By means of a Courtroom Appointed Receiver

After the courtroom appoints the receiver, the receiver should really have enough powers to, among the other factors: (i) just take around the administration of the firm (ii) open up financial institution accounts (iii) borrow cash by issuing receivership certificates (iv) control all of the company’s residence (v) employ the service of counsel and other professionals and (vi) market the receivership estate’s belongings for the advantage of the collectors. To optimize compensation to the lenders, the receiver could keep an auction to provide the assets and help in facilitating the cancellation of company’s point out license though the purchaser of the assets secures its condition license soon after the neighborhood license is transferred.

Point out cannabis licenses may not be marketed or transferred.9 Yet, to increase recovery for the creditors, the receiver may well need to have to take part in the regulatory method to keep a license during the pendency of the receivership and to support in the amendment of a license though a prospective consumer seeks to receive its individual license. To do so, the receiver will initially have to have to qualify as a licensee less than point out regulation to be a part of as a licensee on the license and additional the licensee as a going problem. Next, the principals of the possible buyer will them selves require to qualify as licensees less than the license. Then, at the time the sale of the company’s belongings (including any fascination in the license) to the consumer closes, the receiver and the company’s first homeowners will terminate their capacities as licensees of the license, leaving only the new homeowners as licensees. Consequently, the proposed get should be written with interest to be certain the receiver has powers to further the foregoing and not diminish the benefit of the receivership estate.

Immediately after the summary of the sale of all belongings, the receiver will have to have to obtain a discharge from the courtroom of his or her duties as receiver. The receiver could do so by the parties’ stipulation or by movement. Jointly with the request for a discharge, the receiver should seek acceptance to shell out: (i) any loan providers to the receivership estate (ii) pros that the receiver employed and (iii) him or herself for his or her providers. Upon the court’s approval, the receivership will be terminated.

The conflict amongst federal and California legislation with regards to cannabis carries on to be an impediment for stakeholders in California’s hashish marketplace. Because of this conflict, stakeholders in California’s authorized hashish market deficiency accessibility to crucial classic establishments, these as bankruptcy cures. As a outcome, stakeholders will have to be geared up to take into account alternatives these types of as a court appointed receiver, which can be a beneficial choice to both secured lenders and unsecured collectors. Stakeholders who pursue a court appointed receiver will gain from a lengthy-recognized entire body of legislation and experienced professionals.


  1. Cal. Principles of Ct., r. 3.1179(a).
  2. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code §§ 568-570.
  3. Absolutely free Gold Mining Co. v. Spiers, 136 Cal. 484, 486 (1902) Steinberg v. Goldstein, 129 Cal. App. 2d 682, 685 (1954).
  4. Vitug v. Griffin, 214 Cal. Application. 3d 488, 493 (1989).
  5. Chiesur v. Top-quality Courtroom, 76 Cal. Application. 2d 198, 201 (1946).
  6. Helvey v. U.S. Bldg. & Financial loan Ass’n, 81 Cal. Application. 2d 647, 650 (1947).
  7. Turner v. Top-quality Courtroom, 72 Cal. App. 3d 804, 812 (1977).
  8. Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 568.
  9. See e.g., Cal. Code Regs. tit. 16, § 5023(c).