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Former Milberg, Morgan & Morgan Litigator Joins Cannabis Company (1)

June 15, 2020, 9:31 AMUpdated: June 15, 2020, 6:47 PM

A litigator with a background in Big Law and a pair of prominent U.S. plaintiffs law firms is the new top lawyer for the latest cannabis company to trade on the Canadian Securities Exchange.

Christopher Polaszek will be chief legal officer and corporate secretary for Bluma Wellness Inc., a Toronto-based company with operations in Florida. Polaszek is a former managing partner of Milberg’s Tampa office who went on to serve as co-chair of the securities fraud, commodities, and antitrust class action team at Morgan & Morgan.

Bluma announced Polaszek’s new role June 11 upon completing a reverse takeover of CannCure Investments Inc. Bluma began trading in Canada—the only North American market with widespread marijuana legalization—Monday after receiving regulatory approvals. Polaszek said in a statement that Bluma is “well-positioned to become a market leader” in the Florida medical cannabis market and that it’s “an honor and true pleasure to join the passionate” leadership team at the company.

Polaszek currently runs his own firm in Tampa, which Polaszek formed in 2016 after leaving Morgan & Morgan, per his LinkedIn profile. Polaszek joined Morgan & Morgan in 2012 following almost eight years at Milberg, where he made partner in January 2007—only a few months after the firm and several top partners were charged with paying illegal kickback to class action plaintiffs.

At the time, the promotion of Polaszek and several other junior lawyers were cited by Milberg as a sign that the firm would have a future beyond the scandal. Milberg did survive, merging in 2018 with mass torts shop Sanders Phillips Grossman, although the combined entity no longer has an office in Tampa.

Polaszek initially joined Milberg in 2004 after stints at Florida firms GrayRobinson, Holland & Knight, and Fowler White Boggs, the latter of which merged with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney in 2014. His LinkedIn profile shows that in recent years Polaszek’s been a legal adviser to the cannabis and fitness industries.

Bluma, which in Hebrew means to flower or blossom, has gone through several iterations in recent years. At various times the company has done business as Goldsteam Minerals Inc., SOL Global Investments Inc., and Scythian BioSciences Corp., often changing its name through reverse merger transactions. Dorsey & Whitney, one of a few large U.S. firms doing corporate cannabis work, has advised on some of those deals.

The reverse merger with CannCure will see Bluma operate in Florida through 3 Boys Farm LLC’s One Plant Florida. A Bluma spokeswoman told Bloomberg Law that a California deal it had with ECD Holdings Inc.’s Northern Emeralds has been “mutually terminated.” Canadian cannabis companies often use subsidiaries to do business in U.S. states where regulations on marijuana sales vary.

More In-House Moves

Other notable legal and compliance appointments in the cannabidiol products space include:

  • SLANG Worldwide Inc., a Toronto-based cannabis consumer packaged goods company, said June 11 it promoted general counsel John Moynan to the additional role of chief operating officer. Moynan joined SLANG’s Denver office in January 2019 after the company closed on its $200 million acquisition of Organa Brands, a Colorado cannabis company where he spent three years as legal chief.
  • Cresco Labs LLC, a Chicago-based cannabis operator that recently named a former general counsel as its new CEO, said June 10 that National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts had become its first female board member. Roberts, a former partner at Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld in Washington, has served as head of the NBPA since 2014. Roberts announced in March plans to retire as head of the NBPA, which retained Dechert to advise on a search for her successor. That search was suspended last month due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The Flowr Corp. announced June 3 that the Toronto-based cannabis company raised nearly $16 million in new financing, as well as the appointment of deputy general counsel Andrew Teehan to interim general counsel. Teehan takes over from Flowr chief legal officer and corporate secretary Francesco Tallarico, who left Flowr this month to become general counsel for Covis Pharma BV, a specialty pharmaceutical company acquired in April by Apollo Global Management LLC.
  • The Drizly Group, a privately held e-commerce platform focused on on-demand cannabis and spirits, announced May 14 its promotion of vice president of legal, regulatory, and industry affairs Jacqueline “Jaci” Flug to senior vice president and general counsel. Flug, a consumer products expert who once served as general counsel for the New York State Liquor Authority, joined Drizly last year after more than two years as general counsel for New York’s Roosevelt Island Operating Corp.
  • Rocky Mountain High Brands Inc., a Dallas-based company specializing in hemp products, said May 13 it promoted general counsel David Seeberger to president and CEO. Seeberger will continue to serve as Rocky Mountain’s legal chief but received a raise in his base salary from $120,000 to $150,000 for taking on the additional roles, according to a securities filing by Rocky Mountain. Seeberger’s promotion came as the company close on its acquisition of a commercial bottling facility in Plano, Texas.
  • Harvest Health & Recreation Inc., a Tempe, Ariz.-based medical cannabis company that hired a new general counsel a year ago this month, has brought on Littler Mendelson partner Cory Walker as a senior labor and employment counsel. Walker, who joined Harvest in April, made partner at Littler in Phoenix last year.
(Adds comment from Polaszek in third paragraph and comment from company spokeswoman in eighth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Brian Baxter in New York at bbaxter@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Seth Stern at sstern@bloomberglaw.com

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